The NHL offseason will get started next month, and Anaheim Ducks’ general manager Bob Murray has plenty to do if he wants to try and turn the team around. The Ducks need to improve their scoring after finishing 29th in goals per game, and 30th on the power play. Anaheim needs young players like Max Jones and Sam Steel to take a step in their development as well.
The Athletic’s Scott Burnside says the biggest thing the Ducks should look to do this offseason is add some skill to their defensive group:
“A source familiar with the Ducks said he believes the team’s priority – apart from getting more from everyone in-house – is to find someone to up the talent quotient on the blue line, and specifically on the right side. Now Alex Pietrangelo is likely out of the question for the still rebuilding Ducks. But what about Kevin Shattenkirk, whom Anaheim pursued last summer before he signed a one-year deal in Tampa and who has been very good for the Bolts in this postseason? Or Tyson Barrie, another unrestricted free agent whose one-year tenure in Toronto was less than ideal, which might mean he’s more in the Ducks’ price and profile range?”
Anaheim has 20 out 23 players signed, and has just over $1.4 million in cap space. The team will get some added room with center Ryan Kesler expected to be put on LTIR again, netting another $6.875 million in cap space.
Alex Pietrangelo seems like he will be out of the Ducks price range. He will command more than $7 million on the open market, and at 30 years old will more than likely want to play for a contender.
Kevin Shattenkirk is an interesting option. The 31-year-old had 34 points in 70 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning during the regular season, and has played well in the playoffs. Murray reportedly went after Shattenkirk last year, and definitely could circle back around again this offseason. If he is willing to sign in the $4 million to $5 million range, he could be a good fit for the next few seasons.
Tyson Barrie is a highly-skilled offensive defenseman who struggles in his own end. He had 39 points (12 on the power play) with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and should be affordable for Anaheim. He will give the power play a boost, and will provide some scoring from the back end, but would Murray and head coach Dallas Eakins be willing to put up with his defensive miscues.
Sami Vatanen, Torey Krug and T.J. Brodie are all expected to hit the market as well.
Which defenseman would you like to see the Ducks pursue in free agency?