It is hard not to imagine the blood boiling within Ducks general manager Bob Murray each time opposing forwards set up shop in front of his team's net last season.
The shaky blue line that was covered by supreme individual performances in the 2010-11 playoff season was exposed once and for all. As free agency rolled around last July, the former longtime NHL defenseman made that area his project.
Enter Sheldon Souray and Bryan Allen.
"I wasn't happy with how small and pushed around we were in our zone," Murray said. "I thought that created a lot of our problems. You bring in Bryan Allen, you bring in Sheldon Souray. You're bigger. You have more experience. You have leadership.
"The back end has been addressed."
Lack of size has certainly been addressed. Souray is listed at 6-feet-4 and 237 pounds. Allen is 6-5, 226. Both tower over the departed Lubomir Visnovsky and Sheldon Brookbank.
Souray and Allen will be counted on to beef up the Ducks' subpar defensive numbers in 2011-12. Their 2.73 goals-against average ranked 19th and their 224 goals allowed was fourth in the conference.
The two represent an investment of $21.5 million in that position over the next three seasons.
"They bring size," defenseman Francois Beauchemin said. "They bring experience. Those two have been in the league for over 10 years and obviously you can never have too much experience. I think it's going to help a lot."
Allen, 32, is the steadier of the two, a towering defense-first rear guard who will focus on blocking shots and clearing the crease in front of goalie Jonas Hiller. Souray, 36, offers more upside and might be the wild card.
Over 12 NHL seasons, the three-time All-Star has morphed from a raw big hitter to an offense-only power play specialist to a player also capable of being trusted to shut down top-line scorers.
"I think they just wanted to be a little more heavy in their own end," said Souray, who signed a three-year deal worth $11 million. "A little more sandpaper. A little more harder to play against.
Ducks build bigger blue line
Orange County Register | Jan 16