It’s no secret that the Anaheim Ducks are currently mired in what has been coined a “re-tool” by general manager Bob Murray. After back-to-back sixth-place finishes in the Pacific Division, it’s clear that this should be more of a rebuild than anything.
Of course, it’s never easy to stomach a large collection of losses, especially over the span of an 82-game season. If the Ducks were to endure another season of losing en route to a full-on rebuild, some well-known faces would likely be heading for the exit.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Ryan Getzlaf is currently the longest-tenured player on the Ducks, having been drafted the team back in 2003. The 2019-20 season was Anaheim’s worst since Getzlaf’s draft year and at 35, their captain isn’t getting any younger.
While the former Calgary Hitman has made it definitively clear that he has no desire to win a Cup with a team other than the Ducks and holds a full no-movement clause in his contract – which has just one year left on it – there is still always the possibility that Getzlaf has a change of heart at some point next season (from ‘Does Ryan Getzlaf want to chase a Cup? The Ducks’ captain discusses his future,’ The Athletic, 02/07/2020).
Gibson the Goalie
John Gibson is essentially locked in as the Ducks’ starting goaltender for the rest of his prime years. At 28, Gibson is right in the middle of his peak and it would be disastrous to waste it if the Ducks decided to bite the bullet and engage in a full-on rebuild within the next season or two.
Now, goalies like Gibson don’t grow on trees, and around the league, it’s been noted how difficult it is to bring a goalie up through the pipeline as the Ducks have in the past with both Gibson and Frederik Andersen. Fortunately, there is a goaltender of the future located within the Ducks’ pipeline in Lukas Dostal.
While Dostal is unlikely to be ready to step in as an NHL starter right this moment, having him likely gives Murray little worry in the event that he was to end up dealing Gibson at some point. A player of Gibson’s caliber isn’t easy to acquire and the package of assets he could bring in would allow Murray to shore up other areas of the team that take a higher priority in needing improvement.
Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg and Hampus Lindholm have become fan-favorites among most Ducks fans as part of the “Swedeheim” regime, the nickname given to the Ducks for their influx of Swedish players. Rakell broke out with two consecutive 30-goal seasons in 2016-17 and 2017-18 but hasn’t reached the 20-goal mark in the past two seasons. His performance during the 2020-21 season will likely affect which direction the Ducks’ front office decides to move in.
Silfverberg has been a steady force on both ends of the ice for the Ducks ever since he was acquired from the Ottawa Senators in the Bobby Ryan deal during the summer of 2013. Part of the “shutdown line” alongside Ryan Kesler and Andrew Cogliano for a number of years, the trio was responsible for keeping the opposing team’s most prolific’s scorers quiet. Even with both Cogliano and Kesler now gone, Silfverberg’s two-way ability hasn’t waned and he’s been arguably the Ducks’ best player during their recent pair of middling seasons.
Cam Fowler is usually looked at as the one to produce the offense from the blue line. Conversely, Lindholm is the steadying presence on the blue line responsible for extinguishing any creation of offense by their opponents.
Lindholm has been extremely consistent since he entered the league – it helps to have Francois Beauchemin as one of your first defensive partners – and has sparkling numbers across the charts, both general and advanced.
Like many of the Ducks players, Lindholm has not been at his best in the last two seasons. In fact, the 2019-20 season was the first time Lindholm’s defensive point shares (DPS) dropped below 4.3, when he finished the shortened season with a DPS of 2.1.
While Getzlaf and Gibson are among the names least likely to be shipped out, it’s evident that the Ducks have been trending in the wrong direction ever since their defeat in the 2017 Western Conference Final. Rakell’s recent offensive struggles could lead to him being moved out if a third consecutive season of subpar play occurs.
Silfverberg is a solid contributor, but he’s much better off playing for a contender and there would be plenty of teams (outside of the 12 on his modified no-trade clause) lining up to acquire his services (from, ‘Jakob Silfverberg does everything for the Ducks, but he could be more valuable on a contender’, The Athletic, 12/20/19). The same could be said for Adam Henrique, who hasn’t even been mentioned up until this point.
Lindholm and Josh Manson have both been a big part of the Ducks’ defense over the last several seasons but it’s possible that one of them could be shipped out if Murray decides he needs to shake things up once again. Manson, in particular, has been frequently mentioned as a trade possibility to the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of a package for someone like Swedish winger William Nylander.
The 2020-21 season will be one that sets everything in motion for the Ducks. Their collection of young forwards combined with their veteran leaders on both offense and defense might not have the potential to make the playoffs, but they’re capable of much more than what they did this past season. Another move in the wrong direction could signal a changing of the guard.