Maine Hockey Journal

Ducks make several deals to help Pirates

After having a couple days to digest all the moves made by the Anaheim Ducks, it was very clear what Ducks’ GM Brian Burke intentions were as he provided depth for the Ducks, but perhaps more importantly it provides the Pirates with some missing pieces as they prepare for the stretch drive to the Calder Cup playoffs.


The first move of the day made by Anaheim wasn’t a trade, but it was sending Andrew Ebbett back to Portland – who has since been recalled back to the big club on an emergency basis – as he made an immediate impact netting three assists in a 5-1 win over the Norfolk Admirals on Tuesday night.

“With (Ebbett), we’re very happy with the way he played. He did a nice job. He’s a nice young man and he competed hard,” Ducks GM Brian Burke. “To me, this is a (Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations) Bob Murray discovery. This is a guy that he went out and got for Portland. He told me, ‘He’ll play for us before the year is over and he’ll play well.’ Ebbett competes and has a good skill level. He’s got a good hockey mind.”

“His being sent down is not fair, but you’re limited. After trade deadline, you’re limited to four recalls. You’re only allowed four recalls from the minors, so you’ve got to use them very strategically. For us to send him down and make sure we had the roster set, starting today other than emergency we’re limited to four recalls between now and the close of the regular season. If we need to recall Ebbett because we’re short bodies that will be on emergency. Also, we’re trying to win in Portland and they play (Tuesday) night. Andrew Ebbett, life isn’t always fair when you’re on the bubble in the National Hockey League. This young man played well enough to stay, but for roster and recall purposes, he’s got to go down.”

Dino echoed many of those same sentiments.

“I was sorry to see him (Tuesday night),” said Kevin Dineen. “I wanted to see him stay in Anaheim, but I don’t think he could have accomplished much more than he did, maybe add a couple points, but I think he made a very strong impression according to (Ducks management).”

“Give (Randy) Carlyle a lot of credit because (Ebbett) didn’t go there and do nothing, he was playing with Selanne and Kunitz and they’re a good way to start your NHL career.”

I understand Dino’s concern about wanting to see Ebby succeed.

I mean who doesn’t?

However, I think the fan base in Portland don’t mind having Ebbett in the line up. He’s been the Pirates leading scorer this season with 13 goals, 45 assists for 58 points. He’s currently tied for fifth in points in the AHL and forth in assists among the AHL.

With the Clear Day Roster being released tomorrow, getting Ebby in the line up gives the Pirates two bona fide scoring lines and allows them to develop a checking like with Bootland, Hoffman and Peters, hence the second move made by the Ducks.

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The Anaheim Ducks sent Pirates’ forward Brandon Segal to the Tampa Bay Lightning for defenseman Jay Leach. Ironically, Portland was playing the Norfolk Admirals, Tampa’s NHL affiliate in the second of back-to-back games so making the switch was fairly simple.

This is a move that will have a much farther impact on the roster then some may think.

Losing Segal isn’t going to have any effect on the Pirates roster. Anaheim expected more out of him and he simply didn’t produce on a regular basis as he did last season with Milwaukee.

Gaining somebody like Leach gives Portland six solid defensemen. For the most part, the defensive core has been steady, but they’ve lack any real punch since losing Aaron Rome earlier this season. They also lacked experience with rookies Brendan Mikkelson, Brett Festerling, and second year pro’s in Brian Salcido and Andy Schneider.

Now that Leach is with Portland, he will take some of the pressure off Weinrich in the leadership role and Salcido can focus on playing his game, not doing too much. Leach will also help calm things down on the ice when they get out of hand.

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In what has to be the biggest move made by the Ducks, they’ve picked up goaltender J.S. Aubin from the Los Angeles King in exchange for a seventh round draft pick in 2008. Aubin will provide the Ducks with depth between the pipes should an injury happen to either J.S. Giguere or Jonas Hiller, but this gives the Pirates a veteran goaltender, who can hopefully take the Pirates to that next level.

Aubin is a nine-year veteran of the NHL with stops in Pittsburgh, Toronto and Los Angeles

“We also wanted to make sure that that in the event there was an injury to our goaltending tandem that we had a goaltender available with NHL experience,” said Burke. “We think J.S. Aubin has proven he can play at the NHL level. He’s a quality person. (Allaire) was very excited about getting him.”

This acquisition is very similar to 2005-06 when the Ducks brought in Jani Hurme for no more than Joel Stepp. Hurme put the Pirates on his back and they rode all the way to game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Hershey Bears.

Prior to the trade, the team had an unknown in net for much of the season in Nathan Marsters, but he held the fort very effectively until Hurme was brought in. I’m seeing many of the same similarities with this year’s squad.

For the most part, the team has had all rookies in net with Hiller, McKenna and Levasseur. Some could argue that Coleman was that veteran, but he struggled with injuries and the simple fact that he couldn’t find his game.

McKenna has been the number one for most of the year and like Marsters, he’s been stellar when called upon and has earned the right to be in the AHL. Bringing in somebody like Aubin will take some of the pressure off and give the Pirates what will hopefully be a strong two-goalie tandem moving forward.

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Brian Burke made one final move for the Ducks when he acquired Marc-Andre Bergeron from the New York Islanders for a third round pick in this year’s draft.

It’s not clear yet what this will mean for the Pirates. It could mean nothing at all or it could mean the Ducks will make a roster move sending down a defenseman, which will only help Portland when the playoffs arrive.

Only time will tell.

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