As we get closer to the trade deadline, the Ducks continue to emerge as potentially huge players.
With a boatload of good young defensemen and an offense that could use a punch — Anaheim sits 19th in the NHL in goals per game — all the makings are there for a significant move.
So where do things stand?
“The phone has started to ring,” GM Bob Murray said, per the O.C. Register. “Not specifically about the young defensemen but more about teams preparing for the deadline.”
Ah yes, the young defensemen.
Anaheim has one of the best 25-and-under collections in hockey. Last month, AHL standout Brandon Montour made his big league debut, thereby joining a group that already included Shea Theodore, Cam Fowler, Sami Vatanen, Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson.
The latter three are already established as full-time NHLers. Beyond those, there’s also ’15 first-rounder Jacob Larsson (who made his NHL debut earlier this year) and Swedish blueliner Marcus Pettersson, who was taken 17 spots ahead of Montour at the ’14 draft.
Fowler, of course, has been floated in trade rumors for a while. There was widespread speculation he’d be moved at last year’s draft, to the point where even he expressed surprise that he wasn’t dealt. But such a move seems unlikely now, largely because he’s been arguably Anaheim’s best blueliner this season.
Which points to other assets potentially in play.
Also in play? The looming specter of this summer’s expansion draft.
From the Register:
Murray also has to factor in the expansion draft and the three defensemen to protect in order to make seven forwards off limits. Being able to get defender Kevin Bieksa to waive his no-movement clause will be key in any 7-3-1 expansion plan.
But if he’s going to move one of his prized assets, it is going to be for someone who is going to remain with the Ducks beyond this season. “Any young player deal would be a hockey deal,” Murray said, “not a rental.”
At this stage, it’s hard not to connect the dots to Colorado. The Avs are in major need of blueline help, have two good forwards in Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene — both under contract through 2021 and 2019, respectively — and Avs GM Joe Sakic was in attendance for recent Ducks game.
Related: Is Anaheim readying to move a defenseman?