The Anaheim Ducks’ playoff hopes seem to be slipping out of their hands with every passing game. Though, a monumental goal in the final minute of Tuesday night’s game against the Boston Bruins secured two valuable points. Another win this Friday against the Vegas Golden Knights would do wonders toward buoying the Ducks’ chances of making the playoffs.
Verbeek Hints at Trade Deadline Plans
Speaking of playoff hopes, Pat Verbeek, who was named general manager of the Ducks last month, spoke to The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun this week about his plans ahead of the March 21 trade deadline.
Verbeek said operating at the trade deadline isn’t totally unfamiliar for him because of his many years spent working under former Tampa Bay Lightning and current Detroit Red Wings general manager, Steve Yzerman. The only unfamiliar part of it for Verbeek is that this time he’ll be the one making the final decisions. (from ‘LeBrun: Pat Verbeek’s first trade deadline as Ducks GM will not be boring’, The Athletic, 02/28/22)
There will be plenty of operating for Verbeek to do too. The impending storm that is the contract situations of soon-to-be free agents Rickard Rakell, Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson – along with several others – inches closer with every passing day.
Lindholm’s representation has made it clear that they would like to test the free-agent market, with Verbeek looking to find common ground on a possible contract extension and nix that scenario. However, the Ducks’ general manager is not averse to dealing away Lindholm at the deadline if it comes down to it.
“At the end of the day, there’s no guarantee I can get those three free agents back,” said Verbeek. “I’m going to attempt to sign them, if it doesn’t happen, I just can’t let them walk out the door free.”
On Monday, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman echoed his thoughts from last week that the Ducks are hesitant about the term of potential extensions with the likes of Lindholm, Rakell and Manson.
Given the precarious spot of the Ducks’ current location in the Pacific Division standings, it’s truly a dilemma of figuring out whether they have what it takes to make the playoffs. Sitting in fifth place, while every team ahead of them in the division holds multiple games in hand, certainly isn’t ideal.
But, five points also separate them from their current standing and second place in the division. The Bruins’ beatdown of the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night closed the gap between second and third place in the division and a Ducks win on Friday night against the Golden Knights would do a world of good for the Black and Orange. So would a win against the San Jose Sharks next Sunday to close out their six-game homestand.
My goal is to improve the team as best as I can and as fast as I can. So I’m not saying ‘No’ to anything, I’m open to anything.Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek
If the Ducks want to prove to Verbeek that they’re capable of making the playoffs, not only do they need to get things done when it matters most, they need to show that they can do it consistently. The free agents-to-be also have to be on board with staying beyond this season.
TSN’s Chris Johnston thinks there’s a possibility that at least one of those three big names on the Ducks will be moved, but not all three while The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta feels that there’s a good chance that both Lindholm and Rakell will be moved before the deadline.
Rakell Ties Rucchin on Ducks’ Franchise Goalscoring List
As long as he’s still in a Ducks sweater, Rakell continues to climb the Ducks’ franchise leaderboards. His power-play goal against the Bruins put him in a tie with former captain Steve Rucchin for sixth all-time on the Ducks’ goal-scoring leaderboard. With seven goals in his last 10 games, he is heating up at just the right time and should have plenty of suitors in the event that Verbeek sees it fit to deal the Swedish winger.
Former Duck Kase Bouncing Back from Concussion Issues
It’s always tough seeing players go through long spells of injury and former Duck Ondrej Kase is no exception. The Czech forward has been plagued with concussion issues dating all the way back to his third-ever game in the American Hockey League (AHL) while playing for the San Diego Gulls, Anaheim’s American Hockey League affiliate.
San Jose Barracuda defenseman Karl Stollery caught Kase up high with an elbow while the latter was chipping the puck into the offensive zone. Not only was there no penalty called on the play, but Kase also ended up missing four months. Stollery eventually received a one-game suspension after the Gulls complained to the league, but the damage was done.
With Kase concussed and knowing no English at the time, recovery on all levels was difficult (from ‘The Ondrej Kase story: A path through hell and back, one hockey hit at a time, The Athletic, 03/01/22). He did eventually manage to pick up English through the help of his teammates and roommates, Stefan Noesen and Nic Kerdiles.
Kase eventually carved out a role with the Ducks, becoming an integral part of their scoring depth on the wings. Unfortunately, the head injuries kept coming. Through the help of Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, who specializes in diagnosing and managing concussions, Kase was able to be treated appropriately.
He’s a huge part of why I’m still playing hockey. He explained everything great for me. It was really, really helpful.Ondrej Kase on the impact of Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher
After being traded to the Bruins during the 2019-20 season, Kase only played nine games for the team over the span of two seasons. In fact, He only appeared in one full game last season for them. That alone was enough for them to decide not to tender him a qualifying offer this past offseason.
In swooped the Toronto Maple Leafs, one of 10 teams willing to take a flier on the then-25-year-old. Best friend David Kampf being on the team played a major role in Kase ultimately deciding to sign with the Leafs. He now looks to be back to the form he displayed in Anaheim, even despite being on the end of a dangerous, but clean hit from Calgary Flames defenseman Nikita Zadorov last month. Here’s hoping the best for him during the remainder of his career, as a player who has already had to endure so much before the age of 30.
As the trade deadline nears, talks will begin to ramp up between the Ducks and teams looking to pry away the likes of Lindholm, Manson, Rakell and others. Stay connected to all the trade news and rumors by heading over to The Hockey Writers’ 2022 Trade Deadline coverage.
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.