Hockey Bud czhokej raised questions about our Ducks D yesterday. Just stumbled upon a couple respected voices addressing the issue:
DUCKS sign D BRYAN ALLEN for three years, $10.5-million and DSHELDON SOURAY for three years, $11-million
After dealing veteran D Lubomir Visnovsky to the Islanders, the Ducks were undermanned on the blueline, so they acted quickly in free agency, adding a pair of veterans that have size and toughness.
31-year-old Bryan Allen played tough minutes for Carolina, facing a high level of competition and starting the majority of his shifts in the defensive zone (www.behindthenet.ca). At 6-foot-5, Allen has size, toughness and is a reliable defensive presence.
Souray, who turns 36 this week, resurrected his career after a season in the AHL, playing effectively in some difficult minutes for the Dallas Stars. However, Souray wasn’t utilized much in a power play role — his 1:48 PP time on ice per game ranked fourth among Stars defencemen — so his point total (21) was modest, but his plus-minus (plus-11) was his best since his rookie year in 1997-1998.
In Anaheim, Souray’s size and toughness will be appreciated, but he may also have more of an opportunity to unleash his bomb on the power play; despite injuries and a year in the AHL, since 2003-2004, Souray is tied for sixth among defencemen with 48 power play goals. Zdeno Chara,Dion Phaneuf and Sergei Gonchar are the only active defencemen ahead of him.
On the Back End
The Ducks have seven defenseman under contract for the 2013 season, with off-season signing Sheldon Souray and third year man Cam Fowler expected to carry the load offensively with Francois Beauchemin, Bryan Allen, Toni Lydman, and Luca Sbisa playing rhythm. Nate Guenin is slotted to be the seventh defenseman.
On paper, that’s not a terrible defensive line-up, especially with the addition of Allen, a big stay-at-home defenseman with a mean streak – but where have Anaheim fans heard that before (coughAndySuttoncough)?
The Souray signing was a real head scratcher, though. Bob Murray signed the 36-year-old injury prone rear guard to a three-year deal worth $11M. While Souray had a decent (albeit injury-shortened) season in Dallas in 2011-12 with six goals and fifteen assists in 64 games, the fact is that he’s on the wrong side of 30, and has been trending down for the last several years.
Cam Fowler is another year older, and hopefully another year better defensively. While the sophomore played a full 82-game schedule in 2011-12, with bigger minutes against stiffer competition, he finished the season with five goals and 24 assists, or eleven fewer points than his rookie campaign. He also ended the season with a -28 rating, compared to a -25 the season before.
Beauchemin figures to be a rock defensively, while Toni Lydman struggled last season and will hope to regain his stellar 2010-11 form.
The interesting variable here is Luca Sbisa who had a decent 2011-12 season with 24 points (5G, 19A). Specifically, according to Bruce Boudreau, Sbisa may well have been Anaheim’s best defenseman down the stretch in 2011-12. Boudreau even went so far as to peg Sbisa as “a silent star in the making.” High praise, indeed.
Undersized Sami Vatanen may also challenge for a spot, having played very well in Norfolk (4G, 17A – good for 4th on the team). Ditto 2012 5th Overall pick Hampus Lindholm, although he is currently concussed.
If Sbisa can continue his development into that “silent star,” Fowler can take a step forward, Souray puts some points on the board and stays healthy, and if Allen, Beauchemin and Lydman can minimize offensive threats in their own zone, Anaheim may have an alright blue line in 2013.
cz: I certainly hope that Toni will have a good season. He should be healthy, and if he performs well, our D should be solid. Especially if Cam Fowler with his great skating and puck-handling, improves his game-reading and decision making. I do not know too much what to expect from Allen, Guenin and Souray, but I like the size, which we really need. Souray is getting older and his shot was not working that well last year.
bc: Lydman is key. After he went down, far too much was put on Beauchemin. Frankie soldiered through it but still, you don’t want that much on one guy.
Coach was able to get the most out of Luca Sbisa by spotting him last season. Now we need Luca to take it up a notch and be effective against the opposition’s better players.
In Allen we get a solid, physical match-up defender. He will take a chunk of the load off Beauch and allow Coach to again spot Sbisa a bit. Look for Allen to take the top line match-up assignments while Luca graduates to top six match-ups.
Souray brings snarl to the 3rd ES unit and a great shot on the 2nd unit PP.
What I don’t like about our D and can’t fathom how a professional GM does this is that once again our top six D-men are southpaws. It’s just so wrong on so many levels I don’t know where to start.
Another key to the D is the addition of Daniel Winnick. He will produce double digits in scoring but more importantly the PK unit just got some much needed help.
Overall, I think our GA will be lower this season. We are better on paper with the additions of Allen, Souray and a healthy Toni Lydman.
Fowler and Sbisa should take another step forward. We should get more from Francois Beauchemin by asking less of him.
Murray sure as heck didn’t do them any favors putting 6 lefties out there though.
Four posts from three blogs bringing significantly different views. Collectively, it’s about as complete a look at our Ducks D as i can put together for you.