Monday, January 9, 2012

Any Anaheim/Sabres deal probably starts here with...

Ducks GM Bob Murray was
antsy in November and turned
angry in January with his teams'
sub-par performance.

this from the Orange County Register's Randy Youngman on November 25, "Is it time to push the panic button at Honda Center?"

Youngman lays it out:
  • questions started arising after the Ducks lost their sixth game in a row, their second six-game losing streak in 13 games
  • Head Coach Randy Carlyle still had GM Bob Murray's support at that time, but everyone seemed to realize that a shake-up was coming
  • Youngman speculates that if a player is to be moved, it would be either winger Bobby Ryan or center Ryan Getzlaf because they could get the most in return
    Ducks winger,
    Bobby Ryan as trade-bait
    created a stir in
  • Reigning Hart Trophy winner Corey Perry was presumed to be untouchable as was Teemu Selanne
  • Puck Daddy's Lyle Richardson ponies on the story by noting that "there's been some grumbling this season over the performance of goaltender Jonas Hiller, but there's no one in the system or the trade market to adequately replace him." Hiller, it should be pointed out was diagnosed with vertigo and is having a very poor season

Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller was also having a very sub-par season, and on November 27, Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal had this to write, "We keep hearing that Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller is out with a concussion and wouldn’t mind if the Sabres traded him." Matheson briefly lays out that Miller's wife is a Los Angeles-based actress, but that all three California teams have their goaltenders in place at the time including Hiller in Anaheim.

Would Sabres goalie
Ryan Miller be willing to
ditch the winter hat and
buy a surf board?

Bill Hoppe of the Niagara Gazette starts out his article, Miller laughs off trade rumors, close to return by saying "[he] had heard the trade rumor, the one about him not minding if the Sabres dealt him. But multiple ones? He wasn’t aware the chatter had grown."

Some of the quotes from the article:
  • “I thought there was one specifically I was going to have to talk about because (coach) Lindy (Ruff) was joking with me yesterday about it."
  • “I’ve never, in my time here, talked to Lindy, (general manager) Darcy (Regier), ownership about a trade, and they’ve never come to me asking for any options.”
  • “It’s funny when you hear things like ‘wouldn’t mind.’ That implies someone’s asked me. I’ve never made a comment about my status with the team. My comment about my status with the team now is I’m proud of being a Sabre. I’m excited for what we can accomplish moving forward, and I want to be a part of it. There’s no reason for me to want to leave the situation. We have great new ownership who’s excited to put a winner on the ice, and I want to be a part of it.”
  • “This is what I want to do with my life. I want to be a goaltender for the Buffalo Sabres.”
On December 1, the same day that Hoppe published the article above, Randy Carlyle was fired as the coach of the Anaheim Ducks. Murray chose the traditional route of moving one body (the coach) instead of moving players in order to jumpstart his floundering team.
A quick coaching recycle as former
Washington coach
Bruce Boudreau (R) replaced
Anaheim's Randy Carlyle
two weeks after getting fired.
Carlyle was replaced by Bruce Boudreau who was fired by the Washington Capitals just a couple weeks before.

The morass continued for the Ducks through the month of December as the team went 3-8-2.

The new year came about Murray was still not giving up on making the playoffs, "I think this team can be turned around to make the playoffs next year," he said in an article published by the LA Times, "I think it's going to be hard to do it this year but I do want them to make a run. But it's got to happen quick. Everybody knows that. … Let's start playing better hockey."

That was before their January 4 meeting with the San Jose' Sharks to kick off the 2012 portion of the schedule.

The 3-1 loss angered the GM to the point where he put everyone on the block except for Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne, both of whom have no-trade clauses, "I have two players who are unavailable, Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu," he said. "And the rest of the players in the locker room, I thought they'd figure it out when we changed coaches. They (thought) that time was running, well the clock is running quickly here.

"I still believe we have some core players," he continued. "Now whether we have to change a few core players, so be it. They're deciding who's staying and who's not staying at this point. They're the ones deciding."
Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register said on January 4 that Murray is not interested in a complete rebuild--"we will not go to draft picks. It's not my intention"-- but would be looking to ship out a core player for a player of similar stature. He said that no one will be given away.

So winger Bobby Ryan was on the block at one time, and remained so. Moving center Ryan Getzlaf was also a possibility six weeks earlier, and that possibility remained as well.

An orange county sports writer
acts like he's in a chat room
while making a case to trade
the Ducks Ryan Getzlaf.

For some reason Getzlaf has seen a precipitous drop in his numbers this year which lead to Jeff Miller of the Orange County Register to write a full article entitled, Time for Ducks to trade Getzlaf.

This guy is ticked and embarks on a rather snide article concerning Murray conceding the season by making a big trade and retooling for next year. And it all starts with Getzlaf, "That's right. The team captain. The Olympic gold medalist. The former All-Star Game starter."

Miller points out that the situation with Getzlaf and the Ducks just hasn't worked out and has become "stagnated." Getzlaf is "broken," is on a pace for his worst production since his rookie season, and that the captain has simply "lost his way." (sounds eerily familiar to the Sabres Derek Roy in a few aspects.)

And he lays out what has lead him to this conclusion:
  • they need to "alter the path of a franchise that is off the rails"
  • a coaching change had little affect on the teams downward spiral
  • tweaks won't do fix it
  • it's time to shake the team to its very core
(sounds eerily similar to the Sabres)

The Register's Miller gives legitimate reasons for trading the captain, but ya gotta wonder if this journalist spent too many hours reading blogs and chats. It's a little extreme to say the least, but moving a player like Getzlaf certainly would shake the team to the core.
When we started this rendezvous with words, something was rotten in Anaheim. A player of Bobby Ryan's calibre--and being a part of one of the best lines in the NHL--usually doesn't hit the market during an early-season slump.
And the fact that the whole line of Ryan, Getzlaf and Corey Perry just didn't seem to be motivated is a peculiar one, especially when they've proven they can overcome obstacles and go on a run. They have that much talent.
But there seems to be a schism in Duckland between GM Bob Murray and his talented core group.
Is Getzlaf, as the captain, responsible for the apathetic play that led to Carlyle's dismissal? Is Murray, who was a staunch supporter of Carlyle, holding a grudge? Will the captain take the fall like the coach did?
It represents an interesting opportunity for a team to pick up a proven #1 center for less than their first-born child with the question being, what would Bob Murray want in return for Ryan Getzlaf?
And do the Sabres have what they need?
Back in November, rumors were swirling that the Sabres were in on Bobby Ryan and that there were some serious talks.
But, with the inordinate amount of wingers on this team, including two who were brought in to play center (Brad Boyes and Ville Leino,) would it make any sense to bring in another one?
And even if there were serious talks with Anaheim, what would Sabres GM Darcy Regier be offering in return?
Maybe the fact that the Ryan Miller "wouldn't mind being traded" came out at the same time would offer a clue.
Miller is a former Vezina Trophy winner, and could be considered a "core-type" player by any number of GM's. Especially a GM who has a goalie suffering from a medical condition that seems to have drastically reduced his effectiveness.

Would two Jonas' be better than one
in Buffalo if Hiller came to the
Sabres in a trade?
Jonas Hiller is having a very substandard season thus far with numbers worse than Millers. Hiller is in the second year of a four-year/$18M contract with the Ducks. It wouldn't be too far-fetched to say that the Ducks might be concerned about the future of their #1 goalie.
Unloading Hiller and his contract would be a big weight off their shoulders, but they just can't dump him for a pick. They have only a marginal Dan Ellis as a backup and very little in the pipeline. They would need a solid goaltender in return.
That's where Miller comes in to play.
Accepting a trade to Anaheim would work for Miller on many levels. He'd still be the clear #1 goalie, but would have a veteran backup go guide him along. He'd be going to a cup-winning franchise in a city that doesn't pin all their hopes for redemption on their sports teams. And, he'd be closer to his newlywed wife (whether that's good or bad remains to be seen.)
And Buffalo is not going to just give away Miller for a bag of pucks. Hiller alone would not get the job done. That's where the bigger deal would come into play.
You have two floundering teams in opposite conferences looking to shake up their core. Both have stars that are struggling and could probably use a change of scenery. And both have needs in certain areas. Plus, smoke has been coming from them for months now.
If there is a trade between Anaheim and Buffalo, it's not hard to draw a conclusion that Buffalo wants Ryan Getzlaf and would take Jonas Hiller as part of the deal. Anaheim would need to replace Hiller and the team would be set in goal for the next 2 1/2 seasons with Ryan Miller in net.
One would think that a center would be headed to Anaheim, and although Derek Roy and his $4.5M salary would work well for Buffalo, Murray may not want that.
For the Sabres though, anyone not named Meyers or McNabb should be available. And that includes the likes of youngsters Tyler Ennis, Luke Adam and Zack Kassian as well as prospects like Mark Pysyk and Joel Armia.
Of course there's also the remaining aspects like evening out the salaries for the Sabres to get under the cap as well as seeing who would go along with Miller to make it all work. But a Getzlaf/Hiller for Miller/???? would be a good base with which to build upon in my humble opinion, and there are signs leading to the possibility.
For what it's worth, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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