Bob Murray’s Free Agency Acquisitions
During the 2018 offseason, Bob Murray brought in six players during free agency. He also picked up Pontus Aberg off of waivers from the Edmonton Oilers, but since he was neither a trade nor a free agent, we will include him in this group.
On July 5, 2018, Bob Murray signed Free Agent and former Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman, Andrej Sustr, to a 1-year, $1.3M contract. He was expected to bring added depth to the Anaheim Ducks struggling blueline and was attributed to being both a strong and dependable player. His incredible size, standing 6’7”, was also seen as a benefit.
The Sustr experiment was short-lived, as he played only 5 games with the Anaheim Ducks, and in that time, he seemed to regress. He was placed on waivers and was eventually relocated to the Anaheim Ducks farm team, the San Diego Gulls, where the friendly giant put up an underwhelming 3 assists. He was inactive for their Calder Cup run.
Signing Luke Schenn was a necessity going into the 2018-19 season. The Anaheim Ducks needed someone to fill the 6/7 defensive role on their blueline. With the departure of Francois Beauchemin and Kevin Bieksa, they needed a veteran who was going to push the younger players as well as add a physical presence.
Schenn played only 8 games with the Anaheim Ducks and had nothing to show for it. For the rest of his time with the organization, he played 22 games with the San Diego Gulls where he registered only 10 points. GMBM would end up trading Schenn and a 2019 7th round pick to the Vancouver Canucks for Michael Del Zotto.
Prior to the regular season, Jake Dotchin was released from the Tampa Bay Lightning after a “material breach of contract.” A month later, Bob Murray signed him to a one year $800,000 contract.
Dotchin played 20 games for the Anaheim Ducks and the San Diego Gulls, but the only thing he really produced for either team was an insane amount of penalty minutes, totaling 107 PIM between the two teams.
After the disaster that was Jason Chimera and Chris Kelly in 2018, Bob Murray signed Brian Gibbons in free agency with promises energy and, surprise, surprise, speed. He was projected to be a decent 4th line player, especially after the Ducks 4th line was non-existent during the 2017-18 season.
In Gibbon’s 44 games with the Ducks, he posted a dismal 5 points. He did more harm on the ice than good, and to be quite honest, he clogged up the roster, taking a spot that a younger player in the organization was more deserving of. Eventually, Murray traded him to the Ottawa Senators for Patrick Sieloff.
Ben Street has had a rough go of it in the NHL, having never scored a goal at the age of 31 and never eclipsing more than 35 NHL games in the six seasons since his first NHL game. However, Rowney has impressed at almost every other level he’s played at. He’s smart on the ice, a hard worker, and a decent skater. So, Bob Murray, the king of the island of misfit toys, took a chance.
While Street may have scored his first NHL goal plus two, things didn’t pan out for him with the Anaheim Ducks as Murray had hoped. He was eventually sent down the AHL to play with the Gulls, where he posted an impressive 26 points in 32 games and an additional 11 points in 16 playoff games. He may not have been what the Anaheim Ducks were looking for, but he gave the Gulls an extra edge, especially during their flight to the cup, and for that, we applaud Bob Murray for turning sour lemons into lemonade.
Carter Rowney is quite possibly the one and only free agent that worked out for the Anaheim Ducks, and it was a nice surprise. Prior to being signed by the Anaheim Ducks, he had appeared in 71 NHL games at the age of 29 and had only 12 points to show for it. He wasn’t known as a natural goal scorer but was versatile and gritty in a bottom 6 role.
Despite being moved into various positions on the roster throughout the season, Rowney took his new role with the Ducks in stride. If Randy Carlyle can be applauded for one thing during his final season with the Ducks, it was finally rolling out a decent fourth line and Rowney was a huge part of that. In 62 games with the Anaheim Ducks, he registered 20 points, his best season thus far.
Aberg was picked up on waivers after the Edmonton Oilers saw no need for him any longer. It wasn’t long after joining the roster that the Ducks put him back on waivers and sent him down to play with the San Diego Gulls. However, he only spent two games under Dallas Eakins before receiving a call up from the big club.
He became a mainstay in the lineup during his second stint last season with the Ducks. At one point, he led the entire team in goals. However, it is a reasonable assumption to say he could not maintain his point production. Due to what was rumored to be attitude issues that were having a negative effect in the locker room, Bob Murray made the decision to ultimately trade him to the Minnesota Wild for Justin Kloos.