What Next for the Ducks?

The Anaheim Ducks entered this year’s playoffs considered a potential Stanley Cup contender, but were bounced from the opening round by the Detroit Red Wings in an entertaining, hard-fought seven games.

While the Ducks and their fans cope with the shock of this upset, there are more pressing issues for GM Bob Murray to consider for next season.

First, of course, is determining the respective futures of pending UFAs Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu. Both played well during the shortened regular season, but could they handle the grind of another 82-game schedule?  Selanne, as usual, intends to take some time to decide if he’ll return or retire, which could also have an effect upon Koivu’s future with the Ducks.

Other notable free agents include defenseman Toni Lydman (UFA) and RFA forwards Kyle Palmieri and Matt Beleskey.

Complicating matters is the Ducks have just over $4.7 million in projected cap space for next season. Re-signing or replacing Selanne, Koivu and Lydman, plus re-upping Palmieri and Beleskey will require more than that.

If Selanne and Koivu aren’t re-signed, it could pose a problem for their second line depth. 25-year-old Nick Bonino, 22-year-old Palmieri and 20-year-old Emerson Etem have promise, but it remains to be seen if they’re ready to step up full time into second line duty. Cap constraints, however, could leave Murray little choice.

To free up cap space to re-sign other key players or add affordable depth, Murray could shop Bobby Ryan ($5.1 million per season) and/or goaltender Jonas Hiller ($4.5 million). 

During the regular season, the Ducks were either among the league leaders or in the upper half of the league in most team stats, suggesting very few weaknesses to be addressed. Against the Red Wings, however, they struggled on the penalty-kill and in the faceoff circle , finishing 13th out of 16 playoff clubs in the first round in both categories.

 If Murray looked outside his system to address those areas it wouldn’t break the bank, but it depends on how he’ll address re-signing or replacing his key free agents.

The Ducks need tweaks rather than an overhaul, but looming over their potential moves is their limited cap space, requiring some finesse on Murray’s part to address his needs without weakening his roster’s overall depth.

5 Comments

  1. Given how Ryan played in the playoffs and his name always being in the rumour mill, I’m going to say this again: Bobby Ryan to Philly.

  2. Agreed on most parts, but I see Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, and Toni Lydman retiring after this season. The guys that need to go are Bobby Ryan, Luca Sbisa, and Sheldon Souray…they have clearly disappointed. Bobby Ryan most in particular has been a distraction and showed zero heart and seems to just want out. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf need to get their act together if they want to be leaders and respected like one, otherwise there will be serious turmoil in the locker room.

    Last but not least, our breakout game has been TERRIBLE at best and faceoffs need to improve. David Steckel and Nick Bonino have outperformed Getzlaf and Koivu…just really sad when your supporting cast outperform the leadership.

    There will be meaningful changes I hope for the Ducks and we do need a right-handed shot D who can also help improve the breakout game like how Ben Lovejoy is doing for us. Sami Vatanen is almost ready and can step right in, so we just need another one to replace Souray and Sbisa.

    Hiller is looking like the candidate that can soon be traded because of the emergence of John Gibson & Fredrik Anderssen and Viktor Fasth’s stellar performance.

  3. The Ducks may have led traditional stats but their CORSI was awful even during the hot streak.

  4. I agree it is pretty sad when a favorite allows a team that was missing 2 out of 4 of their best defensemen from last season, their rookie defenseman phenom (Danny DeKeyser), their X-Factor player (Darrin Helm) and in their place, playing 5 and sometimes 6 rookies. It shows that the Ducks, even with their dirty tactics, lack HEART and DETERMINATION. Sad indeed. However, on the bright side, they will never have to face the Wings in the playoffs again, unless of course, they get to the Stanley Cup Finals!

    • Which in that case, the Ducks will be a MUCH better team then…Wings better pray.