For the Anaheim Ducks, this was supposed to be the offseason of positive strides.
With a disappointing 2015-16 season and former head coach Bruce Boudreau now in the rear view mirror, this summer was supposed to signal a fresh start and another big push toward the franchise’s second Stanley Cup.
But if you could sum up what has transpired for Anaheim this summer in one word, that word might be “stagnant”.
Of course, they still have dynamic players like Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry that can wreak havoc on the opposing teams’ defense on any given night. There’s also still over a whole month left in the offseason, giving General Manager Bob Murray enough time to make more changes as he sees fit.
But after all the bluster following their early exit from the postseason last April that the status quo was going to get shaken up on Katella Avenue, it doesn’t appear that the club is much different — or much improved — over three months later.
The first major move of the offseason came when Murray and his staff decided that they would go forward with John Gibson as their starting goaltender and subsequently traded Frederik Andersen to Toronto for draft picks. Shortly thereafter, the Ducks would begin to lose players after free agency opened on July 1.
Jamie McGinn, who Anaheim acquired in a trade last season to help bolster their lineup for a deep postseason run, had a strong showing with the Ducks after the trade by notching 12 points (8-4—12) in 21 games. But he was one of the first players to get away from Anaheim’s clutches in free agency when he signed a three-year deal with Arizona that carried an average cap hit of $3.33 million.
David Perron, whose season took off following a trade from Pittsburgh, was the next key piece to leave Anaheim as a free agent when he signed a two-year deal with St. Louis with an average cap hit of $3.75 million after posting 20 points (8-12—20) in 28 games following his trade to the Ducks.
On top of this, key restricted free agents Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell remain unsigned.
Lindholm, who will be entering his fourth season of NHL action this fall, notched 28 points (10-18—28) for the Ducks last season along with posting a plus-minus rating of plus-7 in a career-high 80 games, as the 22-year-old figures to be an important part of Anaheim’s defensive defensive future along with Sami Vatanen.
Rakell, meanwhile, played in a career-high 72 games and scored a career-high 43 points (20-23—43). He also saw more minutes, becoming a staple of the Ducks lineup.
What were some of the Ducks’ bigger moves this offseason? Arguably, their biggest free agent catch of the summer was the signing of forward Mason Raymond, who the Ducks are hoping will make a return to his 2013-14 form when he notched a career-high 45 points (19-26—45) with Toronto. He spent the last two seasons in Calgary and tallied 28 points (16-12—28) in 86 regular season contests while there.
Murray also added muscle to the roster in the signing of Jared Boll, who had a career-low 61 penalty minutes in 30 games last season.
But besides these additions, depth signings like Nate Guenin, Korbinian Holzer and Stefan Noesen, and the trade for backup goaltender Jonathan Bernier (and his $4.15 million cap hit), the roster looks similar to the one that exited the ice following their Game 7 first-round loss to Nashville last April.
One could even make the argument that they have even taken a step back with some of their lower line players.
With training camp just over a month away from opening, the Ducks roster is still incomplete. Lindholm and Rakell are still without deals, and with 20 roster spots already occupied and only $8.4 million in cap space left, management has limited flexibility.
At some point, new head coach Randy Carlyle will have to run with what he’s got.
Whether they have the right mix of players or not will ultimately be decided when they hit the ice this October.