When I read that the Ducks avoided arbitration by signing James Wisniewski to a one-year, $3.25 million deal, I wondered how the cash-strapped Anaheim Ducks would really act. It didn’t take long for the team to show its penny pinching ways, as Ducks GM Bryan Murray decided to trade the defenseman to the New York Islanders for a conditional third round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, according to Katie Strang of New York Newsday.
While he has his brain farts (such as his reprehensible charge on former teammate Brent Seabrook), Wisniewski brings an intriguing mix of fury and offensive ability to the ice. We can debate whether he’s worth that much cash, but he compiled 30 points in 69 games for the Ducks and still has room to improve at 26-years-old.
This continues the incremental improvement of the New York Islanders roster, as GM Garth Snow added Wisniewski, Mark Eaton and Milan Jurcina to a defense that had little beyond underrated gem Mark Streit. Snow still has plenty of work to do, but this defensive group should at least be a bit more competitive in a stacked Atlantic division.
It might be an ugly year on the blueline for Anaheim. There isn’t much to write home about beyond defensemen Lubomir Visnovsky and Toni Lydman, and those two aren’t exactly bluechippers themselves. If you factor in a probable cap hit of $5 million for Bobby Ryan plus a few minimum wage scratches, the Ducks will be a bit above $50 million in payroll in 2010-11 (although that could go up if Teemu Selanne decides not to retire). Can they really compete in a harsh Pacific division next season? Might they actually expect first round pick Cam Fowler to play with the big club next season? I don’t know, but it’s been a tough summer in Anaheim, that’s for certain.