After the Anaheim Ducks put a cap on their disappointing season that culminated in an abbreviated stay in the playoffs, there were rumblings that wholesale changes could be coming up over the summer.
Even Jeff Miller of the Orange County Register foretold the possibility of big changes following the Ducks’ Game 7 loss to Nashville as he said there was “no doubt” change was coming down the pipeline.
“Without question, everyone in this organization is open to evaluation, from everyone sitting on the bench to everyone standing behind it,” wrote Miller as the Ducks were in the process of figuring out what hit them.
Has Anaheim made changes since that ugly night in late-April? Absolutely.
Bruce Boudreau was replaced as the head coach, goaltender Frederik Andersen is now in Toronto and just Monday Jared Boll and Mason Raymond were brought into the fold.
But here we are in early July and even if the Ducks evaluated everyone from the bench to the front office it would be tough to notice because the core of the roster and the front office has not changed. And at this point in the offseason it’s probably safe to make one conjecture about the rest of their offseason: Wholesale changes will not be coming.
For all the talk of change in Anaheim, if you really take a close look at their roster you’ll realize that any type of dramatic revolution would be tough to execute.
According to capfriendly.com, the Ducks have four players under contract through the 2020-21 season. Those four players are Corey Perry (annual cap hit of $8.62 million), Ryan Getzlaf (annual cap hit of $8.25 million), Ryan Kesler (annual cap hit of $6.87 million) and Simon Despres (annual cap hit of $3.7 million).
Needless to say, with other teams’ salary cap and budget constraints, it would be tough to move any large contract like this via a trade. That’s not to say that General Manager Bob Murray would even consider moving a star like a Perry or Getzlaf, but thinking about moving big names is typically what happens when a team signs on for a drastic shake up.
Just ask Montreal.
It would also be tough to add one of the big free agent fish that are still left in the pond because of the Ducks’ cap constraints. As of Monday evening, Anaheim has 18 players on their roster with a projected cap hit of $59.7 million.
The team will have to spend wisely. They only have about $13.2 million left to fill out their roster, keeping in mind the Ducks have never been a club that has spent to the cap.
Of course, trades involving the Ducks’ other players with more digestible contracts are possible, but their cap and budget constraints will keep them from taking on lots of salary.
Even the rumors of Cam Fowler being dealt out of Anaheim have gone kind of quiet since they heated up at the draft nearly two weeks ago.
Murray deciding to keep the roster in tact for the most part isn’t necessarily a bad thing. See for example their division rival, the San Jose Sharks.
After the Sharks had a 3-0 series lead in the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs and eventually lost to the Los Angeles Kings in seven games, there was talk of wholesale changes taking place in San Jose, including the possibility of moving longtime Sharks like Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau.
General Manager Doug Wilson eventually decided against major moves. He instead opted to make a coaching change and rebuild his team’s third and fourth lines. It worked out well, as the Sharks were able to find the right mix and make a deep postseason run all the way to the Stanley Cup Final this season without making major augmentations to the roster.
This isn’t to say that in a couple seasons from now the Ducks will find themselves in the Stanley Cup Final just because their GM took a deep breath and decided against taking a wrecking ball to the roster. And while that may be the best course of action, it’s obvious that this year’s Anaheim Ducks roster is going to look a lot like last year’s, despite their commitment to change.