Late Wednesday night, the Tampa Bay Lightning completed a trade with the Anaheim Ducks, with 23-year-old Alexander Volkov going to California and 22-year-old Antoine Morand arriving in Florida. Morand was a late second round pick for Anaheim in 2017, coming out of the QMJHL. Included in the trade was a seventh-round pick in 2023 (three drafts from now) that has the condition of being delayed to 2024 if the Ducks don’t own the pick by then. In all honesty, I don’t know why that pick was included.
You can read a chronicling of the trade as it developed in Justin’s article that we published last night.
Alex Volkov, taken as an overager with the team’s second pick in 2017, was never reasonably projectable as a top-six player. His ceiling was as a big, bottom-six role player. While Volkov was close to playing on the team’s fourth line, he got beat out by later-round picks in Mathieu Joseph and Ross Colton. With Mitchell Stephens coming back from injury, it was a numbers game on the team’s roster and they needed to trade him or risk waivers.
Morand should be heading to Syracuse to play for the Crunch for the rest of the season following a quarantine.
Imagine Alex Volkov liked idea of change of scenery. Had been out of lineup, in and out, with emergence of Ross Colton, play of Mathieu Joseph. Mitchell Stephens back soon. Volkov has intriguing skills, gets fresh start. Heard TB got a mid-round pick but hasn’t been confirmed— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) March 25, 2021
#tblightning Julien BriseBois said trade provides “some salary cap flexibility in the short term to play different players and provides us with some insurance against having to dress only five defensemen in the event we have multiple short term injuries.” Something had to give— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithTB) March 25, 2021
Prospect Reports on Antoine Morand:
While there isn’t much written about Morand that we could find after his draft year in 2017 (coming up on five years ago!), we pieced together a picture as best as we could.
The Athletic had Morand at the bottom of their prospect ranking of the Anaheim Ducks, a far shout from the likes of Bo Groulx and Max Comtois, latter taken two picks after Volkov in 2017. Here’s what they had to say about Morand.
“Antoine Morand, C, San Diego-AHL: He had a so-so pro season, and was on both special teams in the AHL. He has the speed and skill to be relevant for the NHL but he may not be high-end enough for his size.” - The Athletic
There’s an article from Thomas Harrington at blog “Ducks ‘n Pucks” from this summer that yearned to see more offense from Morand this season. Checking the stats, they are not impressive to say the least.
“If he’s not able to increase his offensive production, then he’s going to need to really focus on his two-way game and make himself invaluable in all other aspects of the game. I do think he started that process this past season, but he’s got a ways to go before he gets to that point.”
From an article in the Halifax Chronicle Herald, Ducks prospect Bo Groulx (son of Syracuse Crunch head coach Benoit) is close friends with Morand as they played together on the Halifax Mooseheads. He notes that they were paired closely together at important moments in the game, whether it’s defending a lead on the penalty kill or with the other team’s goalie pulled, or hunting for offense in a comeback. They both had the confidence of the coach as two-way players.
On the whole, I think the Ducks turned a player who wasn’t playing for them in the NHL into a player who can, while the Lightning got rid of a player who was taking up space in the NHL while not playing for a project that can go straight to the AHL. That’s the situation that led to this trade.
In terms of Morand the player, he’s by all accounts a determined forward who works hard and battles for pucks. While the stereotype for small players is speed and skill, those traits haven’t shown themselves enough in the AHL to warrant him being very effective in the NHL. You still need some offensive ability to stay afloat in the AHL.
Perhaps the Ducks team in San Diego wasn’t the right fit and he would work better in Syracuse surrounded by other players like him — no, not just Quebecers. We’ll see what the Crunch can do, but I wouldn’t pencil him into the Bolts lineup next year right now.
ICYMI: the NHL have cut Tim Peel’s retirement season short. He was not fired, so he retains his salary for the rest of the season and full pension. The NHL also believe they’ve done enough to solve the issue of their referees deciding all games must have equal penalty calls for both sides, and implementing purposeful error to “make up for” human error — which is something no hockey fan has ever wanted ever and just makes us all sound like idiots whenever we have to explain it to other people. Fun secondary storyline, sports bettors are not happy with this “revelation” so hopefully that avenue produces change.
#NHL announces that referee Tim Peel, who was caught on a hot microphone on Tuesday night in Nashville discussing a call, will "no longer be working NHL games now or in the future."— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) March 24, 2021
Peel was scheduled to work his last game on April 24 before retirement. pic.twitter.com/bn8jsBNIth
Please have a listen to my blog-aunt Alexandra Ackerman interview me on the Syracuse Crunch’s season. Show her some love, she deserves every bit of it.
The Crunch also exploded for six goals in the first period against the WBS Penguins en route to their fourth consecutive win over the Pittsburgh affiliate. The six goals in the first, led by Gemel Smith’s hat trick and five points, tied the franchise record for goals in a period.
The six goals in the first period for the #SyrCrunch ties their franchise record for goals in a period. It's the second time they've ever scored six goals in a period; the last time was April 6, 2008 vs. Rochester (3rd period). https://t.co/KPzmz1n8Vk— Lukas Favale (@LukasFavale) March 24, 2021
Spoiler alert for the Crunch Wrap, but Gemel Smith and Otto Somppi, the Lightning need to get their butts on a plane to Tampa sooner rather than later.