Tha Sports Junkies 101

Ducks’ Fowler showing no trade a good move

Ducks' Fowler showing no-trade a good move Bridget Samuels/via

Defenseman fifth in team scoring, leading Anaheim blueliners in goals, points


The summer of 2016 was an interesting one, to say the least, for Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray.

After a fourth straight Game 7 defeat at home in the playoffs, Murray decided to relieve then-coach Bruce Boudreau of his duties and eventually bring back his predecessor, Randy Carlyle to coach the Ducks.

His focus then shifted to re-signing two of the team’s young studs, forward Rickard Rakell and defenseman Hampus Lindholm. With Anaheim pretty much up against the cap, some moves had to be made to free up the money to re-sign both players, as both of them were asking for hefty raises.

One of the names that was tossed around like crazy, especially when talking about what needed to be done to re-sign Lindholm, was blueliner Cam Fowler‘s.

A first-round pick of the Ducks’ in 2010, Fowler was seen as an eventual replacement of former Anaheim captain Scott Niedermayer, a smooth-skating, offensive defenseman that can join the rush at anytime and give some secondary scoring. He played 76 games in his rookie season and showed signs of that offensive spark, posting 10 goals and 40 points, which are still career highs.

However, his defensive game suffered his first two years in the league, which isn’t all that uncommon for young blueliners, as he was a combined -53 in his first two seasons.

He got better as he gained more experience and was a +7 in the next four seasons combined. Fowler also contributed offensively, scoring 25+ points in three of those four years.

Despite that improvement, however, he seemed to become expendable after the end of the 2015-16 season.

The emergence of Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, and the team’s drafting of Shea Theodore and Brandon Montour in recent years gave Anaheim five defensemen with similar attributes and since re-signing Lindholm was Murray’s ultimate goal, Fowler looked like the odd-man out.

The move seemed to be imminent after free agency began on July 1 as the Ducks had just re-signed Vatanen to a four-year deal a couple weeks prior and the rest of the Anaheim blueline was either not considered trade bait or had some sort of no-trade clause in their deals.

At one point early in the summer, rumors came out that the Detroit Red Wings asked about acquiring the then-24-year-old, but a deal did not materialize as Anaheim had requested a first-round pick and prospect Anthony Mantha in return.

As the summer months went along, the team, fans, and Fowler just waited. Waiting to see where the six-year veteran would end up. Fans talked about how making the move was best for the Ducks and discussed what a good return would be.

Even when training camp started in September and with Fowler still on the roster, people were expecting some sort of deal to get done. However, one never did.

The Ontario native went through training camp and was on the Ducks’ opening night roster when the team began their season on October 13.

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Murray must’ve felt some pressure that night in regards to how he was going to make a deal happen to clear the necessary space to re-sign both Rakell and Lindholm, who were both still unsigned when the season started.

He did get some relief about not having to make a rushed deal right away, though, in the coming days, albeit not under the best circumstances.

Anaheim had to place defenseman Simon Despres on long-term injury reserve a few days after the start of their season as Despres was suffering from concussion-like symptoms. With center Nate Thompson already on long-term IR, as well, those two contracts were basically nullified from the salary cap, freeing up enough money to sign Murray’s prized restricted free agents without having to deal Fowler.

And Fowler, in turn, has shown that his no-trade was a great move by the Anaheim general manager.

The 25-year-old is off to the best start of his career, offensively. After picking up an assist in last night’s come-from-behind win against the Carolina Hurricanes, Fowler has seven goals and 17 points in just 27 games this season. He had five goals and 28 points in 69 games last season

His 17 points are eighth-best in the entire NHL among defensemen and lead the Ducks’ blue line. His seven goals also have him tied for fourth-most on the team and he is fifth on the team in points. Fowler’s defensive game has also seen some improvement as he is tied for fourth on the team in plus/minus with a +6.

Not only can his contributions be seen on the score sheet, they can be seen on the ice in areas that are not necessarily recorded.

Having a subscription to has allowed me to watch pretty much every Ducks game this season and Fowler has, for the most part, been Anaheim’s best defenseman this season.

He has done a good job of getting his shot through from the point this year. It’s helped him on the power-play as he is second on the team with four power-play goals. It’s also helped creating scoring for his teammates.

He’s also done well in deciding when to hang on to the puck to allow traffic to get to the front of the net or when to just fire it around the boards to keep the cycle going.

Fowler has also improved in carrying the puck out his own zone and handling it in tight spaces. There have been various times this season where he has skated the puck out of his zone with ease despite having pressure on him.

His performance so far this season has been a big help to the Ducks as Lindholm, who probably is Anaheim’s best defenseman, has struggled a bit since returning to the lineup 14 games ago.

While Murray will eventually have to do something about his cap situation since Thompson is expected to be back at some point early in the new year, Fowler’s play may make the Anaheim GM rethink who will move to clear cap space.

The Ducks have a plethora of depth among their forwards and defensemen that making a deal to clear cap space shouldn’t be too big of a problem for the 2014 general manager of the year. And if he can make that happen without having to trade Fowler, then he may win that award yet again this year.

Only time will tell if Fowler will still be a Duck after the start of the new year, but for now, he has made the Anaheim front office look pretty smart for keeping him.