Sunday Op-Ed: Ducks Defense Needs a Little Help from SD

ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 1: Jaycob Megna
ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 1: Jaycob Megna /

Kevin Bieksa is on the shelf for several weeks. The Ducks need to dip into their minor league system for some mobile defensemen.

Last week our Sunday opinion piece, written by Greg Johnson, focused on the decline of Francois Beauchemin. In the ensuing week, the Ducks announced that their other very veteran defenseman Kevin Bieksa would miss significant time. Hand surgery will keep Bieksa out of the lineup for 2-5 weeks. At first, I thought Bieksa’s absence might be an addition by subtraction. Upon further review, that was a bit short sided.

I was getting comfortable with coach Randy Carlyle alternating Bieksa and Beauchemin alongside rookie Marcus Pettersson on the third defense pairing. Bieksa’s absence, however, will force Beauchemin into an everyday situation. That isn’t going to work, he will be too exposed. If he was slow in a part-time role, at 37-years-old, playing every game will slow him down even further.

To replace Bieksa on the roster, Anaheim recalled Korbinian Holzer from San Diego. The same Holzer who was waived over a month ago because he couldn’t beat out two aging defensemen and was replaced on the roster by Pettersson. In an ideal situation, Holzer is at best a seventh defenseman and good for a one or two game stop gap. At best he is the 11th or 12th best blueliner in the organization.

The issue with Beauchemin and Bieksa is that the game moves faster than they are these days. Further, Holzer isn’t any better than those two. It’s time to bring in someone else and this week would have been a good time to do so.

As much as Ducks fans would like to see Jacob Larsson, the 2015 first-round pick isn’t ready yet. The answer lies with two players who made cameos earlier this season, Andy Welinski or Jaycob Megna.

Welinski, Anaheim’s 2011 third-round pick, graduated from the University of Minnesota-Duluth last spring and joined the Gulls for the playoffs. He is a mobile puck moving defenseman who can provide a little more offense from the blueline. Unfortunately for him, the Ducks already have a few defensemen of a similar ilk, but he is a viable option against faster teams like Vegas.

That brings the conversation to Megna. At 6’6”, 220 lbs, he’s the type of stay-at-home defenseman teams need as they head to the post-season. A guy who is big and strong enough to take/give big hits. More importantly, he can clear traffic in front of the Ducks’ crease. He is a younger version of Beauchemin and at the very least, makes a more than acceptable fill-in which allows Carlyle to rest the older player more often.

With Megna in the lineup, the pairings could look like:




That is a good mix of fitness and strength.

The Ducks have prided themselves on their organizational depth at defenseman. It’s time to dip into that depth for a little help.

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