Ryan Garbutt always was a strange fit for the Blackhawks, a team that favors skill over grit, speed over physical play — and a team that already had an effective agitator in Andrew Shaw, anyway.
The Anaheim Ducks? Now that’s more Garbutt’s style. And in eight games with the Ducks since he was traded for Jiri Sekac, Garbutt has three goals — one more than he had in 43 games with the Hawks.
“I think it’s been a good fit, for sure,” Garbutt said. “Maybe a little bit more my style. … The coaches here made it really easy to move in and play your game. It’s a fun team to play for.”
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau has liked what he’s seen, especially considering what he knew about Garbutt from his days in Dallas, when Garbutt occasionally played with too much of an edge.
“I told him not to cross the line,” Boudreau said. “I said we don’t need him to go around around and do stupid stuff. He’s a good enough player. When that line in Dallas, of him, [Antoine] Roussel and [Cody] Eakin were playing, they were a very hard line to play against. It only got in trouble [when] both him and Roussel would start to go over the edge. So, he hasn’t gone over the edge yet and that’s good.”
Garbutt was caught off guard by the trade, which came when the Hawks were on a 12-game win streak. The Ducks then won the first five games Garbutt played in, pushing his own win streak to a whopping 17 games.
“I thought we had a really good team and I was contributing in a fourth-line role that wasn’t producing much offensively,” Garbutt said. “But on a team with that much firepower on the first two lines, you didn’t need to as much. I don’t think it was a [matter] of not fitting in. It was just maybe a good trade for both teams.”
So far, it has worked out better for the Ducks than the Hawks, as Sekac hasn’t yet found a permanent spot in the lineup. From the Hawks perspective, it was as much a salary-cap move as a hockey move — Garbutt is signed through next season, Sekac is not.
But, like Garbutt, Sekac’s new team suits him better than his old team. So both sides hope it pays off in the long run
“This team is very skilled and offensively minded,” Sekac said. “Everybody would love to play on a team like this.”
NOTE: Artemi Panarin, who missed the last two games with an illness, will play tonight vs. Anaheim. Michal Rozsival and Viktor Svedberg both will play, too, with Erik Gustafsson a likely healthy scratch. Joel Quenneville hinted that there would be line changes, as well.
Contributing: Brian Hedger