The Anaheim Ducks second half of the season has been almost the perfect inverse of their first. Whether you blame it on the messianic coming of Bruce Boudreau, or the threat to trade core player trades from GM Bob Murray, the Ducks have been a completely new team from January first forward.
At that point Anaheim was fighting the Columbus Blue Jackets for last place in the league, and since, has gone 12-3-3 and been one of the best teams in the league.
If you’re at all invested in the success of the Ducks’ franchise this is good news. Nonetheless, it makes dealing with the trade deadline a very unattractive prospect. Is Anaheim a buyer or a seller? Should they keep their veterans and make a push for the post season, or start building for next year?
At nine points out of the eighth seed in the west, they’re right on the line.
Two or three points in either direction could make that decision a bit easier, and they may have that answer soon as the team continues an eight game road trip Tuesday and Wednesday in Minnesota and Pittsburgh respectively. If the Ducks win or lose both these games, it’ll help clear up their role for the upcoming trade deadline. Yet odds are it won’t be that simple.
The reality of the Ducks situation is that a trade isn’t really what they need right now. The team has been playing well, hands down. Nobody is questioning that, and even if it’s not enough to make up for a disastrous first half of the season, Murray probably isn’t willing to try and make that call. If the team is making a push for the postseason. Murray simply needs to wait it out and hope that the surge lasts long enough to make up the ground lost earlier in the year.
Even if Anaheim management does decide to move players, the team isn’t equipped to make a “splash” during the trade deadline. Players like Jason Blake and Lubomir Visnovsky are likely to be shopped, though the return Anaheim could get for these players would be minimal. Fourth or fifth round draft picks or a selection of bottom three defensemen are about the best that Murray could hope for in return.
If the Ducks continue to win they’ll continue to reduce the need for any significant movement during the trade deadline. Barring some small adjustments (such as trading Maxime Macenauer for Riley Holzapfel), we won’t be seeing a lot more out of Anaheim’s front office. No Teemu Selanne trade, no shopping Bobby Ryan, no dice.
The Ducks will hopefully cut their losses, take the hand this season has dealt them, and make the necessary personnel changes in the offseason. Being in lock-down during an impulsive trade deadline might be wise considering the recent success they’ve had.
Lucky for Anaheim fans, the NHL’s offseason is the shortest of all major North American Sports.