No, this is not a venting thread on how the Ducks have become a non-playoff team and haven't gotten any better. I think it's more of an encouragement post about the Ducks and their future in the coming seasons.
As it stands, (and let's be honest here) the Ducks would be lucky to make the playoffs this year with the current direction the team has taken. You can call it a brief re-tooling period if you like, but I'm getting the sense that Murph and co. have taken the team in a direction that will make the team competitive for years to come. Obviously this is not one of those years.
For the most part, free agency has come and gone and left Anaheim with merely two major signings.
Toni Lydman for $3 mil a year @ 3 years is good for two things. First, it's not the length of the majority of deals that we saw a lot defensemen getting at the start of free agency (ie Hamhuis @ 6, Martin @ 5, etc). The length is important because it gives the Ducks time to develop our prospects (ie Sbisa, Fowler, Gardiner, Clark, etc) without rushing them, but it's also not too long of a contract that we'll be forced to hold back the development of our prospects when they are ready for full-time NHL duty. Second, this signing helps the team's very depleted blueline and thus ensuring at least some chance to compete until the prospect defensemen get their feet wet. I'm not saying that Lydman makes the Ducks a competitive team, but he improves a very poor blueline.
Saku Koivu for $2.5 a year @ 2 years is fantastic also for two reasons. Saku first came to Anaheim because we were a playoff team and he wanted to play with his longtime friend Teemu. For those reasons, he turned down more money and longer contracts to play in Anaheim. This is noteworthy because in his first year with a Western Conference team, he was by far the most consistent player throughout the season. With Saku's performance, he most certainly earned a substantial raise. Instead, he signed for less (not sure if anyone remembers but I made it known that I thought he was the type of player who would take less even when he deserved more). This signing is also important because it will probably lead to another signing and thus give plenty of fans a good reason to watch a non-contending team next year.
If we take a step back and examine the lack of moves with free agency, it tells me just one thing: Murray is re-tooling on the fly and doesn't want to get stuck with a huge contract for the coming years while we have prospects developing and making the jump to the big club. It's not the best move for the impatient fans (such as myself), but it will give the Ducks a chance to be real contenders again in the next 2-3 years.
So I guess the point of next season would be to cherish what will probably be Teemu's last season (I know he's not signed yet, but I'm thinking there's a good chance he will) and watch for the development of the younger guys who will hopefully stick around (yes I'm talking about you too, Bobby).
Thanks for reading! :]