The rebuilding Anaheim Ducks had a rather quiet but successful offseason. General Manager Bob Murray and head coach Dallas Eakins decided not to sign the big-ticket free agents instead opting to resign their young talent and let go of veterans. This is a necessary and inevitable step in the right direction if the Ducks want to be a playoff contender in the future.
As the Ducks reset their team by getting younger they let go of a couple of veterans that recently announced their retirement. David Backes and Ryan Miller both recently announced their retirements. Each player spent the majority of their careers for other teams but ended their careers in the sunshine state with the Ducks.
David Backes started his NHL career during the 2006-07 season after being drafted in the second round of the 2003 NHL draft. Spending 10 years with the St. Louis Blues, Backes became an extremely accomplished and respected player. He played 727 games for the Blues scoring 206 goals and 254 assists for 460 points. He also had the honor of being named captain of the St. Louis Blues on September 9th, 2011. After serving as captain for parts of five seasons with the Blues he decided to leave and go sign a big contract with the Boston Bruins.
His tenure in Boston was not as successful as either party would have liked. Playing in 217 games across parts of four seasons with the Bruins he scored 39 goals and 55 assists. Taking up approximately six million dollars on the Bruins salary cap and not producing like a six million dollar player the Bruins decided to package him with a first-round pick and prospect Axel Andersson in a trade to the Ducks. Backes played just 21 games in parts of two seasons with Anaheim scoring three goals and four assists. He capped off his NHL career by returning to St. Louis to sign a one-day contract with the team.
Ryan Miller is another former St. Louis Blue that finished his career with the Ducks but Miller’s career didn’t start with St. Louis. Miller was drafted in the fifth round in the 1999 NHL draft by the Buffalo Sabres. He spent parts of 11 seasons with the Sabres as their starting goalie. Compiling a .916 save percentage, 2.58 goals-against average, and 284 victories in 540 games played with Buffalo Miller had a fantastic run for a rather unsuccessful franchise. His dedication to the team allowed him the ability to be traded to a contending team during the 2013-14 season. He played 19 regular-season games for the Blues and helped them make the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Blues could not complete their goal in capturing a Stanley Cup championship as they were eliminated in the first round by the Chicago Blackhawks.
He left the Blues to go play north of the border for the Vancouver Canucks. His three years with the Canucks saw him suit up in 150 games earning a .914 save percentage and 2.69 goals against average. Again he had decent personal success but no real team success. After his stint with the Canucks he decided to return to the United States and move to Orange County to play for the Ducks. Across four seasons with the Ducks, he played 87 games posting a save percentage of .910 and a goals-against-average of 2.87. His 18-year career saw lots of personal success but not much team success from the former fifth-round pick.
Who Did the Seattle Kraken Pick?
From the Anaheim Ducks, the Seattle Kraken selected Haydn Fleury. Fleury is 25 years old and a former first-round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes. Oddly enough Ron Francis the general manager of the Kraken was the general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes when Haydn Fleury was drafted seventh overall in the 2014 NHL draft. He has played 179 NHL but just 12 games with the Ducks in his four-season career. Thus far in his career, Fleury has just seven goals and 20 assists. Given an opportunity with the Kraken Fleury and Ron Francis hopes to discover the potential he held as the former seventh overall pick.
Bringing Back the Youth
As previously mentioned the Anaheim Ducks are in the midst of a rebuild. The key to a rebuild is to develop prospects to become contributors for your franchise down the line. Locking the young guys into contracts that will keep them with the franchise is key for a quality rebuild. Bringing back Isac Lundestrom, Sam Steel, Max Jones, and Max Comtois is a good start for a rebuilding team.
Isac Lundestrom is just one of their re-signings this offseason The former 23rd overall selection has shown some promise at just 21 years old. The center from Sweden has played in 71 NHL games for the Ducks scoring six goals and nine assists. This upcoming season Lundestrom should get an opportunity to play on the Ducks’ second or third line.
Sam Steel, Max Jones, Max Comtois are three more young guns that the Ducks locked up this offseason. The oldest of the bunch is 23-year old Sam Steel, he has scored 18 goals and 27 assists in his 129 game NHL career. The Ducks will be relying on him to improve his six-goal per season average to help the Ducks become legit contenders once again. Similar to Lundestrom Steel will have the opportunity to play on the second or third line this season. Hopefully, this new opportunity can lead to some more success from the 23-year-old.
The other 23-year-old that they resigned is Max Jones. Jones has played six more games than Steel as he has played 135 NHL games for the Ducks. Despite playing more games he has gotten fewer opportunities than Steel. Jones has been stuck on the fourth line and that is where he will be playing again this season. He has scored 17 goals and 11 assists for 28 NHL points. Hopefully, he can have a strong start to the season and will be promoted to higher in the lineup.
The youngest of the trio and second Max of the bunch is Max Comtois. He is by far the best player of the three. He has played 94 career games for the Ducks and has produced 23 goals with 28 assists for 51 NHL points including 33 points in 55 games last season. According to Dailyfaceoff.com Comtois is projected to play on the first line for the Ducks this season. This will give him a great opportunity to continue to improve his skills and point totals.
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