Late on Monday afternoon, long-held suspicion was made reality: Troy Terry, 20-year old Team USA and Denver University standout had signed a three-year, entry-level deal with the team that drafted him 148th overall in 2015: the Anaheim Ducks.
For the Ducks, the signing represents their young core — and potentially their current roster — getting deeper and more skilled. For Terry, it’s both the realization of a life-long dream, and also a unique opportunity.
NHL prospects typically have to cut their teeth in the minors before making the leap to the big club. Sidney Crosby’s and Connor McDavid’s are the exception to this rule. Look no further than this current Ducks’ team: mainstays like Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, and Rickard Rakell all spent some time in the American Hockey League before becoming regulars.
Terry may not have to navigate those waters like his new teammates did, thanks to the collective bargaining agreement. He could have waited another year to sign and entered unrestricted free agency, able to court suitors and be in full control of his landing spot. Although signing with the Ducks meant burning a year of his entry-level contract and being automatically closer to unrestricted free agency, Anaheim had to provide some kind of incentive for Terry to sign, as they clearly didn’t hold all the cards. That incentive would appear to be an immediate shot at NHL action.
It's official as Ducks have inked Troy Terry. Told there's good chance he is coming to Vancouver.— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) March 26, 2018
So unlike previous Ducks youngsters, Terry will get his chance right away. But what does an old-school coach like Randy Carlyle do with a 20-year old fresh out of college in the middle of a heated playoff race? The Colorado native isn’t your typical collegiate product, as he took center stage for Team USA at the 2017 World Junior Championship, while also being one of the select few collegians to be selected to the 2018 US Olympic team.
Terry, though arriving with much fanfare, will have a razor-thin window of opportunity to leave a mark on this team. With Anaheim chasing a playoff berth, Carlyle’s willingness to roll the dice will be understandably low. Yet the international standout adds a skill dimension that the Ducks’ bottom-six isn't especially flush with.
Outside of Adam Henrique and Ondrej Kase, Anaheim’s third and fourth lines aren’t scaring anyone offensively. Add in a player like Terry on that third line, and perhaps the opposition has to at least worry a little more about getting scored on. With Nick Ritchie on the left side, that worry just isn’t there.
That’s no shot at Ritchie, by the way. Terry’s presence would push him down to the fourth line, a role he’s currently more suited for. He’d undeniably be more serviceable than noted speedsters Jason Chimera and Chris Kelly.
Skill wins in today’s NHL. Anaheim could use more of it down their lineup. Terry adds a pinch of that, and while no one should expect him to light it up right away, his style of play just jibes better with the ongoing evolution of the sport. Everyone gets an opportunity here: Terry gets an opportunity to prove himself right away, while the Ducks get an opportunity to immediately improve their roster. Seems like a potential win-win for both sides.