Ryan Kesler, Nate Thompson, Clayton Stoner, Jason LaBarbera, and today Dany Heatley were added to the Anaheim Ducks in the past week. Bob Murray wasn’t joking around when he felt the team was not close to competing on a level he deemed necessary in the NHL.
With all the new moves that Murray has been doing, Ducks fans have to wonder will the Ducks have done enough this offseason?
Let’s look at the moves and see how they will affect the Anaheim Ducks.
Adding these two players strengthens the Ducks at the center position greatly. The projected line-up at the center position looks something like this: Ryan Getzlaf top line, Ryan Kesler second line, Nate Thompson third line, and Rickard Rakell on the fourth line. Granted Thompson and Rakell may be switched between their lines respectively.
The problem the Ducks had was winning faceoffs in the playoffs and it was apparent against the Los Angeles Kings. The Ducks lost almost 50 more faceoffs to the Kings. Kesler had a regular season winning percentage of 52.6% in the face off circle last year. This replaces Nick Bonino via the trade, who had a 48.8% in the regular season and 45.8% in the playoffs last year. Thompson’s percentage was 50.9% last year in the regular season and 62.5% in the playoffs. Mathieu Perreault was 52.7% during the regular season, but only 43.1% in the playoffs. Murray signed Kesler and Thompson to address face off issue especially in the playoffs.
Conclusion: The Ducks have done enough to improve the center position.
Stoner has been nicknamed Bryan Allen 2.0 because of his physical play, grit, and willingness to accept a challenge to fight. Since George Parros left the team there been no real enforcer on the Ducks roster. Stoner will not replace Parros in fighting ability and of course not in a Ducks fan popularity contest. However, Stoner brings solid defense and will take the body to break up the forecheck of the opposing team. He will fight when necessary to stand up for his teammates. His only drawback is he will sometime take unnecessary penalties.
Another area of concern for the Ducks last year was clearing the zone and ending an opposing team’s forecheck. In the series against the Kings there were numerous times the Ducks got trapped in their own offensive zone. We all remember what happened in Game 1? The infamous dagger by Marian Gaborik with 7 seconds left. Stoner will put forwards in the glass, tying them up so other players can assist in getting the puck out of the zone.
Conclusion: The Ducks have improved their defense.
When Murray signed LaBarbera fans really didn’t what to expect from this move. He didn’t have great numbers last year with a 1-3-0 record and a .870 SV%. His GAA was 3.28 in seven total games with the Edmonton Oilers. So why did Murray pick him up? Simple it’s a depth move. With the trade of Viktor Fasth and the departure of Jonas Hiller, there was less depth at the goalie position.
So does this mean LaBarbera will be the starter?
Certainty not. I expect him to fill in at times throughout the season when necessary. If for some reason Andersen reaggravates his knee then maybe LaBarbera will play a game or back up John Gibson. Another scenario is if Bruce Boudreau doesn’t feel Gibson is ready for full time duty at the NHL level, then maybe he sends Gibson back to Norfolk. In this case, then LaBarbera would back up Andersen and maybe start a few games. In either case, it is really a win-win situation for the Ducks because it gives Boudreau options at the goalie position.
Conclusion: The Ducks will be just fine at the goalie position.
Today the Ducks sign Heatley, which caused a mixed reaction from Ducks fans. Many look to his last season with the Minnesota Wild, where he only scored 28 points total. He had 12 goals and 16 assists. Many fans feel that Heatley is just going to take up a forward position that our young guns would be playing this year. With players like Devante Smith-Pelly, Patrick Maroon, Emerson Etem, Jakob Silfverberg, and Kyle Palmieri why would Murray sign such a player?
This goes back to having options. Boudreau has a team loaded with right wingers and now he has a true left winger. Could he be the missing first line left winger for the twins Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf? I don’t think so. He did score 50 goals twice in his career, but he has not scored over 30 goals in his last four seasons. I see him playing on the 3rd or 4th lines, but if he score 25+ goals while playing on any line, then I would consider him a successful signing. Don’t forget his deal is for one year at 1 million. If he doesn’t perform, then bench him and let the young guns play more.
Conclusion: The Ducks have done enough to improve at the forward position.
So have the Ducks done enough in the offseason?
In terms of free agency, I think the Ducks and Murray have done enough to help this team in terms of winning face offs at the center position, and added depth at the goalie and forward positions. So does this mean Murray is done in the free agency market? Probably, but you never know with Murray because as you can see his has been busy this summer.
The issue that still remains for the Ducks is the overall team defense. When the Ducks won it all in 2007, they had Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger on the defense. I am not saying the Ducks need two players of this caliber to win the Stanley Cup this season, but one would certainly help. I wouldn’t be surprised if another move was still coming from Murray. I could see a possible trade for a top defenseman. If the Ducks can make such a trade, then I believe they will have done enough this offseason.
Who would the Ducks trade? Well that is a topic for another article.
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