The 2021-22 season is slowly but surely coming to a close for the Anaheim Ducks. After a number of trades, the team looks much different from the one that began the season and it will surely look a bit different once the next season begins as well.
Getzlaf Announces Retirement, Returns to Lineup
Ryan Getzlaf sent waves through the hockey world last week when he announced that he was retiring at the end of this season. The Ducks captain has been in and out of the lineup all season due to a myriad of varying injuries and it’s clear that he’s beginning to think about how his body will react following the conclusion of his playing career. He made his return to the lineup on Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes.
With the departure of Getzlaf next season, the Ducks will have a large void to fill, both on and off the ice. Not only is he an important voice and veteran leader in the locker room, but he’s also still one of the team’s best playmakers, a physically large presence who can protect the puck and a player who lets little get past him when it comes to pestering opponents.
Ducks Retain Eakins for 2022-23 Season
Head coach Dallas Eakins went into this season in the final year of an initial three-year contract he received when he first joined the Ducks’ coaching staff in the summer of 2019. He will retain his role as head coach, at least through next season, after the Ducks picked up his club option for the 2022-23 season on Wednesday.
The Ducks have been mired in a rebuild of sorts since Eakins took on the head coaching job, but this season was the first true acknowledgment of tearing everything down. The trade deadline saw longtime players Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson and Rickard Rakell depart after contract extensions could not be or were not agreed to.
Eakins has had a profound impact on a number of the young players on the Ducks, most notably this season’s breakout performer, Troy Terry. His time as head coach of the Ducks’ American Hockey League affiliate, the San Diego Gulls, prior to his head coaching gig with the Ducks certainly has something to do with that. Now, it’s just a matter of getting more out of the veteran players on the team.
Ducks Sign McLaughlin to Entry-Level Contract
Plenty of college hockey prospects have signed entry-level contracts (ELC) with their respective teams following the conclusion of their seasons. The Ducks have been no strangers to that, having already signed both Drew Helleson and Josh Lopina to ELCs. Sunday saw them sign another one of their collegiate prospects, Blake McLaughlin from the University of Minnesota, to an ELC. He was tied for second in total points this season and fourth in goals scored.
The 22-year-old posted a 20-point campaign as a rookie and has increased his point production every season during the course of his four-year tenure with the Golden Gophers. Like Helleson and Lopina, McLaughlin will join the Gulls on an amateur tryout (ATO), with his ELC kicking in next season.
Gibson Sets New Franchise Record for Saves in a Single Game
Goaltender John Gibson has been very Jekyll and Hyde this season, but he was absolutely on fire Tuesday night. Facing an extremely potent Florida Panthers offense, he took the Ducks as far as he could, stopping 52 shots (a new career-high) and keeping his team in the game long enough to get to overtime and steal a point.
However, Gibson could only do so much as the Ducks ultimately fell 3-2 in overtime after Jonathan Huberdeau stripped Terry in the defensive zone and followed up his rebound for the game-winning goal. Gibson previously held the Ducks’ franchise record for most saves in a single game, a phenomenal 51-save performance in a shootout win on New Year’s Day 2017 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Ducks will continue their journey through Florida with a matchup on Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. This game will be the final time that Getzlaf and longtime teammate and friend Corey Perry will skate on the same ice again as NHL players and it will likely be an emotional affair for both players.
Derek has been a hockey fan for over 10 years and a sports fan in general for more than two decades.
Prior to graduating from UCCS in Colorado Springs, CO in May 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Sports Communication, he spent two and a half years as part of UCCS’ on-campus student newspaper staff–both as a sports reporter and editor. He is now creating Ducks-related content from his home in Southern California.
In his free time he enjoys playing FIFA, watching video essays on YouTube and curating his Spotify playlists.