The Anaheim Ducks are holding onto playoff aspirations by just a sliver, but the possibility is still there. However, a triumphant overtime win on Sunday over the San Jose Sharks was offset by a poor showing last night against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Ducks Lose Pair of Centers to Lower-Body Injuries
Captain Ryan Getzlaf missed both Sunday and Tuesday night’s games with a lower-body injury and fellow centerman Isac Lundestrom soon joined him after leaving Sunday’s game with a lower-body injury of his own and failing to return. Losing two centers means that Adam Henrique has been shoehorned back into a familiar role after being shifted to left wing prior to the beginning of the season.
It’s unclear what the plan is for the Ducks if both Getzlaf and Lundestrom are out for a prolonged amount of time. With Bo-Olivier Groulx also on the mend down in the American Hockey League (AHL) for the San Diego Gulls, options for recalling another center are limited. The Ducks were without an extra forward in Chicago, which meant they utilized 11 forwards and seven defensemen. The likely solution is recalling Buddy Robinson – who was recently reassigned to the Gulls and shifting Derek Grant to center ice.
Rakell Takes Second in OT Goals, Also Passes Rucchin
Sunday night’s overtime tally was the seventh of Rickard Rakell’s career, pushing him into second all-time on the Ducks’ franchise leaderboard for overtime goals. He passed Teemu Selanne and Corey Perry with Sunday’s goal and now only Getzlaf (who has 11 overtime goals) stands between Rakell and the lead for overtime goals scored in the franchise’s history.
Rakell’s goal on Sunday also put him in fifth on the Ducks’ franchise leaderboard for goals. He was previously tied with former captain Steve Rucchin. With a long way to go before passing Getzlaf in fourth place (282 goals scored), he should be entrenched in fifth place for a good long while.
Ducks Claim Sustr Off Waivers
Andrej Sustr is back with the Ducks. The 6-foot-7 defenseman returns to the team he played five games with during the 2018-19 season after being claimed off waivers yesterday morning. With the number of absences on the blue line for the Gulls, this feels like purely a depth move.
Aside from being a large (both literally and physically) presence on the blue line, Sustr also offers more than 300 games of experience at the NHL level and will fill the role of seasoned veteran with Gulls captain Greg Pateryn currently injured.
Verbeek Talks Deadline, Prospects and More
Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek sat down with season ticket members (known as the “Orange Alliance”) on Saturday morning for a 25-minute conversation moderated by Ducks’ color commentator Brian Hayward. During the 25-minute period, Verbeek discussed his trade deadline plan and the plan for the Ducks’ college prospects among other topics.
“We have potentially three players that might decide, but I always leave it up to them,” he said. “It’s their decision to stay in school or not to stay in school. If they want to decide to come out, we’ll encourage it, but at the end of the day, it’s their decision.” – Ducks GM Pat Verbeek on the status of the team’s college prospectsfrom NHL.com
With the March 21 Trade Deadline less than two weeks away, Ducks fans are eagerly awaiting what kind of moves Verbeek has on the table. The trio of pending unrestricted free agents (UFA) (Rakell, Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson) have been at the forefront of any discussion involving the Ducks’ trade deadline plans and Verbeek didn’t shy away from addressing that on Saturday.
“I’m trying to sign these players but, if it doesn’t work out, I might have to make some tough decisions and trade them. I would be worried to let one walk out the door and not getting anything in return. I would not be doing my job well if I let that happen. We’re going to do our best to get it done and if not, then we’ll have to go a different direction.”
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman tweeted yesterday morning that Verbeek is willing to gauge the market on his free agents. Friedman also continues to reaffirm that the one roadblock between the Ducks getting a contract extension done with Lindholm is term. They don’t want to commit a lengthy deal to the Swede if the team is going to continue to flounder, and I imagine Lindholm and his party feel the same. There is, however, still lots of time to crank out a deal.
Related: Ducks Trade Deadline History
With four games in seven days on the remainder of their road trip after last night’s loss, this stretch of games is likely to be the telling point for what moves Verbeek will make prior to the deadline. With the conclusion of the regular season not far after that, head coach Dallas Eakins is coaching for his job as well, being in the final year of his contract. The team’s performances over the next week will have plenty of ramifications.