OK, I have no idea what that headline means. But it made me giggle, so I’m keeping it.)
You hear that rustling sounds in the fall leaves? That’s the trade winds blowing – on their way to Calgary. And I’m predicting right now that their source is southern California.
What clinched it for me was today’s unusual pick-up by Calgary, grabbing marginal NHLer Brendan Mikkelson off the waiver wire from the Anaheim Ducks. (Yes, I’ve noticed that Calgary suddenly has an odd fetish for guys named Brendan M. – that’s two of them acquired already this month. Saves money on underwear labels, is my best guess.)
Thing is, Mikkelson is a defenceman. Yes, the Calgary Flames, already overflowing with defencemen, just picked up another.
The Ducks, meanwhile, just gave up one – despite the fact that they are desperate on defence. And Mikkelson hasn’t exactly been warming the bench in Anaheim, either – he’s averaged nearly 20 minutes a game since the start of the season.
This makes no sense for either team – unless, of course, it’s a cozy little arrangement that’s a prelude to a bigger deal between the two soon to come.
The fact is, Calgary has a surplus of very solid talent on the blueline, while Anaheim has a severe dearth. The Ducks desperately need help on defence, and Calgary has available just what the Ducks need.
As Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail noted in a blog post this week, injuries, trades and the retirement of Scott Niedermayer have left the Ducks icing a defensive corps that’s a collection third-liners, minor-leaguers and kids who haven’t even started shaving yet. The result has been disastrous: Through six games, Anaheim has allowed an average of 43 shots on goal per game, and is 29th in the league in goals-against average.
That’s ugly for a team with a history of building its success from a solid blueline outward. If the Ducks don’t shore up their defence soon, it’s going to be a long, long winter in Disneyland.
The Flames, meanwhile, have so many defencemen capable of playing top-four minutes (Bouwmeester, Regehr, White, Giordano, Sarich, Staios) and sufficient others waiting to step in (Pardy, Brodie, Pelech, now Mikkelson) that they could easily afford to shed two of those top-four-type names if someone where to, say, offer a scoring forward and/or a strong prospect in exchange.
What might the Ducks want? Well, given their history (Niedermayer, Pronger), they might want a big building block, such as Bouwmeester, around which to reconstruct their shattered defence. In exchange for such a major asset, Calgary would probably want to see one of Anaheim’s top-three forwards come up north – Getzlaf, Perry or Ryan. Hey, fair is fair.
But that ain’t gonna happen. Bouwmeester has a no-trade clause and an albatross-sized contract, and the Ducks are unlikely to part with any of these three young, talented forwards.
So, we’d be talking about something more modest, in exchange for something more palatable for Anaheim. Perhaps something more like this: Any two of those six top-four-type Flames’ D-men, excluding Bouwmeester and Regehr (who also has a no-trade) – let’s say one of the older guys (either Sarich or Staios) and one for the younger guys (either White or Giordano) – in exchange for some aging mid-roster talent at forward (hello, Saku Koivu) and a prospect (I’m gonna suggest Emerson Etem). Anaheim gets an instant major upgrade to its defence, Calgary gets short-term offensive help and a guy who might turn into a player someday, and neither team loses anything it can’t afford to lose.
Watch for it. I may not have the details right, but a defence-for-offence-and/or-prospects trade between these two teams makes so much sense they’d be fools if they weren’t talking – and the strange Mikkelson deal has me convinced the pieces are already in motion to make it happen.