32 Teams in 31 Days NHL Team Recaps: Anaheim Ducks

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

32 Teams in 31 Days NHL Team Recaps: Anaheim Ducks

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32 Teams in 31 Days NHL Team Recaps: Anaheim Ducks

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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Starting with the first in the California triumvirate, the Anaheim Ducks are shaping up to really push forward the current status of their rebuild. Since missing the playoffs in 2018, the Ducks have truly embodied a true rebuild. From 2013-2018 the Anaheim Ducks had a six year continuous stretch of making the playoffs with two trips to the Western Conference Finals in that span. But now, with the official retirement of captain Ryan Getzlaf, it ends the era of a contention mindset in the city of Anaheim.

With rebuilding at their core, the Anaheim Ducks have been super solid in their drafting in the last three drafts. From the last three drafts, the Ducks have added amazing prospects such as Trevor Zegras (2019), Jamie Drysdale and Jacob Perrault (2020), Mason McTavish (2021), and Pavel Mintyukov and Nathan Gaucher (2022). All of these young talents, alongside their extensive prospect pool, are the 5th ranked Prospect pool in the entire NHL by Scott Wheeler of The Athletic. These are all major pieces in what’s to come in Anaheim for the future.

As for what the Ducks have done this off-season, Anaheim has added some veteran players to compliment the young talent they have to work with. Although they still need to sign restricted free agents Isac Lundestrom, Simon Benoit and Urho Vaakanainen, the team still has plenty of control of their cap situation sitting with $18,848,333 in cap space to work with. General Manager Pat Verbeek went out and added some solid additions, signing former New York Rangers Ryan Strome and Frank Vatrano to a five-year deal and a three-year deal respectively. And more recently as of July 29th, the Ducks agreed to give former Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg a one-year, seven million dollar deal. 

For Vatrano and Strome, it gives them the opportunity to become potential mainstays in the top six for the Ducks. On an interview with the NHL Network, on join the Ducks Strome elatedtely mentioned,

“I think for me it was always somebody that wanted me. As a player all you’ve wanted for your whole career is to be a part of something. To be wanted…the team is upcoming. It’s nice to totally change it up, I’m looking forward to the challenge. It’s going to be a lot different.”

Strome has been a solid center for the Rangers, especially last year, and could be the Number One center heading into next year. After that, depending on the development of their more marquee prospects, they will give the Ducks solid center depth down the middle with Trevor Zegras and Adam Henrique.

For John Klingberg, it gives him a chance to increase his value after a rough season with the Dallas Stars. He will most likely debut on their 1st power play unit being their quarterback and probably end up being their best defenseman next year. For the Ducks, it could improve their standings while also increasing Klingberg’s value as an asset if they choose to flip him at the trade deadline. 

Via capfriendly.com

The Ducks have a ton of flexibility next season as they will have a lot of salary cap space opening up. Having draft capital in spades and with 11 players coming off the books, the Ducks could have a potential cap space of $43,660,833 barring any signings mid-season. Yes a lot of prospects are going to get some big paydays, a la Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale, but besides them the Ducks have a ton of money to work with. And with 17 draft picks in the next two years, the Ducks may be either looking at potentially tanking for any of Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli, or Matvei Michkov in the upcoming draft. 

All that being said, the Anaheim Ducks and their fans certainly have a bright future planned ahead of them. Maybe not this season in particular, but they have tons of versatility and options about how to navigate their rebuild in the near future. They have budding young talent, draft picks, and money to spend. What more could you ask for in a rebuild?

Going into next year, players to watch are Trevor Zegras, Mason McTavish, and John Klingberg. Zegras finished second last year in Calder Trophy voting for the NHL’s Rookie of the Year, finishing last season with 61 points and 23 goals in 75 games. His dazzling hands and skating ability have made him a fan-favorite across the entire league. Scoring with grace and making moves that would impress many veterans, Zegras is poised to have a nice sophomore season. Mason McTavish had himself a stunning season in the OHL winning the OHL Championship and the Memorial Cup, scoring 29 points in 19 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs.

McTavish loves getting to the net, finding space, and driving pucks behind goaltenders so he should be a great young piece to add to this growing Ducks Roster. Finally, John Klingberg in more recent years was regarded as one of the top defenseman in the league. Klingberg helped the Stars make the playoffs after a brutal start this season and helped Dallas have an 11th ranked power play. Klingberg will certainly be racking up a ton of assists alongside a lot of fast forwards in Anaheim. He also will certainly boost his value to teams looking to potentially add him next season.

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