Anaheim calling to the hockey world...
Daniel has been clamoring for a checking forward this offseason, insisting that if the Ducks did not re-sign Rob Niedermayer, they had to acquire a valuable checker in his place. Anaheim has since acquired Evgeny Artyukhin.
Daniel, with this acquisition, you would seem to have your checking line forward. Did you get what you wanted, and more importantly, did the Ducks get what they needed?
I'd like to see an Ebbett-Marchant-Brown line, and maybe an Artyukhin-Carter-Parros line. I think Ryan Carter is a solid two-way guy who can drum up some offense while he's still doing the high intensity forecheck and cycle game we love to play. More importantly, the way Bob Murray described Artyukhin, I think he can generate the offense we want from a fourth line winger, while still being extraordinarily punishing on the boards. I'm just saying-- this guy and Parros together seems a little scary. I'm sure he'd be just as great bringing size to a line with Marchant and Brown, but I love the speed Ebbett would provide on that line. I just think a line with Ebbett, Marchant and Brown would be so fun to watch, not to mention really quick on the counterattack.
I really like this trade. Nothing against Drew Miller, but my opinions of him went sour when he failed to bury a couple of breakaways in the Detroit series. It's not that Miler was a bad player, just that he wasn't getting it done here for some reason. I think Artyukhin can fit on either of the bottom two lines and bring the extra size and grit we'll be losing with Robbie's departure. Yes, I think this closes the door on Rob Niedermayer's tenure in Anaheim, something I'm actually a little upset about, but this eases my concerns about a checking forward greatly. Only time will tell if Artyukhin has Robbie's Witnetka-like skills along the board, but once again, Murray has made a shrewd move that makes the team better without giving up a lot to do it.
So, wait. Based on that lineup, you don't think Nokelainen or Christensen make this team?
I have to disagree there. I think Christensen's a quality passer coming in at 750K, and Nokelainen's new deal confirms that he's part of Anaheim's future plans.
That being said, I can't effectively project where the players will fall, and as far as I'm concerned, that's the best part of this new Ducks squad: Options. In the past two years, Carlyle's juggled what he had, trying to get every last bead of toothpaste out of the tube. Now, players are scratching to get into the lineup, to the point that we could have two effective shutdown lines in the Bottom Six or a third scoring line and an effective energy line. If your name isn't Niedermayer, Getzlaf, Perry, Selanne or Koivu, your job isn't safe. Someone will be breathing down your neck.
Artyukhin only adds to that beautiful uncertainty. He's played on the Top and Bottom Six of the Tampa depth chart. If he can't be a passenger, he'll need to be a shutdown player. If he can't be a shutdown player, he'll need to be an energy player. And if he can't be an energy player, he'll need to prove that he deserves to come off the scratch list every now and then. But wherever he ends up, he'll have to earn that spot, just like everyone else.