Anaheim Ducks: Brandon Montour is an Option for Solving Blueline Woes

SAN JOSE, CA - OCTOBER 03: Brandon Montour #26 of the Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
SAN JOSE, CA - OCTOBER 03: Brandon Montour #26 of the Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Brandon Montour seems to be on the outs with the Buffalo Sabres. Should the Anaheim Ducks use this as an opportunity to bring him home?

For those who listen to Elliotte Friedman, this news will come as no surprise, however for those who do not then perhaps there is potential for a lost Duck to come home. On his 31 thoughts podcast Friedman mentions that former Anaheim Ducks defenseman, Brandon Montour, may not receive a qualifying offer from the Buffalo Sabres. Specifically, in the midst of a discussion regarding current restricted free agents who may not receive qualifying offers, Friedman says:

"“you know who I heard is going to be that guy too maybe? Brandon Montour in Buffalo.”"

Personally, I find it hard to imagine that the Sabres would allow an asset to walk away for no return, however, this adds fuel to the fire that there were rumors of him being bandied about in trade talks. If nothing else this shows that Montour has likely played his last game in Buffalo.

This provides an opportunity for the Anaheim Ducks to swoop in and make a trade and acquire Montour for a song, or to wait it out and sign him as an unrestricted free agent. Both ideas would hold some merit. Signing him as a UFA would ultimately be cheaper in terms of assets, though it would also likely command a premium in real dollars, whereas trading and signing him would keep costs down as Montour would still be a restricted free agent. This, of course, would cost assets.

What Would Montour Cost the Anaheim Ducks?

Ducks fans would remember only but a year and a half ago trading Montour to the Sabres for a 1st round pick and prospect Brendan Guhle. There’s no doubt that a team willing to let a player walk for free would have no chance of recouping a haul like that, and it could be the Ducks could clear up some of their middle 6 roster clusters by shipping out an underperforming wing.

One also wonders if they turn the trade into a way to dump David Backes‘ contract, in order to open up future trade options for themselves. It would seem unlikely that Buffalo would want the Backes contract, but if you don’t ask the answer is always no. The Anaheim Ducks could try to move someone like Kiefer Sherwood, or a lower level pick, along with Backes to try to push it through.

Brandon Montour Could Fit The Anaheim Ducks Current Needs

Nonetheless, Ducks fans might wonder why they would want him back, but I would suggest that his skill set matches what the Ducks need right at present. That is, Montour’s strength is his skating ability in transition. When the play has been established at either end of the ice, then Montour’s effectiveness is awfully stunted, as evident by his below-par defensive numbers and moderately underwhelming offensive numbers.

Yet, the Ducks are a team that dumped the puck into their offensive zone with regularity. This was particularly true on the power-play with nearly 55% of their offensive zone entries coming off the dump in. That’s not to say that Montour would be a good power-play quarterback. As mentioned he is not particularly adept when the offensive zone has been established, which is typically the case on the usual power-play.

However, as the Ducks get quicker players into their line-up, they should hopefully transition from a heavy cycle offense, into scoring more off of the rush. This is where Montour can shine offensively and a big part of the reason he didn’t fit into Randy Carlyle‘s offensive system and was let go.

The current head coach, Dallas Eakins, doesn’t appear to have any answers with regards to an offensive system either. However, the younger portion of the Ducks roster almost commands a strong transition game. Troy Terry is amongst the leagues best in transition. Sonny Milano‘s strength is in his transition game. Cam Fowler has long been lauded as a neutral zone savant. Hampus Lindholm is another who is strong in this area of the ice. Montour would add another prime-aged player whose strengths match the Ducks’ current strengths.

The added benefit is that the Ducks are incredibly weak along the blue line. Fowler, Lindholm, and Josh Manson are still about and are performing to expectations. Christian Djoos has fit in nicely since the last trade deadline and will likely be extended should he wish to stay as a Duck. After that, the Ducks are struggling.

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Jacob Larsson hasn’t really come on as desired. Guhle is nice offensively but disappears defensively. Josh Mahura hasn’t really come on to expectations either. While these three players are certainly going to be given further opportunities, the chance to acquire a young defenceman in Montour should be given a priority.

Added Protection at the Expansion Draft

There is also the upcoming expansion draft in which the Ducks will nearly certainly lose a defenceman given they can only protect three. At present Sonny Milano stands to be the forward they can’t protect, but I hardly imagine the Seattle team would select him over a top-4 defenceman such as Djoos or even one of Larsson, Mahura, and Guhle. Thus Montour would provide the Ducks with added protection and depth for a minimal cost.

That isn’t to say Montour is a top-4 player or that the Ducks should be excited to grab him. He is who he always has been. A replacement-level player. It should be noted, however, that he was misused in the past season with Buffalo and that has likely impacted his counting stats over that sample.

In a lot of ways, this misuse is likely why the Sabres are considering dumping him entirely. The Anaheim Ducks would understand this having seen many of their misused young players going on to success with other clubs (cough Marcus Pettersson cough William Karlsson cough).

For those who are interested in handedness, Montour would provide the Ducks with a rare right-handed defenceman amongst a lot of lefties. It’s not much, but it allows the coaching staff the opportunity to try some different looks. Admittedly I do not have a lot of faith in the current group’s ability to puzzle out a way to effectively use all of their players, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. There is half a chance that Montour fits into the Ducks offensive system in a way that the current prospect group does not.

Given Montour is being boned, sacked, fired, and let go, by Buffalo. It would almost be a shame not to have a crack at seeing what nominal price we can acquire a 26-year-old right-handed defenceman for. I mean why not, right?

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