Nashville Predators v Anaheim Ducks

It’s not that black and white, of course, but were I the General Manager of the Anaheim Ducks, I would be actively pursuing a possible trade for widely-beloved offense-first Big Body Ryan Getzlaf, and possibly former Hart Trophy winner and Stanley Cup champion Corey Perry  (Jason Brough wrote the opposite on Perry here at Pro Hockey Talk). Both will be unrestricted free agents this summer – as in, they can sign with anyone – and neither seems to want to sign an extension before hitting the open market (though Getzlaf is apparently the more willing of the two). They could lose them both for nothing by taking a run at the Cup.

Let me explain my opinion here:

This is the Anaheim Ducks, not the Vancouver Canucks or Toronto Maple Leafs. That means that this isn’t a team who’s that far removed from winning the Cup (2007), so there’s less desperation. There is less clamoring for this team to Get It Done At All Costs from their fans and media, as much as they’d like the team to win it all.

This is also Anaheim, which again, is not Philadelphia or Chicago. That means that if their team is terrible for an extended period of time, there is no guarantee of continued attendance and interest. It’s not that California doesn’t love is its hockey, but even Californian hockey fans would note that it’s not the same there as it is in Canada or the big US markets (if they aren’t willing to, they’re wrong). It’s a niche sport in the state, it’s not The Sport.

What those things mean, is that maintaining a good club there matters, which is okay. That’s allowed. Peaks and valleys are less desirable in a 30-team league where there’s no guarantee of the peak, no matter how good you may be. And, the Ducks have enough good young talent that if they add to it, they can maintain a competitive team for many years to come, which has to be awfully appealing in the eyes of team ownership, and thus, for the GMs job security. 

Also, moving Corey Perry or Ryan Getzlaf doesn’t automatically mean you can’t win the Stanley Cup this season, especially if you get a quality roster player in return. You probably won’t win it, but you probably won’t either way (reality check), and letting Perry and/or Getzlaf walk as unrestricted free agents this summer (should) more or less mean your job. You can’t let that happen; they are not the type of assets you should take that type of risk with.

The Anaheim Ducks are, for now, caught in the shadow of the Chicago Blackhawks, but if you’re half a hockey fan, you haven’t missed what they’re doing. They’re 16-3-3, good for second in the entire NHL, and first in the Pacific Conference by nine points, ahead of Los Angeles who is 8-2-0 in their last 10. They are undeniably kicking ass.

But also, they’re overachieving. PDO more-or-less measures luck in the NHL (for a thorough explanation, read here), and they’re currently atop the league and most likely to regress. Shooting 11.4%, well above average, isn’t alllll that likely to hold – they’re likely to start scoring less, and soon.

Here’s the chart, via Cam Charron and NHL Numbers (March 4th edition - ignore the Leafy highlights, which are in for Cam’s Leafs post):

PDO m4

Obviously the most important thing to do for the Ducks GM Bob Murray to do is to get a feel for his two superstars. Do they intend to re-sign with the Ducks if there isn’t a dream contract out there? Is this just about money, or do they want to move? These are not considerations to take lightly – if you truly believe you can re-sign them in the summer, obviously you don’t pull the trigger. But MAN – I would need some real guarantee to not risk losing them for jack spit.

You can no doubt turn Corey Perry into a quality roster player, a good prospect and a good pick. That’s no small potatoes. You shouldn’t have any doubt about his value as a rental, or Ryan Getzlaf’s.

If I’m Bob Murray, I’m not playing with fire. I take my chances with a pretty good hockey club likely drawing a low seed in round one, and guarantee that my team isn’t losing one or two first line forwards for nothing but an apology.

So, let’s discuss: you’re Bob Murray – you keeping Getzlaf and Perry and taking the risk for a run at the Cup, or are you covering your backside? You know where I stand.