The Anaheim Ducks had a rough season, but there are some bright spots on this roster moving forward. We all know what John Gibson can be in the net, and both Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale looked solid in their first taste of NHL hockey last season.
Their number one issue last season was their inability to score goals. In 56 games last season, they only managed to score 124 times, which was dead last in the NHL. Averaging 2.21 goals per game simply won’t win you a lot of games in this league. It puts too much pressure on Gibson and the teams’ defence to keep you in contests, knowing that they won’t likely erase many multi-goal leads.
That has to be priority number one for this team; add more offensive weapons. Of course, as their young players such as Zegras, Steel, and Comtois continue to develop, the team should expect more offence from them. However, there are players available in this free-agent class that could help provide some much-needed offence for the Ducks.
Mike Hoffman is a prime example of a player that could really help the Ducks. In an 82-game season, he’s almost always good for 25 goals and 55 points. Sure, he doesn’t play much defence at all, but his offence can make that easier to swallow. To a lesser extent, players like Josh Leivo and Nick Bonino could be depth players with the ability to help chip in offensively for the Ducks moving forward.
They also have a big decision this offseason on what to do with long-time captain Ryan Getzlaf. He certainly isn’t the player he was almost a decade ago but can still be a serviceable player in the NHL. His number last season, 17 points in 48 games, doesn’t jump out at anyone; however, he brings more than just his point production to the table. He has shown incredible leadership and determination throughout his 16-year NHL career.
He isn’t the first-line centre he once was, but it’s tough to think multiple contending teams wouldn’t want him on their roster in some capacity. It’s as much on Getzlaf as it is on the Ducks to decide if this relationship should continue. If he wants to be a life-long Anaheim Duck, they have the cap space to bring him back. If he wants to chase a cup in his final few seasons in the NHL, he has earned the right to do so. It’s a significant decision for general manager Bob Murray and the rest of his staff.
The Ducks also didn’t have luck on their side during the 2021 NHL draft lottery. Even though they finished 2nd last in the NHL this season, they fell one spot and will select third overall, behind the Buffalo Sabres and the Seattle Kraken. The Ducks will still have a great chance to choose an essential piece of their organization moving forward at third overall, and their focus should be all on offence.
Assuming the Sabres will take Owen Power first overall, the Kraken will likely be choosing between centre Matthew Beniers and winger Dylan Guenther. Both players will be outstanding forwards at the NHL level, but the Ducks should be thrilled if Guenther falls to them at three. He is arguably the most dynamic offensive player in this draft, as in only 12 games with the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL this season, he registered 12 goals and 12 assists. His shot can score from anywhere in the offensive zone, a tool the Ducks could really use moving forward, especially on the powerplay.
Much like most teams near the bottom of the NHL, the Ducks will have a ton of cap space to work with this offseason. Signing their RFA’s such as Max Jones, Sam Steel, and Maxime Comtois shouldn’t be too challenging.
The biggest positive for the Anaheim Ducks is the goaltender, John Gibson, is signed through the 2026-27 season at a very reasonable cap hit of $6,400,000. He is just about to turn 28 years old and will likely still be an elite-level goalie for the contract’s entire duration. If the Ducks can turn this ship around in the next couple of years, they could be looking at a couple of years of contending with the big concern of goaltending all figured out on a team-friendly deal.
That should be general manager Bob Murray’s big task; to find a way to be competitive again while John Gibson is still on this contract. If they realize that it can’t happen that quickly, he’s someone you can get a lot in return for, but they are years away from coming to that decision.
There are some solid pieces on the Ducks, including a defence core with Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, and Josh Manson. Despite coming off a not-so-great regular season, Adam Henrique had an impressive performance at the World Hockey Championships. This offseason will be one where the Ducks will look towards the not-so-distant future with the hopeful addition of some much-needed offence.