Since the season pause in mid-March, the Anaheim Ducks have been working through free agent signings, inking four entry-level contracts and four contract extensions, with a focus on their blueline.
But knowing that the NHL is willing to push back the start of the 2020-21 season — the next time the Ducks will be back in action — as far as next January means next season isn’t necessarily going to be a cakewalk, either. The re-signings so far have all lacked term, which could be advantageous for current pending unrestricted free agents, who will might take a bridge deal for a promise of a larger payout when the cap rises again.
It might also be a perfect situation for someone like defenseman Kodie Curran, a native of Calgary, Alberta who last played in the SHL. Curran started in the AHJL in Calgary before playing for the University of Calgary. He spent one season playing professionally in North America, splitting time between the AHL and ECHL. Since the 2016-17 season, Curran has been playing in Europe and seemingly fitting into the SHL after two years.
At 30 years old, he is facing a turning point in his career, earning offers from both the KHL and NHL. According to Swedish paper Kvällsposten, Curran ended his contract with his SHL club Rögle BK to sign abroad with Avangard Omsk in Russia’s KHL.
Apparently interest from the Ducks has thrown a wrinkle in that plan. And because the NHL and KHL have no formal agreement, if Curran has a contract with the club, it will be a more complicated process for the Ducks to lure him away.
Is Curran worth the risk? It’s hard to say, as he hasn’t played in North America in awhile. The last two seasons in the SHL have been fairly dominant, averaging just under a point per game. But longer seasons, better competition, smaller ice — those are all adjustments he’ll have to make to his game. The collegiate experience may help Curran bounce back more quickly, but he wasn’t exactly a high-end prospect there, either. Even if he’s a late bloomer, at 30, he’ll be very lucky to plateau.
On the other hand, the Ducks will need to get creative will a tight cap and depleted defensive depth. This is a creative solution and a season that’s kind of guaranteed to have an asterisk next to it on Wikipedia is kind of the best time to take that risk. Unfortunately, the KHL contract makes Curran a bigger risk that other free agents, even if only slightly. Hopefully that means the Ducks feel confident in this guy.