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One Year Later: Anaheim Made Three Trades
By Thomas Harrington
One year ago today, the Anaheim Ducks made three trades in an attempt to change the fortunes of a hockey team that had lost a club record 12 straight games.
Pontus Aberg was traded to the Minnesota Wild for Justin Kloos. Joseph Blandisi was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Derek Grant. Lastly Luke Schenn and a 2020 seventh-round pick were traded to Vancouver for Michael Del Zotto. Vancouver retained 25% of Del Zotto’s salary in the deal.
Aberg is a frustrating player to watch. He’ll disappear for long stretches of games and then score a highlight-reel goal. The Ducks had claimed Aberg off of waivers just before the season started. He played in both San Diego and Anaheim, but he spent most of his time in the NHL and scored 11 goals and 19 points in 37 games. It wasn’t a surprise to see Aberg traded; he had been scratched in four straight games and it was clear that his time in Anaheim was about to come to an end. Kloos was an undrafted free agent signed out of college by Minnesota. Over a couple of seasons, he only played in one game for the Wild and spent the rest of his time in the AHL.
With the Wild, Aberg’s play was similar to what he did in Anaheim, except with much worse numbers. He played in 22 games and scored one goal and six points. He was a restricted free agent, but the Wild did not give him a qualifying offer, making him an unrestricted free agent; he signed in Toronto over the summer. Kloos played in one game for the Ducks and went scoreless. However, while he hasn’t replaced Aberg’s offense in Anaheim, he’s become a solid contributor for San Diego. He had 15 points in 25 games last season and followed that up with another nine playoff points.
This season, he has eight goals and 20 points in 34 games. Aberg really didn’t have much of a future in Anaheim, and while I do think Kloos has been a strong addition to San Diego’s roster, I was hoping that the Ducks could get back a bit more for Aberg. While he can be a frustrating player, he’s got a lot of skill and can score some amazing goals. Still, the Ducks essentially got Kloos for free since Aberg had been a waiver pickup, so I’m happy with this deal overall.
Grant had actually been a member of the Ducks for the 2017-2018 season, and I wasn’t happy to see him leave as a free agent after he scored 12 goals in 66 games. In Pittsburgh, Grant played in 25 games and scored two goals and five points. He was in and out of the lineup and never really fit in with them. The Ducks had acquired Blandisi in the Sami Vatanen trade along with Adam Henrique. He was primarily used in the AHL, but he did get six games with the Ducks spread across parts of two seasons. With San Diego, he was one of their better scorers, getting 23 points in 27 games before the trade happened.
With Pittsburgh, Blandisi played in six games and went scoreless, while playing in 27 games for their AHL affiliate and scoring 20 points. This season, he’s played over 20 games in the NHL and has scored two goals and five points, while picking up seven points in 14 AHL games. Meanwhile, Grant showed that Anaheim should never have let him go. Those two goals he scored with the Penguins are the only goals that he has scored in the NHL, not as a member of the Ducks. Through the rest of the season, he scored two goals and nine points in 31 NHL games. This past summer, the Ducks made sure to keep him, and he was re-signed to a one-year deal in Anaheim. He’s been Anaheim’s fourth-line center for most of the season, and easily one of their most consistent players.
Overall, he’s scored 10 goals (including his first career hat trick) and 13 points in 35 games. Unfortunately, he’s been injured for several games, but he did just return to the lineup. This deal was a big-time win for the Ducks, but I can’t help but feel it should never have happened and that the Ducks should have re-signed him in the summer of 2018. So while the Ducks did win this deal, it does feel like they lost Blandisi when they shouldn’t have had to.
Schenn-Del Zotto Trade
The final deal saw Anaheim change up it’s bottom defensive pairing. The Ducks had signed Schenn to try to stabilize the team’s bottom pair, but he just did not fit in. He ended up playing only eight games with the Ducks, and spent the rest of his time in the AHL, playing in 22 games for the Gulls. Del Zotto had signed a two-year deal with Vancouver in the summer of 2017. He played in all 82 games in his first season with the team, scoring six goals and 22 points. Last season, he found himself a healthy scratch at times, playing in just 23 games before he was traded.
In Anaheim, Del Zotto wasn’t great, but he was better than Schenn, giving Anaheim solid minutes for 12 games and recording six assists. He was then flipped to St. Louis for a sixth-round pick. Schenn played in 18 games for the Canucks and also saw some time with their AHL affiliate as well. The seventh-round pick that Vancouver got will be used this summer, so it will likely be some time before we see how well that player pans out. This wasn’t a big trade, but the fact that the Ducks traded Schenn and a seventh for Del Zotto and then turned him into a sixth-round pick makes me relatively happy with this deal. Schenn just didn’t fit in, while Del Zotto played well enough that Anaheim decided to bring him back after the season on a one-year deal.
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None of these three trades were huge, but I do think Anaheim did fairly well on them, especially in bringing back Grant. Kloos has been a nice addition for the Gulls, and the Ducks essentially took a seventh-round pick and turned it into a sixth-round pick, while also improving their bottom pairing for a dozen games, so that worked out pretty well too. This wasn’t the roster overhaul that many were hoping for, but shortly after these deals were made, Anaheim’s 12 game losing streak did end. While the Ducks weren’t great for the rest of the season, they were definitely better.
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January 17th, 2020