The Anaheim Ducks were active ahead of Friday’s trade deadline, moving multiple pending unrestricted free agents.
Before diving into the deadline moves though, on a more serious note, a piece of news that came out over the weekend was that Ducks assistant coach Mike Stothers was diagnosed with Stage 3 melanoma of the lymph node. This is Stothers’ second year behind the bench as an assistant coach with the team and he intends to continue working. Obviously, we wish the best for his recovery.
Moving onto the transactions: While the Ducks did make some other minor deals, the big trades were moving defensemen Henry Thrun, Dmitry Kulikov and John Klingberg.
For starters, the Henry Thrun trade is difficult to evaluate because Anaheim got a fair return, but it’s just a sideways move in terms of building for the future. They were basically forced to move him and the third-round pick is as much as you could’ve hoped for.
As for the Kulikov trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Ducks got pretty solid value here as well, acquiring a third-round pick in this year’s draft and forward Brock McGinn. I don’t think anyone could’ve expected better than a third-round pick for the defender and I actually like the idea of it being a year out. I see the Penguins as a team on the verge of decline and if things were to go south next year, there’s always the chance that pick ends up pretty early in the round.
Then also, while things didn’t work out for Brock McGinn in Pittsburgh, I think this is actually a sneaky good addition for the Ducks, even if it was just a cap dump from the Penguins’ perspective. McGinn is a fairly versatile winger and can actually be a big benefit to Anaheim’s bottom-six. He plays with a lot of intensity, he’s strong defensively and he has some speed. The Ducks shouldn’t expect too much out of him, but in my opinion, he’s a big upgrade over other players on the roster.
I think the Klingberg trade was the major disappointment, however. At the time in which the defenseman was signed in the offseason, it always seemed like the plan was to flip him at the deadline for future assets. The issue is just the Ducks didn’t end up getting anywhere near the quality of future assets as they expected.
Klingberg had a disastrous 50-game stretch with the Ducks. He was a complete liability defensively and even offensively, his points per 82 pace dropped from 52 last season to 39 with Anaheim. As a result, when it came time to flip him at the deadline, Anaheim got very little back. Thought to be potentially worth a first-round pick at the deadline coming into the season, Klingberg fetched a fourth-round pick two years down the road (2025), a minor-league defenseman in Andrej Sustr and prospect Nikita Nesterenko. It’s a massive difference compared to what we thought the Ducks could get back six months ago.
Perhaps the organization should’ve realized Klingberg wouldn’t be able to excel within such a weak defense group. At the same time, as poorly as it went, I think the idea behind it had solid logic and at the time, all signs pointed to it being a clever addition.
The Ducks were aiming to be a bit more competitive with the addition of Klingberg, while still looking towards building for the future. It didn’t work out, but it was a decent idea.
Another curious decision was in terms of what Anaheim opted not to do. Kevin Shattenkirk wasn’t moved, which was a surprise. Even with Adam Henrique, it didn’t seem overly likely he was going to be dealt, but it was still another missed opportunity.
So at the end of the day, obviously, things didn’t really go according to plan. Excluding the Thrun trade, The Ducks really only got back a third-round pick, fourth-round pick, Brock McGinn and a prospect. At least the team got some sort a return to help with the future, I suppose. It does seem like a lot of build up ultimately leading to not a lot in the way of assets though.
At the same time, the Ducks are in a good spot in terms of building this team. They have some very good, young pieces, as well as great prospects and a lot of draft picks. In addition to their first-round selection in both 2023 and 2024, Anaheim has three second-round picks this year, along with two third-round picks, while in 2024, they’ll have two second-round picks and three third-round picks.
Anaheim didn't get as much back as they were surely hoping for from their trade pieces, and wasn’t anywhere near as productive as last year’s trade deadline. But as the season winds down, the attention will turn to the offseason, to see how the team regroups.