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One Year Later: The Trade Deadline
By Thomas Harrington
One year ago today was the NHL Trade Deadline, and the Anaheim Ducks made six trades in an effort to remake the team.
Derek Grant was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for a fourth round pick and forward Kyle Criscuolo, Nick Ritchie was traded to Boston for forward Danton Heinen, Devin Shore was traded to Columbus for forward Sonny Milano, Korbinian Holzer was traded to Nashville for defenseman Matt Irwin and a 2022 sixth round pick, Daniel Sprong was traded to Washington for defenseman Christian Djoos, and Angus Redmond and a 2022 conditional seventh round pick were traded to Edmonton for defenseman Joel Persson.
Grant – 4th Round Pick & Criscuolo Trade
Grant was easily Anaheim’s most moveable player. A veteran on an expiring contract, the only real question was what Anaheim would get back. Grant was on his second tour of duty with the Ducks, and already had a career high in goals with 14 in just 49 games. Criscuolo had signed as a free agent with Philadelphia in the summer of 2019. He spent the entire year in the AHL before the trade, scoring eight goals and 24 points in 40 games for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. With the fourth round pick, which ended up being 104th overall, Anaheim chose defenseman Thimo Nickl.
In Philadelphia, Grant played in seven games before the regular season ended, and scored a goal and five points. In the playoffs, he played in 15 games and recorded just two assists. Grant’s regular season performance made the Flyers very happy with their acquisition, but his playoff performance left something to be desired. He left as a free agent, and came back to Anaheim on a three year deal.
Criscuolo remained in the AHL and played in seven games with the Gulls before the AHL season was cancelled. He was scoreless in those seven games and left as a free agent during the offseason. As has been the case with so many young players, Nickl’s season has been significantly interrupted because of Covid. He’s currently playing in Europe, and has played on three different teams in three different leagues.
Honestly, for how well Grant was playing, this was an underwhelming return for the veteran center. Right now, because of how well Grant played down the stretch, Philadelphia has gotten the better end of this deal. However, Grant returning to Anaheim in the offseason makes this sting a little less, and if Nickl can become an NHL regular in the future, then this will become an excellent deal for the Ducks.
Ritchie – Heinen Trade
The 10th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Ritchie never lived up to his promise in Anaheim. He’s a power forward, but with the Ducks, he was never able to figure out how to use his size effectively on a consistent basis. Ritchie also had a bad habit of taking offensive zone penalties at inopportune moments. He just wasn’t working out well in Anaheim. Ritchie had just 19 points in 41 games before the trade. The Bruins had selected Heinen in the fourth round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. He had 47 points in the 2017-2018 season, but saw his offensive numbers fall over the next couple of seasons, and had 22 points in 58 games before the trade. Similar to Ritchie, Heinen had fallen out of favor in Boston, and this was a trade of struggling forwards looking for a new opportunity somewhere else.
In Boston, Ritchie played in seven games and scored one goal and two points. In the playoffs, he played in eight games and recorded just one goal. However, this season, Ritchie has looked rejuvenated. The fresh start in Boston was exactly what he needed, and he currently has six goals and 13 points in 16 games this season. In Anaheim, Heinen played in nine games and scored three goals and four points. This season, he hasn’t had the hot start that Ritchie does, but he still has three goals and six points in 17 games.
Right now, Boston is the early winner in this deal, but that’s not all that surprising. Even though he hasn’t lived up to his top 10 billing, there’s a reason why Anaheim chose Ritchie when they did. Even though he didn’t work with the Ducks, a change of scenery has proven to be exactly what he needed to start playing much better hockey.
Also, even though Heinen is not putting up as many points as Ritchie, I’ve been pleasantly surprised with his play. He’s making things happen in the offensive zone and is a good player in the defensive zone. Heinen also hasn’t shown a habit of taking bad offensive zone penalties. So even though Ritchie has put up better numbers so far this season, I’m happy with Heinen. This is another trade that will be interesting to look back on several years from now and see who really got the better end of the deal.
Cogliano – Shore Trade
Anaheim had acquired Shore from Dallas for Andrew Cogliano, in one of the more unpopular moves the team has made in the last several years. The hope was that Shore would turn into a younger Cogliano. That never happened, and Shore ended up as a healthy scratch a decent amount of the time. Before the trade, he had scored four goals and 10 points in 39 games.
The 16th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Milano is very similar to Ritchie. Both were 2014 first round picks who just never really fit in with the team that drafted them. Milano played in both the NHL and AHL in almost every season that he was with Columbus, and had scored 18 points in 46 games at the time of the trade.
In Columbus, Shore played in six games and scored a goal and two points. He played in only two playoff games. He left as a free agent and signed with Edmonton during the offseason. In Anaheim, Milano scored two goals and five points in nine games. In his first game with the Ducks, Milano scored two goals, including the overtime gamewinner. It was the kind of performance that Shore never really had with the Ducks.
This season, he was a healthy scratch for a couple of games, made it into the lineup for a couple of games, and has been injured ever since. Milano will never be a true top line winger, but this is a trade that Anaheim can look back on as a win. They got a winger who can score for a player who just didn’t fit into their lineup, and is signed for two seasons at a very reasonable rate.
Holzer – Irwin & a 2022 6th Round Pick
Holzer had been a member of the Ducks organization for several years, playing in both Anaheim and San Diego. He was never good enough to pay consistently on Anaheim’s defense, but was a good fill-in player and you always knew what you’d get from him. At the time of the trade, he had a goal and four points in 46 games. Similar to Holzer, Irwin is a seventh defenseman who doesn’t play a ton. He had been a member of Nashville for several years as well, and recorded two assists in 27 games at the time of the trade.
In Nashville, Holzer played in three games and was scoreless. Nashville lost to Arizona in the qualifying round and Holzer did not play in any games. He left as a free agent during the offseason and is playing in the KHL this season. In Anaheim, Irwin played in nine games and recorded an assist. He also left as a free agent during the offseason and is in Buffalo this year. Honestly, when it happened, this deal seemed odd, and if it was just a swap of Holzer for Irwin, then neither team really won or lost this deal.
However, because the Ducks received a 2022 sixth round draft pick, there’s a chance that several years down the road, they could be the big winners. For now, because of that extra pick, Anaheim is the slight winner in this deal, and depending on what happens with that pick, this will either eventually turn into a big win for the Ducks or a wash for both teams.
Sprong – Djoos
The Ducks had acquired Sprong from Pittsburgh for defenseman Marcus Pettersson. The hope was that Sprong, a player known for his shot, would help Anaheim’s ailing offense. Unfortunately, he’s another player that didn’t really work out. While Sprong has a good shot, it wasn’t enough to make up for his overall game, and he spent most of last season in the AHL. With the Gulls, he played 39 games and scored 11 goals and 27 points.
With the Ducks, he played in eight games and scored one goal and two points. Djoos had been chosen in the seventh round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by Washington. It took a while, but he made his NHL debut in the 2017-2018 season and played in 63 games. However, he wasn’t able to keep up the same level of play and also spent most of last season in the AHL, appearing in 42 games with Hershey and just two with Washington.
Sprong was immediately assigned to Hershey, and recorded a goal and six points in five games to finish out the season. This year, he’s spent the entire year in the NHL, and has two goals and three points in 10 games. He’ll never be a complete player, but in the right situation, he can be a useful asset for an NHL team, and it looks like Washington might be that place for him. In Anaheim, Djoos played in nine games to close out the season and scored a goal and three points.
This season, he was in a battle for Anaheim’s bottom pairing with several other players. He wasn’t quite able to crack the lineup and was put on waivers before the season began and Detroit claimed him. Because of Detroit claiming Djoos, this deal will be looked back on as a win for Washington. While neither player will ever become a star, the Capitals will end up getting more out of their new asset in the long term.
Redmond & a 2022 7th Round Pick – Persson
Redmond was an undrafted goaltender and the Ducks signed him to an entry-level contract before the 2017-2018 season. He spent most of the next three years playing in the ECHL, only getting two games in San Diego in the 2018-2019 season. He struggled in his first two professional seasons, but was having the best season of his career in the ECHL when he was traded. Persson had split time between the AHL and NHL, getting 27 games with Bakersfield and 13 games with Edmonton. He had two assists with the Oilers and three goals and 16 points with the Condors.
Redmond was going to be a restricted free agent this past offseason, and I didn’t expect Anaheim to qualify him, so I was happy to see the Ducks get something for him in a trade. Redmond remained in the ECHL for the rest of the season and had no impact in Edmonton. He has played in two ECHL games this season, and won both games. Persson played in seven games for the Gulls and was scoreless. He left as a free agent during the offseason and is playing in the SHL this season. The seventh round pick that Edmonton acquired in the trade was conditional on Persson playing in 25 or more games for the Ducks this season. Because he is in the SHL, the pick remains with Anaheim. As a result, I’d call this deal a wash for both teams.
At the trade deadline a year ago, Bob Murray was trying to make Anaheim better going forward and was partially successful. His most tradeable asset, Grant, didn’t net a huge return, though I’m excited to see what Nickl turns into. Heinen and Milano were solid additions for players that no longer fit in with the Ducks. Djoos was a good acquisition, even though he was lost prior to this season because of too many players fighting for a spot on the bottom pairing. The Redmond trade will ultimately be inconsequential, and the Holzer trade probably will end up being so as well. It wasn’t the firesale that many Anaheim fans were hoping for, but it was a good step in changing up Anaheim’s lineup.
The Ducks made several moves last year to try to improve the team. With the way things are currently going in Anaheim you have to wonder if the Ducks are in for another big shakeup.
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February 24th, 2021