The Anaheim Ducks currently find themselves in the midst of another mini midseason break thanks to scheduling and All-Star Weekend, which took place in Las Vegas this past weekend. However, that didn’t stop them from being at the forefront of the NHL’s top news this week.
Ducks Hire Verbeek as Next General Manager
The Ducks hired Pat Verbeek as their general manager on Thursday, Feb. 3. He becomes the sixth general manager in Ducks history. Known as the “Little Ball of Hate” during his playing days in the NHL, Verbeek served alongside Steve Yzerman as assistant general manager of the Detroit Red Wings before being hired by the Ducks. The two also worked together in the Tampa Bay Lightning front office for several years before moving to Detroit in 2019.
Verbeek knows his way around the league with over 1,000 games played, 500 goals, and almost 3,000 penalty minutes. He was also a part-time color commentator and scout for the Red Wings following his playing career and served as Director of Player Personnel for Team North America at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
“He is elite. I think the Ducks right now have one of the top GMs in the league, and he’s just going to get better.”
-Former Anaheim Mighty Duck Paul Kariya on Pat Verbeekfrom NHL.com
Verbeek will have plenty to deal with ahead of the trade deadline next month. The main priority will be figuring out what to do with the unrestricted free agent trio of Hampus Lindholm, Rickard Rakell, and Josh Manson. Given the Ducks’ current standing place, no one would blame the team for attempting to bolster their roster. But Verbeek also acknowledged on Thursday that the team is in the middle of a rebuild.
Niedermayer Joins Ducks’ Front Office
Verbeek wasn’t the only name the Ducks added to their front office. Former Duck Scott Niedermayer returned to the team in a front-office capacity after being named Special Advisor to Hockey Operations on Thursday. Niedermayer had previously assisted the team as a developmental coach but scaled back his workload after moving back to British Columbia full-time.
“It’s a good opportunity for me to get more involved than I have in the last few years. Pat seemed open to exploring that and wanted my input on different things. It’ll be a work in progress over time but I’m excited about it.”
-Niedermayer on his new role with the Ducksfrom NHL.com
Niedermayer’s new role will allow him to be a valued and trusted voice in the ear of Verbeek and someone that the new general manager will be able to turn to regularly. Though Niedermayer will continue most of his work from Canada, Verbeek has stated that he would like Niedermayer to be present for important dates like the trade deadline or the NHL Entry Draft.
Zegras Dazzles at All-Star Weekend
Ever seen the movie Dodgeball? If you have, then you probably got a kick out of Trevor Zegras’ Breakaway Challenge attempt. The rising star not only pulled off a stunning shot––on the first try, no less––he did it blindfolded. There was understandably griping and groveling afterward when the Ducks forward not only failed to claim first place, but he was unable to procure a perfect score from the judges as well.
Though he didn’t win the Breakaway Challenge, Zegras’ attempt was trending all over social media shortly after, and he has received plenty of media coverage during his first full NHL season. There’s a good chance that this won’t be the last time Zegras is at All-Star Weekend. Heck, this appearance came as a special guest instead of being selected to the All-Star Team.
Manson Placed on Injured Reserve, Milano Close to Returning
Manson suffered a broken finger shortly before the break and was officially placed on injured reserve yesterday. His status is week to week, which could rule him out of any trade scenarios depending on the severity of the injury. Greg Pateryn was recalled from the San Diego Gulls in a corresponding move.
With Manson out, the defensive pairings will likely look like so:
Cam Fowler-Josh Mahura
Simon Benoit-Kevin Shattenkirk
Sonny Milano has been out since Jan. 14 when he took an accidental elbow to the face from Jon Merrill. During the Ducks’ first post-All-Star break practice, Milano was an active participant, interchanging places with Max Comtois on the second line.
Getting Milano back will be a boost for the Ducks as he’s been one of their more consistent players this season and has developed a good rapport with Zegras.
The Ducks finally return to play on Friday with a home game against the Seattle Kraken before jetting off to Canada for a three-game road trip as they make up their postponed games from December.
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.