Anaheim Ducks General Manager, Bob Murray, made a very noteworthy move on Trade Deadline Eve in a deal with the Buffalo Sabres.
The Anaheim Ducks have traded 24-year-old defenseman, Brandon Montour, to the Buffalo Sabres. In return, they received a first-round pick and 21-year-old defenseman, Brendan Guhle. Montour has been a key component of the Ducks top 4 for the past two seasons after taking over the role from Sami Vatanen. The highly skilled, smooth skating defenseman was thought to be part of the long term plans of Anaheim, so what changed?
This season has been tough for the Anaheim Ducks, Brandon Montour included. The plan was for Montour to take a big step forward and cement himself long term, proving that he was deserving of a big raise off of his bridge contract signed in the summer.
What we have seen this season was a much higher workload for the young defenseman. Averaging well over 20 minutes a game, Montour struggled to find chemistry with any other Ducks defender. It’s not all doom and gloom for Bob Murray as he’s only 7 points shy of his career high with 20 games to go.
Montour is more than anything a casualty of a team playing terribly, with very few valuable assets that could be moved to another team. He was hindered since becoming a mainstay on the roster by a team that hasn’t utilized him correctly. Randy Carlyle‘s system lets defenders get peppered over and over with shots, and doesn’t factor in defensemen like Montour, who benefit more from carrying the puck into the neutral and offensive zone than to dump it behind the crease, and it has stopped him from reaching his full potential.
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Brandon Montour will get a massive chance to show what he’s got, similar to Sami Vatanen in New Jersey, as he heads to a team looking for answers on defense, and could find himself playing alongside last year’s first overall draft pick, Rasmus Dahlin. If allowed the chance, will have a great chance to shine in Buffalo.
Meanwhile, the Ducks bring in a second 1st round pick, projected to be anywhere from 20th-30th overall. The Anaheim Ducks have done damage in the past with these late round draft picks. Isac Lundestrom looks promising out of the most recent draft. Max Jones and Sam Steel were both selected in 2016 and look to be NHL caliber players.
In 2015 we saw Jacob Larsson, who has not been money just yet but has shown flashes of what he could be. 2013 the Ducks took Shea Theodore who has made great strides to be a top 4 defenseman in Vegas. The draft is Murray’s strong point, and the more raffle tickets he has, the more likely he is to win a great prize.
Introducing Brendan Guhle
Brendan Guhle is a 2nd round pick from the 2015 draft. He was coincidentally taken 4 spots earlier, a year after Montour was drafted. He’s shown flashes, with the majority of his success coming in the AHL to this point. A lot of Sabres analysts feel that Guhle was making strides, with some feeling that next year was the year he would make the leap to be a full-time NHLer.
Guhle is a smooth skater with some offensive upside, but he’s more renowned for his conservative two-way play. Guhle has the pieces to be a good bottom 4 defenseman and could fit the mold the Ducks are looking to make a “retool” around.
Guhle recently took place in the AHL All-Star skills competition, showing blazing fast speed, finishing the fastest skater competition with the 6th all-time fastest time, surpassing times posted by Mathew Barzal, Jack Eichel, and Elias Pettersson among others. As it stands now, Guhle will likely get a chance with the big club immediately, likely slotting on the bottom pairing to get his feet wet. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him get some time on the powerplay to play to his strengths and see what the Ducks have on their hand.
Overall this is a fair trade for both sides. Buffalo gets an NHL top 4 defenseman to help them now, they’re not likely to make the playoffs, being 6 points back, but stranger things have happened. The Anaheim Ducks walk away with a draft pick and a young defenseman who Murray is high on and helps them in their retool.
Also, one final note. This is a quote from Bob Murray following the trade to talk about Guhle:
“Brendan Guhle is an excellent skater who is ready to take the next step in his career. Adding Guhle and a first-round pick is an important step as we retool our team moving forward.”
For the first time, we’ve heard Murray use the term “retool” which is a good sign that we are full steam ahead to a lottery pick this season.
On behalf of the entire staff at Pucks of a Feather, we want to wish Brandon Montour the best of luck in the next chapter of his NHL career. We can’t wait to see what he does next.