There was a plan for the Ducks after last season's disaster, General Manager Bob Murray insisted, even as everything seemed to crumble around him.

As the saga involving highly touted prospect Justin Schultz came to a bitter end, another headache arose when high-scoring winger Bobby Ryan went public with his displeasure over being part of the trade rumor mill and openly questioned whether there was a future for him in Anaheim.

Murray pushed on with his plan to reshape the Ducks and keep them competitive even as upcoming contract negotiations with stars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry loomed like potential storm clouds and the franchise's direction at a crossroads.

Fast forward eight months and the Ducks not only haven't waved the white flag but are one of the NHL's surprise stories with their 12-2-1 start that sits them only behind Chicago for the best mark in the league.

Murray's plan is not only looking pretty good these days but he may have struck gold with a number of moves.

Enticing impressive Swedish goalie Viktor Fasth with a one-way NHL contract could become a masterstroke. Free-agent signings Sheldon Souray, Daniel Winnik and Bryan Allen look like perfect fits. Even the recent pickup of defenseman Ben Lovejoy for a low-round draft pick has paid dividends with Cam Fowler sidelined.