By Garrett Funk
Bob Murray is said to be looking to improve the team by adding another winger by Monday’s 3 P.M. ET NHL Trade Deadline. Whether that is a top six forward or not remains to be seen. Andrew Ladd has already been traded to Chicago, but other enticing options still remain available. Others that could be available include Mikkel Boedker of the Arizona Coyotes, Loui Eriksson of the Boston Bruins, Jonathan Drouin of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and possibly Jordan Eberle or Nail Yakupov of the Edmonton Oilers. Murray is big on character so Yakupov and Drouin might not fit the mold of what he is looking to add to the team. Eriksson would be a great addition, but his agent is still working with the Bruins to get him signed so it is not a guarantee that he will be dealt. Boedker would also be a nice addition to the Ducks, but Arizona might not want to deal him in the division. Eberle would be a fantastic addition to the squad because he still has term on his deal, and he would fit in well on the line with Ryan Getzlaf and David Perron. Edmonton may not want to deal in division either though, and Eberle has played really well with Connor McDavid. However, if the Ducks do land him, they would be set at left wing for a few years. With Boedker and Eriksson being unrestricted free agents after this season, Murray would have to re-sign them and there is no guarantee they would come back or that the Ducks can afford them.
One guy that might be dealt to land one of these wingers is Defenseman Sami Vatanen. Vatanen is the quarterback on the power play for the Ducks, but prospect Shea Theodore has shown he can play that role as well so he would likely take over if a trade occurred. Vatanen would be a really nice piece to acquire for Edmonton or Boston, two teams that desperately need help on defense. He could also bring a big return to the Ducks, with Eriksson or Eberle coming back in the deal. He has posted 9-23=32 on the season so far in 60 games played. That is with a +/- of 3. Vatanen is capable of taking the puck up the ice with tremendous puck handling skills and no fear of joining the rush as an offensive defensemen. He is also responsible in his own zone on defense, and his shot is lethal on the power play where he scores a lot of his goals. At only 24 years of age, Boston or Edmonton could acquire a player that would be a part of their blue line for the next 10 to 15 years if he stays healthy. However, Vatanen is a restricted free agent at season’s end and the team that trades for him may want an assurance that he will re-sign with them. Another reason Vatanen might be dealt is the fact that the Ducks may not be able to afford to keep him this offseason when they also have to give Rickard Rakell, Hampus Lindholm, and Frederik Andersen new contracts among others.
The second guy on the list of players that are a strong candidate to be moved is goaltender Frederik Andersen. Andersen has proven he can be a number one goalie on any team’s depth chart and he is 11-0-1 in his last 13 games with a shutout on Wednesday against the Buffalo Sabres that was his first of the season. On the season, Andersen is 16-8-6 in 34 GP. He would be a really attractive piece for a team in need of goaltending, and could secure the Ducks a solid return with the numbers he has put up. Murray is likely to keep Andersen for the playoff run though as insurance in case John Gibson were to get injured. Andersen would be a better option in net than Anton Khudobin. Andersen could likely be moved at the draft in June if the Ducks look to roll with John Gibson in the future. He might be traded for a pick and a serviceable backup goalie in return. If the Ducks were to trade him at the deadline, they would be able to get a solid return then too. It would be a little surprising though if Andersen were to moved by Monday though instead of staying for the rest of the season.
Chicago is making deals, but will Anaheim make a move?
With Chicago making some big moves acquiring Andrew Ladd, Tomas Fleischmann, Dale Weise, and Christian Ehrhoff, it will be interesting to see if Murray makes a move to counter those and enhance the team’s ability to go further in the postseason. With Chicago getting stronger, he may feel the need to get better as well to beat Chicago if they were to face them in a few months. It would not be surprising if Murray does do something since Chicago has gotten better and will be a tougher out now. Murray does like the chemistry the team has together now though, and with the team winning seven straight and 21 of their last 27 games, a move does not necessarily have to be made. This team is firing on all cylinders with an improved power play and the penalty kill is still second best in the league. It would not surprise anyone to see the Ducks stand pat and go with who they have for the rest of this season to try and win the cup. Murray has said that Shea Theodore, Nick Ritchie, and Jacob Larsson will be kept and he does not want to trade the Ducks’ first round pick either.
It will be an interesting deadline day and Monday will not come soon enough!
For more of Murray’s thoughts on the Ducks, please visit: State Of Anaheim: Murray’s Take
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