Ducks News & Rumors: Injuries, Contract Extensions & More

It seems like things just keep getting worse and worse for the Anaheim Ducks every week. Not only do they sit at the bottom of the league but they also feature one of the worst special teams units in the NHL. To top it all off their team has been dealing with several injuries, which has forced several lineup changes and the inability to form line chemistry. With November in the rearview mirror, the Ducks will hope to have better performances in December to close off 2022.

Grant, Vaakanainen Return from Injury; Comtois Placed on IR

On Sunday, Derek Grant returned from an upper-body injury that kept him out for most of November and wasted no time getting his name back on the scoresheet. He scored the Ducks’ second goal in their 5-4 loss to the Seattle Kraken, slotting in as the second-line winger alongside Ryan Strome and Frank Vatrano.

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Grant has been a player that head coach Dallas Eakins relies on heavily in the defensive zone and penalty-killing situations and his versatility has certainly served him well during his multiple stints in Anaheim. Grant is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.

Defenseman Urho Vaakanainen also returned from an injury that he suffered during preseason against the San Jose Sharks when he collided into the boards. He made his season debut on Tuesday (Nov. 29) in the Ducks’ 2-1 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators and had just under 15 minutes of ice time.

Vaakanainen was paired with veteran Kevin Shattenkirk in his first game back but was paired with Simon Benoit on Thursday (Dec. 1) against the Dallas Stars. Seeing the Finn back on the ice is a welcome sight after everything he’s had to endure over the last few months.

Urho Vaakanainen Anaheim Ducks
Urho Vaakanainen, Anaheim Ducks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

With Jamie Drysdale all but ruled out for the remainder of the season and players like Nathan Beaulieu and Colton White seen as merely stopgaps, Vaakanainen has a chance to lock down a regular spot on the blue line during the remainder of this season.

Max Comtois was also placed on injured reserve on Sunday (Nov. 27) after missing the last six games due to a lower-body injury. This latest injury is yet another roadblock in his development after an abysmal 2021-22 season where he scored just 16 points in 52 games, just one season removed from a team-leading 33 points in 55 games during the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season.

Lundestrom Suffers Upper-Body Injury, Klingberg Placed on Injured Reserve

The Ducks’ laundry list of injuries continues to pile up as Isac Lundestrom became the latest Duck down for the count. He appeared to injure his right hand after blocking a shot against the Stars on Thursday and he was not able to finish the game. He has now returned to Anaheim to be re-evaluated along with concerns that his absence could be long-term.

How long that could be is yet to be determined but an extended absence could open up an expanded role for someone like rookie Mason McTavish. The recently returned Grant could also slide into the middle as could Adam Henrique if needed.

Related: 5 Ducks Players That Could Be Traded by the Deadline

John Klingberg was placed on injured reserve on Thursday after missing the last four games. He is currently dealing with a lower-body injury that he suffered against the New York Rangers on Nov. 23 and did not travel with the team on their ongoing four-game road trip.

With the aforementioned Drysdale out, Anaheim’s defensive depth continues to be stretched as thin as possible and may necessitate call-ups from the minors, as they did earlier this month bringing up Austin Strand and Drew Helleson.

Ducks Adamant on Waiting Until End of Season for RFA Contract Extensions

There hasn’t been much noise regarding contract extensions for Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry, but that’s just the way general manager Pat Verbeek wants it. Prior to the start of the 2022-23 season, he indicated that any contract negotiations with the pair – who are both restricted free agents (RFAs) at the end of this season – would be shelved until the offseason so that they can focus on their performance.

Trevor Zegras Anaheim Ducks
Trevor Zegras, Anaheim Ducks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Zegras’ agent, Pat Brisson, even saw Verbeek recently but the pair didn’t discuss contracts because of what was previously laid out. “Since he came out publicly that he wants to wait until the end of the year, we didn’t talk contract, and I’m good with it,” said Brisson. “I’m fine either way” (from ‘LeBrun: The NHL’s most intriguing restricted free agents, from Caufield to Dubois to Zegras’, The Athletic, 12/02/22’).

The current season has definitely been a struggle for the Ducks thus far and it’s difficult to imagine it getting substantially better over the course of the rest of the season. On the bright side, the Ducks’ prospect cupboard is well-stocked and the future appears to be bright in Anaheim.

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