Revisiting the Brandon Montour Trade: One Year Later

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 04: Anaheim Ducks Defenceman Brandon Montour (26) in warmups prior to the regular season NHL game between the Anaheim Ducks and Toronto Maple Leafs on February 4, 2019 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON. (Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 04: Anaheim Ducks Defenceman Brandon Montour (26) in warmups prior to the regular season NHL game between the Anaheim Ducks and Toronto Maple Leafs on February 4, 2019 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON. (Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

It has been a year since Anaheim Ducks General Manager, Bob Murray, decided to ship out young top 4 defenseman Brandon Montour. Much has happened in that time span, and today we will look back at this transaction and break it down as much as we can.

On February 24, 2019, the Anaheim Ducks sat at a 24-29-9 record, sitting well out of a playoff spot. Just two weeks prior to the trade, Randy Carlyle was fired as head coach, allowing GM Bob Murray to take over for the remainder of the season, in order to closely assess the team and see what moves should be made.

In that 14 day, 6 game span, and a call with Buffalo Sabres, General Manager, Jason Botterill, Murray decided a move should be made revolving around his 24-year-old defenseman Brandon Montour. Montour was sent to Buffalo in exchange for another young defenseman Brendan Guhle along with a 2019 First Round Draft Pick.

A Potential Key Cog in the Future

A second-round pick in 2014, Montour quickly became one of the Anaheim Ducks’ most exciting prospects, becoming one of the new aged offensive defensemen, who use their speed and puck skills to make great offensive plays and control the attack. He made his debut during the 2017 season after an impressive year and a half run in San Diego (also a small cup of coffee when the Ducks affiliate was in Norfolk.) Montour joined a talented group on the backend which included the likes of Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Sami Vatanen, a declining Kevin Bieksa, as well as another young prospect in Shea Theodore.

That postseason, Montour became one of three Ducks defenseman to play all 17 games in their eventual loss to Nashville in the Conference Finals. He filled in for injured stars like Fowler and Vatanen and was inserted in the lineup over guys such as Bieksa and Theodore. Putting up 7 assists, Montour showed what he could do from the offensive side, while showing his development on the defensive side.

The future looked bright for the young Ducks defenseman, as Bob Murray put his faith in Montour by moving Shea Theodore in the expansion draft in order for Vegas to select Clayton Stoner and his contract, as well as trading off Sami Vatanen to acquire forward help in the form of Adam Henrique.

Montour played well in his sophomore year, putting up 32 points in 80 games. He was still learning how to be defensively responsible as Montour was known for consistently rushing the puck up the ice and joining the rush. It also helped that he usually was paired with Fowler or an aging, yet defensively sound, Francois Beauchemin, allowing him to stay aggressive in his offensive prowess.

This brings us to last season where the Ducks struggled much of the year, including losing streaks of 12 and 7 games. Bob Murray decided moves were in order, and Brandon Montour was one of the Ducks casualties.

Initial Reaction

Trading Montour came with mixed reviews after the initial transaction was complete. An exciting player on the ice, Montour was 24-years-old and in his third NHL season, producing at a respectable rate of 25 points in 62 games for a struggling team. When he had the opportunity, Montour also showed to have good chemistry with Cam Fowler, creating a solid young top 4 to go along with Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson.

However, with that excitement came risk for the young defenseman, as Montour often ended up out of position and caused Ducks to give up odd-man rushes and great scoring opportunities for the opposition. With the Anaheim Ducks starting to go through changes throughout the lineup, especially on the back end, some believed that Montour was the smart player to move out. With that, Murray pulled the trigger on the trade, sending Montour to the Buffalo Sabers in exchange for Brendan Guhle and a 2019 first-round draft pick.

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The Aftermath

It would be unfair to grade this trade a year later, as there were so many young parts to it that there is still time to see who benefits the most. Since going to Buffalo, Montour has put up 27 points in 67 games in a Sabers uniform. He has dealt with injuries throughout his time and has once again heard his name come up again in trade talks. With players on the roster such as Rasmus Dahlin and Rasmus Ristolinen, the Sabers have two strong offensive-minded defenders that they can rely on creating chances and putting on the powerplay.

By continuing to develop his two-way game, Montour will develop into a reliable defender that a team can slot into their top 4. Additionally, Montour still has the skill and experience to be a benefit to a team’s powerplay if the opportunity arises for him in the near future.

As far as the return for the Ducks, Brendan Guhle got a 6 game debut for his new team after the trade and showed great promise in the preseason. However, since the beginning of the year, Guhle has bounced back and forth between Anaheim and San Diego, still showing signs of development.

At just 22-years-old, Guhle still has time to develop into a respectable top 6 d-man, and with the continuous turnover and retooling of the team, he should continue to receive his fair share of chances. It will be up to him to prove his worth on them.

The First Round pick the Ducks received ended up being the 29th overall selection in the 2019 NHL Entry draft. With this selection, Anaheim took Canadian winger, Brayden Tracey, from the Moose Jaw Warriors. Tracey profiles to be a serviceable top 6 forward who will be able to put the puck in the net.

This part of the trade could really decide who the winner is. With playmaking centers such as Trevor Zegras and Sam Steel in the fold for the foreseeable future, Tracey’s goal-scoring ability will be a welcomed addition to this Ducks team.

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