Anaheim Ducks Round Table: Breaking Down the 2021 Trade Deadline

Rickard Rakell #67, Josh Manson #42 and Ryan Getzlaf #15 of the Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Rickard Rakell #67, Josh Manson #42 and Ryan Getzlaf #15 of the Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /
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Haydn Fleury #4 of the Carolina Hurricanes (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

What are your thoughts on the Trade Deadline trades (Hutton, Fleury)?

Ben Thomasian: Hutton wasn’t a strong player for the Anaheim Ducks and was in fact, one of their worst players along the blue line, despite being Drysdale’s partner in his stellar debut game. They turned that into a later-round draft puck. It’s not a great return, but it’s something for a player who actively made the Ducks worse when he was on the ice. Opening up that roster spot allows for one of their younger players (Josh Mahura, Jacob Larsson, or Brendan Guhle) to step back into the lineup.

As an aside, moving the player for a draft pick, bring the Ducks back to the 50 contract limit, which they were exceeding due to LTIR. It’s not a massive move, but I think so far, as minor moves go, that it was an effective one. They essentially turned a couple of months of cash payments to a free agent into a draft pick. That’s a small, yet positive step in the right direction.

Now, for the Haydn Fleury trade. Another one of Murray’s reclamation projects, Fleury has somewhat been buried in a strong Carolina blue line. Though, in part, that is due to him not taking the bull by the proverbial horns and forcing his way up the depth chart.

Overall, he has had sheltered starts, starting ~58% of his shifts in the offensive zone. Comparatively, only Andy Welinski and Josh Mahura have been as sheltered on the Ducks blue line. Given the Ducks blue line structure that may be somewhat concerning.

By that, I mean that if the Anaheim Ducks want to turbocharge one of their defensive players to take advantage of a high volume of offensive zone starts, that player will likely be their homegrown Jamie Drysdale. While Drysdale has slowed down tremendously over the past seven or eight games, there’s no doubt the Ducks will want him to be leading the charge in an offensive capacity.

It’s also worth noting that amongst the Carolina blueliners, Fleury has the worst of the expected-goals-for and is merely middle of the range for expected-goals-against. Given how frequently he starts his shifts in the offensive zone, it does not appear that he’s really utilizing those minutes. Some may find that concerning given that traditional aging curves suggest that players will begin to decline from approximately age 24 and beyond.

Conversely, defensive WAR (wins above replacement) remains largely static for defensive players throughout their 20’s. While Fleury has the highest on-ice goals against amongst his Carolina blueline peers, he is amongst their best at preventing scoring chances (of the regular and the high danger variety). This provides some hope for an Anaheim Ducks team that may wish to pair their two former top-10 draft selections together.

Fleury could provide a defensive presence while Drysdale provides the offense. With that in mind, it may also worth considering that Fleury looks to be in line for some serious regression based on his current season’s PDO. He has the lowest on-ice shooting percentage (by nearly half the next worst player) and save percentage of any of his Carolina peers. In fact of all the defensemen to play at least 100 5-on-5 minutes this season, Fleury holds the 11th lowest on-ice shooting percentage and 28th lowest PDO.

All that is to say that Fleury is probably worth a shot and likely has some “improvement” left in him should the pendulum of luck begin to swing his way. However, it’s also almost as equally likely that Fleury may frustrate fans if he cannot capitalize on his offensive zone forays. Nonetheless, the opportunity is available for Fleury to craft a defensively orientated game around the fleeter of foot offensive types the Anaheim Ducks already have in the hand.

On the flip side, Jani Hakanpaa formed one of the stronger Anaheim Ducks defensive pairings. While I certainly don’t believe that his individual skill set was as worthy of the praise the Ducks broadcast crew piled upon him each and every night, his pairing alongside Cam Fowler was perhaps the most effective the Ducks had. A 5-on-5 Corsi-for percentage of 51.87, expected goals percentage of 50.23% from 46.11% of offensive starts doesn’t appear to be much at face value but amongst the horrifying blue line numbers, stands out in a positive light.

While Fleury is certainly worth a gamble, he has some shoes to fill in a defensively soft blue line unit. One other thing to consider, and this may be pure fantasy, is that Fleury is a fairly large human being. The Ducks are likely to be drafting relatively high in this season’s entry draft. A draft in which Owen Power and Simon Edvinsson, two very large humans in their own rights, will be in the Ducks draft pick range.

Acquiring Fleury may create redundancy of that player type and thus may have taken the focus away from these larger players, allowing the Anaheim Ducks to acquire one of the forwards who are likely to be in the same draft pick range. It’s no certainty, but something that fans can consider leading up to draft day. Particularly given William Eklund is playing in the Swedish league and we all know how much Bob Murray loves that.

Brad Senecal: Hutton was a guy that it was easy to see get traded, very similar to when they moved Michael Del Zotto back in 2019 for a depth pick. Fleury will be intriguing to watch as he is still only 24 and was a former first-rounder. While the underlying numbers haven’t been great, playing behind guys like Dougie Hamilton, Brett Pesce, Jaccob Slavin, among others, you are not going to be put in the best situations.

Garrett Brown: Net losses are two defensemen, while the gains are one D-man in return and late-round picks. While the Ducks season should be entirely focused on development, I like these trades for one reason only: Drysdale’s responsibility will grow. I think he will handle it relatively well.

One can only hope that is the case; I don’t want to see him go back to juniors. Hutton is a replacement-level defender who never really felt like he had a place on the blueline. While Fleury isn’t a savior, he has a higher ceiling than Hakanpaa could dream of. The trade also makes the Ducks younger which is a step in the right direction. Might I say that this is the best thing Hakanpaa has done for the Anaheim Ducks all year?

Adam Tenenbaum: The Hutton trade is a slam dunk. While a 5th rounder isn’t crazy, getting a pick that high or at all for a guy signed late in training camp on a PTO is great asset management. Fleury on the other hand is a wait and see. While I doubt the Ducks will regret trading Hakanpaa, the jury will be out in terms of any positive impact Fleury will make on this roster. The potential is there, or will he just become another Christian Djoos where the Ducks lose him less than a year later. Only time will tell.

Ciara Durant: The Anaheim Ducks turning Ben Hutton into a 5th round pick, while it’s a late-round pick that may not make a difference down the road, is still something. This also opens up the door for the Ducks to get one of their younger guys on the ice. I think Josh Mahura deserves it more than the others, but when it comes to the Ducks, I never get what I want, so I digress.

I also love the Fleury trade. I know there were a lot of people upset about it, but I think he’s going to be a decent addition to the team. Fleury was very well-loved by fans in Carolina and I have promised them we’d take good care of him, and I intend to keep that promise so this is a no-slander zone.

Fleury will get a much better opportunity here in Anaheim to showcase his skills, much like Volkov. However, I think he will be a beneficial piece to the Anaheim Ducks blueline. It seems like the Ducks might try to play him alongside Kevin Shattenkirk to start, which could be a good pairing down the line.

There are still areas of his game he needs to work on, I think he is a huge improvement to the Ducks blueline. While it will be interesting to see where he fits in once Hampus Lindholm returns, he is exactly the kind of player Murray has been talking about bringing in. Plus, I think it’s overlooked that Murray turned a player who wasn’t even in the NHL two years ago into a previous top 10 pick. Straw into gold? We shall see.