Did the Ducks actually make a good move by not signing Beleskey?

Matt Beleskey broke out last year scoring 22 goals in 65 games with the Ducks. This year he’s cashing in with Boston on a 5 year, 19 million dollar deal leaving a major whole in the Ducks top line. Now that’s not saying the Ducks don’t have a replacement for Beleskey, but the main question is why did the Ducks let him go?

The answer comes in the form of his shooting percentage. Why shooting percentage? The casual fan doesn’t think much about shooting percentage, but it is incredibly important. Lets say a player takes 500 shots in a season and scores 50 goals, the player scored on 10% of his shots. The league average is 9%. Beleskey shot 15.2% last year which is a insanely high number. His career average going into last year was 8.1% and now is 9.9% due to last year. The main reason he shot so well last year is because he played on the same line as all-stars Corry Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. Opposing teams would focus their defensive efforts more on Getzlaf or Perry rather than focusing on Beleskey. That allowed him to get open shots. Beleskey’s numbers were also not overly impressive outside of his scoring as he only had 10 assists and a mediocre 32 points.

Meanwhile the Ducks have two left wings who could fit the bill, Carl Hagelin and Patrick Maroon. Hagelin had 35 points last year for the Rangers and the young winger is only getting better. The other option is veteran winger Patrick Maroon who had 34 points last year for the Ducks. His only negative stat was his minus five rating, but even that can be explained. Maroon played with the Ryan Kessler line and they were on the ice for more defensive zone face-offs therefore taking the hardest defensive assignments. He also spent some time with the 1st line during the post season last year.

Who goes on the 1st line is really preference, whoever plays with Perry and Getzlaf should be successful. You can opt for a veteran who has chemistry with the two or the speedy Hagelin. From any view point letting go of Beleskey was a good move for the franchise as the Ducks will not be overpaying him and it kept cap space open for the signings of Hagelin and Silfverberg who are both restricted free agents. (Hagelin was traded by the Rangers due to the their cap space issues) Maybe the Ducks will be looking for a left wing at the trade deadline, but letting go of Beleskey gets an A.


Did Ryan Kesler’s Extension Make his Deal the Worst in Hockey?

Ryan Kesler, a Selke winner in the 2010-2011 season, an Olympic Silver medalist, a Gold medalist in the World U18 championship for junior hockey, is now the proud owner of one of the worst contracts in the National Hockey League (Actually the Ducks are the proud owner). Ryan Kesler will be 31 by the season opener and will be signed through 2021-2022. Ryan Kessler will be 37 years old turning 38 when the deal expires.

Ryan Kesler will not be a good hockey player by the time his deal expires. Ryan Kesler will not be a Selke winner caliber player, and that’s assuming he still is, which is seriousley doubtful. Ryan Kesler will not be a top two center, and I doubt he will be at 35, much less 38.

However, Ryan Kesler will have a 6.875 million dollar cap hit according to Spotrac. The Anaheim Ducks will be heavily criticized and ridiculed for this signing. The one thing we can all know for certain is Ryan Kesler will be  a very rich man.

But that’s enough about the future, lets talk about his highly mediocre current state. Kesler had 20 goals and 27 assists last year which combined for 47 points. Kessler is well known for being good defensively as he won the Selke, the award for best two way forward, but at the same time this was 5 years ago. In hockey, 5 years is very long time.

But back to Kesler, he hasn’t broken 50 points since 2010-2011 season, and hasn’t had a positive plus/minus since 2011-2012. The reason I am going to focus on his plus/minus is due some basic laws of hockey. If you don’t score, you can’t win and if you don’t play defense you can’t win. Your plus/minus is a reflection of if you out score, are out scored, or are even, when you are on the ice. A player wants to have a positive plus/minus because that means you are outscoring your opponent. If you have a negative plus/minus , that means you are being out scored. Now obviously plus/minus is affected by the team around you, but the Anaheim Ducks were a good team. They made it to the Western Conference Final . So you can let it slide that his plus/minus was bad in Vancouver last year, but in 2012-2013 the Canucks made the playoffs and he was still minus. Being minus is one of the worst things teams can see on your stat sheet, which makes the fact he’s getting 6.875 million dollars insane. You can do a lot of things with 6.875 million dollars, but I don’t recommend giving it to Ryan Kesler or any aging player, in decline, with a mediocre stat line.

Kesler is known for being good on the penalty kill, but according to NHL.com the Ducks penalty kill was 15th of 30. Now again its not all his fault, however,  you would think a player getting as paid as much as him, a defensive specialist no less,  should help more than that. Now I’m not going to say Kesler shouldn’t have gotten an extension, but it should have been more like 3 years and 18 million.

So someday Anaheim fans will boo him on the ice and we will have to remember 3 things. First, this is a business so a player will try and make as much money as possible. Second, it’s Anaheim Ducks’ general manager Bob Murray’s fault he is overpaid. But most importantly, remember this mistake, and learn from it not to overpay players by massive amounts just to keep said player.

So, while Bob Murray, the Ducks general manager, did get an extension done, it was a poor deal for the Ducks and the deal will ultimately hurt the franchise. Maybe next year he will help and the year after next, maybe even the next 3 years, but there will be a reckoning and the Ducks will pay the price of giving so much money.

(All player stats are provided by hockeydb.com, all contract info is courtesy of spotrac.com, and penalty kill rankings are from nhl.com)





Are the New look Ducks Title Contenders or Frauds? 

Last season, the Ducks made it to the Conference Final before losing to the Hawks in a game 7 heart breaker. Later, The captain of the Blackhawks and 3 time Stanley cup champion, Jonathan Toews, would claim that the Ducks were a tougher opponent than the Tampa Bay Lightning who made the Stanley cup. This year the Ducks are taking the Western Conference over. First, they traded Emmerson Etem and the 41st pick for Carl Hagelin, the 59th pick and 179th pick. Then, the Ducks shipped James Wisniewski 5.5 million dollar cap hit out to Carolina for goaltender Anton Khudobin. They capped it all off by trading  future 2nd round pick to get Kevin Bieska.

To start, Hagelin is a major upgrade over Etem, who had 10 points in 45 games. Hagelin had 35 points in 82 games. The pick swap also was not a big deal considering they added a 5th round pick and while they moved 18 picks down in the 2nd, they acquired one of the fastest players in hockey, Carl Hagelin.
Anton Khudobin had a .900 save percentage on a poor Carolina team. The year before he had a .926 save percentage with Carolina. However, shipping out a big cap hit and getting a talented goalie was a good swap.

Finally, the Ducks sent a 2nd for Kevin Bieska. The catch is the major decline in offensive production. Last year he had 14 points in 60 games, the year before 24 points in 76 games. In the lockout season he had 12 points in 26 games. His last big productive season was 2011-2012 with 43 points. Bieska is injury prone at 34, and has only broken 80 games once, twice if you count the AHL. Bieska was traded to replace Francois Beauchemin, who signed a 3 year/13.5 million dollar deal with Colorado. Bieska signed a two year/8 million dollar extension with Anaheim, and it is actually a pay cut from his 4.6 million dollar cap hit this year.
The Ducks have aquired some goalie depth and may be able to trade Gibson or Anderson. They may even trade Khudobin again. The Ducks should be able to take the west from the Hawks, due to the fact the Hawks have taken major hits via trade and free agency. This would be the first time in a long time a team not named the Kings or Hawks were in the Stanley cup. Wait for the Ducks to take the Western Conference by storm

All stats are provided by hockeydb.com.