By Thomas Harrington
One year ago today, the Anaheim Ducks traded Frederik Andersen to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 2016 first round pick (30th overall) and a 2017 second round pick (50th overall). This deal gave Toronto a new starting goaltender, something they’ve needed for years, and helped them return to the playoffs. For Anaheim, it cleared cap space, showed that John Gibson was the man in charge of Anaheim’s net, and gave them two relatively high picks, one of which has already been used to select Sam Steel. There was also a second deal between these two teams just a couple weeks later when Jonathan Bernier came to Anaheim. While technically two separate deals, they were definitely linked.
Andersen was actually originally picked by the Carolina Hurricanes in the seventh round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. However, the two sides were never able to come to an agreement and Andersen went back in the draft where the Ducks selected him in the third round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. After being drafted, Andersen spent a season in the AHL before making his NHL debut on October 20, 2013, against Dallas. In three seasons with the Ducks, Andersen won 77 games while splitting time with both Gibson and Jonas Hiller. With the Ducks, he was a reliable goaltender and posted .918 save percentage, had a goals against average 2.33, and had six shutouts. He is an excellent puck handling goaltender, something that Anaheim has rarely had over the years.
When Gibson signed his four-year deal before the start of the 2015-2016 season, it seemed almost certain that Andersen’s days in Anaheim were numbered. He lasted one more season before he was dealt as he became a restricted free agent. After being acquired by Toronto, the Leafs signed Andersen to a five-year deal worth $5 million a season.
Andersen had a bit of a slow start to his Maple Leaf career, posting a .876 save percentage in October and leading some to question his extension. However, he rebounded nicely and finished the season with 33 wins, a 2.67 goals against average, a save percentage of .918, and four shutouts. Before this season, Toronto had only made the playoffs once since the 2004-2005 lockout. Andersen was one of the major reasons why the Maple Leafs made it back to the postseason, and Andersen was stellar in the first round against Washington. Even though the Capitals won in six games, the series was significantly closer than many predicted, with several games going to overtime, and Andersen was a major reason why.
Steel played for the Regina Pats of the WHL this past season and took the league by storm. In only 66 games, he scored 50 goals and 131 points. Steel led the WHL in points, was tied for third in goals, and second in assists. He didn’t slow down in the playoffs either, as he scored 11 goals and 30 points in 23 postseason games. Since being drafted, he’s become one of Anaheim’s best forward prospects and could be the team’s future number one center, taking over the spot currently held by Ryan Getzlaf. He’s got a long way to go before he gets there, but right now, it looks like the Ducks grabbed a great future player at the end of the first round.
The second piece that Anaheim received is the 50th overall pick in this year’s draft. While it’s almost impossible to predict who the Ducks will take with that pick, some of the players who they’ve drafted in recent years in a similar draft position include Julius Nattinen (59th overall), Brandon Montour (55th overall), and Nick Sorensen (45th overall). Of them, Montour is the one that most people are incredibly excited about, while Nattinen could be a future second line center. Sorensen made his NHL debut this season, but spent most of the season in the AHL and will be returning to the SHL next season. If the Ducks can get a player of similar caliber to any of these three players, they’ll be pretty happy with this pick.
One year later, it’s safe to say that both teams are pretty happy with this deal. Andersen is entrenched as Toronto’s starter, and as long as he can continue to play at a similar level to last season, the Maple Leafs should be set in net for years to come. Anaheim was able to seriously upgrade their forward prospects ranks, while also settle the pervasive question of who was Anaheim’s starter, something that had plagued the team for several seasons. In the short term, I’d say that Toronto is the winner of the deal, but in the long term, Anaheim could end up coming out on top.
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June 20th 2017