Even a couple of weeks removed from the Anaheim Ducks season coming to a close the pain still stings. Hopefully they remember the feeling and use it for motivation next season.
But now that everyone has had time to clear their heads it’s time to re-focus on how to improve this team going into next season. The Ducks youth made great strides this season, especially the likes of Nick Bonino, Kyle Palmieri, Matt Beleskey, Patrick Maroon, Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, and the young goaltending duo of Frederik Andersen and John Gibson.
General manager Bob Murray should be given a great deal of credit in drafting or acquiring these players and realizing they can be great NHL players. With that said, youth can only go so far and you need some skilled veterans to supplement that youth. This is where Murray needs to earn his stripes and land a highly skilled forward and there are two very good ones linked to the Ducks.
The Ducks achieved the best record in the West this season and missed out on the best record in the league by a mere one point. They did that with their line-up down the middle of the ice looking like: Getzlaf-Bonino-Koivu-Perreault.
Not bad but Koivu is aging, Perreault though good is at best a third line center and Bonino is good enough to be a No.2 line center but not good enough yet to take other teams top players away from the Getzlaf line.
Enter Ryan Kesler.
The Ducks have been linked to Kesler since last March and were even rumored to have almost acquired him before the deadline. It is not stated if players were offered from the Ducks end but it has been reported that 2 first round picks were offered for Kesler. That didn’t get it done but it appears the Ducks are willing to move players now to bring Kelser in.
The Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson stated the Ducks have “the deepest pool of young talent in the league”. Matheson goes on to state that he believes with the exception of Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, and Frederik Andersen all the other Ducks “young guns” are available. Matheson’s reporting is from early April so I would also include John Gibson (seeing as though Jonas Hiller won’t be back) and Nick Bonino (budding star that could and should be a Duck for career) to the list of untouchables on Murray’s board.
So who could go? Thanks to realignment the Ducks and Canucks are now division rivals that could drive the price up on them. In comments by Murray he stated without specifically naming Kesler, “I don’t think I’ll offer as much as I did at the trade deadline, There’s [other] things I might like to do and I would spend — I’m deep enough in players — to do so.” Secretive but now stating players instead of picks will be the deal.
I would guess the Ducks will try to ship wings rather than centers so would a package of Kyle Palmieri, Devante Smith-Pelly, and a prospect such as Max Friberg along with a pick get it done. Or would the Canucks want the likes of Emerson Etem, Rickard Rakell, and highly touted prospect such as Shea Theodore and Nic Kerdiles? The latter seems too steep for me but the Ducks are deep enough to offer the former. And the No. 10 overall selection in this coming draft thanks to the Bobby Ryan trade could also become very valuable.
Kesler is star that barring injury and surrounded with good players in Bruce Boudreau‘s open offense system could put up big numbers. It is going to take a lot to acquire him but with the Ducks being on his short list of teams he would be willing to go to, how Murray has pulled off savvy moves in the past, and the fact that Murray is irked about how this season ended, I would be very surprised if Ryan Kesler is not wearing No. 17 with a big webbed foot D on the front of his jersey next October.
Follow Pucks of a Feather on Twitter.
Like Pucks of a Feather on Facebook.