Friday, July 2, 2010

Edmonton place Sheldon Souray on Waivers -- Should the Ducks take a look at him?


Question: If the Ducks do get a chance to claim Sheldon Souray from waivers, would you do it? That question really isn't for us fans, rather than it is for the Ducks GM Bob Murray, but nonetheless it's fun to speculate. Souray's value has dropped drastically this season. The big (6'4", 233lbs) defenceman only got to play 37 games due numerous injuries, and it's taken a toll out of Souray, and his play this past season was not on the same level than it's been the past couple of seasons. Make no mistake, though, when healthy, he can still be a difference maker on many nights, because of his booming shot on the powerplay, and his toughness and willingness to get his nose dirty when clearing the crease. Anaheim could certainly use a defenceman with those kind of qualities.

The problem in all this is Souray's hefty contract ($5.4 million cap hit) and he is still on the books for 2 more years. However, he is set to make 'only' $4.5 million each of the last 2 years, so that could be deciding factor for a team like Anaheim, since they are probably working on some kind of an internal budget at the moment. I wouldn't mind Souray at all, and I think he could work very well for the Ducks until the younger guys (Fowler, Gardiner, Clark etc.) are ready to take the next step. There are obvious concerns with Souray, including his injury-prone background and also if he's still good enough to be an effective top4 defenceman, but I think he's definitely worth the look.

July 1st; Meet the new duck, Toni Lydman + Koivu re-signs and still no new deal with Bobby Ryan

So, now the July 1st is over and not much has happened with the Ducks. Although, that might not be entirely a bad thing, since the Ducks didn't overpay at all in the first day of the free agency, to get the guy they wanted on their backend, and that guy, is Toni Lydman. He's one of the defenceman I put on my list which I hoped DUcks GM Bob Murray would take a look at. Lydman signed a 3-year contract with Anaheim, which pays him $9 million overall ($3M/year). Ducks also re-signed their assistant captain Saku Koivu to a $5 million deal, which pays the Finnish native Koivu $2.5 million per year. Ducks winger Bobby Ryan did not sign a new deal with the Ducks yesterday, rejecting five-year deal worth $25 million offer from the Ducks. When it comes to the negotiations of Ryan's new contract, Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray was also quoted saying that he's “done for a while”, which certainly doesn't sound that promising to the countless number of Ducks fans waiting their star winger to re-sign. Murray also said that now that Koivu is re-signed, he expect to get in touch with Selanne later. Obviously we all hope that Teemu still wants to come back to play with the Ducks this season, and now that Koivu is re-signed, I think there is a good chance that 'Finnish Flash' ain't quite done yet.

As an avid Team Finland follower, I have had the chance to watch Toni Lydman play many times over the years. Lydman could be described as a solid all-around defenceman, who's strenght is smart, positional defensive play to go along with his smooth skating. He sometimes makes the occasional defensive gaffe, but he still would be a consistent #3-4 guy on pretty much any team in the NHL, and I think that's exactly the role Lydman will be playing on the Ducks defence. He pretty much always makes the simple play, and overall tries to play mistake-free hockey. He is also good on the PK, can play the powerplay and he likes to block shots, which probably is going to come in handy with the Ducks this season. My personal opinion is, that this a very good signing by Anaheim, and I think that Lydman is going to provide lots of stability on the Ducks defence the next 3 years.

Ducks basically played it safe on this year's July 1st, but that doesn't necessarily mean, that the Ducks are done when it comes to shaping their roster for this upcoming season. I think (and hope for Hiller's sake) that GM Bob Murray is still looking to capture one quality defenceman, maybe from the free agency, or perhaps in some kind of a trade. It remains to be seen what Murray has in his mind, but I think we'll know soon enough.

Go Ducks!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

2 days until the "Free Agent Frenzy" -- Who are the Ducks targets?

Not a whole lot of time, until the Canada Day rolls around. Time of the year for many hockey fans, and to the NHL general managers who always tend to go shopping for NHL free agents and overpay a lot in the process. This year's free agency consists more of UFA defenceman and goalies, rather than the high-end forwards we're used to see in the 1st of July. Altough there is this one guy called called Ilya Kovalchuk who's pretty good, however there isn't that many teams with the cap space and willingness to spend the incredible amount of cash, that it would take to land the Russian sniper Kovalchuk. Possible destinations could include the Ducks cross-town rivals, the Los Angeles Kings among other teams. The wildest speculation includes Kovalchuk going to Anaheim, and let's just face it, it isn't going to happen. The Ducks desperately need defence, and the free agency is as good a place as any to accomplish that, so let's look for potential UFA defenceman for the Ducks to lure in this Thursday:

Pavel Kubina - 76GP 6G 32A 38P 0+/- 66PIM 22:37 TOI/G

Paul Martin - 22GP 2G 9A 11P 10+/- 2PIM 22:30 TOI/G

Willie Mitchell - 48GP 4G 8A 12P 13+/- 48PIM 22:36 TOI/G

Derek Morris - 76GP 4G 25 29P 2+/- 37PIM 21:25 TOI/G

Andy Sutton - 72GP 5G 8A 13P -10+/- 107PIM 20:24 TOI/G

Toni Lydman - 67GP 4G 16A 20P 10+/- 30PIM 18:51 TOI/G

Henrik Tallinder - 82GP 4G 16A 20P 13+/- 32PIM 20:36 TOI/G

Anton Volchenkov - 64GP 4G 10A 14P 2+/- 38PIM 20:41 TOI/G

Dan Hamhuis - 78GP 5G 19A 24P 4+/- 49PIM 21:15 TOI/G

Jordan Leopold - 81GP 11G 15A 26P -2+/- 28PIM 21:54 TOI/G

Zbynek Michalek - 72GP 3G 14A 17P 5+/- 30PIM 22:38 TOI/G

Well, obviously there is bunch of other defenceman available as well, but those 11 players are the ones that I would like the Ducks to inquire as soon as July 1st rolls around. 2 guys from that list would most definitely upgrade the current Ducks defence, and would make me feel a lot better about our playoff chances next season. One thing is certain, though, if the Ducks decide to play defence this year with only one surefire top4 defenceman (Lubomir Visnovsky), then the end result will probably be the same as it was in the 2009-2010 season. I'm sure Bob Murray knows that too, and I'm really excited to find out what new defenceman will patrol the Ducks blueline this upcoming season.

GO Ducks!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

NHL Entry Draft 2010 - From Anaheim's perspective

So it's done. First, let me bring up a quote made by the Ducks GM Bob Murray after the 1st round:
"Never in our wildest dreams did we think we’d get those two players on the first day," Murray said. "All day long we kept thinking about moving up. Finally we just said, ‘You know, things are falling our way. Let’s just leave it alone’. It turned out to be a really good day. We haven’t given away anything and we’ve done okay."
I agree 100% on that sentiment. I had absolutely no idea, that those two guys (Fowler, 12th overall, Etem, 29th overall) would fall that hard and straight into the laps of our Anaheim Ducks. I'm very happy with those two selections and judging by those Murray's comments (and that stupid grin he made both times when announcing the Ducks selections), I'm guessing he is too. Here is the complete list of Ducks Draft picks:

12th Overall - Cam Fowler
29th Overall - Emerson Etem
42nd Overall - Devante Smith-Pelly
122nd Overall - Chirstopher Wagner
132nd Overall - Tim Heed
161st Overall - Andreas Dahlstrom
177th Overall - Kevin Lind
192nd Overall - Brett Perlini

I have to admit, I don't know whole lot of those late round picks, but the Ducks Director of Amateur Scouting Martin Madden described them as "longer-term projects, more in the home run category", so I don't mind them that much. It would be nice, if someone of those late round guy's would turnout to be a real player's. Anyhow, for me, this draft was a real positive surprise, and it would be cool to see a guy like Cam Fowler or Emerson Etem make an impact for the Ducks in the not-so-distant-future, as they both seem like really smart, hard working guys, who are willing to do whatever it takes to be a successful NHL player.

Next up, we have the free agency, where hopefully Murray is looking re-build the Ducks defence a little bit. Player's like Paul Martin, Pavel Kubina and Zbynek Michalek would all be nice additions to the Ducks young and inexperienced defence. Let's see what happens, but if this Draft is any indication to this year's offseason, I'm thinking we all will be very pleased to see what's next.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Did he just...? I think he did. Hats off to Scott Niedermayer!


Wow, after seeing that press conference, I think he made the right choice. Anyhow, I'm not going to even list the things he was able to accomplish in his career, we all know there's plenty. All I know is that the game of hockey is going to miss you Scotty.

Hats off to Scott Niedermayer, thanks for everything.

What is James Wisniewski worth, or he is worthless to the Ducks?

James Wisniewski is bit of a curious case. Last year he and the Ducks almost went to the arbitration, to determine what kind of money he should be getting. GM Bob Murray and the rugged defenceman Wisniewski did however, came to an agreement on the terms before the hearing, so Wisniewski was given a 1-year deal, which paid him $2.75 million this season. Murray only gave him a 1-year deal, because he wanted to see what 'Wis' could do, when playing for the Ducks the whole season. So, what did James Wisniewski accomplish this past season?

Well, first thing you've got to keep in mind, is that he only missed 3 games because of an injury, and that certainly is a positive sign, since injuries were one of the reasons Bob Murray wanted to give him only a 1-year deal, so that he could see Wisniewski isn't an injury-prone player. The negative sign is, however, that he proved to be bit of a suspension-prone player. He was handed 2 suspensions in the 2009-2010 season, 2 games for elbowing Phoenix Coyotes captain, Shane Doan. Second was a retaliation to Brent Seabrook, who suffered a minor concussion from the hit to the head. Incident cost Wisniewski 8 games. That could certainly have some effect on the next contract negotiations, that Wisniewski is going to have to deal with.

On ice, we saw a physical offensive defenceman, who wasn't afraid to throw a big hit if the opportunity presented itself. That did, however, took a toll out of his defensive positioning, because he sometimes got caught going for the big hit, and he wasn't able to recover, despite being a pretty decent skater. Also, the problem with Wisniewski is that even when he is able to play physical, he simply isn't tall enough to clear the crease when 6'2"+ forwards come spending time to the crease looking for rebounds. Wisniewski is quite versatile defenceman, he can log 20 minutes regularly and he also can play PP & PK. Unfortunately, when playing top defenceman minutes like he did this past season (24:20 TOI/G), it can wear him out a bit, which makes him an occasional defensive hazard. In my opinion, he was given way more responsibility than he should have had, because of the Ducks poor defence and the numbers relfects that a little bit.

Here is some primary stats which should be taken account when calculating what Wisniewski might be worth:


3G (G/G .04)

27A (A/G .39)

30P (P/G .43)

-5 +/- (GFON/60 2.32, GAON/60 2.72, +-ON/60 -0.40)

56PIM (18 Minor Penalties, 4 Major Penalties)

146Shots (S% 2.1, 62MsS)

129Hits, 102BkS, 49GvA, 27TkA

TOI/G 24:20 (ES TOI/G 18:19, SH TOI/G 3:28, PP TOI/G 2:32, TOI Total 1,679:56)

That's pretty basic stuff (I'm not so good with stats), but shifting through those, it's becoming obvious that his time on ice is much higher than a defenceman Wisniewski's caliber should be logging. He did excel at some stats, including most hits by a defenceman and most blocked shots by defenceman in the Ducks defence corps. As you can see, he likes to shoot a lot, but he also misses shots more than any other Ducks defenceman. He does register his fair share of minor penalties (.26/G), but that's far from being an huge issue on his game. His offensive numbers are pretty good, but those also might be inflated by his large TOI/G.

Anyhow, in conclusion it's pretty hard to gauge how much money he is exactly worth. In my mind, anything more than 3.2 million would start to sound like an overpayment. Wisniewski and his agent, though, would more than likely beg to differ, and it remains to been seen whether or not Murray is comfortable giving him that type of money. My guess, is that he is not, and so it wouldn't surprise me the least to see Wisniewski shipped out before July 1st. Ducks do intend to qualify him, but that necessarily doesn't mean that he is a lock to wear the Ducks swater next season.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

This waiting is killing me! Come back Teemu and Scott!

Here we are Ducks fans, once again waiting and waiting to see, which conclusion these two Ducks icons and veterans will end up to. I, for one, don't hold that much grudge against them and their decision to sit back and think about it (retiring) for some time after the season is done. They have families and all, and we casual hockey fans don't really know what's going on inside of a veteran hockey player's mind. They decide when they decide, and what they decide. As fans though, we obviously hope it's quick decision, so we can sleep our night's in peace, or you know, in agony. However, it's interesting this time around, because now I honestly feel, that atleast in Niedermayer's case, retiring is an actual possibility. I haven't really felt that way in the previous year's. I just had this weird feeling listening Scotty in the interview recorded by NHL Live, that this might actually be it. Anyway, let's just hope for the best and see what happens.

When it comes to Teemu though, it's a bit different story this time around. He had this to say in a recent Finnish newspaper. So according to that, it's pretty obvious that he still has some gas left in the tank and would want to keep on playing, if the team remains somewhat the same and if the Ducks still want to compete for the Stanley Cup. He clearly had fun playing this season, especially now that his Finnish comrade Saku Koivu is also sharing the Ducks sweater. Selanne also says that he feels that Koivu is pretty much on the same boat. They want to win, and they want to do it now. I see absolutely no reason at all why they both wouldnt't come back. If (when) Anaheim GM Bob Murray starts to upgrade the shaky Ducks defence, I see a possible dark horse contender. And we all know how well they both played this season, considering all the injuries they both had. Koivu was a real solid second line centerman, who also was/is a defensive magician. And to top that off, he also was the most consistent Duck all season long, and he also scored some big, important goals as well (6GWG). So hopefully the Finnish warriors come back for an another year...or two ;)

Bobby Ryan situation still is almost at the 'no news' phase, however he gave an interview to OC Register couple of days ago, where you'll find couple of interesting quotes. Apparently he isn't seeking Getzlaf/Perry money after all, although he did say he feels he can be mentioned among them, so if I were a betting man (and I am), I would say he's looking for a 4-year contract around 5-5.3 million mark. If he would sign a 4-year contract, the deal would take him in to the Unrestricted Free Agency, where the Ducks wouldn't hold any right's whatsoever over him when the deal's up. I have a feeling that's the thing where the dispute is, not the money (well, it's always about the money) but on the contract lenght. It will be interesting to see who's going to cave in eventually, Murray & the Ducks, or Ryan and his crew.

It should be an exciting week in the world of the NHL, and hopefully the Ducks will make the right choices concerning the future of the club. NHL Entry Draft is held in California @ Staples Center (boo) this Friday and Saturday, so to all the Ducks fans going there, have a good one and watch Anaheim draft their new superstar! :)

And here are the Anaheim's picks for this year's draft:

12th Overall Round 1
29th Overall (From Philadelphia)
42nd Overall Round 2
102nd Overall Round 4
132nd Overall Round 5
161st Overall (From Dallas) Round 6
174th Overall (From Phoenix)
177th Overall (From Montreal)

Thanks goes to SBN Blog Anaheim Calling for finding out these picks.

Edit: The date for some reason is messed up, and I don't know how to fix it, but just to clarify I wrote this in June 21st.