Ducks’ trade deadline will be full of activity

With a little less than a month until the March 3 trade deadline, one of the bigger names in Bo Horvat has already come off the board. Horvat was acquired by the New York Islanders on Jan. 30 and signed an eight-year deal with the team less than a week later on Feb. 5.

Though the Ducks were never in the hunt for Horvat, it’s the first major trade in the weeks leading up to the deadline. It could signal the beginning of what will be a fire sale for general manager Pat Verbeek. Here’s a look at some of the players that could be on the move.

John Klingberg

Defenseman John Klingberg is the big name on the list of players who will be shipped out of Anaheim in the coming weeks. It hasn’t worked out in Orange County for the Swede after he signed a one-year, $7 million deal this past summer. After failing to grab a big money contract during the offseason, he settled for a mutually beneficial deal with the Ducks––perform well and put down roots if the team does well or perform well and find a new home with a playoff contender if the team falters.

One of those things has been an ongoing trend this season. Unfortunately for Klingberg, it hasn’t been his stellar performances. The Ducks currently find themselves third-worst in the entire league while Klingberg is on pace for the worst statistical season of his NHL career.

Feb 6, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Anaheim Ducks defenseman John Klingberg (3) prepares to face the Dallas Stars during the second period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

A positive note though is that both the Ducks and Klingberg had improved performances leading up to the All-Star break. Anaheim entered the break on a three-game winning streak and Klingberg had three points in their last five games. Dating back to the last 10 games prior to the break, he had six points and scored the overtime winner against San Jose.

Teams are being told that the asking price for Klingberg is a first-round pick, according to TSN and The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun. While his statistical production this season doesn’t quite warrant that kind of return, Klingberg’s reputation as someone who can contribute at a high offensive level from the blue line and on the power play could potentially play a role. Last season saw the Florida Panthers shell out a first-rounder among other assets for Ben Chiarot, a better defender but an inferior player offensively.

The ability to retain half of Klingberg’s salary will make acquiring him a more realistic option for several cap-strapped teams. With a 10-team no trade clause as well, Klingberg also has some control about where he could land post-trade deadline.

Kevin Shattenkirk

One of the last major free agent signings of the Bob Murray era, Shattenkirk signed a three-year deal fresh off a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in the summer of 2020. The offensive production took a step back as the defenseman went from being in a sheltered role on an offensively-charged juggernaut to a top-4 role on a defensively-challenged team.

Jan 24, 2023; Tempe, Arizona, USA; Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (22) looks to pass in the second period against the Arizona Coyotes at Mullett Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Like Klingberg, the Ducks can retain part of Shattenkirk’s $3.9 million salary and make him a more attractive acquisition for teams that otherwise might not have had the means to. Shattenkirk has a 12-team no trade list, so he holds most of the cards when it comes down to where he can be traded. The veteran is still capable of playing on the power play and has plenty of playoff experience under his belt. In a role similar to the one he played with Tampa Bay, he could thrive once again.

Anthony Stolarz

It hasn’t been as successful a season as last year for the Ducks’ backup goaltender, but Anthony Stolarz has still had his moments. He’s found most of his success this season against the San Jose Sharks, winning all three of his starts against them. His 5-6-0 record in 19 games (12 starts) looks a little less stellar if you take out the performances against the Sharks, but Stolarz has shown he can be a capable goaltending option for a team looking to shore up their depth.

With Lukáš Dostál waiting in the wings down in San Diego and showing he’s NHL-ready in his brief cameos, it seems logical to find a suitor for Stolarz, who will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.

Dmitry Kulikov

Kulikov was brought in this past summer for minimal cost to help shore up defensive depth. He presented an upgrade as the no. 2 left-handed defenseman behind Cam Fowler and a veteran of 14 NHL seasons. However, much like many of the offseason additions, Kulikov has struggled to make an impact. Though he’s seen as more of a defensive-minded player, the team is getting heavily outshot when he’s on the ice––and doesn’t have the puck very often either.

How much of that comes down to the system is hard to say, but Kulikov is likely about to play for his fifth team in four seasons. He’s another player who will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer and his $2.25 million salary should be easily affordable for several playoff contenders looking to acquire defensive depth. His 8-team no trade list shouldn’t be much of an obstacle either when it comes to finding a potential new home for the Russian.

Max Comtois

It’s certainly not been all rainbows and butterflies for Comtois since he made the transition to full-time NHLer. After what appeared to be a breakout during the COVID shortened 2020-21 season where he lead the team in both points and goals, he regressed hard the following season, putting up just 16 points in 52 games. With nine points in 40 games to this point, he’s on pace to match last season’s points total in just about 20 more games played.

It feels like a change of scenery would do Comtois a world of good. The whispers of a reported swap for the Edmonton Oilers’ Jesse Puljujarvi that was rumored earlier this season don’t seem to have any ground now, but there are teams around the league who might be willing to kick the tires on acquiring Comtois. Of course, the Ducks can simply cut their losses this summer if they don’t find a deal by simply not extending a qualifying offer to Comtois, who will be a restricted free agent.

Jan 17, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Anaheim Ducks left wing Max Comtois (44) during the third period against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Others like Adam Henrique or Derek Grant could be on the move as well. Anaheim would certainly have to retain a good amount of Henrique’s $5.25 million salary to make things work for most teams, but he would fetch a good return as he’s on pace for one of the best seasons of his career and plays both sides of special teams. Not to mention, he still has another year left on his contract as well. A 10-team no trade clause also gives Henrique some control over where he can be dealt.

Grant, another pending UFA, recently returned from a 26-game layoff due to injury and could be an option for teams looking to strengthen their bottom-6. No stranger to trade deadline deals after being acquired from Anaheim by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2020, Grant is a scrappy player capable of playing all three forward positions who can move up and down the lineup and contribute on the penalty kill.

There are plenty of possibilities when it comes to how the Ducks will approach the trade deadline this season. Most of those possibilities will involve outgoing players, though a need for defensemen capable of holding up at the NHL level could be a necessity if the trio of Klingberg, Kulikov and Shattenkirk all depart.

Salary cap data courtesy of CapFriendly

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