The Anaheim Ducks have landed a coveted young player, acquiring Haydn Fleury from the Carolina Hurricanes according to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic. Jani Hakanpaa will be going the other way with a sixth-round pick.
More to come…
The Toronto Maple Leafs had already acquired some depth at forward and in net, but there was still a need to shore up the defensive group. They’ve done that now, as Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports that the Maple Leafs have acquired Ben Hutton from the Anaheim Ducks. Frank Seravalli of TSN tweets that it will be a 2022 fifth-round pick going back to Anaheim.
More to come…
3:48 p.m.: Friedman has backed off his original tweet, now reporting that the two sides are still in discussion about Deslauriers. Nothing is done.
3:24 p.m.: The Pittsburgh Penguins have been rumored to be interested in adding some size to their lineup and it looks like they’ve done just that as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the Penguins have acquired winger Nicolas Deslauriers from the Anaheim Ducks. Terms or the trade have not been revealed.
It should be noted that the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins removed prospect defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph today from their AHL lineup. While that doesn’t necessarily mean that he is part of the trade, it certainly is a possibility.
The 30-year-old Deslauriers would give the team the needed physicality it is looking for. Well known for his fights against top enforcers, the bruising forward should give the Penguins much-needed grit on the ice. Deslauriers can even put the puck in the net at times as well, posting four goals and eight points in 35 games. He has also racked up 38 penalty minutes, 102 hits and four fights this year.
It’s likely Deslauriers will be useful against players such as Washington’s Tom Wilson, who he has a history with as well as other impact players with the New York Islanders.
No matter how it’s viewed, the Anaheim Ducks have made a unique move. The team has announced that rookie phenom Trevor Zegras has been re-assigned to the AHL. But there’s a catch; Zegras’ demotion is not being viewed as a punishment by the organization, but rather a reward. The team is actually so impressed with the 20-year-old forward’s development that they are shifting him from the wing to his natural center position and simply want to start him in that role with the San Diego Gulls before bringing him back to the NHL squad. The club’s press release stated as follows:
Our goal was to help Trevor transition more smoothly into the NHL, so we started him out on the wing. He’s ahead of our scheduled progression, and as a result we are moving him to center ice effective immediately. He will need some experience in the AHL first, but our expectation is that he will be back with us in the near future and play center for the Ducks for years to come.
On it’s face alone, it is a stunning move to see Zegras demoted amid a strong first pro season. The 2019 ninth overall pick recorded nine points in eight games in the minors before he was swiftly promoted to the NHL and has added seven points in 17 games with Anaheim since (not to mention 18 points in seven games at the World Juniors before the season.) The cerebral forward looks like a potential first-line center for the Ducks moving forward, as the team acknowledged, so fans assuredly would have been shocked to see him demoted if not for the context. Especially in the midst of another poor season, some may have turned on the team for removing their most exciting young player from the lineup without reason.
Fortunately, the club did make clear their reasons for the move. It is very rare and very refreshing for an NHL team to be so transparent with their developmental path for a player. Whether or not this specific move is needed given Zegras’ ability is beside the point, as the team’s justification is at least logical. As they noted, Zegras may not need much time in San Diego to get comfortable down the middle either. The Boston University product has previously excelled at the position given his elite vision and passing ability. Zegras should be flying with the Ducks again soon.
New York Islanders forward Leo Komarov is far from a free agent. Not only is the veteran still actively playing with the Islanders this season, who hope to have a long playoff run ahead of them as well, but Komarov also has one year left on his current deal. Yet, that hasn’t stopped European clubs from making their interest known, should Komarov be bought out by New York this off-season. After all, Komarov had landed on waivers thrice this season and has just four points in 21 games. The Islanders could easily see the upside in opening up more than $1MM in savings next season by buying out the remaining year and $3MM cap hit of Komarov’s contract. There would not likely be much NHL interest in the 34-year-old either if he hits the open market this summer, hence the push from European suitors already. Just how far has the early courting process already come? Finnish hockey insider Markus Nuutinen reports that Komarov actually has a handshake agreement in place for next season in the event he is bought out by the Islanders, but it isn’t in his native Finland. Instead, Komarov is expected to return to the KHL’s Dynamo Moscow, the same club he was with prior to beginning his NHL career back in 2012-13. There are obviously no terms available yet for this unofficial agreement, but it would come as little surprise if a Komarov reunion with Moscow does come to fruition.
Anaheim’s acquisition of Alexander Volkov from Tampa Bay last month raised some eyebrows considering the relatively low acquisition cost of prospect Antoine Morand and a 2023 seventh-round pick. But Tampa Bay needed more cap flexibility and the Ducks were able to take advantage of that.
However, it turns out that wasn’t the only factor in the trade. The 23-year-old told Elliott Teaford of the Orange County Register that he had requested a trade from the Lightning, citing a desire to play more regularly instead of being someone that was in and out of the lineup. He should get that opportunity with Anaheim and played a season-high 13:32 in his debut last night while scoring a goal. A good showing down the stretch would go a long way towards bolstering his case in restricted free agency where he will have arbitration eligibility for the first time this summer.
More from Anaheim:
As expected, accomplished Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman will be the next leader of Team USA. Sportsnet’s Frank Seravalli reports that USA Hockey has scheduled a press conference for Wednesday where they will officially name Bowman as the GM for the U.S. entry into the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. Given the NHL’s absence at the most recent Olympics paired with the quality of American players who have blossomed into superstars over the past eight years, expectations are high for Team USA. A two-time Stanley Cup winning GM, whose current rebuild seems to be moving along nicely as well, Bowman has found great success in his career and appears ready for the challenge. With a familiar face in Chicago icon Patrick Kane leading the way, Bowman’s Team USA could be legitimate contenders for gold. He won’t be alone in the decision-making, either; Seravalli notes that Minnesota Wild GM Bill Guerin will be named an assistant of Bowman’s as well. Nashville’s David Poile and Carolina’s Don Waddell are also likely to be considered for the brain trust, among others.
Late last night, the Anaheim Ducks made a move to secure some young talent. The team has acquired Alexander Volkov from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Antoine Morand and a conditional seventh-round selection in 2023. Ducks GM Bob Murray released a short statement on the move:
We are excited to have Alexander join our organization. We believe a fresh start will help him further develop as we look to continue adding youthful talent.
Volkov, 23, has shown flashes of brilliance in his young career with the Lightning but was stuck behind a deep forward group and playing just a handful of shifts each game. In 19 appearances this season he had registered five points, averaging just under ten minutes a game. Originally selected 48th overall in 2017, the young Russian was a strong offensive force for three seasons with the Syracuse Crunch, but hasn’t yet been able to translate that to the NHL level. In Anaheim he’ll be given a fresh start with a team desperate for young scoring talent.
Importantly, Volkov is a restricted free agent this offseason and will be arbitration-eligible. The Ducks can afford to give him a raise to keep him on North American ice, but the Lightning likely couldn’t commit any more than the league minimum given their cap restraints. For Anaheim he is a worthwhile gamble given how little it cost to acquire him.
Morand, 22, was also a second-round pick in 2017, but hasn’t found any level of offensive success in the AHL so far. In 21 games this season he has just one goal and six points, a far cry from the numbers he put up in the QMJHL. Still, given Morand still has another year on his entry-level deal and will be a restricted free agent after that, perhaps the Lightning believe they can turn a corner in his development. The draft pick that comes along will be a seventh-rounder no matter what but could transfer to 2024 if the 2023 selection is unavailable due to a previous trade.
That’s not much to give up for a talent like Volkov, even if he hasn’t put it all together at this point. Getting NHL games out of Morand is not even close to a guarantee, but after going through protocols the Ducks could put Volkov in the lineup right away.
Oscar Klefbom will have surgery on his shoulder in Cleveland on Thursday, according to Mark Spector of Sportsnet. Spector reports that the issue Klefbom is facing is arthritis and the best-case scenario is the defenseman is ready for 2021-22 training camp later this year. The Edmonton Oilers have not yet publicly confirmed the surgery and likely won’t until it is completed.
Klefbom last played on August 7, the game which eliminated the Oilers from playoff contention in their qualification round matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks. He logged over 25 minutes in that game but hasn’t seen NHL action since, missing the entire 2020-21 campaign due to this shoulder issue. The hope now is that the 27-year-old can get back to his old self and continue the strong path his career had been on. His contract with the Oilers will expire after the 2022-23 season.
The Anaheim Ducks seem like they should be obvious sellers at the upcoming trade deadline, given their place at the bottom of the West Division standings. The team is 9-17-6 and has allowed the third-most goals against in the entire league. Their -39 goal differential through 32 games tracks ahead of only the Buffalo Sabres (-40) and the Ottawa Senators (-43), two teams that have no hope of contending for a playoff spot this season. Despite all that, Ducks GM Bob Murray explains to Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic that things are still extremely quiet, implying that the deadline might not be very busy for Anaheim.
As LeBrun writes, the Ducks do not hold many pure rental players–that is those who will be unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. Instead, most of their biggest trade chips have some term left, meaning they could be dealt in the offseason instead when the market is a bit more flexible. Once again, LeBrun suggests Rickard Rakell as the best “hockey deal” the Ducks could make, with Murray agreeing that the veteran winger would be more appealing to contenders now than in the summer, giving them two playoff runs.