It’s been a long off-season for us Ducks fans. As we find ourselves in the midst of the dog days of August, we’ve had to nurse the pain created by being eliminated prematurely, by the rival Los Angeles Kings no less.
We had to endure watching those same Kings capture their second Stanley Cup in just three seasons.
Finally, we’ve had to say goodbye to several celebrated players, including Teemu Selanne, arguably the greatest player to ever don a Ducks uniform.
All this has been made somewhat easier to swallow by the promise that this upcoming season brings.
There is good reason to believe that this Ducks team is even better than the one that finished one point shy of capturing the President’s Trophy, and then took the eventual Stanley Cup champions to a seven-game series last season.
With training camp and preseason games looming in the near future, there’s a decent chance that the current roster will be the same as on opening day. With that in mind, let’s review a few of the moves made by the Ducks this offseason.
This week, we’ll talk about the decision to not re-sign center Mathieu Perreault.
Who: Mathieu Perreault
The Ducks acquired Mathieu Perreault just before opening day last season, in a trade with the Washington Capitals for forward John Mitchell and a fourth-round pick.
Last season, Mathieu Perreault was a key part of the Ducks’ offense. The 26-year old French Canadian developed chemistry with linemates Patrick Maroon and Teemu Selanne. Perreault put up 43 points (18g 25a) in 69 games last season, and drove play with a 51.6 CF% (+1.9% rel) against weaker competition.
Perreault entered the offseason as a RFA. Most believed that a package to bring a #2 Center to Anaheim would include either Perreault or center Nick Bonino. When Bonino was traded in exchange for Ryan Kesler, it seemed as if Perreault’s role in Anaheim was cemented.
Then suddenly, everything changed.
The day before the free agency period began, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that the Ducks would not tender a qualifying offer to Perreault.
Instead the Ducks offered Perreault a contract which they viewed to be “substantial”.
By failing to tender a qualifying offer, Perreault became an Unrestricted Free Agent, and would be free to test the open market.
Hours later it was announced that the Ducks had acquired center Nathan Thompson from Tampa Bay for a fourth and seventh round pick, presumably to fill the hole left if Perreault decided to sign elsewhere.
Perreault did not last long on the open market. Early on in the day, he signed with the Winnipeg Jets for a 3 year, $9 million contract. The news came to the dismay of many Ducks fans who had grown fond of the miniature Quebecois center during the course of his lone season in Anaheim.
While Perreault would have brought insane center depth to the Ducks this season, there may be a couple of reasons why he wasn’t brought back. For one, his ego may have played a role. Perreault may not have liked the idea of playing third fiddle behind Ryan Kesler.
Perreault also had arbitration rights. In arbitration, a restricted free agent and a team meet with an third-party arbitrator and attempt to forge a contract. The player presents an argument detailing why he should be paid more, and the team argues as to why he should be paid less. As we saw with the P.K. Subban arbitration hearing, these meetings have potential to harm the relationship between the player and the organization.
By not tendering Perreault a qualifying offer, arbitration was no longer an option. Perhaps GM Bob Murray simply wanted to avoid this thorny process, and hoped that Perreault would sign out of loyalty to the Ducks as a UFA.
For whatever reason, the Ducks failed to tender an offer to Perreault, and in turn Perreault leveraged his situation to secure a lucrative contract.
What could we have done differently?
The Ducks could have traded him. There’s a chance that Vancouver would’ve taken Perreault instead of Bonino; though it’s seeming more and more that the Canucks were dead-set on Bonino.
If not, the Ducks could have traded him elsewhere. Maybe he would have fetched a prospect, or a draft pick.
If not that, the Ducks could have at least tendered an offer to him in the hopes that another team would offer-sheet him. Had Perreault signed his $3 million deal with the Jets under these circumstances, the Jets would have had to supply the Ducks with a second round draft pick as compensation.
No matter how you slice it, it’s pretty hard to categorize this move as anything other than poor asset management.
Though it might be tough to say goodbye to a Matty P., his departure isn’t the end of the world. It opens up a spot for promising 21-year old center Rickard Rakell. The young swede will likely take over Perreault’s spot in a scoring role against weaker competition.
Of course, Rakell is inexperienced, and if he is not ready for the big time, it is unsure who could step in.
We can hope for Rakell to excel at the NHL level, or the Ducks may find themselves in a tough spot this season. (read more: Time for Rickard Rakell to Earn His Wings)
I think I can speak for many Ducks fans when I say that it will be awfully strange to see Perreault in Jets blue next season. We wish him all the best—when he’s not playing the Ducks, of course!
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