What We Learned: Will the Anaheim Ducks make the right move?

Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.

It's not every day the team that's first in the entire league trades even an occasional roster player to someone, but that's what Anaheim did over the weekend in sending Peter Holland, who admittedly played all of four games this season, to Toronto for a prospect and two picks.

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The Ducks, though, might have more such trades on the way. And that's the really odd thing. Most teams that are riding as high as they are would be reticent or even remiss in moving anyone from the roster, given how fragile — and strangely valued — a thing as incalculable as “chemistry” still is these days.

Lots of people around the league survey the numerous goaltending disasters in various cities (Nashville, Uniondale, Calgary, Carolina, Edmonton, etc.) and have said at various points this season that a solution might lie in Anaheim, where there are three goaltenders who could be viewed as “the,” or at least “a” starter.

They must like Viktor Fasth, for instance, because of that shiny new two-year deal they gave him after his hot start to last season; statistically, he hasn't exactly rewarded Bob Murray for the confidence, given his .885 save percentage this year, but his line has been dragged down by one blowout game against Colorado at the start of the season.

Since that ugly night, he's allowed just six goals on 75 shots. Likewise, Frederik Andersen looks for all the world to be the Ducks' goalie of the future, having allowed just 11 goals on 193 shots faced in seven appearances this season.


Which means that Jonas Hiller, a former NHL All-Star who has started 12 of Anaheim's 22 games this season, could find himself viewed as a solution elsewhere, and surplus to requirements with the only team he's ever known.

The thing is, the perception is that Hiller has been poor, or perhaps not worth what he's paid, in the last few years, but this is probably not true. His save percentage has been south of .910 exactly zero times in his career, and the Ducks haven't exactly been powerhouses in most of the seasons in which he's played anywhere from 46 to 73(!) games. His career save percentage is .917. He's no joke, but he's also 31, and his deal's up this season.

So there's been a lot of watch-checking across the continent. Hiller is making $4.5 million against the cap and in actual cash, and perhaps his sub-.900 save percentage this season will bring down his trade value, but there's treasure to be seized from someone who gets a little desperate.

The question, though, is who's going to actually be desperate. Of the above-listed teams with goaltending issues, it seems Calgary is going to be not all that interested given that they have about 30 pro goalies under contract even after trading Laurent Brossoit in the Ladislav Smid deal. Edmonton signing Ilya Bryzgalov likely takes them off the market for a netminder.


So that leaves the Predators and Islanders, and one wonders just how wise it would be to swap picks and prospects, probably of some quality, just to pay a prorated $4.5 million for a temporary solution (i.e. until Pekka Rinne returns). This is especially true — despite the fact that the teams have apparently spoken about such a swap — because, even after the Preds' win against mighty Chicago last night, they're dead last in Conference III and seven points out of a playoff spot. Their playoff hopes are probably over for all intents and purposes, and thus it doesn't behoove them to patch a hull that's already taken on too much water to stay afloat.

The Islanders, too, might need some help, but Kevin Poulin's been decent of late. Carolina is going to get Cam Ward back in the very near future.

Perhaps the Ducks would be wise, though, to trade Hiller sooner than later if they can find a buyer, given that the goalie market might turn into an under-bidding war if Ryan Miller is officially placed on the market. If you need goalie help, after all, Miller would probably do you a lot more good than Hiller, given the inspired season he's turning in for a lost cause in Buffalo.

Hiller might, also, be one of those guys who's going to have rumors that are going to exist for as long as the Ducks hold onto him. It may end up being very similar to the Bobby Ryan-to-(insert team here) deal that was definitely going to happen every summer until it finally did.


With Hiller's deal expiring, and the Ducks unlikely to renew his contract, getting literally anything for him would simply be good asset management. They also have the luxury of the cap space to take on some money if need be and a pretty good chance to get themselves into a rather high playoff position in a tough division with or without a goaltender of Hiller's quality. Not everyone is that lucky, and taking advantage of that position is something any smart team would do.

What We Learned

Anaheim Ducks: Of course, all of the above might be null and void if the Ducks keep losing, as they have for the last three games, which must be especially vexing because the opponents were Florida, Tampa, and suddenly-hot Carolina. While it's true that they're going to regress from this hot start, they also shouldn't be losing to Florida and Carolina either. Hockey remains weird.

Boston Bruins: You were saying you did want to see video of Zdeno Chara holding a puppy, right? It's all part of the Bruins Pucks and Pups Calendar to benefit the MSPCA so you'd be doing everyone a favor, really.


Buffalo Sabres: Oh look John Scott is confused about the NHL's supplementary discipline system. However, you could say the same thing about where the sun goes at night.

Calgary Flames: Apply this headline to any Flames loss this season and you won't be far off. This team is unwatchably bad.

Carolina Hurricanes: This is the second of two shorthanded goals scored on the same Blues power play in the second period. Those were also the only two Carolina scored. St. Louis had the other four.

Chicago Blackhawks: Nikolai Khabibulin is hurt. Who saw that coming? Oh right, it was everyone.

Colorado Avalanche: That's also true of the Avs falling apart, by the way, because in my opinion you can't keep a team save percentage of close to .940 for all that long. Doesn't help that Matt Duchene is injured.


Columbus Blue Jackets: I was just reading the other day that the Blue Jackets will sort things out when they get healthy. Now this. That was a real great almost-playoff team they had once.

Dallas Stars: Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin play really, really well together. That could be a combination that wreaks havoc on NHL defenses for years to come. Or maybe they just ran into a Calgary team in shambles. Or maybe both.

Detroit Red Wings: The NHL is renting Comerica Park to build the Winter Classic Alumni Game rink for a lot of money. It's $3 million for the rent, $1 million for the rink construction. That's more than Detroit's paying Johan Franzen against the cap.

Edmonton Oilers: Look at the hand-eye from Ales Hemsky on this goal. Look, also, how there's no one within 15 feet of him.


Florida Panthers: Tim Thomas' win against Colorado on Saturday was the 200th of his career. That's really not that bad at all for someone whose career as an NHL starter didn't even begin until 2006-07 and then took a year off. Thomas might be a borderline Hall of Famer. Two-time Vezina winner, Stanley Cup, led the league in GAA and save percentage twice in eight seasons, career .921 save percentage. That's really good.

Los Angeles Kings: Everyone, everyone. Robyn Regehr played on a pond growing up. The Stadium Series game is going to have approximately 2 billion references to it. Prepare yourselves now. “BUT NOTHING LIKE THIS!!!!!” Ugh.

Minnesota Wild: Prior to Sunday's game, the Wild had points from 11 of their last 12 games, but were still only sixth in the West. That conference is insane.

Montreal Canadiens: The Habs were finally shut out by the Rangers in Montreal. When I say finally, I mean “for the first time since the Beatles released “Strawberry Fields' as a single.” Feb. 25, 1967, is a long time ago. That's what I'm saying to you.


Nashville Predators, America's Favorite Hockey Team: Look at Seth Jones starting the transition for Nashville. He can do it all!

New Jersey Devils: How hilarious would it be if, after all this, Marty Brodeur makes the Olympic team? It's not as absurd as you think; his save percentage in the last six starts is .964. Sayeth Brodeur on the subject: “Please no. Please no.”

New York Islanders: Evgeni Nabokov injured himself on the first shot of Saturday's game. Say, wouldn't that Hiller guy in Anaheim maybe help in this situation?

New York Rangers: After starting the season in the minors, Chris Kreider scored 10 points in his first 12 games, the second-best point-per-game pace among league rookies this season. He's also only shooting 6.9 percent, which is a little more likely to go up or stay the same than Tomas Hertl's 21.4 percent.


Ottawa Senators: He was elbowed in the face late in Friday's game with Boston, but Bobby Ryan doesn't think he's going to miss much time. Just stiffness, no head problems, he says.

Philadelphia Flyers: Putting Zac Rinaldo on your PK just seems like a good way to put yourself down 5-on-3, right?

Phoenix Coyotes: Coyotes call up American defenseman Connor Murphy who won gold in Ufa for his first NHL game, said Murphy scores first career goal, Phoenix hands Tampa its first lost to a Western Conference team. Not a coincidence.

Pittsburgh Penguins: The Penguins have just four even-strength goals in their last five games. They've also lost four of them. I wonder if that's a coincidence.

San Jose Sharks: San Jose may not have the most efficient power play, but it's the best in the league, because they generate 2.42 shots on goal per two minutes of power play time. That's a real lot.

St. Louis Blues: Alex Steen — ALEX STEEN! — leads the league in points and goals. The 50-on-50 watch starts now!!!!!!

Tampa Bay Lightning: Glen Healy says only 12 weeks until Stamkos is back!

Toronto Maple Leafs: Nazem Kadri says he was surprised to be suspended three games because when you knock out a goalie with an elbow for no reason then run someone high and get a match penalty in the same game, he's pretty sure you're supposed to get off easy.

Vancouver Canucks: The Sedins really need to pick it up. I mean, 38 combined points in 21 games? Sure, they have one between them in the last four games, but sometimes you gotta take the good with the bad in that regard. You can't score more than a point a game all season. Slumps happen. The rest of the team is also not-scoring.

Washington Capitals: This is a really interesting look at why Adam Oates makes sure right- and left-shot forwards play on the right and left wings, respectively.

Winnipeg Jets: The Jets special teams can only work in a manner that is inversely proportional.

Play of the Weekend

Real nice work by all involved on this goal by Craig Smith to officially turn Saturday's 7-2 win over Chicago into a rout.

Gold Star Award

Do you know how Cam Talbot got to be so good? He faced 2,149 shots in 70 appearances over three seasons for Alabama-Huntsville. That is so many pucks. The number of times he faced 40-plus shots in his final season alone is nine.

Minus of the Weekend

Kris Letang was a minus-3 in a loss to New Jersey, bumping him to minus-7 in just 11 games. He's been a negative corsi player in five games this season, but four of the last seven.

Perfect HFBoards Trade Proposal of the Week

User “Hall2Nuge2Ebs” has this one locked down.

To Edmonton:

To Nashville:
Justin Schultz
Jordan Eberle
1st round pick 2014

SignoffI loved you, I loved you like a horse, which is my favorite animal.

Ryan Lambert is a Puck Daddy columnist. His email is here