Goodbye, Lubo; Hello, Future Ducks
In Lubo's 2 1/2 seasons here, Ducks fans had grown fond of his sunny demeanor off the ice, as well as a rocket of a shot on it. But while Visnovsky had a career year two seasons ago, he was plagued by shoulder injuries last year and struggled. He's going to be 36 years old, and with the Ducks looking to get younger on the back end, it was a deal they felt they had to make.
"He’s an offensive defenseman," Bob Murray said. "We have some younger players who are offensive. It’s a hockey move. We’re attempting to change a little bit of the look of the defense. It’s one step at a time. This is the first step in trying to change the look on that back end."
Meanwhile, Visnovsky's cap hit of $5.6 million (cash hit of $3 million) this season -- the last year of his contract -- was also a factor. "In no way, shape or form is this an attempt to move money," Murray said. "It’s an opportunity to spend that money elsewhere."
Not long after that trade, the Ducks bolstered their corps of defensive prospects when they took Swedish d-man Hampus Lindholm with the sixth overall selection in the Draft.
It was a pick that came as a surprise initially, until you examine Lindholm a little more closely. He's a big kid at 6-2, 196 pounds (and getting bigger) and by all accounts is a strong skater who blew scouts away during his VO2Max test at the NHL Combine. His time of 14:40 was more than a minute better than the next-best guy -- second overall pick Ryan Murray. During the Draft broacast on NBC Sports Network, Pierre McGuire called him a "steal" at No. 6. Here's what Ducks Director of Amateur Scouting Martin Madden said about him:
"Overall, nobody is as strong in every aspect of the game at this point and projecting forward. What we like the most about Hampus is his poise and the fact that he can still play with passion. He can push the pace while a poised game. He’s a very mature kid and he’s still growing, still getting bigger.
"He comes from a very good family. He’s been put in positions of responsibility for the last few years. He’s played with men. He’s just a very even-keeled, quietly confident individual. That is what impressed us."
Here is what Madden said about the possibility of the Ducks trading down in that first round, as was speculated by some before the Draft: "We did our homework and figured that (Lindholm) was probably the guy who we were going to get. He was a guy who we wanted. Even though the outside perception is that we might be able to trade back, through the due diligence we did, we couldn’t afford that luxury.
"We were going to lose him and going to lose the two other options that were alongside of him in order to drop back to the options that ended up being available on draft day. It would have taken another first round pick for us to move back and that didn’t come, so we weren’t going to risk losing him for a second round pick. That is how that came down."
On Saturday, before a lot of Ducks fans on the West Coast had gotten out of bed, Anaheim made a popular pick in Nicolas Kerdiles (pronounced Kuhr-dee-less). The 6-2, 201-pound left winger was born in Texas but grew up in Irvine, and becomes the first Ducks draft selection raised in Orange County. And he can play. He led the U.S. National Under-18 team with 20-22=42 points in 50 games last year and won gold as a member of Team USA both the 2011 and 2012 IIHF Under-18 World Junior Championships. Kerdiles, who will be at this week's conditioning camp at The Rinks - Anaheim Ice, has committed to play at the University of Wisconsin in the fall. He grew up going to Ducks games, including the '07 Cup clincher, and compares his game to Ryan Kesler's -- definitely a good sign.
"He’s just a smart, hard-working player," Madden said of Kerdiles. "He’s a two-way player and has a big shot. I really like the release on his wrist shot. It allows him to score goals at this level and I think it will allow him to score at the next level as well. He should be able to work his way up the lineup. His versatility was very enticing."
Here's a lot more on Kerdiles, including a Q&A with him from Saturday and this feature story on him by Scott Burnside of ESPN.com.
The Ducks took 22-year-old goalie Frederik Andersen in the third round (87th overall), who played in 39 games with Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League last season and put up these garish numbers: a 1.67 goals-against average with seven shutouts and a .941 save percentage. He's a a native of Denmark who played for his national team at the last four IIHF World Championships.
Here's a little bit more on him and the Ducks' next five picks on Saturday.