The Ducks have traded University of Minnesota defenseman Jordan Leopold to Calgary. They got Andrei Nazarov and a ghost of the future in a draft choice. But they gave up a sure-fire NHLer. Arguably, one of the best d-man in all of college hockey.
It’s very easy to defend this trade. The Ducks received “The Most Dangerous Man in Hockey.” Andrei Nazarov brings a player for today into the fold. He’ll be right there joining Jim Cummins as a tag team of sorts. He can fight well not to mention be one of the most brutal players the NHL has ever seen. Just ask his victims. But is he a defenseman that will be around as a potential anchor? Hardly. In fact, he’s your basic role player whom the Ducks love to have a surplus of.
The theory that Nazarov will protect Selanne and Kariya is a good one. But he may not bring enough else to the game. Of course, the Ducks received a second round draft choice as well. It can’t be forgotten that Leopold was a second round draft choice himself. This way, the claim is the Ducks at least made the trade even if not the better end of the deal. It makes no difference if another Nik Tsulygin is chosen with that choice.
If first impressions mean anything, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim have a very bright future. Then again, the Ducks are traditional optimists who often over analyze the future. Going into this season’s training camp, that tradition continued. Maxim Balmochnykh, J-S Giguere and Marc Chouinard were just a few of the several young guns the Ducks were counting on for this season. As the Ducks had hoped, the first week of camp has been a step up for the young guns, causing the usual euphoria over the future.
The early scrimmages have shown the usual. The Ducks are a fast team which we already knew. This off season was extremely quiet which left many with questions about the Ducks. Will they finally have a true second line? Are Balmo and Alexei major league busts? Are the Ducks still pretenders? So far, some of these questions have been answered while others are still left up in the air.
Answering the question of the second line, Jonas Ronnqvist has been extremly feisty in the first week of camp and may have supplanted Matt Cullen as a second line player. Ronnqvist has been largely paired with German Titov and Mike Leclerc, a group of hard working speedy forwards. Titov brings most of the skill although neither Leclerc nor Ronnqvist has looked out of place. They are very skillful on their own. The bad news is Leclerc and Ronnqvist are unproven as second liners thus leaving Anaheim in the same predicament as in the past.
The Mighty Ducks re-signed Marc Chouinard to their roster on Tuesday night and barely anybody talked about it. The message boards and mailing lists were silent. Nobody seemed to care in California as the papers barely mentioned the signing – instead focusing on Marty McInnis. But perhaps they should start paying more attention.
Chouinard is not a top prospect nor is he the answer to Anaheim’s problems at scoring depth but he is very intriguing. A center with a great frame (6’5 – 200) he’s still young and at the ripe age of 23, and he brings about curiosities. Over the last several seasons Chouinard has battled injuries. In juniors, he struggled with shoulder problems. In his rookie pro year, he suffered a lacerated achilles tendon which set him back the entire year but it has been all uphill since then.
Marc is coming off a career season with Cincinnati where he played an aggressive checking game while showing capable offensive skills. He scored 17 goals and added 16 assists in 70 games. While that might not sound like much, for Chouinard it’s extremely impressive.
MAKING A NAME FOR HIMSELF
Smirnov is one of the draft’s true wild cards but will probably be gone by the time the Ducks pick. He has all the size,
skill and talent the Ducks are looking for but unless they trade up, there’s a good chance he’ll already be drafted which
is a shame. For a team that’s desperate for power forward, Smirnov is worth the risk.
I wrote that in my draft preview here at Hockey’s Future. Apparently, there was some good karma going around that day.
Saturday afternoon, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim got the chance to select Alexei Smirnov, and sure enough, they couldn’t
pass on him. Smirnov became the Ducks’ first round pick and they didn’t even have to make a trade to get him.
Consider that some good luck for a team that usually seems cursed when it comes to anything decided by luck. The Ducks
had a successful draft, choosing a group of very talented players who might be considered high risk. They also used a surplus
of draft picks to their advantage. The Ducks had made several side deals the last few weeks and it paid off in the second
round. The Ducks relinquished third, fourth and fifth round picks to Montreal for their second round pick. They ended up
choosing Ilja Bryzgalov. In theory, the Ducks received two goalies in the second round. They gave up their original second
round pick to Calgary for J-S Giguere. The Ducks also dealt sixth and seventh round picks to Toronto in return for a European
The more things change, the more they stay the same. That certainly proves
true for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. Like in past drafts, the Ducks are
looking for hard working forwards who can put up big numbers. That’s easier
said than done. The Ducks still lack pure scorers in their system and more
importantly, lack character players with strong skills.
The obvious need is for a power forward. Jay Legault is yet to blossom in
the AHL and other potential power forward candidates have been
disappointments. Mike Leclerc had an inconsistent first NHL year and Peter
Leboutillier and Jeremy Stevenson might have worn out their welcomes. The
forwards who do score for the Ducks have been criticized for a lack of hard
work. Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne are fine scorers but they aren’t the
type to battle in the corners or lead by example.
The Ducks have had relatively successful drafts the last few years. They
have taken players out of relative obscurity and found legitimate prospects.
Others have become potential steals like that of college standout Jordan
Leopold. The Ducks are expected to focus on a group of European forwards
POTENTIAL FORWARD CHOICES:
Martin Samuelsson -
Samuelsson would fit in perfectly with the Ducks. The Ducks have a fetish
for Swedish players and Samuelsson is one of the best in the draft. His Read more»