Erik Gudbranson Trade Allows Anaheim Ducks to be Active in Free Agency

Erik Gudbranson #6 of the Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Erik Gudbranson #6 of the Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Anaheim Ducks have traded defenseman, Erik Gudbranson, to the Ottawa Senators. This gives the team room to be active in free agency.

The 2020 NHL Entry Draft and Free Agency have all been packed into one exciting and crazy week. Today marks the start of Free Agency, and there are a lot of big names that could be on the move. While the Anaheim Ducks probably won’t make a huge splash, they have given themselves a little bit of wiggle room by trading Erik Gudbranson to the Ottawa Senators.

During the 2020-21 season, the Ducks traded Andreas Martinsen and their 2021 7th round pick to acquire the 28-year-old defenseman. The right-handed defenseman provided the team with a quick solution after Josh Manson found himself sidelined by an injury in late October. Dallas Eakins utilized him in a top-4 role; that is, when he wasn’t dealing with his own injury.

In 44 games with the Ducks, Gudbranson posted 9 points (4g, 5a). He spent quite a bit of time keeping the bench in the sin bin warm. While he wasn’t even close to the best defenseman on the team (can you put any of the Ducks defensemen in that category?) he was okay. Plus, fans really liked him and the dedication he brought to the ice every night.

Smart Trade for Bob Murray

The trade was rather unexpected. However, most fans knew that Bob Murray would have to do something to open up cap space, but it never crossed out mind that the player going out would be Guddy. Nevertheless, this is an incredibly smart move on Bob Murray’s part. Not only are the Anaheim Ducks accruing assets in the wake of their rebuild (even if it is a 5th round pick), they are also offloading a $4M contract.

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Prior to the trade, the Anaheim Ducks had less than $5OOk going into Free Agency and they still needed to sign a backup goaltender. They now have the wiggle room to re-sign Ryan Miller or tap into the free-agent market that is crawling with eligible goaltenders.

This trade could also signal that the Ducks are looking at bringing in another right-handed defenseman. Most of the RHD in the Ducks system are not ready to make the jump to the NHL.

Kodie Curran is an option, as he’s played on the right side, and Fowler could also continue to play on the right side as well. Nevertheless, with players like Tyson Barrie, Sami Vatanen, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Anthony DeAngelo available as UFA’s, could the Ducks be interested in one of these players to improve their blueline?

The extra $4M goes a long way in potentially negotiating a contract with one of these players. If Murray can sign one of them at a cheaper, team-friendly deal he may have room to go out and sign another Free Agent as well. There is also the possibility for another trade to happen, giving Murray even more flexibility to bring in pieces for the Anaheim Ducks 2020-21 season.

I wouldn’t expect the Anaheim Ducks to be extremely active in Free Agency. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bob Murray bring in two key pieces in a backup goaltender and a right-handed defenseman. It remains to be seen who those two players might be, but the mystery is what makes Free Agency so fun.

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