By Thomas Harrington
With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, it’s time to take a look at Anaheim’s prospects. There’s no question that Anaheim could use an upgrade on offense, but to get an impact player, the Ducks will have to move out some quality assets of their own. While Anaheim’s prospect pool isn’t stacked with elite talent, it does have a decent amount of legitimate future NHL talent; even if they aren’t future stars, having players with likely NHL futures will be attractive to other teams. One thing to keep in mind going into the deadline: Bob Murray is averse to moving high-end prospects and picks for rental players. So the Ducks are unlikely to trade for a player with a contract expiring this summer. However, a few years ago the Ducks did send a fourth-round pick to Dallas for soon to be free agent Stephane Robidas so it could happen, but it’s unlikely. Just a quick note, I won’t be going over every Anaheim prospect, but those I feel who are either in play at the deadline or those who Anaheim should definitely keep.
Less Likely To Be Moved
Before going into the players who are most likely to be traded, I’ll first go over the players who I feel are untouchable and Anaheim will not move: Nick Ritchie, Sam Steel, Kevin Boyle, Joseph Cramarossa, and Nic Kerdiles. Though technically not a rookie, I still count Ritchie among Anaheim’s prospects. The former 10th overall pick is certainly turning into a solid power forward. He’s still got a decent amount of development to do, but the Ducks have to be happy with his development this season. Steel is having an amazing season in the WHL. At this point, it’s safe to say he’s become Anaheim’s top forward prospect. He looks like a future top six center and could be on the Ducks in the not too distant future. The Ducks have a good amount of goaltending depth between Anaheim and San Diego, and with John Gibson being so young, the team doesn’t need an upcoming star between the pipes. However, having a good young goalie in the system is never a bad thing, and Boyle is the best goalie prospect the Ducks currently have. Cramarossa has carved out a spot for himself on the fourth line and penalty kill unit. Not much was expected of him coming into this season, but he’s really stepped up and earned his playing time. Kerdiles has missed most of this season with an injury and only recently returned to action. As a result, he has little to no trade value. He’s a player who could be used in a trade, but the Ducks would not get equal value for him. It would be better to keep him and hope that he can remain healthy next year and get a shot at Anaheim’s roster.
More Likely To Be Moved
Now, on to the players who I think are more likely to be moved and are Anaheim’s trade bait as the deadline nears: Nick Sorensen, Marcus Pettersson, Andy Welinski, and Keaton Thompson. None of these prospects will be enough to bring back an impact player on their own, but if paired with a high pick and/or another prospect or roster player, they could be enough to improve the Ducks heading into the playoffs. They could also be players used in a smaller deal to improve the team, rather than a blockbuster trade. Sorensen made his NHL debut this season and played five games with the Ducks before being assigned to the Gulls. In the AHL, he’s averaging about a half point per game. Given his NHL experience, he’s the type of acquisition that other teams would like. The Ducks have a surplus of defensemen, both on their roster and in their system. Pettersson, Welinski, and Thompson are not Anaheim’s top defensive prospects, but all three are solid players who look like they could turn into NHL players in the future. The Ducks are going to have to pick and choose who to keep at some point, and the trade deadline would be a good time to get the process started. Besides targeting a player that could help the Ducks right now, any of these three could be used to bring in forwards to help the Gulls out as well.
Who Could Be Dealt In A Big Deal
Next up are the players who I think should only be dealt if the Ducks are bringing in a big acquisition: Ondrej Kase, Jacob Larsson, Max Jones, Julius Nattinen, Kevin Roy, and Troy Terry. The type of player the Ducks would be looking for would be someone like Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, or Jonathan Drouin. That’s not to say just these three players, but a player like them. Either a player still on their entry-level contract or a high end forward who is signed for the next several years. Kase has been one of the biggest surprises on the Ducks this year. He’s found a spot next to Ritchie and Antoine Vermette on the Ducks’ third line. He’s a highly skilled player, but like most young players, he needs to work on his consistency. If the Ducks do make a move to bring in a scoring winger, they will most likely take Kase’s spot in the lineup. If the Ducks can get a player with several years left on their contract, there could be no room for Kase on the Ducks going forward. Given the season he’s had, the former seventh-round pick has certainly upped his trade value. Larsson made his NHL debut this season, before heading back to the SHL. He’s one of Anaheim’s top defensive prospects and should have a bright NHL future. Jones was Anaheim’s first pick of last year’s draft and looks like a future power forward. However, he’s dealt with injuries this season and Steel has surpassed him on Anaheim’s depth chart. I don’t think the Ducks should deal him, but in the right deal, he could be a player the Ducks could consider trading.
Related Article: Anaheim Ducks Trade Possibilities
Nattinen looks like a future second or third center. As Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler continue to age, the Ducks will need an infusion of young talent at center ice. Right now, Rickard Rakell looks ready to take on that burden, and Nattinen could step into that role as well. However, with Steel’s development, Nattinen is a player the team could consider dealing. Roy is having a solid rookie season with the Gulls. He’s currently fourth on the team in goals and third in points. Like most rookies, he needs to work on his consistency, but there’s no question that he has a very high skill level. Terry has had a great sophomore season at the University of Denver, putting up career highs in both goals and assists, and should continue to improve on those numbers. He was also the star for Team USA at the World Juniors, as he scored the shootout winner two games in a row. He could become a second or third line winger, but if he can be used to bring in a true top six forward, now would be the time to deal him.
Theodore and Montour
You’ll notice that I have yet to discuss two of Anaheim’s top defensive prospects: Shea Theodore and Brandon Montour. Both have been back and forth between the Ducks and Gulls all season and both are ready to be in the NHL on a full-time basis. While Theodore has struggled at times this season, there’s little question that he’ll be a top-four defender in the not too distant future. Personally, I don’t think the Ducks should trade either player. However, in a salary cap world, the Ducks will not be able to keep all of their great defensive prospects and will have to trade some away at some point. With that in mind, I’d be okay if the Ducks traded one of Theodore or Montour, but only if it were for a forward on an entry level contract, someone like Jonathan Drouin or William Nylander. If the Ducks cannot land a player like that, they should keep both Montour and Theodore through the deadline.
The trade deadline is fast approaching and Murray and the Ducks have some tough decisions to make. With the looming expansion draft, it does seem like teams are being more cautious, but the Ducks have a lot of defensive depth in their system. Hopefully, they can use some of that to improve their offense as they gear up for the playoffs.
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February 21th, 2017