Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Friday, February 29, 2008

Ducks Gameday—Three years of post-deadline rosters

Calgary Flames (33-22-9, 6th in west) at Anaheim Ducks (36-23-7, 3rd in west)

In the spirit of Leap Day (also because I have yet to write anything since the trade deadline), I decided to "leap back" and revisit a post I put together after last year's deadline, and see how the Ducks' roster has changed over the past three years. I think it offers a good look at how Burke has managed this team, plus I think there's some lessons in here somewhere. I've marked players who no longer are Ducks in red, and new Ducks (added since last year's deadline) in blue.

2006 post-deadline Anaheim roster:
C. Kunitz - A. McDonald - T. Selanne
D. Penner - T. Marchant - J. Lupul
J. Friesen - S. Pahlsson - R. Niedermayer
T. Fedoruk - R. Getzlaf - C. Perry
(T. Moen, J. Hedstrom)

S. Niedermayer - F. Beauchemin
R. Salei - S. O'Donnell
V. Vishnevski - J. Dipenta

J. Giguere
I. Bryzgalov

2007 post-deadline Anaheim roster:
C. Kunitz - A. McDonald - T. Selanne
D. Penner - R. Getzlaf - C. Perry
T. Moen - S. Pahlsson - R. Niedermayer
S. Thornton - T. Marchant - B. May
(R. Shannon, G. Parros)

S. Niedermayer - F. Beauchemin
C. Pronger - S. O'Donnell
K. Huskins - J. Dipenta
(R. Jackman)

J. Giguere
I. Bryzgalov

2008 post-deadline Anaheim roster:
T. Bertuzzi - R. Getzlaf - C. Perry
C. Kunitz - D. Weight - T. Selanne
T. Moen - S. Pahlsson - R. Niedermayer
B. Sutherby - T. Marchant - B. May
(G. Parros, R. Carter)

S. Niedermayer - F. Beauchemin
C. Pronger - S. O'Donnell
M. Bergeron - M. Schneider
(K. Huskins, J. Dipenta)

J. Giguere
J. Hiller

Now I don't really want to get too fixated on specific spots I've put players on this year's roster; we have yet to see how Carlyle would play a fully healthy forward lineup or a Bergeron-inclusive blueline. However, before I get a bit more into this year's deadline moves, here's some year-to-year trends worth noting about Burke's club:
  • Continuity matters: Other than Burke's first few months on the job, there's been no major overhauls to this roster. 13 players (8 forwards, 4 defensemen, and Giguere) appear on all three lists, which I think is remarkable, and 10 of those are already under contract for next year as well. Also, there's been good consistency in linemates -- Selanne with Kunitz, Getzlaf with Perry, Pahlsson with Rob, and Frenchie with Scott. There's been some replacements inserted, but there's a good core of the team that's developed together for a while.

  • Rise of the kids: The way that Getzlaf and Perry have been groomed through the Anaheim forward ranks has been impressive. Their rookie years they were given fighter minutes with Fedoruk, a very protected spot for some possibly fragile kids. The next year they were promoted to second-liners, given more ice time but still seeing some easy competition. This year, especially with the absence of Selanne, they were given the top line duties, including the opposition's top defenders, and have been stellar. I gotta commend Burke & Carlyle here; there's no way they'd be ready for this year if they didn't have last year's experience, and I don't know if they would have been ready for last year if they didn't have the year with Fedoruk.

  • The blueline just keeps getting better: Holy smokes. Measure it in top talent: Pronger and Niedermayer are right there with anybody. Measure it in terms of depth: Schneider is murdering in easy minutes. Measure it in terms of scratches: one of Huskins or Bergeron is going to sit once Pronger gets back, which would be a crime on 29 other teams. I just have to pinch myself; it really wasn't that long ago that Keith "Carney Asada" Carney was Anaheim's best defenseman.

  • Hardly anything gets done at the deadline: Burke makes lots of trades in the course of the season, probably more than anyone, but come deadline time, it's always been more tinkering than anything. One thing that's common about all of Burke's trade deadline acquisitions (I'm going off the top of my head here, so kick my ass in the comments): O'Donnell, Friesen, May, Bergeron -- all of them were acquired for draft picks, not roster players. Though he's prominent in the blockbuster rumors, Burke's playing the very inexpensive side of the market come deadline day.
Now to be fair, this whole year-to-year trend thing looks pretty convincing, but let's not forget this season was a complete clusterfuck for a while; Scott and Teemu's mock retirements really skewed the whole roster and Burke's plan could have backfired quite a bit. And as much as that hurt early results, it is important to remember that those absence stretches did make possible the roster we're looking at today (one featuring both star players plus their summer replacements).

As for this year's deadline moves, I guess they're sort of puzzling, but in a "who the hell cares" sort of way. Sure, there's been no crying need for another defenseman like Bergeron or a spare goalie like Aubin (other than to get more decidedly French-Canadien), but I think some of the Ducks' worst-case scenarios have been improved to a degree. And even though I'm having trouble seeing it, perhaps Bergeron can earn his way into the top six and improve a blueline that already is among the best in league history -- he'll at least help in the short term as I guess Pronger wants to miss a game or two with a broken smile.

As always, I'm glad when the Ducks don't win some Player X Sweepstakes at the deadline -- outbidding other teams usually means overpaying, and I'm excited to keep Bobby Ryan and the Oilpick. (Ryan had his first taste of the NHL this year and looked decent; I think it counts as his Fedoruk year in the Getzlaf-Perry plan.) Here's what I said last year, but I think it applies just as well today:
"I can’t help but wonder, though, at what point Burke decided not to make a big splash at the deadline. Is he conniving enough to continue to act as a potential trade competitor, just to drive up demand and prices for other teams’ rental acquisitions? I wouldn’t put it past the guy."
Prediction: Oh yeah, the Flames. Matt and Metrognome are your go-to sources on Flamedom, but I shouldn't be overlooking this team, one that in three successive games beat division-leading Detroit, division-leading Dallas, and division-leading Minnesota, all in regulation. Still, there's no stopping old man Selanne; in his last 82 regular season games Teemu has potted 53 goals. Ducks 3, Flames 2. Goals by Selanne, Pahlsson, and Bergeron.

Go Ducks.


Unknown said...

Seriously, why wouldn't O'Donnell sit when the entire blueline is healthy. I figure between he and Huskins, O'Donnell loses the race for overall production in terms of points, +/-, and for being Captain Elbow's partner. (That was formerly MAB's role when they were in Edmonton together.)

The only thing that O'Donnell might bring more of is leadership... Dunno how Carlyle is gonna score this one...

Earl Sleek said...

I dunno--there's still going to be a need for a stopper defenseman, and I think O'Donnell holds his spot, but yeah, we'll see.

My roommate and I decided that they should just rotate between the seven defensemen--every game a different blueliner gets to wear a suit and stand behind the bench, Carlyle-style. Seeing Pronger there was hilarious.

Anonymous said...

i agree with u...odonnel was the first on my list to sit....huskins is more mobile...he also has the option of getting the puck out "and" carrying it out effectivly....odonnel only does gets it out...the only reason u pick odonell over huskins is experience and toughness...although..last night...huskins was in the middle of the scrums also...

hard descion though for sure

p.s. also do want to not have any more huskins "bobby orr" moments come on now?

Earl Sleek said...

the only reason u pick odonell over huskins is experience and toughness...

Well, I'm thinking the only reason you pick O'Donnell over Huskins to play is because the guy you're replacing him with (Bergeron) is way more Huskins-like than O'Donnell-like. I don't know Bergeron very well, but I don't think he's a guy I want in tough stopper minutes.

A lineup without O'Donnell may have too many power players and not enough penalty killers--he may not be as sexy a shooter as the rest, but I think O.D. holds his spot.

Besides, the guy took a pay cut in a crazy d-man market just after winning the cup--I'm a sucker for that, too.

jamestobrien said...

MAB isn't really a player I'd trust too much. I don't know...he just seems to give off a Oleg Tverdovsky Musk. The Musk of a Healthy Scratch Defenseman during the playoffs.

Sleek, I have to tip my cap to you for taking a look at the trade deadline in such a unique and interesting way.

Earl Sleek said...

Yeah, MAB is a bit suspect. One attractive thing, though, is his nine goals--that outpaces all but four Anaheim forwards, if you can believe it.

Hell, though. Even if you just consider him the seventh defenseman, that's a hell of an upgrade over Ric Jackman, who played that part last year.

I don't know if it's a coincidence that the game after getting MAB, both Schneider and Scott decided to let loose some blueline bombs. Each time a Duck d-man fired a shot, my roommate and I would yell, "Take that, Bergeron!" Maybe it's to light a fire under the blueliners, and after one game at least it seems to be working.