Tha Sports Junkies 101

What will the Anaheim Ducks do at the Trade Deadline?

Ducks win 5th Straight, Clinch Playoff Spot Dinur/via Flickr

Team over the Salary Cap as Trade Deadline nears


With 30 games left in their regular season schedule, the Anaheim Ducks find themselves in a pretty good spot to make the postseason for the fifth straight season and 10th time in the last 12 seasons. They currently sit second in the Pacific Division, three points behind the San Jose Sharks. While the playoffs are certainly at the forefront of everyone’s mind within the organization, general manager Bob Murray has something else that is surely robbing him of some sleep: what to do to the roster as the trade deadline approaches.

Now, that last sentence might give the impression that Murray might be dissatisfied with the roster and might look to add key pieces to it. However, that is more than likely the case. The real reason he’s probably losing sleep is because he is trying to figure out what moves would allow him to clear cap space without losing key players.

According to, Anaheim has a projected cap hit of $76, 835, 037 at the moment, which is over the salary cap set at $73 million. That number is a bit lower once you take into account that defensemen Simon Despres and Clayton Stoner are on long-term injured reserve so about $7 million of their cap hits are not affecting the team’s cap space.

Those two guys being on long-term IR does give the team just under $3 million in cap space. That will surely go away, however, should Despres and Stoner come back to play this season, because then their full cap hit will return with them.

In fact, only if one of them returns, which more than likely will be Stoner, their cap hit will put the team over the cap. So, Murray and his staff will need to make a move to get the team under cap when that happens. The biggest question is who will get moved?

When the Ducks were trying to re-sign Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell during the summer, defenseman Cam Fowler‘s name was a popular one being thrown around in trade talks. However, with how he’s played so far this season, I see it very unlikely that Fowler is moved prior to or at the trade deadline.

Should Fowler be moved, though, and Anaheim doesn’t have to retain any of his salary, that would clear up $4 million in cap space this season and next. Financially, that would be good move by Murray.

Again, though, Fowler has been great this season so I don’t see him getting moved.

Murray’s best option seems to be moving multiple players to clear space instead of just one. That’s where things get pretty difficult.

When you look at the roster, there are a couple of names that look like they could be who Murray uses to clear space.

Joseph Cramarossa, Logan Shaw, and Korbinian Holzer are all players who will be either restricted or unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. If management wouldn’t mind letting these guys go, it would make sense to try and get something back for them instead of just losing them without anything in return.

The only downside to this is that, even if all three of these guys would be moved, it would only clear just over $2 million in cap space.

There are two other names that, if they were to be moved, it would clear up a bunch of cap space, but I don’t see Murray moving them.

The first one is center Nate Thompson. Like Holzer, Thompson is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Moving Thompson alone would clear up $1.6 million, if Anaheim doesn’t have to retain salary.

However, it’s unlikely to happen as the 32-year-old just made his season debut with the team a couple of games ago. And with Thompson in the lineup, it makes the Ducks probably the deepest team in the NHL down the middle. It also gives them balance at the center position (two righties and two lefties) and helps Antoine Vermette take face-offs on the left side of the ice, especially in the defensive zone.

The other player who, if he were moved, would clear up a lot of cap space is back up net minder Jonathan Bernier. Bernier is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, as well. Currently, his cap hit is $4.15 million, so it’s easy to see why him being moved would make sense, financially.

Bernier, however, has been solid when he’s played and gives Anaheim a veteran backup that can help starter John Gibson when the playoffs come around.

While it’s unlikely Bernier is moved, him being moved would probably have less of an effect on the team as the Ducks have goalies Jhonas Enroth and Dustin Tokarski in the minors, two guys who have NHL experience.

Even though things already seem hard enough on the Ducks’ general manager, what definitely complicates matters is the expansion draft that will be taking place this summer to help build the roster for the Las Vegas franchise that will begin play next season.

With each team having to expose at least one defenseman, two forwards, and one goaltender for Las Vegas to have the choice of picking, Murray is surely weighing his options as to what to do with players who will enter the final year of their contracts next season.

 So, as you can tell, Anaheim’s brass is facing some pretty difficult decisions. And, to be honest, I have no idea what Murray will or should do. What I do know is that if he does make a move or moves at the trade deadline, regardless of how we feel as fans, it will be done to give this team some financial breathing room.

The other thing I do know is I would hate to be in Murray’s shoes right now. Hopefully you can get some rest, Bob. I don’t envy you one bit right now.