The Anaheim Ducks, a franchise that has been mocked their entire existence for being named after a Disney movie, had finally found some consistent success during the 2010s. In the past few years, the Ducks have had some tough seasons and have been at the bottom of the standings. GM Bob Murray has tried to rebuild his team on the fly by implementing youth into the lineup but it has been unsuccessful. With some simple signings and transactions, the Ducks will be back into contention and possibly win the Stanley Cup just like they did in 2008.
Why Anaheim Failed to Make the Postseason
Similar to the other Californian teams, the Ducks invested lots of money into older players. As Anaheim pushed for the Stanley Cup during the mid-2010s, the Ducks added high paid players to an already aging and overpaid core. With limited cap space and an injury-riddled team the Ducks had a very disappointing 2019-2020 season.
During the 2019-20 season, the Ducks finished 27th in the league with 67 points. Anaheim struggled offensively and defensively during the regular season, and only scored 182 goals while allowing 225. The Ducks need to do a total revamp of their roster if they want to improve next season.
Anaheim has lots of players on their roster that were former stars and now are a shell of their former selves. These players are not living up to their contracts and are hindering the Ducks’ ability to make any big signings.
The captain of the Ducks has reached a point in his career where he is no longer producing at the level he once did. Getzlaf had 13 goals and 29 assists for 42 points. Although 42 points is not bad for a 35-year-old forward, his cap hit is way too high for this production. Getzlaf is being paid 8.25 million dollars with one year remaining.
A former superstar in the league has been plagued with injuries over the past few seasons. Kesler didn’t suit up for a single game during the 2019-20 season for the Ducks. Also in 2018-19 Kesler played in only 60 games and registered only 8 points. Due to his injury problems and the horrendous production Kesler is very much overpaid. Kesler is making 6.875 million dollars for the next two years. Kesler’s large-cap hit will hinder the Ducks if they want to make any major additions.
A midseason trade from the Boston Bruins has Backes now suiting up for Anaheim. Backes is a 36 year old forward who’s production has plummeted since he signed a large deal with the Bruins.
The Ducks acquired Backes as a cap dump in a trade that the Ducks also received a 1st round pick and Prospect Axel Andersson. The Ducks gave Ondrej Kase to the Bruins in the trade. Boston added a Dynamic player who is under contract and they gave up an aging Backes, a late 1st round pick, and a mid-level prospect. Thanks to this trade the Ducks now have to pay Backes salary for next season. Backes is making 6 million dollars and his contract expires after the 2020-2021 season. This is a lot of money for a player that now is a fourth-line player. The big contract that Backes signed will not allow the Ducks to make any big moves that they may want to make.
The Ducks had a lot of weaknesses last season, but one of their few strengths was goaltending. John Gibson is one of the best if not the best goalie in the entire league. The 27-year-old, Gibson had a disappointing season as he played 51 games and earned a 3.00 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage. His career stats are much better and they will only get better as the team in front of him improves.
The Anaheim Ducks need to add lots of skilled players to their line up to improve their offensive. To help fix their defense they should sign a defensive defenseman to try and shut down the top scorers in the game. Lastly, Ryan Miller’s contract expires this season, so the Ducks need to sign a brand new backup goalie as Miller is 40 years old.
Free Agency Targets
The Ducks have limited cap space thanks to the large contracts that were mentioned previously. The Ducks can’t target the superstars in this free agency so they must target the players that are demanding less money but will still make a significant impact on their line up.
The Carolina Hurricanes defense core is very strong. With lots of depth on the blue line, Joel Edmundson is expendable. The 2018-19 Stanley Cup winner with the St. Louis Blues got traded to the Hurricanes right before the 2019-20 season started. Edmundson benefited greatly from the trade as he had a career year. He scored 7 goals and added 13 assists for 20 points. His real value comes on the defensive end. Edmundson earned a plus 8 rating showing that when he is on the ice his team scores more than the opposing team scores. Edmundson’s strong defensive presence and his ability to produce on the offensive would be a fantastic addition to the Ducks.
So far in his career, Malcom Subban has been a disappointment. The former first-round pick has not played up to the potential the Boston Bruins thought he had when they took Subban 24th overall in the 2012 NHL draft. Subban has a lifetime 2.97 goals-against average and a .899 save percentage. Since the Ducks are a smaller market team they will not attract as much media as Subban has previously faced. With less media attention in Anaheim, Subban may see better results in his play. Also, playing behind John Gibson Subban will learn some new tips and tricks to fit his athletic play style. Subban will serve as a solid back up and would be a smart addition to the Ducks organization.
Adding Youth to the Lineup
The Ducks have done a great job drafting and adding young talent to their organization. With all this young talent starting to bud the Ducks will have to start implementing them into their lineup. The strong draft picks that are ready for the NHL include Isac Lundestrom, Troy Terry, Maxime Comtais, Trevor Zegras, and Josh Mahura. These five players will definitely see playing time for Anaheim next season. They are highly skilled players that will help the Ducks increase their scoring. Anaheim also has the 6th overall pick where they have the possibility to take the extremely talented Lucas Raymond. Raymond is currently playing for Frolunda Hc of the Swedish Hockey League.
All in all, the Ducks have done a fantastic job drafting and adding young talent to their organization. The veterans on the team will show them the ropes as they gain experience. Soon enough the Ducks will be in Stanley Cup contention again.
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