What Corey Perry's Contract with Ducks Means to Playoff Race, NHL Trade Deadline

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What Corey Perry's Contract with Ducks Means to Playoff Race, NHL Trade Deadline
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Ryan Getzlaf (left) and Corey Perry (right) will be together for eight more years.

There will be no trade deadline drama involving Corey Perry because the Anaheim Ducks re-signed the superstar winger to a new eight-year contract on Monday, per the team.

“Staying in Anaheim has always been my first choice,” said Perry. “This is a great place to play, and I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to remain here. I want to thank to the Samuelis and the entire Ducks organization for their belief in me. I’m pleased to have this done so our focus can remain on our ultimate goal – bringing another Stanley Cup to Orange County.”

TSN's Darren Dreger reported the financial terms of the deal.

TSN's Bob McKenzie explains how the situation developed.

This is great news for Ducks fans, who now get to watch Perry and captain Ryan Getzlaf (who signed an eight-year extension earlier this month) dominate opponents on the team's first line for eight more years.

This pair was part of the 2006-07 Anaheim team that won the Stanley Cup, and their decisions to remain in Southern California long-term will help the Ducks compete for championships now and well into the future.

If it's true that Perry could have made more as a free agent, which seemed likely, then he should be applauded for taking less money to remain in the same place, one where he's achieved a lot of success since being drafted in 2003, including winning the 2011 Hart Trophy.

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As exciting as it would have been for Perry to be available at the deadline, losing him would have been a huge blow to the on- and off-ice success of the Ducks franchise, so it's really not surprising that he re-signed.

Anaheim will now have two players taking up $16.875 million of salary cap space next season, which is more than 25 percent of the $64.3 million cap that all teams must be under before the 2013-14 season. That's a lot of money for just two players, but the Pittsburgh Penguins have done well with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin taking up over $16 million in cap space, so it's certainly possible for Ducks general manager Bob Murray to build a championship squad around his two superstars, which is his next big challenge.

Let's look at how Perry's decision to stay with the Ducks impacts the Western Conference playoff picture and the activity we could see leading up to and on the April 3 trade deadline.

 

NHL Trade Deadline

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If the Ducks had not signed Perry to an extension prior to the April 3 trade deadline, Murray might have been forced to trade his star winger to avoid the possibility of him leaving in the summer as an unrestricted free agent and not allowing the team to get anything in return.

Anaheim lost young defenseman Justin Schultz as a UFA last summer when he decided to sign with the Edmonton Oilers, and you can bet that Murray did not want a repeat of that scenario with Perry.

It wouldn't be surprising if the Bobby Ryan trade rumors start up again now that Perry and Getzlaf have huge cap hits and the team does not have much room under the cap ceiling next season.

But with the possibility of the Ducks having over $10 million in salary cap space coming off the books in the offseason as a result of expiring contracts, don't expect Ryan to be moved anytime soon, especially since Anaheim is a legitimate Stanley Cup contender (more on that below).

Perry was the only superstar player from the 2013 UFA class in the prime of his career expected to be available at this year's deadline without a new deal, but now that he has re-signed with Anaheim, teams will have to look elsewhere for top-six forwards and scoring depth.

Here's my updated ranking of the top forwards who might be available now that Perry's future has been decided:

1. Jarome Iginla (CGY, RW): The Flames captain still performs like a top-six forward and also adds a high level of defensive skill, toughness and leadership to any team he plays for. With Calgary currently 14th in the Western Conference standings and needing to get younger/rebuild, don't be surprised if Iginla is traded to a Cup contender this season.
 
2. Mike Ribeiro (WSH, C): As the top center eligible to become a UFA this summer, Ribeiro will be a target for teams who need scoring and playmaking in their top six. The Capitals are having a terrible season and could trade the veteran if they determine that the chances of him re-signing are slim.
 
3. David Clarkson (NJD, RW): The Devils are in the same situation with Clarkson that they were in with superstar winger Zach Parise last season. Do they re-sign him or keep him for the playoffs and hope he stays? If the Devils traded Clarkson, they would be giving up a power forward capable of scoring 25-30 goals in a full 82-game season.
 
4. Jaromir Jagr (DAL, RW): The Dallas Stars have a small chance of making the playoffs, but a decision has to be made on the 41-year-old forward's future with the team. As a player with Stanley Cup experience who is still capable of excelling in a top-six role, several teams could have interest in Jagr if he becomes available.
 
5. Valtteri Filppula (DET, C): The 28-year-old center is capable of scoring 45-65 points in a normal season and has lots of playoff experience. If the Red Wings cannot re-sign him, he could be moved at the deadline. His goal-scoring, playmaking and defensive skills are impressive.

 

As a result of Perry's extension, the players listed above are now the best trade targets for contending teams that need to add scoring depth for the playoffs. Teams needing a goal-scoring winger that may have been interested in Perry (including the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs) will now have to pursue Iginla, Jagr and Clarkson to address this weakness on their roster.

With that said, the Flames (Iginla) and Stars (Brenden Morrow, Jagr) could benefit greatly from Perry's contract because now their wingers will likely have more value in the trade market.

The five players listed above are also upcoming UFAs, and these kinds of players are the best options for teams because they aren't owed any salary beyond this season.

With the salary cap ceiling dropping from about $70 million in 2013 to $64.3 million next season, adding a lot of salary beyond 2013 is not a smart idea, especially for the 13 teams that have under $8 million in cap space right now (per Capgeek).

Last year, there were no "blockbuster" trades made at the deadline and many of the star players who may have been available stayed put.

With asking prices expected to be substantial and the value of first-round picks higher than normal due to the strength of the 2013 draft class and the new lottery system, we will likely see a small number of trades involving star players made at the deadline.

There will be plenty of teams looking to add scoring depth before the deadline, but without Perry on the market, it's hard to imagine general managers giving up good young NHL players and/or top prospects when the return will most likely be a veteran "rental" who could leave in the summer as a UFA.

Perry was the only player who might have been available who you could justify giving up several valuable trade assets to acquire. Unfortunately for hockey fans, this year's trade deadline could be very boring because of Perry's commitment to the Ducks long-term.

 

How Does Perry's Decision to Stay in Anaheim Impact the Playoff Picture in the West?

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The incredible success of the Anaheim Ducks has been a bit of a surprise this season after they finished fifth in the Pacific Division last year, but judging by their offensive talent, depth and improved blue line, they are one of the top three contenders for the Stanley Cup in 2013.

If the Ducks had traded Perry, their chances of winning the Cup would have been severely diminished, but with the 27-year-old forward committing to the franchise, Anaheim has the best chance to prevent the record-setting Chicago Blackhawks from reaching the Stanley Cup Final.

As of March 19, Chicago leads the Western Conference standings with a 24-2-3 record (51 points), but Anaheim isn't far behind at 21-3-4 (46 points) with a game in hand. These two teams will meet on Wednesday in Anaheim when the Blackhawks will try to avenge their February 12 loss to the Ducks in a shootout at the United Center.

If both teams continue to play well and win their divisions, they wouldn't meet in the playoffs until the Western Conference Final, which, at the moment, is the most likely matchup with Perry guaranteed to be with the Ducks for the entire season. It's difficult to see the Blackhawks and Ducks losing in the playoffs before they play each other because their rosters are so well-rounded and the championship experience on both teams is quite impressive.

Even though the Blackhawks are the favorites to win the West, it would be foolish to dismiss the Ducks' chances of reaching the Cup Final. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Anaheim is one of the few NHL teams with four quality lines, including seven players with 18 points or more this season.
  • The Ducks are a very balanced team. They rank fourth in goals scored and goals against. They also have the second-best power play.
  • Goaltenders Viktor Fasth and Jonas Hiller have been fantastic all season and have combined for a 21-3-4 record with a 2.26 GAA and a .919 save percentage.
  • Several of the team's best players (Perry, Getzlaf, Selanne) were on the 2007 Stanley Cup team. The combination of these veterans and talented young players such as Cam Fowler, Luca Sbisa, Emerson Etem, Peter Holland, Nick Bonino and Kyle Palmieri gives the Ducks plenty of depth.

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The Ducks are going to be a very difficult team to beat in the playoffs with Getzlaf and Perry re-signed because they are one of the few teams capable of having success playing any style of hockey, whether it's a fast-paced, high-scoring contest or a slower, defensive battle.

Anaheim has the enviable combination of toughness, offensive skill and playoff experience, and without any distractions involving Perry and Getzlaf's futures with the club since both have re-signed, the Ducks can now focus all their attention on keeping the Stanley Cup in Southern California for a second consecutive season and dethroning the rival Los Angeles Kings.

 

Nicholas Goss is an NHL Lead Writer at Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter. He was a credentialed reporter at the 2011 Stanley Cup Final and 2012 NHL playoffs. All salary information courtesy of Capgeek.

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