Anaheim Ducks

Anaheim Ducks: New Contracts In Southern California

Who will the Anaheim Ducks re-sign and who will they let test the waters?

In my last article, I broke down the Anaheim Ducks draft options, and selected Trevor Zegras at ninth overall. Upon doing this, we all know Zegras won’t be on the Ducks roster, as he committed to Boston University for next season, and therefore will play no part in my decision making during the re-sign phase.

So, who will the Ducks bring back, after one of their worst seasons in recent memory?

Upcoming Unrestricted Forward Free Agents: Derek Grant

Derek Grant: 4 goals, 10 assists, 48.0 Corsi-For%, Averaged 11:41 Time On Ice (played 56 games)

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With the salary cap inevitably rising, and the new cap being projected at $83M for next season, that gives the Ducks roughly $8.44M in space.

Even though there is cap space, Derek Grant is quickly becoming an afterthought in Anaheim. Isac Lundestrom, Max Jones and Maxime Comtois may all be on the roster next season.

So, there’s no need for Grant in Anaheim with the youth movement seemingly in effect.

Upcoming Unrestricted Defenseman Free Agents: Korbinian Holzer

Korbinian Holzer: 1 goal, 3 assists, 46.7 CF%, Averaged 16:04 TOI (played only 22 games)

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Surprisingly enough, Holzer played a somewhat important role when he drew into the lineup, averaging just over 16 minutes. With that in mind, you also have to look at the fact that they really don’t have a defense. With Jacob Larsson and the rest of the d-core not including Holzer, they only had 5 defenseman.

They could re-sign Andrej Sustr, who got buried in the AHL this season. They could try out Jake Dotchin next season, but he’s had issues in the past in terms of weight-gain in the off-season. They could try Josh Mahura, but that’s a stretch, as he isn’t quite ready yet. Or, finally, they could take the simple option and sign or trade for a depth defenseman this off-season.

In my honest opinion, I believe that Anaheim will re-up Holzer’s deal for the same price it was last season ($900k) for another year, and target another defenseman in free agency, which I will get into in my next article.

Upcoming Unrestricted Goalie Free Agents: Ryan Miller, Chad Johnson

Ryan Miller: 8-7-2 record, 2.76 goals against average, .912 save percentage, 1.10 Goals saved above average

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John Gibson’s backup didn’t draw into many games, but he did post solid numbers when he was in net.

Miller is still a solid goaltender despite his age (38), and could be a great backup, regardless of the team he is on. But, Gibson needs a guy who can draw into the lineup far more often to lessen his workload. With Miller’s age, as well as his dramatic decline in game starts over the last 3 seasons (54, 21, 17, respectively), he is not the backup that Anaheim needs. I see them parting ways this off-season.

Chad Johnson: 2-11-0, 3.63 GAA, .879 SV%, -12.41 GSAA

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All I can say, is yikes. Johnson was traded to Anaheim part way through the regular season. In his short stint, he posted an 0-5-0 record with the Ducks.

He had awful stats and was eventually placed on Long Term Injured Reserve. I don’t see any possible way that the Ducks re-sign Johnson this off-season.

Kevin Boyle, their AHL affiliate San Diego Gulls net-minder, could very well backup Gibson, but he would not provide them with a backup who can eat minutes away from Gibson.

So perhaps, Murray will explore a trade for a backup. I’ll touch on that in my next post.

In Conclusion

All-in-all, it’s a very simple re-sign phase for the Ducks. Not a lot of moving pieces or tough decisions to be made here.

Instead, the Ducks need to worry about off-load some bad contracts, somehow get out of the Ryan Kesler contract, and addressing their many needs in free agency will be the real test.

stats from hockey-reference.com and NHL.com

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals

St. Louis Blues: Evaluating the Goaltender Marketplace

It’s not a secret that the St. Louis Blues desperately need a goaltender. 

The Blues’ number one goaltender, Jake Allen has been insufferably bad. At this point in the season, Allen has a 3.12 GAA and a .900 SV% after 22 games in net.

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Their back-up goaltender, Chad Johnson was waived earlier this week. Unfortunately for Blues fans, Johnson wasn’t great either. In 10 games played this season, Johnson had a 3.55 GAA and a .884 SV%.

St. Louis Blues fans should be thankful as Johnson is no longer with the organization. Earlier today, it was announced that the Anaheim Ducks had claimed Johnson off of waivers. The Ducks desperately needed a goaltender after it was revealed that their backup goaltender, Ryan Miller would be on the shelf for roughly six weeks with a sprained MCL. 

With Johnson on his way to Southern California, the Blues will now rely on Jordan Binnington to backup Allen. Binnington hasn’t played in the NHL since 2015-2016. In the 2015-2016 regular season, he only made one start and it wasn’t pretty. 

So, it’s fair to say that Doug Armstrong, the general manager of the St. Louis Blues should look to make an upgrade in-goal. If Armstrong adds a top goaltender, the Blues might be able to get out of their struggles.

Who Might be an Option?

If I’m in Armstrong’s loafers, the first call that I would make would be to the Boston Bruins. 

This season has been rather rocky for the Bruins. At the moment, the Bruins sit in fourth place in the Atlantic Division. Unfortunately for fans in New England, the Bruins have had a number of health issues. They’ve been without their elite centre, Patrice Bergeron since November 16th. In addition, Bruins’ winger, Jake DeBrusk is hurt as well. Even if both forwards come back tomorrow, the Bruins will likely still look to add another forward prior to the deadline.

If the Bruins want to add a forward, they could potentially look at trading Jaroslav Halak to St. Louis. With Halak having a strong year, the Bruins have two great goaltenders that they can rely on. Aside from Halak, Bruce Cassidy also has Tuukka Rask at his disposal. Rask did struggle early on this season, but he seems to be back to his old self. With Rask on the roster, the Bruins don’t really need two strong goaltenders and should look to capitalize on Halak’s rising value. 

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Halak Back In St. Louis?

For St. Louis Blues fans, Halak should be a familiar name. Halak played for the Blues from 2010-2014. 

During his time in St. Louis, Missouri, Halak was outstanding. In fact, in his 2011-2012 campaign, he had a 1.97 GAA and a .926 SV%. While it’s not 2013, Halak can still be exceptional if he returns to St. Louis. Sure, he won’t be the same goaltender as he was in 2011-2012, but he can still be dominant. 

In the Tableau visual below, Tyler Kelley, contributor of FanSided’s Pucks and Pitchforks (New Jersey Devils blog) shows how Halak and St. Louis Blues’ goaltender, Allen performed last season. 

Tyler Kelley

Overall, Halak is a better all-around goaltender than Allen. The only statistical category that Allen was extremely better than Halak was xSv% (Expected Save Percentage). Aside from xSv%, Halak truly was more consistent. In addition, you notice that Halak was a lot better at MDSv% (Mid Danger Save Percentage), Sv%, GSAA30 percentage (Goals Saved Above Average/30) and dSv% (Delta Save Percentage). 

The best part for Blues fans is that they wouldn’t have to part with a significant amount to land Halak. Armstrong could potentially send Patrick Maroon or Tyler Bozak to Boston to acquire Halak. While some Blues fans might not be happy to send Bozak to Boston, the need for a top goaltender out-weighs the need for a veteran third line centre. Plus, there are a few centremen in the organization that could fill in for Bozak. All-in-all, it would make a lot of sense if Armstrong were able to acquire Halak.

stats from hockey-reference.com and NHL.com

tableau visual from Tyler Kelley