By Jameson Bradley
January and February are the most stressful months to be a hockey fan. January and February not only mark the half-way point of the season, these are the months that trade speculation runs rampant as the deadline approaches. This year the trade deadline falls on February 29th. For those who are unaware, the NHL deadline is particularly significant. If you go back to playoff teams from past seasons, you can regularly identify the catalyst of their success or demise by a trade they made. Some teams come out on top. In 2014 the LA Kings traded for Marian Gaborik at the deadline in order to fortify their playoff push. The Kings ended up winning the Stanley Cup, beating Gaborik’s former team the New York Rangers. Some teams fall flat. The same year as the Kings’ trade for Gaborik, the Montreal Canadians traded for Thomas Vanek. At the time, Vanek was one of the top forwards in the league. However, he failed to deliver for the Canadians who ultimately got the boot in the playoffs.
With that said, we draw our eyes on the current situation in Anaheim.
The Ducks lost Monday. They played a great game. Fortunately, this appears to be the new norm. They hit a couple posts and gave away the game in the end. On the current home stand they are 2-2-0, with the next contest against the Senators on Wednesday. The Ducks have had a lackluster season, but recently began climbing out of the hole they dug at the beginning of the season. This brings us to the most important trade deadline in Anaheim Ducks history. It could make or break the team. The Ducks are obviously missing the piece they need to go forward into the playoffs. Who that piece is, I can’t say. Many believe goal scoring is the most glaring deficiency, but a lack of confidence is truly the biggest problem for the Ducks. The Ducks have some of the best goal scorers in the league. Their goal production this year is uncharacteristic and could be explained by a lack of confidence. Either way, a change needs to be made.
Here are the three players the Ducks can trade and the one I feel they can’t go on without.
Players #1: Patrick Maroon
The biggest issue is that the Ducks tried to make up for the fact that they traded Dustin Penner, so they put Maroon in his spot. It’s true that Penner didn’t go on to do much after the Ducks and is a UFA right now, but he played his role with the Ducks well. Maroon has never been able to fill that role. Maroon has been slow on the ice, his skill level is sub-par, and his decision making can be questionable. He does have a couple great goals, passes, and plays, but consistency is what matters in the NHL. Maroon’s greatest skill is getting in the way of the opposing team and opening up the ice for his previous line mates, Perry and Getzlaf. My opinion of Maroon was solidified during the New Year’s Eve game against the Sharks last year. The Ducks were shut out. However, there were at least three open nets for Maroon to shoot at throughout the game. He missed them all. With the addition of Chris Stewart, Maroon doesn’t really have a place on the Ducks anymore. Stewart fills the same role as Maroon and he does it better. Maroon has been juggled around on different lines this year and has been a healthy scratch in a couple of games.
Player #2: Clayton Stoner
It would be more difficult to part with Stoner, but it would be for the overall benefit of the team. Acquired from the Minnesota Wild, Stoner has been a great addition to the defense. He doesn’t rack up points, but he plays well on the blue line and he makes his presence known. I’ve always thought that the most valuable trait of a great defensemen is great decision making. Stoner has had his share of bad decisions, but for the most part, he guards the line well. Additionally, he can hit. Hard. For a long time it appeared that the Ducks were deficient on defense. Now, it seems like they are coming out of the woodwork. Cam Fowler is out, but Josh Manson and Shea Theodore have stepped up; both great additions to the team this year. Simon Despres is coming back from injury in the near future as well. So the Ducks can afford to lose a defenseman, even if he is a great guy on and off the ice.
As I said in my last article, the goalie situation is not suffering in Anaheim. Picture a neighborhood that has just gone dark due to a power outage. There is one home with a power generator and the lights on. That would be the Anaheim goaltending. The players appear to be in the dark at times, but the goalies have been on. Khudobin won the Ducks their first victory of the season. A couple games later he went on to lead the Ducks to victory in a 1-0 game against the Sharks, a game they should have lost. He has been great for the Ducks. However, with John Gibson‘s play of late, and the acquisition of Tokarski, someone has to go. It won’t be Frederik Andersen. Tokarski isn’t as good as Khudobin and you can’t afford to keep a goalie like Khudobin in the AHL if you need to make additions. Khudobin would be good trade bait and Tokarski can work on his form in San Diego.
Player we can’t go on without: Ryan Getzlaf
I’m sure my view of Patrick Maroon will be unpopular and I anticipate that my view of Ryan Getzlaf will do nothing to improve my popularity. Let me explain. His goal production is down, but he sure has hit a lot of posts. He has made some poor decisions (see the OT drop pass against the Coyotes), but he has made plenty of great decisions too. He has made many more passes than shots, but that’s what Getzlaf is known for. No one should be surprised by that given his history. It is clear that Getzlaf has not lived up to his potential this season, but not many others on the Ducks have this season either.
Everyone seems to be on the Getzlaf’s case this season. But what we don’t acknowledge is that the Ducks as a team are under performing. Getzlaf’s horrible season has the same beginning and middle as the rest of the team’s. What we don’t want to do is make him a scapegoat, and see him traded. Getzlaf has had some incredible seasons. He has always been good to the Ducks. Should he still be Captain? There are some compelling arguments that he should not. Nevertheless, he should still be on the team. You don’t sell a car the minute it breaks down. You fix it. He just needs some time and maybe an All-Star break to come back to form. This can all be explained my first point, a lack of confidence. I see many social media comments wanting Getzlaf gone, but it is not the answer.
Do you agree with me, or am I completely off base? Let me know what you think in the comments! What are the pieces the Ducks could trade, and the ones they can’t do without? Sound off below and let me know!
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