Given the chatter around the NHL and in Buffalo, it seems a given Cam Fowler is leaving Anaheim. Several teams are interested, including the Sabres.
“Thanks to Tim Murray, everybody is calling,” Anaheim General Manager Bob Murray said Thursday in the Orange County Register. “I have no idea if we will make a trade.”
Fowler fits Tim Murray’s criteria of a young, puck-moving, smooth-skating, left-handed defenseman. (The Murrays are not related.) The 24-year-old Fowler has 34 goals and 178 points in 414 games, including five goals and 28 points in 69 games this season. He added one goal and three points in seven playoff games.
Fowler has two seasons left on a five-year, $20 million contract that pays $4 million annually. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent when the deal expires.
The Ducks are willing to move Fowler because Hampus Lindholm, arguably their best defenseman, is a 21-year-old restricted free agent and in line for a nice raise from his entry-level deal that averaged $894,166. With Sami Vatanen ($4.875 million) and Kevin Bieksa ($4 million) already making big bucks, Anaheim doesn’t have cap room for four high-dollar defensemen.
Fowler’s Corsi percentage was 48.74 this season, second lowest on the team. Lindholm led the Ducks at 57.25 percent.
Goals were likely to happen when Fowler was on the ice. He ranked second on the Ducks by being on the ice for 34.86 percent of the team’s goals at five-on-five. He was also on the ice 43.75 percent of the time when the opponent scored, worst on Anaheim. It helped contribute to a minus-8 rating, worst among Ducks blue-liners.
However, Fowler was trusted to take more defensive-zone faceoffs than any other blue-liner.
Fowler, selected 12th overall in the 2010 NHL Draft, had his best offensive season as a rookie. He put up 10 goals and 40 points in 76 games while stepping directly into the NHL. After starting his training with the U.S. National Team Development Program, he spent one season with the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League. The 6-foot-1, 207-pounder is a Windsor native.
Buffalo may have to part with the No. 8 selection to get a deal done. Tim Murray previously said if he moved that pick, he’d want to get back in the first round to give the fans reason to enjoy Friday night in First Niagara Center. Anaheim owns the 24th and 30th selections.