Deadline Talk: Who Could Be Traded?

Photo: USA Today

By Thomas Harrington

The trade deadline is rapidly approaching, and the Anaheim Ducks find themselves well outside the playoff race. With that in mind, the Ducks should be looking to sell players and try to get picks and/or prospects back. However, Anaheim does not have a number of high profile unrestricted free agents to move out.

That doesn’t mean that Anaheim can’t do business before the deadline, just that they either have to get creative or be okay with low returns on the few free agents that they do have. I’m going to divide this into multiple sections.

First, players who I don’t think Anaheim will trade. Second, players that I don’t want to see traded but could be moved in the right deal. Third, players who I think have the best chance of being moved, even though the return would probably be low. Fourth, one player who could be traded if Anaheim gets a little creative. Finally, there is another player who I’m just not sure what Anaheim should do with, but will probably end up keeping.

Likely To Not Be Traded

Here are the players that I don’t think Anaheim will trade: Ryan Getzlaf, Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, John Gibson, Jakob Silfverberg, Rickard Rakell, or any of their young players or prospects. Getzlaf is the heart and soul of this team, and still one of their best players. If he was traded the Ducks would get a significant return, but he’s got a full no-movement clause and will only leave if he wants to. Fowler and Lindholm represent Anaheim’s top two defensemen. Both will hopefully be around once the Ducks return to contention.

The Ducks have some solid goaltending prospects, but none of them are even close to Gibson’s level right now. Maybe in several years they will be, but that’s a long way away. Anaheim just extended Silfverberg, and he’s the type of player who is great to have around for Anaheim’s young players to learn from. Even though he’s fallen off the last couple of seasons, Rakell is a two-time 30 goal scorer signed for less than $4 million. If he can return to scoring 30 goals a season, that will be one of the best contracts in the NHL.

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Even though they haven’t lived up to expectations this season, it’s far too soon to give up on Sam Steel, Max Comtois, Troy Terry, Max Jones, Jacob Larsson, or any of the other young players who have suited up for the Ducks. Not all will be kept long-term, but it’s too soon to know who the Ducks should definitively keep around for years to come.

Ryan Miller is a respected veteran backup and is very happy in Southern California. He has a modified no-trade clause, so he at least has some control over his destiny. If traded, Miller could bring back a decent return. However, I get the sense that Bob Murray will only trade Miller if he wants to be traded. It would make sense to trade Miller, but personally, I don’t think he wants to leave, and he will remain a Duck through the end of the season. 

Only Trade For The Right Deal

There are three players who I don’t want to see traded, but in the right deal, I would be okay with moving them: Ondrej Kase, Josh Manson, and Derek Grant. Kase has had a rough season, but he could become an elite goal scorer, which is why I don’t want him traded. However, he is injury prone and has struggled to score throughout the season. Manson is another player who has had a difficult season. He’s also struggled through injuries and inconsistent play.

For both Kase and Manson, I think it would be a mistake to sell-low on them right now. They can both be much better than we have seen this season. If someone is willing to offer up significant assets for either, I’d be okay with moving one of them, but I just don’t think that will happen.

For Grant, he has 26 career goals, and only two of them have come with a team other than Anaheim. He just fits in so well as Anaheim’s fourth-line center. If someone wants to overpay for him, I’d be okay with moving him, but I do hope the Ducks would bring him back again this summer.

Players Who Could Likely Be Traded

Here are the players who I think are most likely to be moved: Devin Shore, Michael Del Zotto, Korbinian Holzer, Nick Ritchie, Daniel Sprong, Carter Rowney, and Nicolas Deslauriers, as well as Gulls players like Chris Wideman and Kevin Boyle.

None of them would bring back a significant return, and certainly, not all will be traded, but I do think these are the most likely candidates. Shore has been a useful player since coming over for Andrew Cogliano, but he’s been scratched a number of times this season. He’s being paid $2.3 million this season and will be a restricted free agent this summer, so his contract shouldn’t be much of a hindrance to move him. He won’t bring back a significant return, but a mid-round pick or low-level prospect is a possibility. 

Del Zotto and Holzer have both been in and out of the lineup this season. Del Zotto was traded for a sixth-round pick last year, and if either are moved at the deadline, the Ducks could expect a similar return. Both are signed to cheap deals and will be free agents this summer. 

Ritchie hasn’t lived up to his billing as the 10th overall pick, and it may be time for the Ducks to move on from him and give him a chance somewhere else. He had 31 points in 60 games last year, but he was on pace to score far fewer points this season before he was injured. He’s a power forward whose physical play can turn the course of a game, but that rarely happens. Ritchie won’t bring back much in a deal, but I figure he can probably bring back more than Shore would in a trade. He’s signed for just under $1.5 million through next season and will be a restricted free agent after that. 

Sprong is a goal scorer but struggles in other areas. He’s had a solid season for the Gulls and even chipped in with a few points in the NHL. If traded, it would probably be for another young player who is also struggling and looking for a change of scenery. He’s being paid $750,000 in the NHL and will be a restricted free agent this summer. 

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A number of eyebrows were raised when Rowney was signed to a three-year deal, but when healthy, he’s been a solid presence on Anaheim’s fourth line. He’s signed through next year at $1,133,333 and will be a free agent after that. With his team-friendly contract and solid defensive play, the Ducks might be able to get a fourth-round pick or low level prospect for him. 

The Ducks acquired Deslauriers over the summer for a fourth-round pick, and I wasn’t thrilled with how much the Ducks gave up to get him. But, Deslauriers has impressed me a lot this season. Yes, he’s gotten into a ton of fights, but even more than that, I’ve been really impressed with his level of competitiveness on the ice. If traded, the Ducks should be looking to at least get back a fourth-round pick, if not try for something better.

The Ducks have a number of veterans in San Diego, but I feel like Boyle and Wideman make the most sense to trade. Anthony Stolarz has become the Gulls’ starter this season, and Anaheim has a number of goaltenders in the ECHL who can step into the role as San Diego’s backup. For a team looking for extra depth in net, Boyle isn’t a bad option. He only has five games of NHL experience, but he does have a shutout and played well in four of those five games. Wideman is among the top 20 AHL scoring defensemen this season and could give a team some nice blueline depth. He’s good enough to be a team’s seventh defenseman and help out on a second powerplay unit. Both will be free agents this summer, and neither will bring back a large return, but I do think both are candidates to be moved.

Murray Could Get Creative

Murray has come out and said that he could utilize Anaheim’s cap space at the deadline to take on a bad contract or two in order to get back some high picks or prospects. However, there is another way for Anaheim to weaponize cap space, and that’s to retain the salary of a player in a trade. There is one player that Anaheim has that I think would be perfect to do this with Erik Gudbranson.

He’s currently signed through next season for $4 million. Most would agree that is too much money for the type of player he is. Overall, I’ve been impressed with Gudbranson’s play since the Ducks picked him up from Pittsburgh earlier this season. But, Anaheim only had to trade a seventh-round pick and a minor league player to get him. I do think Gudbranson has increased his value since that trade, but not significantly. However, Gudbranson at $2 million is much more valuable to a team than Gudbranson at $4 million. Also, several more teams would be able to afford Gudbranson at a cheaper price, possibly creating a small bidding war. So if the Ducks do retain half of his salary in a trade, they could potentially significantly increase the return in a deal that he is involved in.

What To Do With Henrique?

Finally, the one player that I’m just not sure what Anaheim should do with: Adam Henrique. I like Henrique a lot. Ever since he came over from New Jersey, I’ve really enjoyed watching him play. He’s a streaky player, but a solid veteran presence who can play center or wing. There are two big issues that I have with him. First, he’s signed for four more seasons after this one at just under $6 million. Second, Anaheim has a number of center prospects, and if enough of them work out, he’s going to be pushed down the lineup. He could become a full-time winger, but again, if enough of Anaheim’s wingers do pan out, he gets pushed down the lineup.

Henrique at nearly $6 million on the third or fourth line in two or three years just doesn’t look like a good idea to me. However, given the length of his contract, he’s a difficult player to trade during the season, and I don’t think Anaheim would necessarily get a good return on him right now because his offensive numbers aren’t great. Anaheim could retain part of his salary, but again, the length of his contract makes me dislike that option. If he is playing great up until the deadline, I think Anaheim should explore trading him, but it’s more likely that if Henrique is moved, it won’t be until the offseason, whether that’s this summer or some future one.

Final Thoughts

There are a number of players who Anaheim could trade at or before the deadline, but most of them won’t bring back a huge return. Given Murray’s track record, I do believe that he will make at least a trade or two. Around the last three trade deadlines, Murray has made five trades. Some of them have been very minor, like Patrick Sieloff for Brian Gibbons, and some of them have been pretty major, like Brandon Montour for Brendan Guhle and a first-round pick. More than likely, Murray will make a minor move or two and look to make bigger deals at the draft, but if the right deal presents itself, I believe he’ll do it.

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January 28th, 2019


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