Monday, 02.27.2012 / 10:48 AM PT
|Getting prospect Dale Mitchell from Toronto (above) and Sebastian Erixon from Vancouver was the extent of the Ducks' deadline moves. And that's a good thing.|
On a day when the rest of the league made few splashes in terms of major deals, the Ducks made a major statement on the state of their team by only making two minor-league trades. They got defenseman Sebastian Erixon from Vancouver for winger Andrew Gordon and later acquired winger Dale Mitchell from Toronto for defenseman Mark Fraser (more on those guys later).
"Awhile back we kind of challenged this group and they responded," said Murray. "Since January 1, I don’t know who’s been better in this league than our team. They’ve earned the opportunity and they deserve it, and they wanted the opportunity to continue."
The Ducks, again, have the NHL's best record since January 1, and go into tonight's game in Colorado six points out of a playoff spot after having been 20 back as of January 6.
"You look back in late December, we were thinking about selling," Murray said. "Now today, you look at how well they’ve done and you think we could get in here.
"They’ve made it real difficult the last couple of weeks and good for them. I have no problem with that."
Murray acknowledged that he had looked at some other deals, but as is common on deadline day, the asking prices were too high.
"They started out high, and they just stayed that way," he said. "I hoped they might come down today, but they didn’t. I don’t think a lot happened, really. A lot of teams are so bunched up and a lot of them just didn’t want to do much. We looked at a couple things, but the price tag was too high for us."
It's tough to see Gordon go because he was well-liked when he was up here, but he didn't fit into the current forward corps and had been in Syracuse since last month (three goals in 19 games). In Erixon, the Ducks get a young skating defenseman from Sweden who had eight points in 30 games with Chicago of the AHL this season. He played for the silver medal-winning Swedish national team at the 2009 World Juniors.
Mitchell is a stout (5-9, 200 pounds) forechecking winger who played with Cam Fowler and Oilers young star Taylor Hall with a Windsor Spitfires team that won the 2010 Memorial Cup. Fraser came to the Ducks in the trade with New Jersey that also brought Rod Pelley here last December, but he had played only in Syracuse (five points in 25 games).
"Things haven’t gone well in the minors this year and we’re disappointed in what’s gone on down there," said Murray of a Crunch team that's 14th in the Eastern Conference. "We tried to shake a few things up down there and will continue in the offseason."
Meanwhile, another vote of confidence was cast for Devante Smith-Pelly, as Bruce Boudreau announced this morning that the bowling-ball winger would remain with the team for the duration of the season.
"He's up now. This is it, he's here. He's a member of the Ducks for the remainder of the year," Boudreau said.
Boudreau said the Ducks have liked what they have seen from Smith-Pelly, especially in the handful of games he's played since he came back from the broken foot suffered in December at the World Juniors.
"It was the last couple days, depending on how he played and where we thought we were and where it would best suit him, how important a role he would play with us," Boudreau said. "We think he's developing really well here, and hopefully he'll be a great 19-year-old. He's a big strong body and he can skate. He's learning daily. He's got a lot of energy. Those things are all good.
"Bob made a big statement by keeping him here because he loses that year of eligibility when it comes to arbitration and free agency. We think highly of him."