Nicklas Backstrom of the Washington Capitals takes a face-off against… (Greg Fiume / Getty Images )
The Ducks have acquired forward David Steckel from the Toronto Maple Leafs for minor leaguer Ryan Lasch and a seventh-round draft pick in 2014.
In Steckel, the Ducks acquired a player that teams with championship dreams often try to land approaching the NHL trading deadline. Steckel is a face-off specialist. In short, the acquisition cost was comparatively low to add a piece to the Ducks' puzzle that they firmly believe they need.
Steckel has a long history with Anaheim Coach Bruce Boudreau, dating back to Manchester, N.H. He also played two years for Boudreau with the AHL’s Hershey Bears and essentially gained full-time employment when Boudreau was elevated to his first NHL job, coaching the Washington Capitals.
Steckel played for the Capitals until the 2010-11 season, gaining his single biggest claim to notoriety -- concussing Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby in the Winter Classic, an injury that kept Crosby in and out of his team’s lineup for the better part of two years.
Steckel was eventually shipped to the New Jersey Devils and then flipped to the Toronto Maple Leafs in October 2011. The man who pulled the trigger on that deal, former Leafs general manager Brian Burke, is now acting as a consultant to Ducks GM Bob Murray.
Steckel had played sparingly for the Leafs this season, getting into just 13 games for Coach Randy Carlyle and averaging just 7:04 of ice time per night. He was a healthy scratch 14 other times. Steckel wasn’t up to his usual average in the face-off circle with the Leafs -- going just 38-for-81, or 46.9% -- but historically he is among the league leaders in that category.
Last year, Steckel was sixth overall in NHL face-off percentage (58%), and in the three previous years, he was first, second and fifth overall.
The 6-foot-6 native of Milwaukee is a former No. 1 draft choice of the Kings, going 30th overall in the 2001 draft. Steckel spent one season in the Kings organization, playing for Boudreau in Manchester of the AHL in 2004-05, before signing with Washington as a free agent.
In a statement, Murray said that "adding David Steckel gives us another big body and depth up the middle. He comes highly recommended from Bruce. Face-offs have been something of a concern for us the last few seasons. Steckel is a tremendous face-off man and penalty killer, something that will really help our club."
Currently, the only Ducks center above 50% in the face-off circle is Saku Koivu, at 52.1%. Ryan Getzlaf is at 47.8%, and Nick Bonino is at 46.7%.
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