This article will be another in my series of player profiles, where I’ll look at each player on the Anaheim Ducks and assess how their season went. This piece will focus on Erik Gudbranson.
Considering Anaheim gave up nothing to get Gudbranson, had the cap space anyways and made the deal based on their injury trouble, trading for him made some sense, even if the Ducks knew what to expect. Sure, he really shouldn’t be Anaheim’s second most used right-handed defenseman, but he was actually fairly decent, compared to expectations, upon joining the Ducks.
Gudbranson gets a bad reputation for his possession stats but he did have a corsi for percentage of 50.5 per cent, which was quite a bit higher than the team’s overall corsi for percentage. You can bet that a big reason for that was his time spent with Cam Fowler but still, that’s way better than expected.
He also got the least offensive zone starts of any defenseman on the team at just 42.3 per cent and played more than two minutes per game on the penalty kill. He faced a quality of competition similar to what Cam Fowler faced, essentially being lower than only Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson among the team's defensemen (according to Hockey Abstract).
I think how you view Gudbranson’s time with the Ducks thus far comes down to expectations. If you’re expecting him to contribute and be a quality fit in the top-four, that’s just not going to happen. He’s not going to add any offense but Gudbranson’s stint with the Ducks has certainly been statistically better than how he’s performed in recent years with Pittsburgh and Vancouver. That said, keeping him in a large role means there’s going to continue to be a strain on Lindholm and Manson to log heavy minutes and Fowler to produce more offensively.
The Ducks certainly need a right-handed defenseman in their top-four and Gudbranson isn’t a permanent fit. But while he may be overpaid and overused, he’s helping Anaheim to fill a gaping hole on their right side and has been as good as we could’ve expected him to be upon joining the Ducks.
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Here’s today’s poll question (results and discussion will be posted in a future article):
How did you feel about Erik Gudbranson's play with the Ducks this season compared to expectations when he was acquired?