After missing the NHL playoffs for the second-straight year, this will be a big offseason for the Anaheim Ducks.
General manager Bob Murray will hopefully have the the highest draft pick of his tenure. He took defenseman Hamphus Lindholm 6th overall at the 2012 draft. but with Anaheim holding the fifth-best odds to win the NHL Draft Lottery, they have an outside shot at winning the grand prize in Alexis Lafreniere.
Corey Pronmon and Eric Stephens of The Athletic broke down what it would mean to the franchise to get the No. 1 pick:
Pronmon: “The Ducks have accumulated some good young players. I think you have to like the caliber of talent of Troy Terry and Maxime Comtois where they picked them even if they haven’t broken through yet. They don’t really have that true star caliber young talent though. I could see a path for Trevor Zegras to become that, but I wouldn’t say I’m highly confident he will be that player. It very much strikes me as a rebuild in its infancy and a process that could take many years to truly turn around. The Ducks seem to be trying to do a rebuild on the fly and that’s difficult, albeit not impossible to do without getting a very high pick. Alexis Lafreniere would give this rebuild life and speed up the process by a few years. I don’t think he instantly brings the Ducks back to being a contender. There is still work to do to turn the page and build a new top core of players. But the path starts becoming clearer.”
Stephens: “You want to dream about the possibility of Lafreniere working off Zegras and vice versa for a dozen years? Chemistry is often a fickle proposition when trying to develop it and who knows if the reality was to live up to the dream but there isn’t anything wrong with conjuring up visions of the two heading up ice and creating havoc in the offensive end. The two could be a logical successor to the longtime Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry partnership that powered Anaheim through its last run of contention, minus the antagonizing element that left other fanbases sore and even vitriolic. Lafreniere would not be a savior but he’d be the type of elite talent that the Ducks need and haven’t been in position to acquire.”
Getting Lafreniere would accelerate the retool for the Ducks. Having him and Zegras in the pipeline would give the franchise two top-six players to anchor the forward group for a long time. The key will be how Murray will fill out the roster around them. With the younger players underwhelming last season, the team needs to add some high-end prospects. Players like Steel, and Terry will need to take a step in their development, otherwise it looks like their ceiling is being second/third line tweeners.
Outside of Zegras, which Ducks’ prospect do you think will have the best career?
On to some links:
It has been an interesting time in the country over the past few months. Ducks d-man Erik Gudbranson wrote a nice piece about speaking out against racism. (Sportsnet)
Murray will also have to improve Anaheim’s blue line corps. The Hockey Writer’s Anthony Ciardelli does a nice breakdown of the Ducks’ options going into the offseason.
What are some of the other areas Murray should look at to help accelerate the retool? Felix Sicard of The Fourth Period gives his blueprint.