Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wounded Ducks

There are several reports that the Anaheim Ducks on-ice problems are just the tip of the ice berg, and that the team might be making a major trade not just to kick-start the season but to save money.  How can a recent cup winner be in such a bad way?  Given the financial standing of the team I highly doubt they'll fire Randy Carlyle who is now just in the first year of a three year deal.  However, if they're shopping Bobby Ryan or even considering trading one of their top line players then they must be in dire need.  Even listening to offers on one of the big three is a major cause for concern for Duck fans.

It's really sad how fickle the non-traditional hockey markets are when their team isn't producing.  The game is sold at a bargain to Sun Belt teams and win or lose the price they pay is peanuts compared to fans in traditional hockey markets, especially those that have been long suffering. 

The Ducks have a great line, a couple decent defenders and a goalie who is either great or garbage on any given night and suffers from a mysterious vertigo issue.  The Finnish Flash is carrying this team, but the lack of depth is too much to make up for, and Hiller has had more bad starts than good.

If this team is serious about staying in Anaheim and they need to resolve financial issues then trading Bobby Ryan would be far too big of a hit than they can afford long term.  He has three straight 30 goal seasons and will soon be entering his prime.  The reported financial issues really don't jive with some of the Ducks moves, like picking up Nick Hagman's salary on waivers.

Blake, Koivu and Hagman are all off the books next year, so that's huge savings.  If the Ducks are up against the wall they may as well buy these guys out and save a few bucks, ditto for Francoi Beauchemin.  They've got enough bodies to round out a roster, if the situation is that bad then forget the politics of buy-outs, this is survival mode.

If this year is a write-off then the player that needs to be shopped for cost cutting is Jonas Hiller.  I have watched this guy play like a perennial Vezina candidate.  I honestly haven't ever seen him make a bad start, but, the proof is in the pudding and he's currently sporting a sub 900 SV%.  If you can pawn Hiller off on a team desperate for a goalie then you save his 4.5 million for the next few years.  Dan Ellis is playing great and the Ducks have a few top prospects in net.

They've also got a ton of top talent up front and on defense.  If I'm running the show in Anaheim I'm writing the year off - it won't make that big of a difference and they've got a deep system. 

It's tough to find a team with the kind of offensive depth coming up to even compare to Anaheim.  Emerson Etem is scoring a goal a game in the WHL. Peter Holland, Brandon McMillan, Devante Smith-Pelly and Patrick Maroon are already up and Kyle Palmieri is lighting up the AHL. Rickard Rackell was a very solid pick.  On defense Justin Schultz is killing the NCAA ranks. Sami Vaatanen and Mat Clark aren't far off NHL duty.

Trading Bobby Ryan is a huge mistake, unless they are replacing him with someone of equal value, which doesn't seem to be the case in Anaheim right now.

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