The Anaheim Ducks are stuck between a rock and a hard place heading into the NHL trade deadline. More specifically, Bruce Boudreau's bunch is just 10 points out of the Western Conference playoff picture after going 6-2-2 in its last 10 games, albeit from 13th place in the standings.
The chief source of Anaheim's ecstasy and agony? None other than Jason Blake.
While teams around the league have fawned and drooled all over the likes of Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf (and rightfully so—they're all fantastic players), it's Blake who's proven to be the engine that makes the Ducks go. Per Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register, the Ducks are 13-3-3 in games Blake has played, as opposed to 9-21-6 over the course of his absence.
What should the Ducks do with Jason Blake?
The 38-year-old has proven to be a steadying presence on a young team, a veteran with the versatility to play on multiple lines.
Yet Blake also happens to be among Anaheim's most tradeable assets. He'll be an unrestricted free agent at season's end and, at his advanced age, likely wouldn't mind the opportunity to finally compete for a Stanley Cup.
Of course, if the Ducks were serious about selling at the deadline, they'd ship one of their three young scorers out of Orange County in exchange for some other blue chippers.
And if GM Bob Murray isn't going to sell off any of his core assets by the end of the month, why would he bother shedding a fringe difference maker like Blake? Surely, the Ducks will get more value out of keeping him for the rest of the season than trading him for some lower-tier prospect.
With Blake, the Ducks might actually be able to sneak their way into the playoffs and make some noise. Without him, they're dead in the water, with little to show for their loss.
In short, if the Ducks know what's good for 'em, they'll hang onto Blake for as long as they can.