The Anaheim Ducks have been hit hard by injury. Not only is their captain and No. 1 center Ryan Getzlaf out for up to two months, but their No. 2 center Ryan Kesler has yet to play this season and isn't expected to return until Christmas.
The Ducks, a team expected to compete for the Stanley Cup this year, currently sit at 6-6-2 and rank 22nd in goals-for heading into Tuesday night.
Even just making the playoffs in the competitive Western Conference is going to be a difficult challenge for the Ducks while rolling out these centers for the next two months or so (lines courtesy Daily Faceoff).
The Ducks need to add a center, and they need to do so as soon as possible. The following three players represent their best, and most realistic trade options.
The Leafs and Ducks have long been involved in trade rumors, given Toronto's need for a defenseman and Anaheim's surplus of blue-liners. With the Ducks now in need of a center, perhaps they could finally make a deal work.
Bozak will be an unrestricted free agent following the season. He played under current Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle for parts of four seasons in Toronto, so there is a familiarity factor in place. The biggest obstacle is his $4.2-million cap hit, given that the Ducks have just $629,483 in cap space, per Cap Friendly.
In order to make this deal work, someone with a significant cap hit would have to the other way. That could be defenseman Sami Vatanen, who has a $4.875-million cap hit through 2019-20. Vatanen is the far superior player, so Toronto would have to sweeten the deal with someone such as rookie forward Kasperi Kapanen, for example.
He has played a more prominent role as of late, and he has four points in his last five games. With his trade value climbing, now could be a time for the Habs to pull the trigger on a deal.
The Habs desperately need a puck-moving defenseman, so Sami Vatanen could once again be the player going in the other direction. Galchenyuk's contract ($4.9 million through 2019-20) is virtually identical to Vatanen's ($4.875 million through 2019-20) so a one-for-one swap could work if both general managers deem the player they're receiving is more valuable.
Bennett is seemingly in need of a fresh start. The fourth overall pick from the 2014 draft has yet to record a point through 14 games this year. Over the last two seasons he's combined to score a respectable 31 goals. A natural center, Bennett is currently slotted in as Calgary's third-line left winger.
Unlike Bozak and Galchenyuk, Bennett has a modest cap hit of just $1.95 million, making life easier for Ducks GM Bob Murray.
Calgary could use a right winger to complement Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. Jakob Silfverberg would be a nice fit, but considering he's a far better player than Bennett, it might be tough for Calgary to sweeten the deal.
Ondrej Kase was chosen 201 spots after Bennett in that 2014 draft, but he's off to a nice start with five goals and three assists in 11 games. There's potential for a swap between these two players if the Flames are ready to give up on Bennett.
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)