The big days of the offseason are just around the corner: the Draft is coming up on the 27th, and the Ducks hold both two first and two second round picks (10th, 24th, 38th, and 55th), which is plenty of ammunition to either load up the farm system or dangle in a trade to upgrade the NHL roster. Also, free agency follows almost immediately after the Draft. Organizations (and also fans) across the league are salivating at the prospect of being able to add players who can contribute immediately towards a hopeful Cup run. And finally, trade talks have already begun to fire up, with hopeful teams looking to add that final piece that may put them among the true Stanley Cup contenders.
The Ducks have started their offseason very quietly, but there is a palpable buzz about what moves the organization could make in the coming days. It seems they are involved in new trade rumors every day, involving the aforementioned draft picks and young players such as Kyle Palmieri, Luca Sbisa, Emerson Etem, and Rickard Rakell, among others. On June 19th, Ducks GM Bob Murray announced that the team would not be bringing back Jonas Hiller, Saku Koivu, and Daniel Winnik. On the 14th, the Ducks traded a conditional 2015 5th round pick to the Montreal Canadiens for Louis Leblanc (Montreal gets the pick if Leblanc plays 15 games for the Ducks at the NHL level). The team has known that this past season was it for Teemu Selanne. However, the Ducks have not made any splashes in the offseason. Maybe those big moves are to come in the future, but it has been a relatively quiet offseason thus far, unlike last season, when the Tyler Seguin deal between the Stars and Bruins sent waves throughout the league.
However, not all moves during the offseason have to be blockbusters. In fact, small moves can end up making as much of a difference as the grand ones. When the Ducks acquired Ben Lovejoy from the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2013, nobody really envisioned the move as anything more than a depth acquisition. Now, Lovejoy is playing top-pair minutes, and it only cost the Ducks a 5th round pick.
The Ducks have many different areas they must address this offseason, and not all of these areas can be addressed via splash signings or marquee trades. Instead, the organization must decide how it want to attack its needs, whether by trade, free agency, or from within, and determine which assets it is willing to sacrifice. The team has to step back and take a careful look at itself because Anaheim is still chasing other teams in the West, namely Los Angeles and Chicago.
I believe that the Ducks should key in on five specific areas this offseason. There are definitely more ways to improve, but I believe improving in these areas will increase the odds of the Ducks making a deep playoff run.