Who should the Anaheim Ducks Target?
My personal preference is to target draft picks. While quality prospects are occasionally traded in a bid to offload unwanted contracts (see Teuvo Teravainen to Carolina), most often when prospects are moved it’s due to them no longer being desirable. Perhaps they’ve fallen away, or there are other issues with their development. A draft pick is a clean slate, and with the 2020, and 2022 drafts looking particularly strong, a club could position themselves very nicely moving into the future.
However, Friedman’s quotes specifically mention young assets, which we can assume means prospects or young players. Collecting these types of assets and hoping they might catch fire or rebound does follow the ethos that Bob Murray has implemented in the past when he acquired players like Nick Bonino, Daniel Sprong, Mathieu Perreault, and so forth. It would also fit with the idea that this could be a quick rebuild, or rather a retool in today’s lexicon.
So who, or what might be options from each of the other NHL teams? It’s a bit of a tough call as not all will be viable trade partners, and in many cases what each team wants will not align. With that said the following is a list of each team and what could be potential ideas for a trade. In many cases, it seems very cut and dried, yet in others, the upgrade may be only incremental or require the Ducks to give up more than cap space.
Arizona Coyotes (1st Pacific, 25-18-5, 55 points)
The first team on the list and it has no cap space to work with. The Yotes would certainly like to load up a little moving into the future, and at least have an outside chance at extending Taylor Hall now that he’s a Desert Dog. While Derek Stepan may hold an “A” he isn’t a particularly effective player and could be moved if the price is right. The Anaheim Ducks can technically fit his $6.5 million dollar cap hit next season and they could find a roster spot for him if Derek Grant is let go over the offseason or at the trade deadline.
Coyotes get a young roster player, and the Ducks upgrade their prospect pool. Stepan can play a middle/bottom 6 role while their prospects develop.
Boston Bruins (1st Atlantic, 27-8-12, 66 points):
Boston currently has less than $1k in cap space, although this can shift out to $1.7 million with LTIR. Their most pressing need is likely to remove David Backes from their roster so that they may be able to spend money on a rental this season and extend Jake DeBrusk and company next season. In return, the Bruins aren’t likely to give up a young player the Anaheim Ducks want, and thus a draft pick may be the more likely option.
Boston dump cash while the Ducks get a late first-round pick.
Buffalo Sabres (5th Atlantic, 20-19-7, 47 points)
Realistically, the Sabres are an unlikely trade partner for the Anaheim Ducks. While this current season is a wash for the Sabres, they will want to maximize Jack Eichel in his prime and push for a playoff berth sooner than later. To do so they may decide to throw a bunch of money at unrestricted free agents like Taylor Hall. To do so they’ll want to clear Kyle Okposo’s cap from their roster. With 3 further seasons of $6 million dollars left on his ledger, it may take some convincing for the Ducks to take on this salary.
Buffalo picks up a great goaltending prospect and dump a long-term underperforming contract. Ducks get an absolutely fabulous prospect and a future pick.
Calgary Flames (2nd Pacific, 25-18-5, 55 points)
The obvious target on the Flames list is one that quite frankly terrifies me. Milan Lucic has to stand out as the face-punching forward that is no longer productive. With $5.2 million left on the books for each of the next 3 years, the Anaheim Ducks shouldn’t go near him. However, let’s say that they want to replace Nicolas Deslauriers with a name brand, what could they get for taking on that albatross?
The Flames dump an albatross and give up a good prospect and two picks to do it. Ducks get worse immediately but strengthen their future.