The weeks since the All-Star Break have been challenging for the Anaheim Ducks. Since losing Troy Terry in the first period after the break, they have limped to a 1-5-2 record in February. After dropping the first two games of their four-game Eastern Conference road trip, they will look to get back in the win column on Thursday against the Washington Capitals before finishing the trip in Raleigh on Saturday.
Related: 4 Takeaways from Ducks’ Blowout Loss to Lightning
Latest News & Highlights
In today’s Ducks News & Rumors, we have some positive injury news regarding Terry. We’ll also take a look at Anaheim’s recent struggles, including a dubious goal differential milestone. Finally, we have some trade rumors, as well as an updated look at the standings as we hit the stretch run of the season.
Terry With Team on Road Trip
Lisa Dillman of the Orange County Register reported that Troy Terry returned to practice on Sunday and is currently in Florida with the team (from ‘Ducks Looking Forward to Troy Terry’s Return, The Orange County Register, Feb. 19, 2023). He was injured early during the Ducks’ Feb. 6 game against the Dallas Stars and has missed the last six games.
An offensively-challenged team without their top scorer has set up an obvious disaster. The Ducks have gone 1-5-1 in Terry’s absence, surrendering at least six goals in all five regulation losses. While his return won’t fix the defensive woes plaguing the team, his scoring touch stabilizes the top six of the lineup while adding an alternative to Mason McTavish’s one-timer on the power play.
Woes Continue with South Florida Sweep
Florida has been home to two of the better hockey clubs in the past few years, and they combine for an exhausting one-two punch of games for road teams traveling through the Sunshine State. Even an elite team would struggle with a road back-to-back against the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. For a team like the Ducks, it’s a tall task that reads like a scheduled loss. On Monday (Feb. 20) against the Panthers, John Gibson was forced to make 51 saves only for Anaheim to lose 4-3 in overtime. The following night, a four-goal second period from the Lightning was more than enough to bury the road-weary Ducks, with an eventual final score of 6-1.
With a minus-5 goal differential on Tuesday, the Ducks have fallen to a minus-101 on the season. Among their contemporaries, they are 35 goals worse than the second-worst Columbus Blue Jackets. The historically awful 1974-75 Washington Capitals are the basis for which many bad teams are judged, and their record minus-265 goal differential won’t be challenged. However, the Ducks are within shouting distance of the modern era (since 2008) low mark set by the 2019-20 Detroit Red Wings (minus-123).
Ducks on the Trade Block
The Ducks are going to be one of the busier teams over the next week as the March 3 trade deadline draws closer. With plenty of expiring contracts on the books, several veterans are expected to be traded. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman listed several Ducks in his 32 Thoughts column this week. Aside from the more obvious names like John Klingberg, he mentions Max Comtois and Adam Henrique. In addition, he suggests Lukáš Dostál’s development in net is encouraging enough that they could explore trades involving one of Gibson or Anthony Stolarz.
We’ve looked into teams that may be interested in acquiring Henrique, who would instantly become the Ducks’ most desirable trade asset. The evaluation of Gibson, Stolarz, and Dostál remains fascinating. Dostál is obviously the future, and a trade involving one of the other two goaltenders would clear the path for him to finish the season in Anaheim. Stolarz is on a cheap, expiring contract and can be traded without much concern for the salary cap. A trade involving Gibson includes more risk. His contract continues for four more years at $6.4 million per year. A competitive team will have to clear cap space for him, and they’d have to determine whether his decline in play is more a result of the team in front of him rather than him. It seems unlikely that Gibson will be dealt at the deadline, but I wouldn’t rule out a move in the offseason when teams have more cap flexibility.
Bottom of the Standings Update
As of Feb. 22, the Ducks are in last, or tied for last, in points (41), points percentage (.353), and regulation wins (17). With 24 games to play, they’re on pace to finish the season with 58 points. For some perspective, the 23rd-place Ottawa Senators currently have 58 points. Anaheim has played one more game and has one fewer regulation win than the Blue Jackets, giving the Jackets two tie-breaking conditions despite both teams having 41 points. After a few weeks away, the Ducks find themselves back at the bottom of the standings.
The Ducks are in last place as a result of a six-game losing streak, as well as recent point streaks from the Chicago Blackhawks (19-32-5, 43 points) and Blue Jackets (18-34-5, 41 points). The Arizona Coyotes (20-28-9, 49 points), Vancouver Canucks (22-30-5, 49 points) and San Jose Sharks (18-29-11, 47 points) round out the six clubs with less than 50 points. One of these teams will finish in last place and go into the 2023 Draft Lottery with a guaranteed top-three selection and a 25.5% chance of landing the top pick.
Statistics courtesy of Hockey-Reference