One Year Later: The Ondrej Kase Trade

Photo: AP/Mark J. Terrill

By Thomas Harrington

One year ago today the Anaheim Ducks traded forward Ondrej Kase to the Boston Bruins for forward David Backes, defenseman Axel Andersson, and a 2020 first round pick, which ended up being 27th overall. Boston retained 25% of Backes’ salary and Anaheim selected winger Jacob Perreault with the first round pick. A year later, this deal is looking pretty good for Anaheim, but it’s one that both teams could be satisfied with long term.

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The Ducks had selected Kase in the seventh round, 205th overall, of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. He made his NHL debut in the 2016-2017 season, and scored 20 goals in 66 games the following season. Kase quickly became one of my favorite players, but he had one glaring problem: injuries. Some players like Andrew Cogliano seem to never get seriously injured despite how bad a play might look. Some players get injured on innocent-looking plays.

Unfortunately, Kase falls into the latter category, and he only played in 30 games in the 2018-2019 season. Before the trade last year, Kase was largely healthy, but his finishing touch had seemingly left him, as he only had seven goals in 49 games. Despite being one of my favorite players, I started to hope for him to be traded so he would get the chance to rejuvenate his career somewhere else.

After a decade in St. Louis, half of it as their captain, Backes signed a five-year, $30 million deal with Boston in the summer of 2016. The first season with his new team went well, as Backes scored 38 points in 74 games with the Bruins, but his offensive numbers dropped every season after that, and he only had three points in 16 games last year before the trade to Anaheim.

Boston selected Andersson in the second round, 57th overall, of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. His first year after being drafted Andersson played in Sweden, but came to North America and played in the QMJHL last season. With Moncton, he scored three goals and 24 points in 43 games. He has yet to make his NHL debut.

The Ducks were going to miss the playoffs for the second straight season and were looking to get an extra first round pick and improve their defensive prospect depth. According to reports after the trade, Anaheim took Backes from Boston in order to get that first round pick from them. Without Backes going back to Anaheim, the Ducks would only have gotten a second round pick. The Ducks also wanted a right-handed shooting defenseman, something they didn’t have a lot of in their system a year ago. Boston was the best team in the regular season last year and they were looking for more offensive depth as they loaded up for what they hoped would be a long playoff run. In fact, just a few days later, Anaheim and Boston would make a second trade as the Bruins continued to try to improve for the playoffs.

Kase only played in six games for the Bruins before the season was put on pause, and recorded one assist. In the playoffs, he played in 11 games and recorded 4 assists. Unfortunately, Kase has only played in two games this season because of an upper body injury. He was scoreless in those two games. One of the primary reasons Kase was traded was because of his inability to stay healthy, and it looks that is still unfortunately true. This is the final year of Kase’s contract and he’ll be a restricted free agent this summer.

Backes also only played in six games before last season was interrupted, and he had three assists. This season, he has been in and out of the lineup, but has two goals in eight games. He’s fit in well on Anaheim’s fourth line, and been a veteran leader, even when he’s out of the lineup and on the taxi squad. This is the final year of Backes’ contract; he’ll be a free agent this summer.

Andersson was supposed to make his AHL debut this season. Instead, he was loaned to Sodertalje SK of the HockeyAllsvenskan in order to get playing time. Most of Anaheim’s prospects who were loaned overseas while the AHL was not playing have returned to North America. Since Andersson has not, I assume that he’ll finish the season overseas and make his San Diego debut next year. So far, he has two goals and 10 points in 42 games.

Perreault is a scoring winger who has 30 or more goals in each of his last two seasons in the OHL. He’s going to start the season in the AHL, but is expected to return to junior hockey once the OHL resumes their season. He’s one of Anaheim’s top forward prospects, and I’m looking forward to him lining up next to Trevor Zegras for years to come.

Final Thoughts

A year later, this is a trade that Anaheim has come out on top in. Backes has outscored Kase, and Anaheim got two prospects in the deal, one of whom is one of their top prospects. If both Andersson and Perreault work out in the long run, this will be looked at as a great deal for the Ducks. If only one does, then it will be looked at as a solid deal. If neither do, then it will depend on how Kase’s career goes from here. If he can stay healthy and become a 20 goal scorer, then Boston will become the big winner in this one. If Kase struggles to stay healthy, or is let go as a free agent this summer, then Anaheim will come out on top, even if it’s just because of what Backes does for the Ducks this season.

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February 21st, 2021

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