Mighty Ducks Off-Season Developments

By Kevin Forbes

Off-Season Developments

Fired GM Pierre Gauthier and promoted Bryan Murray to the position of
GM.

Impact: Despite Murray’s troubles as GM in Florida, he has
shown
nothing but good work here in Anaheim so far in his short term as GM.
His
experience coaching last year allowed him to witness first hand the
weaknesses of the Ducks and I think that has helped him this
off-season.
Gauthier’s moves were questionable at times and he failed to ice a
well-rounded team. This move has definitely been nothing but good for
the
Ducks as they have had one of their most successful off-seasons ever.

Promoted Mike Babcock from Cincy Ducks to Anaheim head coach position.

Impact: Babcock led the Baby Ducks to a moderately successful
season. They made the AHL playoffs, though barely. He seems to be well
liked
by players and is focusing on improving our offense while still keeping
the
defense strong. He knows most of the players from Cincy, but you have
to
wonder how much thought was given towards coaches from outside the
organization.

Exclusive affiliation with Cincy

Impact: Should be better for the Ducks, able to get players
over
from Europe and on North American ice. The Ducks rising stars won’t be
competing for ice-time with Detroit’s players. Definitely a benefit.

Traded Steve Shields to Boston

Impact: Cut free some tied up salary, opened the door for some
younger players to step in. Shields didn’t seem to happy playing backup
to
Giguere and also didn’t play well when called upon. Unfortunately, we
only
got a 3rd round pick for him, but this off-season was full of available
goalies like Dafoe.

Traded Oleg Tverdovsky, Jeff Friesen and Maxim Balmochnykh for Petr
Sykora,
Mike Commodore, J.F. Damphousse and Igor Pohanka

Impact: Friesen was obviously unhappy, and there were some
rumors of
Tverdovsky being unhappy with the Ducks as well. Murray was quoted as
saying
that Balmochnykh was considered “retired”, so no loss there. Sykora
helps
the right side, he was dealt because he went into a slump after Jason
Arnott
was sent to the Stars and there were questions of his mental strength
throughout his poor playoffs. Hopefully, playing with his best friend,
Pavel
Trnka will give him a positive attitude once again. Commodore gives us
another good young defenseman on the blueline, he was dealt simply
because
there wasn’t room for him on the Devils roster, but he should develop
into a
solid defensive defenseman.

The
Ducks were unsure if they could get Gerber signed. Either way he
provides
depth in the net. Damphousse was sent here because he didn’t perform up
to
expectations with the Devils, but some may say he was thrown to the
wolves.
He should rebound. Pohanka is a solid offensive prospect but is still a
few
years away.

Timo Parssinen and A-J Niemi leave the organization to return to Europe

Impact: Perhaps the only negative point this off-season so far,
Niemi and Parssinen were both upset with playing time and their place
in the
organization. Despite a strong camp in 2001, Parssinen was sent back to
Cincy after starting the season with the Ducks. He seemed lost on the
North
American ice surface, but played well with the baby Ducks. Niemi seemed
to
have struggles with his consistency and like Parssinen, he made the
team out
of camp but was sent down to Cincy. Both were reportedly upset with not
being given more of a chance to succeed.

Sign Prospects Mark Popovic, Alexei Smirnov, Stanislav Chistov, Cory
Pecker,
Jonathan Hedstrom, Kurt Sauer, Travis Brigley, Martin Gerber, Tony
Martensson, Jan Tabecek

Impact: Very important, the signings of Chistov, Smirnov,
Pecker,
Popovic and Gerber make training camp much more interesting. Also
having
these players signed indicates that they will play for Cincy if they do
not
make the team, which is great for their development.

Sign Todd Rierden, Jason Krog, Rob Valicevic, Chris O’Sullivan

Impact: Gives the Ducks some depth at all positions as well as
filling up the Cincy roster. All four of these players have NHL
experience
and can fill-in if need be.

To sum it up, the Ducks had a strong off-season, quite possibly the
best
combination of signings, trades and moves that the team has seen in its
ten
years existence. Negative points were few and far between and there is
a
positive feeling about the up-coming season.