The NHL trade deadline is tomorrow, but the Anaheim Ducks are not waiting that long. In a series of trades that rocked the hockey world, the Ducks traded forward Dustin Penner to the Washington Capitals, acquired veteran defenseman Stephane Robidas from the Dallas Stars, and sent highly touted goaltending prospect, Viktor Fasth to the Edmonton Oilers. The trade to the Oilers also prompted Edmonton to make a deal of their own, moving goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to the Minnesota Wild. Though a bigger deal happened just under a week ago, when the Buffalo Sabres moved Ryan Miller to St. Louis, the Anaheim Ducks are going to be credited for jumping the gun and getting the first “official” deal of this trade deadline.
Dustin Penner has been bounced around a lot lately. He was originally drafted by the Ducks in the 05-06 season and was a big part of their Stanley Cup run his sophomore year. Increased salaries left Penner the odd man out for Anaheim, causing him to sign a new deal with the Edmonton Oilers. He had a few up and down years with the Oilers, before being traded to the Los Angeles Kings in the 10-11 season. Once again, he experienced the joy of victory when the Kings won the Cup in 2012. He signed with the Ducks this offseason, putting up 32 points in 49 games before being traded today. Washington acquired Penner for a fourth round pick, hoping that Penner can help their team win a Stanley Cup as he did with the Kings and the Ducks.
The Anaheim Ducks used that fourth round pick almost immediately after the deal was made, swapping it for offensive defenseman, Stephane Robidas. Robidas was a big part of many successful Dallas Stars teams over the years, contributing 41 points in 82 games back in the 09-10 season. He has struggled to find his offense this year, as injuries and age have taken its toll. However, he should be a solid pickup for the Anaheim Ducks, a veteran to keep the blueline and the team steady in a potential deep playoff run. Look for him to mentor young defenseman and USA Olympian, Cam Fowler, during his time in Anaheim.
Viktor Fasth is the victim of an unfortunate numbers game. He did everything he could to prove he could take the reins as the starting goaltender of the Anaheim Ducks, earning 15 wins in 25 games during his rookie year. But a massive contract to goaltender Jonas Hiller and the upstart play of recent draft pick, Fredrick Andersen, made Fasth an expendable and very valuable piece. The Edmonton Oilers have been looking to solidify their goaltending for quite a while now, and with Fasth and recently-extended Ben Scrivens, the Oilers now have a very formidable duo in net.
With the acquisition of Fasth, the Oilers no longer needed the services of popular goaltender, Ilya Bryzgalov. Bryzgalov has been a point of controversy for almost every team he has played for. His time playing for the Phoenix Coyotes and the Anaheim Ducks were some of the best in his career and a large reason why the Philadelphia Flyers signed him some years ago. He quickly became a target of the Philadelphia faithful, who have dealt with so much goaltending turmoil of late that they were ready to pounce on the first sign of weakness. The Flyers eventually bought out Bryzgalov’s contract, leaving him team-less until training camp of this year. The Oilers took a chance by inviting him to their training camp, but he never seemed to impress in Edmonton. Now he will get his chance in Minnesota, after the Wild acquired Bryzgalov for a fourth round pick.
There is something to be said about getting to trades early. By doing so, a general manager can often times get a player for cheap since the market has not yet set his value. The Anaheim Ducks appear to have done that by jumping the gun on tomorrow’s NHL trade deadline, but there is still plenty of time for more action to happen. The Ducks saved a bit of space in their salary cap with these three deals, about $1.3 million. For a top contender like the Anaheim Ducks, that is not an insignificant number to perhaps make another move.
Commentary by Jonathan Gardner