Hot Ducks are making GM rethink trade plans
Many were planning for the Ducks to conduct a fire sale when they plummeted to the depths of the Western Conference and the NHL as the calendar flipped over to 2012.
The Ducks remain in 13th place in the West, but the thought of players like Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, Jason Blake and Lubomir Visnovsky being peddled to the highest bidders is fading fast and may disappear altogether.
The postseason is now in their sights after a 2-0 road victory over Florida. A 15-2-4 run has gotten them to within five points of eighth place after being 20 points out when this all started on the night of Jan. 6 against the New York Islanders.
Not only do the Ducks want to see how this will all play out, but they want to do it together, because for weeks they were identified as likely sellers at the Feb. 27 trade deadline, with valuable pieces coveted by many other teams.
“I haven’t heard them talk about the trade rumors or anything,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I think it’s a group that just wants to win. And they believe every game is a Game 7 because we’ve been in that situation since forever.”
General manager Bob Murray has been taking phone calls and fielding offers since November, when he decided that firing Randy Carlyle and hiring Boudreau was a better answer than trading away one of his stars.
There have been small player moves here and there but not the major trade to shake up an underperforming team or signal that it’s time to rebuild. And with NHL trade deadline just nine days away, the red-hot Ducks would like to keep the status quo.
“We’ve worked really hard to get back to where we are,” captain Ryan Getzlaf said. “And we’ve done it as a group. That’s the way hockey goes. We can rally around each other and get back into this thing and get into a position where we’re able to push for that playoff spot.
“Whatever Murph decides to do at the deadline, that’s his business. We’ll adapt with whatever happens.”
Said Ryan: “The main thing you want to do is put your GM in the hardest position you can to make a decision on it.”
The Ducks have gone 4-0-2 on an eight-game, 15-day road trip to keep their hopes alive. Murray has been impressed with their work since the calendar turned and they bottomed out at 10-22-6 with a home loss to San Jose.
“The players didn’t give up; they are battling hard all of them,” Murray said. “We never gave up on making the playoffs. The players knew they were better than they showed early, and we think they’re out to prove that.
“That being said, they have to keep grinding. They’re halfway there.”
As the deadline arrives in eight days, Murray isn’t tipping his hand on his immediate plans.
“As always, you’re looking to improve your team; that never changes,” he said. “I can’t say for sure what will happen in the next nine days, but the players are giving me a lot to think about.”
–Teemu Selanne passed another big name on the NHL all-time goal scoring list and attached himself to a few more legends with another milestone. Selanne moved past Brendan Shanahan into 12th place with his 657th goal. It also gave him 20 goals this season, marking the 17th time he has done it in his career. Selanne joined a list that includes Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Mike Gartner, Brett Hull, Jaromir Jagr, Joe Sakic, Marcel Dionne and Mats Sundin. Only four have scored 20 more often: Gordie Howe, Ron Francis, Dave Andreychuk and Shanahan.
“That’s a big honor, and it’s almost overwhelming to hear your own name in the same group with those guys,” Selanne said. “It’s unbelievable obviously. I could never imagine that I could climb up with those guys. Very thankful for that.”
–Niklas Hagman wrapped up a win over Florida with an empty-net goal, bouncing back from a big hit he received from the Panthers’ Sean Bergenheim in the second period.
“I’ve got to read up on the rule, because to me it was a total blindside hit,” Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Maybe the total contact on one angle wasn’t to the head, but it grazed the shoulder and then hit the head full on. It was totally blindside. He didn’t see it coming.”
Boudreau said he isn’t counting on any supplementary discipline to be handed out to Bergenheim, and Hagman said he didn’t see the winger but couldn’t determine whether he thought the hit was clean or illegal until he watched it on video.
“I know that he got me pretty good,” he said. “But I haven’t seen it, so I don’t know what to say.”
QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s nice to get to the 60-point plateau because then you can at least see the guys and the distance. It still a long ways away. They’ll all play before we play again, and it could be seven. It’s just a battle. We have to keep winning. Because the one time you don’t, it seems like you fall back into a cavern-type thing. The reason it’s never been done is because it’s very difficult to do.” — Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, on being 20 points out of a playoff spot on Jan. 6 and cutting the margin down to five after a win over Florida.
–RW Teemu Selanne scored his 20th goal of the season in a win over Florida. At 41, Selanne is the oldest player to score 20 in a season since Boston’s Johnny Bucyk did it in 1976-77. His second goal in three games now gives the Ducks three 20-goal scorers, joining Bobby Ryan and Corey Perry.
–D Francois Beauchemin played a game-high 30 minutes, 33 seconds and was a plus-2 while delivering three hits and blocking two shots. It was a turnaround performance for the veteran after going minus-8 in his previous 11 games.
–LW Niklas Hagman scored an empty-net goal, giving him nine goals this season and eight since the Ducks claimed him off re-entry waivers on Nov. 14. Hagman has two goals in his last three games.
–G Jonas Hiller recorded his third shutout of the season when he stopped 31 shots against Florida. Hiller has been soaring for a while, going 13-2-4 with a 1.73 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage. He has 14 career shutouts.
–G Dan Ellis continues to rehabilitate after tearing his groin muscle during a Jan. 7 practice. Ellis began skating the week before last and was expect to start a stretching regimen. He is out indefinitely.
–Francois Beauchemin, Cam Fowler
–Luca Sbisa, Lubomir Visnovsky
–Toni Lydman, Sheldon Brookbank
–LW Jason Blake, C Ryan Getzlaf, RW Corey Perry
–LW Bobby Ryan, C Saku Koivu, RW Teemu Selanne
–LW Matt Beleskey, C Nick Bonino, RW Andrew Cogliano
–LW Niklas Hagman, C Rod Pelley, RW George Parros