Ducks hint at future by keeping, not trading, Silfverberg

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The Anaheim Ducks have taken Jakob Silfverberg off of the trade market with an unofficial five-year extension.

Reported details about the deal

Salary cap “tagging” issues could explain why the deal is unofficial – and could be unofficial until March – but various reporters (from The OC Register’s Elliott Teaford to Eric Stephens/Jon Cooper of The Athletic) confirm that the deal with Silfverberg, a 28-year-old who would have become an unrestricted free agent.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the cap hit will be $5.25 million beginning in 2019-20, backing up Cooper and Stephens’ report (sub required) that it would-be in the low-$5M range. Cooper/Stephens indicate that Silfverberg’s deal will include a modified 10-team no-trade clause, too.

Again, this can’t yet be made official because of how tight the Ducks are to their spending limits for 2019-20.

Was it wise to extend Silfverberg?

Cooper and Stephens went deep on the pros and cons of keeping Silfverberg versus trading him, and it’s indeed a conundrum.

On the bright side, Silfverberg is an effective player right now, to the point that a potential $5.25M cap hit could be a nice value for Anaheim. Silfverberg even compares respectably well to Matt Duchene if you zoom out to their work since 2016-17. This SKATR comparison chart (by Bill Comeau with Corsica data) captures some of that spirit:

This isn’t to say that Silfverberg = Duchene, mind you, just that Silfverberg is likely better than people may realize.

But what about the future?

Silfverberg is already 28, so if the Ducks go through a protracted rebuild, he could very well be suffering from a steep decline by the time Anaheim figures things out.

Would the Ducks have been better off moving on from a quality player, thus landing more assets for a trade? What if the Ducks had managed to trade Silfverberg, then later sign him as a free agent, a scenario “The Mayor” John Hoven discussed hypothetically earlier on Wednesday?

Ultimately, the Ducks decided to just keep Silfverberg. It’s a decision that’s complicated – but not outrageous – in a vacuum, but what about the team’s larger trade deadline outlook, and general future?

Rebuild challenges

Some teams, like the New York Rangers, see the writing on the wall and end up in a great position for a quick/medium-sized rebuild.

If you ask me, the Ducks’ situation is more complicated and challenging.

There are some nice players in Anaheim’s system, with Maxime Comtois, Troy Terry, and Sam Steel already getting some cups of coffee at the NHL level. Perhaps prospects-oriented Ducks fans will disagree with me here, but broadly speaking, it doesn’t seem like the Ducks have a ton of stars-in-waiting, though.

As a team that’s intended to contend, the Ducks aren’t brimming with picks. They don’t have any extra choices as of this writing, according to Cap Friendly’s handy charts, and lack a third-rounder in 2019, plus seventh-rounders in 2019 and 2020. That’s not disastrous, but rebuilding teams (short and long-term) would obviously prefer to have more than the default number of a pick in all seven rounds, not less.

The Ducks seem primed to possibly trade Ryan Miller, according to Hoven, and perhaps some other smaller names could be sent out to add some assets. Still, this isn’t a team that seems primed to charge high prices for blockbuster rentals.

Good and mostly bad about veterans

The Ducks are currently paying a lot of money for aging players on problem contracts, but the bright side is that those contracts aren’t too long-lasting.

Ryan Getzlaf is getting up there at 33, but his $8.25M cap hit expires after 2020-21. Not ideal, but his situation really only gets scary in conjunction with bigger problems: Corey Perry (33, $8.625M through 2020-21) and Ryan Kesler (34, $6.875M through 2021-22) make for an expensive, fading Big Three.

GM Bob Murray must ponder what to do with those deals. Buyouts could be considered for Perry and Kesler, although that would spread out the pain. Trading Kesler or Perry might require a bribe, while moving Getzlaf would be an enormous, difficult decision.

If the Ducks just have to swallow those costs, at least they aren’t seemingly unending contracts.

The good stuff

While there are signals for the Ducks to at least do a short-term rebuild – as much as they even can – you can talk yourself into this team being competitive.

John Gibson‘s extension begins in 2019-20 at a very affordable $6.4M, so if he remains an elite goalie, the Ducks can steal wins some nights. Gibson’s been incredible, to the point of altering Anaheim’s potential ceiling … but then again, we’ve seen goalies go from bargains to problems. Cory Schneider sticks out as one of the most uncomfortable examples.

The Ducks’ other strengths mostly come from a young, mostly modern-style fleet of defensemen. Plenty of other franchises would be giddy to have a core group of Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Cam Fowler, and Brandon Montour.

That defense plus Gibson plus – ideally – a great new coach could really brighten the Ducks’ outlook, and quickly.

Most likely, optimists in Anaheim picture this as the winning play for the Ducks:

  • Gibson continues to be superhuman most nights (a dangerous gamble – because goalies – yet Gibson’s been the real deal so far).
  • That defense makes Gibson’s life easier and boosts a so-so group of forwards.
  • Silfverberg and especially Rickard Rakell combine with the likes of Terry and Steel to take on more of the scoring burden, while Getzlaf remains a beast.
  • The worst-case scenarios don’t play out for Kesler/Perry.

Such a scenario isn’t … impossible, right? Especially if this team had been underachieving under an overmatched coach in recently fired Randy Carlyle?

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The thing is, the Ducks likely boxed themselves into something of a corner. That’s not fun, yet it’s also the price of doing business when you want to win it all.

And, to reiterate, there are teams in bigger binds. Where other teams are conjoined to parasitic contracts for frightening terms, the worst stuff can dissolve for the Ducks in a few years. The Silfverberg extension seems to signal that the franchise hopes that they can stick more or less to the current blueprint, but simply execute better in the future.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that this will be an easy juggling act, though.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

The Buzzer: Miller, Ducks win again; Josi on a tear

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Three stars

1. Ryan Miller, Anaheim Ducks

A night after becoming the winningest American-born goaltender in NHL history, Miller produced a fantastic performance in a 31-save shutout against the Minnesota Wild.

The shutout was Miller’s first of the season and 44th of his career. The Ducks have now won two straight and are three points back of the Wild for the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference.

The Wild, meanwhile, lost their fifth straight, including their second straight game being banished from the scoresheet. The Ducks are faring well without John Gibson.

2. Roman Josi, Nashville Predators 

Josi scored twice in the third period, including the game-winner, and added an assist in the game for a three-point night

The elite defenseman now has four goals and 11 points in his past eight games for the Predators, who needed a win after going 1-3-1 over their past five games.

The Preds are now just a point back of the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the Central Division although Winnipeg has three games in hand.

3. Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers

Huberdeau scored twice and added an assist in a 4-2 win for the Panthers against the struggling Buffalo Sabres.

Huberdeau hadn’t scored in eight games prior to Tuesday’s contest and had just one goal in his previous 14.

Florida is nine points back of the Columbus Blue Jackets for the second wildcard in the Eastern Conference.

Highlights of the night

Barkov with another dirty move:

Windmill:

Broke all the ankles:

Factoids

https://twitter.com/PR_NHL/status/1098065651539865601

Scores

Panthers 4, Sabres 2
Penguins 4, Devils 3
Lightning 5, Flyers 2
Rangers 2, Hurricanes 1
Canadiens 3, Blue Jackets 2
Blues 3, Maple Leafs 2 (OT)
Ducks 4, Wild 0
Predators 5, Stars 3
Coyotes 3, Oilers 2 (SO)


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck=

The Buzzer: Ducks’ Boyle gets first NHL start, first win and first shutout

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Three stars

1. Kevin Boyle, Anaheim Ducks

Boyle, 26, made his first NHL start and was perfect in the game, stopping all 35 shots sent his way for his first NHL shutout.

The Boyle era began after John Gibson was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday with an upper-body injury. Chad Johnson, Gibson’s backup and the man who Boyle had to come in for in a relief effort on Saturday, is out with a head injury.

The game was also the first for Bob Murray behind the bench after he took over following the firing of Randy Carlyle earlier this week.

And the win snapped a seven-game losing streak for the Ducks, who came into the game losers for 19 of their past 21.

And this reaction:

“I honestly don’t have many words, this is incredible,” an emotional Boyle said in the post-game interview. “It’s been a tough past couple of days for me and my wife and my family. To be able to come out here and get a win, it’s just incredible.”

The New Jersey native said he thinks he blacked out around the same time the Canucks pulled the goalie late in the third.

Boyle has spent the past three seasons with San Diego of the American Hockey League. He played college puck at UMass-Lowell.

He’ll get another start.

2. Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins

Shot suppression hasn’t been something the Penguins have been all that good at over the past two games. Murray stopped a career-high 50 shots in a 4-1 win on Monday.

Two days later, Murray was back in the crease, and while the siege wasn’t as heavy, he still made 38 saves in a 3-1 win.

Getting pelted every night and only allowing a single goal probably isn’t sustainable, but Murray’s play is going to be a massive factor down the stretch of Pittsburgh is going to take another run at Lord Stanley. If he’s starting to heat up now, there’s not a better time to do so.

3. Jacob Markstrom, Vancouver Canucks

Markstrom only had one blemish on his record in the loss to the Ducks. He stopped 21 shots in his return after missing Monday’s 7-2 slaughtering at the hands of the San Jose Sharks with back spasms.

Markstrom has been solid recently, despite a subpar Canucks team in front of him. He’s had a .930 save percentage or better in four of his past six starts now.

Highlights of the night

The OG Mighty Ducks:

This one-two punch:

Factoids

Scores

Penguins 3, Oilers 1
Ducks 1, Canucks 0


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Bright side to Ducks placing John Gibson on IR

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For a significant portion of this season, John Gibson‘s been able to carry the Anaheim Ducks. Eventually that burden overwhelmed him, and with the team crumbling, he’s been placed on IR because of a combination of head/back/neck issues.

“He got whacked a whole bunch on one play,” Ducks GM/interim head coach Bob Murray said, according to TSN’s Jeff Paterson. “He’s just not right anywhere up there.”

This is obviously mostly bad news. You never want to see a player deal with anything neck-or-head related, as those issues can linger for a long time, sometimes for an entire career, whether that stems from aggravating ailments or never fully healing at all.

It certainly didn’t look good when Gibson was bowled over by his own teammate on a Matt Duchene goal earlier this month.

Yet, it’s tough to blame a segment of the Ducks fandom if they feel a little relief.

Sometimes NHL goalies feel a bit like NFL running backs, at least during the days when NFL running backs were workhorses (as opposed to the seemingly replaceable pieces they are now). From Shaun Alexander to other heavily used RBs, the worry was that you’d hit a certain threshold for carries, and then a running back would never be the same. Such thought processes also apply to MLB pitchers, and really any sporting position where wear and tear can really bring quality of play down.

The NHL tends to lag behind other leagues when it comes to embracing innovations in fields like “sports science,” so discussions of fatigue for goalies are really only cropping up now, and Gibson could be one of the make-or-break cases.

In the instance of 2018-19, the Ducks have often been breaking Gibson.

No goalie has faced more shots (1,434) or made more saves (1,311) than Gibson this season, and it’s not just about sheer physical fatigue. By just about every measure, the Ducks leave Gibson out to dry, such as allowing almost seven more shots per game than they generate. Anaheim’s asking Gibson to bail them out on an almost by-game basis, and when you’re not getting support, frustration can really build up. Especially when you’re losing as often as the Ducks have been lately.

When discussing fatigue last season, both Braden Holtby and Andrei Vasilevskiy pointed to the mental side as much as the physical. That might sound corny, but it makes sense that the psychological stress matters too. Goalies need to do the more meat-and-potatoes work of studying video for tendencies in opponents. They need to get in whatever headspace they need to prepare for games. And, like an NFL defensive back, they have to find ways to shake off setbacks, whether the goals allowed were truly their fault or not.

If the Ducks were looking better, maybe Gibson would force himself to fight through the pain. In that situation, maybe there’d be spoken or unspoken pressure for him to do so.

With that in mind, this trip to the IR could be a blessing in disguise, or at least provide a silver lining. Making Gibson absorb more of this mess – mentally and physically – doesn’t really make a lot of sense.

And, hey, it gives everyone more time to come up with funny ways to refer to Bob Murray’s many roles.

(And, yes, it helps the Ducks’ tanking goals, if you’re looking at things that way.)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Ducks’ forgettable road trip doesn’t dampen newlyweds’ honeymoon

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Andrew and Kaylin Gladd figured that by the end of their Canadian road trip following their beloved Anaheim Ducks the pucks they collected before each game would end up being the highlight of their travels.

The California natives were married on New Year’s Eve and decided to spend their honeymoon traveling across Canada as the Ducks played the Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, and Ottawa Senators. It was a plan hatched over the summer after the NHL released its 2018-19 schedule. 

Being true Californians, of course, meant that aside from booking hotels, buying game tickets and planning how they would get to each city, they would need to make some additions to their wardrobes considering the time of year they would be honeymooning.

“We started buying actual winter boots because we didn’t have anything clothes-wise,” Andrew told Pro Hockey Talk on Friday from the couple’s Ottawa hotel room.

“It’s cold up here,” added Kaylin.

When the Gladds, who have had Ducks season tickets together for the last three years, began planning, there probably wasn’t a thought that the Ducks would be as bad as they are right now. They’re eight points out of a wild card spot in the Western Conference, but it feels like a thousand. Anaheim has won only twice in their last 21 games and John Gibson’s Vezina Trophy hopes have taken a major hit with the lack of support in front of him.

Andrew and Kaylin got to witness the red lights in four different rinks light up with regularity in the past week, with the Ducks getting outscored 23-5 during the Gladds four-game trip. Fortunately for them they headed to Washington D.C. to finish out their honeymoon and missed out on the 6-2 loss in Philadelphia, which turned out to be Randy Carlyle’s final game behind the bench.

“I did think Ottawa was our best chance,” said Andrew. “Ottawa came off playing in Toronto, came back home and took care of a team that didn’t play the night before.”

The hockey was enjoyable, and while the results weren’t there for the Ducks something unexpected happened on the trip that really changed their final outlook on things.

On Thursday morning, TSN host James Duthie came across a photo on Twitter of the couple with their checklist sign before the Maple Leafs game. He responded with, “Ouch. Feel like we should all chip in and send them to a resort. Or therapy.”

Three hours later Duthie Tweeted again, writing that through connections he has at the Wymara Resort in Turks and Caicos, the Gladds would be getting a free four-night stay. “[O]ne of our owners is a Senators fan so it’s the least we can do,” the resort revealed.

The Wymara Resort gave Pro Hockey Talk the full details of what the Gladds trip will consist of:

• Four night-stay at the resort
• A three-course dinner at the restaurant Stelle, which will also include a bottle of wine
• Sunset cocktails at champagne bar Pink Bar and a beach bed

“We had kind of been talking about doing a trip like that this year, maybe down to Cabo [San Lucas] for my birthday,” said Kaylin. “I mean, Turks and Caicos, we’ll take that, too.”

Despite the poor results on the ice, what the Gladds were able to do away from the rink only enhanced their Canadian experience. There were Beavertails enjoyed in Ottawa, poutine sampled in every city, a trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame to see the plaques of Ducks legends Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne, and some outdoor hockey played on a river in Winnipeg.

The response from opposing fans in each city was one of respect. “It was always shock just thinking that we would come from Southern California to somewhere so cold for our honeymoon,” explained Kaylin.

But despite some good-natured ribbing, there were bonds formed with fans from the opposing teams and even some Ducks fans they discovered who were living in each of the cities.

“Definitely the Canadian nice thing was there. Everyone was nice,” said Andrew. “The hockey aspect you can bond on. Even the person in customs, they ask you quite a few questions, and he’s like ‘Really? You guys came here for your honeymoon?’ And that was the reoccurring theme.

“After that you end up talking to people, connecting to people and sharing the love for the game.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.