Carl Hagelin's departure might have a more positive effect on the Ducks than his arrival did.
The salary-cap space the Ducks opened by trading Hagelin to the Pittsburgh Penguins for left wing David Perron and defenseman Adam Clendening just before midnight Friday will help General Manager Bob Murray retain young defensemen Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm and forward Rickard Rakell, who will become restricted free agents after the season. Hagelin signed a four-year, $16-million contract with the Ducks in August but produced only four goals and 12 points in 43 games. Perron, a three-time 20-goal scorer, can become an unrestricted free agent after this season; Clendening can become a restricted free agent.
"It was a definite plan to move finances that way," Murray said Saturday during a conference call with reporters. "The other thing is it's two players that are kind of a little bit different and probably both needed a little bit of a change. Hags was starting to fit in, starting to work here a little bit with [Ryan] Kesler's line but I don't think the fit was great with us. And David has been struggling a little bit to fit in with the Pittsburgh group."
Perron, 27, had no goals in his last 19 games with the Penguins and had four goals, 16 points and a minus-13 defensive rating in 43 games. However, he scored 28 goals as recently as 2013-14. That intrigued the Ducks, who are last in the NHL with 86 goals in 43 games.
"He should be motivated," Murray said. "I think he definitely needed a change of scenery from Pittsburgh. I've seen him, we've all seen him get hot at times and we could use somebody to get really hot."
Both players were expected to arrive in Anaheim on Saturday.
Clendening, 23, played nine games for the Penguins this season and six for their top farm team. Murray said Clendening will stay with the Ducks for a while as insurance after defenseman Clayton Stoner aggravated a hip-flexor problem.
The Ducks will soon have an overflow on defense. Simon Despres, who played four games before suffering a concussion, has progressed enough to go to San Diego of the American Hockey League for a conditioning stint, and Cam Fowler, who has sat out nine games because of a knee injury, skated Saturday. Their return will give Murray a happy problem and some trade chips.
"I don't have anything going but we still have to get better," he said of completing more deals before the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
However, it seems unlikely Murray will acquire talented 20-year-old forward Jonathan Drouin, who asked the Tampa Bay Lightning to trade him. The Ducks have been rumored to be a suitor because the Lightning wants help on defense and the Ducks can offer that.
"If you listen to everybody and listen to all the … we're one of the front runners in that aren't we in that? Every time I turn the page I hear we're making a deal with a certain team on the East Coast," Murray said.
"There's more than just him that's probably out there and available right now. Let's just leave it at that. We're looking at a whole bunch of things. We know he's there, but there's a few others out there, too, that haven't requested trades. Requesting trades on entry level, that's something new for you and I. ... Entry-level players requesting trades. Amazing."