Column: Kings and Ducks made lower-tier moves mostly aimed toward future at trade deadline
The Ducks won the distinction of making the most deals in the final hours before Monday’s NHL trade deadline, if exchanging a dust catcher for a possibly slightly faster dust catcher six times is a victory. The Kings, who cut away chunks of their Stanley Cup core in recent weeks to accumulate more prospects and draft picks, made one trade on Monday, sending expendable defenseman Derek Forbort to Calgary for a conditional fourth-round draft pick in 2021.
Ducks general manager Bob Murray wanted to make small fixes and evaluate his young players before he resorts to major roster surgery this summer. With that in mind, he got center Danton Heinen from Boston for rugged left wing Nick Ritchie, acquired left wing Sonny Milano — who was a 2014 first-round pick — from Columbus for center Devin Shore, and swapped right wing Daniel Sprong to Washington for defenseman Christian Djoos.
Having added a first-round pick last week when he dealt Ondrej Kase to Boston, Murray was willing to take a fourth-round pick this year and career minor-leaguer Kyle Criscuolo from Philadelphia for impending free agent center Derek Grant. He also picked up a sixth-round pick in 2022 from Nashville and defenseman Matt Irwin for defenseman Korbinian Holzer. The Ducks also sent Edmonton a conditional 2022 draft pick and goaltending prospect Angus Redmond for defenseman Joel Persson. Djoos and Persson might get power-play time as the season winds down.
“We were concentrating on some skill and speed and picks. Where we were and how things were going, it’s time to move forward with things,” said Murray, whose team stands next-to-last in the West, ahead of the Kings. “We definitely wanted to get more skilled and faster and I think there’s a possibility with Heinen and Milano, these guys, they’re definitely skilled and fast. So it’s now a matter of where everything fits, how it fits. It’s all part of this transition so it’s going to take a little bit of time.”
Tyler Toffoli, Alec Martinez and Kyle Clifford, who all won two Stanley Cups with the Kings, and Ondrej Kase from the Ducks were among veterans traded.
The Kings have built enough depth on defense not to miss the slow-moving Forbort, who was chosen 15th overall in 2010. That was one pick before St. Louis took a guy named Vladimir Tarasenko. Whatever happened to him?
Kings general manager Rob Blake said he was seeking picks and prospects to supplement the assets he had collected. The next step is deciding how to best use those bountiful assets, and amateur scouting director Mark Yannetti is due in Los Angeles this week to begin discussing that. “Now we focus on the draft,” Blake said. “We start to know the number of picks and the range that they are going to be in.”
The 32 transactions completed on Monday were the most on a deadline day since the league began counting in 1980. Carolina made the splashiest moves; others addressed urgent needs, such as the Vegas Golden Knights’ acquisition of goalie Robin Lehner to provide quality relief for Marc-Andre Fleury, and Calgary adding Erik Gustafsson from Chicago for a third-round pick and grabbing Forbort to help an injury-thinned defense. A sentimentally favorite move was 40-year-old Patrick Marleau going from San Jose to Pittsburgh for a conditional third-round draft pick. It’s likely his last chance to shed the label of the active player who has played the most regular-season games (now 1,715) without winning the Cup.
Tyler Madden is the newest potential piece of the Kings’ future, the biggest prospect they acquired in the trades leading up to the NHL deadline.
The Hurricanes went all-in. They got defenseman Brady Skjei from the New York Rangers for a 2020 first-round pick, nabbed right-hand shooting defenseman Sami Vatanen— who has an expiring contract — from New Jersey for two prospects and a conditional 2020 draft pick, and got center Vincent Trocheck from Florida for marginal forwards Erik Haula and Lucas Wallmark and a couple of prospects. Carolina made headlines last week for its improbable win with 42-year-old emergency backup David Ayres in goal. With Monday’s haul the Hurricanes will make more headlines for standard reasons this season.
Also of note: Pittsburgh reacquired winger Conor Sheary, a linemate of Sidney Crosby on its 2016 and 2017 Cup teams, in a deal with Buffalo. The New York Islanders traded first- and second-round picks this year and a conditional 2022 pick to Ottawa for Jean-Gabriel Pageau and then signed him to a six-year, $30-million contract. Edmonton upgraded its skill by adding forwards Andreas Athanasiou from Detroit and Tyler Ennis from Ottawa, and Tampa Bay got deeper up front by acquiring Barclay Goodrow and a third-round pick from San Jose for a first-round pick this year and a minor leaguer. That’s a steep price for someone who hit a career-best eight goals this season, but the East is up for grabs and the Lightning is in the mix. Remember when the Kings and Ducks were in position to make moves like that? Sigh.
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