There are a couple of questions you have to ask yourself when assessing the trade the Anaheim Ducks made Friday.
No. 1, are the Ducks a better team with Scott Niedermayer and Doug Weight than they were without Niedermayer and with Andy McDonald in the lineup?
No. 2, is this part of a bigger series of moves for the Ducks?
What we do know is that in order to get the tagging money they needed to get Niedermayer back into the lineup, they had to acquire a contract that was due to expire after the season. As it turns out, Weight’s deal is up after this season, which gives the Ducks an additional $3.5 million in tagging room, far more than the $900,000 they needed to activate Niedermayer.
McDonald, by comparison, is in the second of a three-year deal that pays him $3.33 million per season.
It’s hard to believe that the Ducks got anything close to the better of this deal. Even though McDonald has had a sub-par season, he’s six years younger than Weight and is coming off seasons of 85 and 78 points. Weight, on the other hand, has slowed down considerably over the past few seasons and it would seem a stretch to expect him to effectively step into the second-line center role vacated by McDonald, behind No. 1 center Ryan Getzlaf.
But that may be what the Ducks will require. Their other two natural centers are Sami Pahlsson, who is a perfect fit in the third-line checking role, and Brian Sutherby, who is a fourth-liner.
With the move, the Ducks created $2.6 million in tagging room and with their immediate problems behind them, they can add Niedermayer to a defense corps that will now challenge the Detroit Red Wings’ group for the title of best in the NHL.
But they paid a steep price to do it. In order to get Corey Perry signed to a contract extension, the Ducks must still get at least another $2.4 million in tagging room, which means they’ll have to deal a player signed long-term in return for another player whose contract is expiring after this season.
I can’t help but think that’s what behind all of this. Brian Burke is one of the top GMs in the league and he’s not in the habit of getting fleeced in trades, even when he’s not dealing from a position of strength.