PHILADELPHIA -- Not only are the Ducks concerned with what the other top teams in the Western Conference are doing, they’re also monitoring the Edmonton Oilers.
Because the Ducks hold the Oilers’ 2008 first-round selection as compensation for losing winger Dustin Penner to an offer sheet, the pick could be very valuable if they keep it for the draft this June or use it in a package to get a scorer before the Feb. 26 trade deadline.
The Oilers are 14th in the conference and their 51 points are tied with Toronto and Chicago for third-worst in the NHL. And while the Ducks are searching for offense, General Manager Brian Burke isn’t ready to give away this pick in a draft considered to be the strongest since 2003.
“Every pick’s in play,” Burke said. “The problem with the Edmonton pick is we have to see where that’s going to be. It is a deep draft. If that’s a high pick, that’s going to take a lot to move that pick, a lot more than a rental player, because you’re talking a [potential] 10-year guy.”
The Ducks are believed to be among the contending teams interested in Toronto center Mats Sundin, who could be dealt by the Maple Leafs if he chooses to waive his no-trade clause. Another choice rental could be Atlanta winger Marian Hossa if he doesn’t re-sign with the team, but the Thrashers are still in the hunt for the Southeast Division title.
It is possible that the Ducks could add either player as they have about $1.8 million available under the cap. In Sundin’s case, they would be responsible for about $1.1 million of his $5.5-million salary this season, but they would also probably have to part with either top prospects Bobby Ryan or Brian Salcido, possibly a roster player and that first-round pick from the Oilers.
Burke would not comment on specific players, but he confirmed that the Ducks are looking to address their lack of secondary scoring. As he put it Sunday, “We’re making goalies look like all-stars right now.”
“As a manager, your job is to evaluate all the scenarios,” he said. “The view going in would be to add to the group, not to change the group so much. But we’ll look at all scenarios.
“I know that sounds like a trite answer, but it’s true. I’ve told our staff to be prepared to look at everything.”
Burke also said he wasn’t going to make a panic move even though the Ducks have only five goals during their six-game losing streak.
“I think we’re going to come out of this funk,” he said. “I don’t think this is representative of our team.”
Meanwhile, the Ducks got their minds off their current troubles by playing a free-spirited game at Wachovia Center with the coaching staff all suiting up and several players trying out new roles.
Assistant coach Newell Brown was in goal against defenseman Francois Beauchemin. Goalies Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Jonas Hiller were forwards for a day while Coach Randy Carlyle was joining the rush the way he did when he was a Norris Trophy-winning defenseman.
“Instead of coming today and harping on the negative, we feel it’s more productive to build on the positives,” Carlyle said. “What sense does it make coming and grinding today when we’ve got two days to prepare?”
Defenseman Mathieu Schneider said he was hoping to return for Tuesday’s game against the New York Islanders after sitting out the last two because of a sprained left wrist.
Schneider said he injured the wrist against Nashville when he tried to get his stick out of the net and was hit by the Predators’ Martin Erat. But the pain intensified when he aggravated it during Wednesday’s game at Minnesota.
On what the injured wrist affects, Schneider said, “Mostly shooting and passing. Handling the puck is not that bad. But I can’t really shoot the puck.”