It’s Time to Trade Bryan Allen


May 3, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings center Trevor Lewis (22) and Anaheim Ducks defenseman Bryan Allen (55) battle for the puck in the first period of game one of the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Bryan Allen, the 34-year old former fourth overall pick from Kingston, Ontario has been a member of the Anaheim Ducks since the 2012-2013 season. In the past two years, he has been a steady presence on the Ducks’ third pairing unit.

Allen is a defensive defenseman. He is not known for his skating or puck handling abilities, nor for his offensive prowess. His main asset is his size and strength, which he uses to clear bodies in front of the net and win battles along the boards.

The knock on Allen is not unlike most other defensive defensemen—his style of play does not easily translate well into positive puck possession. Rather than skate or pass the puck out of the zone, Allen tends to merely dump the puck back in, either resulting in an icing call or a turnover for the Ducks.

Allen held a 45.6% CF% (-4.43% rel) in 2012-2013, and a 49.9% CF% (-.64% rel) in 5v5 situations last season, against relatively easier competition. In that time, he’s gathered 16 points—all assists in 109 games.

Allen has long been a popular scapegoat for those who follow Anaheim. For example, in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against Los Angeles, Allen failed to clear the puck from the defensive zone. Then, he was allowed Marian Gaborik to skate to the front of the net uncontested and score the game-tying goal with only seven seconds remaining.

The Kings went on to win Game 1 in overtime, and later captured the series in seven games. When Los Angeles won the Stanley Cup just a month later, many Ducks fans wondered how things could have been different.

Coming into this season, Allen has only one year left on his contract, which is valued at AAV for $3.5 million, making him the 2nd highest paid defenseman on the roster, behind only Cam Fowler. The contract is sizable for a team performing in such a small market.

Ducks’ GM Bob Murray may be content to wait out Allen’s contract this year. However, by doing so he inflicts a massive opportunity cost on his team. If Allen is to be the team’s 8th defenseman, he denies the  opportunity for youngsters like Josh Manson to draw into the lineup once the team gets healthy.

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Manson has shown a lot of promise in three games before Allen returned to the lineup from an injury suffered in the preseason. He impressed coaches and fans alike with his offensive and defensive skills alike.

Once teammates Ben Lovejoy and Mark Fistric are healthy, the Ducks will have 8 defensemen on their roster (assuming Manson is sent down). Having 8 defensemen would force the Ducks to send two of their forwards down the AHL—presumably Rickard Rakell and Emerson Etem.

While Rakell may benefit from the extra year in the AHL, Etem has quietly built a solid case for why he should play in the NHL this season. Sending him down would hurt his development and the club would be worse off for it.

Something has to give. That something is Bryan Allen.

The Ducks already have two other stay-at-home defensemen in Clayton Stoner and Mark Fistric. Because Stoner was recently inked to a 4-year, $13 million dollar contract this summer, he is unlikely to be moved. Fistric is much more affordable, with a 3-year $3.8 million contract, and is valuable to the team for this reason.

Both players put up similar numbers to Allen, and only one of them is typically allowed into the lineup when everybody is healthy.

The return for Allen wouldn’t be very high. That being said, the team would greatly benefit from an Allen trade, because it would allow younger, better, cheaper players to step into a more fitting role that serves the club’s present and future needs.

Additionally, any return is better than no return—which is what the club will get when Allen’s contract expires at the conclusion of this season.

The Ducks are a better team without Allen. They should try to get a return for him while they still can.