Then and Now: Luca Sbisa

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Whether you love his moves or hate his moves, you can’t deny Paul Holmgren is willing to make a bold trade when he feels his team needs it. One of those trades came in the summer of 2009, when Holmgren was able to grab Chris Pronger from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for several pieces. One of those pieces was a young blue liner by the name of Luca Sbisa.

Sbisa was drafted 19th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, as he was taken right before Michael Del Zotto and three picks before Jordan Eberle. The Swiss d-man spent one season with the Flyers’ organization before being dealt to the Ducks.

In his only season with Philly, Sbisa recorded seven assists in 39 regular season contests during the 2008-2009 campaign. He also had 36 PIMs and a minus-6 rating. Sbisa also experienced an NHL playoff game, as he took part in the Flyers’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 2 of the 2009 ECQF. The rookie defenseman recorded two PIMs in 5:37 TOI.

A little over two months after he appeared in his first NHL postseason game, Sbisa was shipped to Anaheim in a package for Pronger. The Flyers received Pronger and Ryan Dingle, while the Ducks received Sbisa, Joffrey Lupul, Philly’s 2009 first-round pick, and Philly’s 2010 first-round pick. Anaheim drafted Emerson Etem with the 2010 pick.

Anaheim dealt the 2009 first-round pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a first-round pick and second-round pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. The Ducks picked Kyle Palmieri 26th overall and Matt Clark 37th overall. The Blue Jackets took John Moore.

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Sbisa saw a lot less of the NHL in 2009-2010 in his first year with the Ducks, as he failed to record a single point, had six PIMs, and posted a minus-1 rating in just eight games. The blue liner took part in 29 WHL games in 2009-2010, as spent 17 games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes before being dealt to the Portland Winterhawks.

Lethbridge dealt Sbisa, a first-round pick in the 2010 CHL Import Draft, and a fifth-round pick in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft in exchange for Daniel Johnston, Jacob Berglund, and a first-round pick in the 2010 Import Draft. Portland drafted Sven Bartschi with the first-round pick and Michael Fortin with the fifth-round pick.

The defenseman totaled four goals and 14 helpers in his 29 WHL regular season games in 2009-2010 before he helped the Winterhawks in the 2010 WHL postseason. Portland beat the Spokane Chiefs in seven games during the opening series before falling to the Vancouver Giants in six games the next round. Sbisa suited up for all 13 games, as he had two goals and two assists along with 26 PIMs.

Sbisa also represented Switzerland in the 2010 Winter Olympics. He suited up in five games for a country that failed to medal.

The 2010-2011 season was a big year for Sbisa, as he took part in 68 games for the Ducks and recorded his first goal in the NHL. The d-man also dropped the gloves for the first time in the NHL. Sbisa finished the season with two goals and nine assists, as well as 43 PIMs and a minus-11 rating.

Sbisa’s first goal in the NHL fittingly came against Ilya Bryzgalov in a Ducks’ 3-1 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on December 28th, 2011. The defenseman opened up the scoring with a tally 4:38 into the contest (go to 0:18).

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His first bout in the league came a few weeks earlier, when he dropped the gloves with Alex Bolduc in a Ducks’ 5-4 shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks on December 8th, 2011.

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The first time Sbisa dropped the gloves at the NHL level, however, was against Brayden Schenn in a preseason tilt.

He experienced the NHL postseason for a second time in his career during the 2011 playoffs, as he had an assist and a minus-4 rating. The d-man took part in all six games of the Ducks’ ECQF series against the Nashville Predators.

The European blue liner also had nine points in eight games with the Norfolk Admirals during the 2010-2011 campaign and an assist in six games for Switzerland during the 2011 IIHF World Championship, where they finished ninth out of 16 teams.

Sbisa had his most successful campaign in 2011-2012, as he had five goals and 19 helpers in 80 contests for Anaheim. Unfortunately for Sbisa, Anaheim failed to make the 2012 NHL playoffs.

The defenseman also represented Switzerland at the 2012 IIHF World Championship. He had one assist, eight PIMs, and a minus-6 rating in eight contests for a country that placed 11th in the 16-team tournament.

During the lockout that took place at the beginning of the 2012-2013 campaign, Sbisa returned to Switzerland and suited up for HC Lugano in the NLA. Patrice Bergeron joined the former Flyer defenseman, as the pair played alongside Glen Metropolit. Sbisa produced five goals and seven assists in 30 contests before coming back to North America once the lockout ended.

Sbisa competed in 41 of the Ducks’ 48 regular season games, as he registered seven goals and eight assists along with 23 PIMs.

Fortunately for Sbisa and company, the Ducks returned to the postseason in 2013. Unfortunately, they weren’t there for long, as they were upset by the seventh-seeded Detroit Red Wings in the WCQF. The blue liner had four PIMs and a minus-2 rating while appearing in Games 3-7.

The 23-year-old blue liner is in his second-to-last year of his contract with the Ducks, as he’ll provide a cap hit of $2,175,000 this season and in 2014-2015.