It’s a well-established fact in sports that teams win championships with their core in place. By locking up the core members of a team, an organization is set up to compete for championships annually. The Los Angeles Kings have done just this by locking up Drew Doughty to an eight year extension and Jonathan Quick to a ten year deal. Similarly, the Chicago Blackhawks have finished locking up both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to matching eight year extensions and have players such as Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford signed into the future as well.
The Anaheim Ducks, too, have started their path down locking up the next main core of this team. It began by giving Cam Fowler a five year, $20 million extension in September of 2012, a deal which looks like a major bargain for a top-pair defenseman. In March of 2013, Bob Murray pulled another stroke of genius, signing both Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry to eight year extensions ($66 million for Getzlaf, $69 million for Perry). Andrew Cogliano was also given a four year, $12 million extension in January this past year.
With Fowler, Getzlaf, Perry, and Cogliano signed, the Ducks have begun the process of solidifying the members of this team, both for the present and future. However, the Ducks’ core is still very young: youth is plentiful for the organization at forward, defense, and goaltending, even at the NHL level. The Ducks also don’t have very many long-term investments: only seven players on the NHL roster have contracts until 2017 or later (Getzlaf, Perry, Cogliano, Nate Thompson, Fowler, Clayton Stoner, and Mark Fistric).
The Ducks, who naturally do not spend much in free-agency to bolster their team, rely on drafting and developing the core of their team. As this team continues to play and its players continue developing, the organization has to designate core members to extend long-term. It is getting to be around the team the Ducks need to consider who their next long-term extension should go to.
Anaheim has many players whose contracts expire soon. Devante Smith-Pelly and Jakob Silfverberg are both current restricted free agents with ongoing contract negotiations, but those players may elect to take short term bridge deals in order to earn a bigger pay-day in the future (as Sami Vatanen did today). Emerson Etem becomes a restricted free agent after 2015, and players such as Matt Beleskey, Patrick Maroon, Francois Beauchemin, and Bryan Allen are all set to hit the open market as unrestricted free agents. In 2016, that crop grows even further, as Vatanen, Kyle Palmieri, Rickard Rakell and Hampus Lindholm finish their current deals and become restricted free agents, while players such as Ryan Kesler and Ben Lovejoy will hit unrestricted free agency. Even the Ducks’ young duo in net of John Gibson and Frederik Andersen will both be restricted free agents after that year.
With this many deals set to expire in the coming two seasons, Bob Murray must designate certain players to be a part of the Ducks for the foreseeable future. But which players are most deserving of receiving a long-term extension?
I believe there are five specific players that are in play for that next big deal.