Of course the team to jumpstart a stagnant trade market is none other than the NHL’s very best. The league-leading Colorado Avalanche made a big move on Monday night to acquire defenseman Josh Manson from the Anaheim Ducks. They weren’t the only team looking to pry the big blue liner away though. A number of clubs have been linked to Manson, including the Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs, the latter of whom seemingly got close to adding him. Sportsnet’s Nick Alberga reports that Manson was unwilling to waive his trade protection to go to Toronto, which implies that the Leafs got close enough that the Ducks approached the veteran defender about the possibility. Manson has just a limited No-Trade Clause – a twelve-team no-trade list. It seems that the Maple Leafs were among those dozen undesirable landing spots. It is unclear whether the team has been a long-standing member of that list or a more recent addition given their current struggles.
- The Manson trade shows that the Anaheim Ducks are officially sellers. The team has exceeded expectations this season and have continued to stick around the Western Conference playoff picture, but of late have slid outside of a reasonable chance of reaching the postseason this year. Any question as to their deadline position is now over, but the unknown remains to what extent they will sell. While Manson is a very talented player, he is not even among the top two potential rentals in Anaheim. That would be fellow defenseman Hampus Lindholm and skilled forward Rickard Rakell. Both of these players are core pieces for the Ducks and critical to their success and at 28 years old could each continue to play a major role for years to come. If Anaheim feels that they are close to contending following their strong start this season, then they could opt for extensions rather than trades for Lindholm and Rakell. Alas, Alberga reports that there are no ongoing contract negotiations with either player right now, which could imply that they will soon follow Manson out the door.
- If and when the Ducks do move Lindholm, they have set the bar high for the rental defenseman market. Manson is the first and only proven top-four defenseman to be dealt so far this season and in return Anaheim landed a 2023 second-round pick and a well-regarded 2019 second-round pick in Boston College defenseman Drew Helleson, a top-five scorer for the Eagles. Though a solid defensive asset, Manson pales in comparison to the more well-rounded Lindholm, who might be the best defenseman on the trade market. An A-level prospect and a second-round pick, or even two second-round picks, is now the baseline to which Anaheim can refer when commanding a much better return for Lindholm. Around the league, the Canadiens, Kraken, and possibly the Stars will be happy to see the Manson return knowing that their top-four rentals – Ben Chiarot, Mark Giordano, and John Klingberg – may also garner an equal or greater return.
- The Colorado Avalanche are not done either. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun was quick to note that the Manson acquisition is not all that GM Joe Sakic has in mind as he chases the Stanley Cup. Especially given the cap flexibility afforded by recent injuries to Gabriel Landeskog and Samuel Girard, the door is open in Denver. LeBrun still expects the team to take a swing at Philadelphia Flyers star Claude Giroux and have their eyes on other forwards as well.