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NHL Off-Season Outlook: Anaheim Ducks

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Today begins a series of articles on off-season plans for each of the 32 NHL teams. Every day, for the next month and a little, we’ll be talking about the prospects for each franchise and offering insights into what to expect from them this summer. We’ll start the process alphabetically by looking at the Anaheim Ducks.

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2020-21 Record: 31-37-14
Finish in the Pacific Division: 7th
Affordable salary cap space (according to CapFriendly.com): $39.4 million
Restricted free agents: Isak Lundestrom, F; Sonny Milano, F; Sam Steel, F; Urho Vaakanainen, D
Unlimited free agents: Zach Aston-Reese, F; Vinnie Lettieri, F; Gerald Mayhew, F; Dominic Simon, F; Andrew Sustr, Z.

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What to eat in Anaheim: Young, respected new CEO Pat Verbeek; a head coach who will be forced to deliver tangible results in Dallas-Eakins; a core of young talent in forwards Trevor Zegras, Troy Terry, Mason McTavish and Maxime Comtua, and defenseman Jamie Drysdale; and a handful of veterans, including goaltender John Gibson, forward Jakob Silfverberg and blueliner Cam Fowler; and one of the biggest cap placements of any team this offseason.

What Anaheim needs: Depth of assessment; proven veterans of attackers to increase their goals-total; more growl at the rear end.

What’s Real for Anaheim Next Season: Verbeck has a new mandate to overhaul the Ducks roster, and with so much room to spare, he has the ability to add puzzle pieces both for the coming days and for the long term, helping to ease the exchange between other players. teams in exchange for draft picks and prospects.

One of the biggest moves Verbeck could make would be to trade Gibson, who has five seasons left on his contract, with an average annual marginal income of $6.4 million. Gibson’s individual performance has been modest at best lately (including a 3.19 goals-against average and 0.904 shooting percentage in 2021-22), but you have to consider the reality of him playing for the leaky, bland Ducks defense. Under the right circumstances – and with Anaheim possibly keeping $1-2 million to make the deal more attractive – Gibson could be an important player for a real Stanley Cup contender.

In the upcoming season, it is unlikely to be the Ducks. Verbeck has a solid base of highly skilled youth, but in the Pacific Division, which will likely have improved teams in Vancouver and Las Vegas, as well as playoff berths like Calgary, Edmonton and Los Angeles, Eakins will find it hard to manage. . them to the dock after the season. Eakins was not hired by Verbeek, so there will be speculation about his future once the Ducks hit their first downturn this year.

Anaheim had a streak of scoring last season, winning just two of its first nine games before going on an eight-game winning streak in mid-November. That fickleness is one of the hallmarks of an unfinished group, and the brutal second half of the 2021-22 campaign (in which they’ve only won four of their last 24 games) shows just how far they’ve yet to go in serious contention for a playoff spot. The retirement of longtime captain and star center Ryan Getzlaf leaves them with a big hole to fill both on and off the ice.

Verbeck’s big challenge is to add pieces of the puzzle that will make them stronger with the puck, smarter in their zone, and more effective on offense. It won’t happen just because of one movement in the lineup. They need improvement from within, as well as support from new faces, if they’re going to climb the Pacific standings.



Source: thehockeynews.com

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