Anaheim Ducks: Analyzing Comments from the Hockey Hot Stove


Recent comments from Bob Murray at the Anaheim Ducks Hockey Hot Stove give Ducks Nation reason to believe there are going to be a lot of changes next year.

This past weekend, Bob Murray talked to season ticket holders at the teams Hockey Hot Stove event.  The topics broached from player development to next years roster constructions. I’ll break down his comments and how it affects the club.

Roster Construction

During the event, GMBM indicated he will be looking towards free agents from college and Europe to fill his needs for next years roster. Specifically, he was looking for a third line winger (with speed) and a physical defenseman with a big shot (for the power play.)

On the surface, wanting to find a third line winger doesn’t appear to be a huge admission. However, with the bevy of wingers currently in Anaheim’s organization, it signifies several players will be on the move this summer.

In addition, Murray’s desire to pull from Europe and the NCAA is evidence he’s being cap cautious. Consequently, don’t expect Anaheim to be active when NHL free agency opens in July.

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Players and Prospect to Monitor

Joakim Nygard, Swedish Hockey League, 6′, 180lbs, 26 years old: According to Steven Ellis of The Hockey News, Nygard is one of the fastest players in Sweden and a key member of their special team’s units. With Anaheim being fond of Swedish players, he’s definitely a guy to monitor. His ability to play the Penalty Kill is a big reason he can step in as a 3rd line player.

Ilya Mikheyev, KHL, 6’2″, 194lbs, 24 years old: Mikheyev is arguably the prospect in Europe.  Anaheim hasn’t been fond of Russian players of late, but he’s projected to compete for a 3rd line role in the NHL next season. Unlike most Russian prospects, he is known for being solid defensively and would be a welcome addition to our club. Salary demand would be concerning here.

Jimmy Schuldt, NCAA, 6’1″, 205lbs, 23 years old: Schuldt is currently putting up over a point a game in college this season. He’s a player who prides himself in defense and possesses a high-end shot (as showcased in his Hobey Baker candidate video). While he is not the right shot Murray would prefer, his lethal shot and leadership ability (which is something GMBM believes is lacking on our defense) is enough to peak Anaheim’s interest.

Ducks Feeling the Effect

Regarding Anaheim adding a forward and wanting one capable of playing on the third line, means players like Nick Ritchie and/or Devin Shore could be wearing another sweater next season. With five right winger players capable of playing in the top 9 (Ondrej Kase, Troy Terry, Jakob Silfverberg, Corey Perry, and Daniel Sprong), Murray’s desired third line player is ticketed for the left side.

At left wing, Rickard Rakell is the only lock for a top 6 role. Maxime Comtois and Max Jones are two highly talented prospects competing for the second top 6 spot. Ritchie is another player vying to make an impact in the top 6, and will likely fill the role to begin next season (discussed later in the Player Development section.) With a desire to make the Ducks a faster team and Ritchie needing a new contract after next season, the power forward is a prime trade candidate.

Prospects Affected

In San Diego, Kiefer Sherwood has been a player most have envisioned filling a bottom 6 role for Anaheim in the near future. Murray’s desire to add a bottom 6 forward indicate he doesn’t share the fans vision of Sherwood. He may still get some ice time for the Ducks when injuries hit, but his quest to become an NHL regular has hit a snag.

Kevin Roy is another prospect who doesn’t have a future with the Ducks if Murray adds to the bottom 6. The slippery and skilled forward is going to be a free agent at seasons end and should be competing for a roster spot in the NHL next season. Unfortunately for his fervent group of supporters, Roy will be taking his services elsewhere.

Defensively, Murray’s desire to add a right shot, power play defenseman, shows he is not satisfied with Andy Welinski‘s development. Oddly enough, Welinski has exhibited both of Murray’s desired traits in San Deigo. Conversely, Murray must not believe Welinski has the skills required to have the same success in the NHL. He has shown flashes of potential in his stints with the big club, but it has been overshadowed by his inability to develop defensively.

Player Development

Murray expressed his desire to allow players to develop without rushing them. GMBM conceded rushing Cam Fowler was believed to be detrimental to C4’s development and the organization will learn from their previous mistakes.

Which brings us back to next years roster construction, and the several prospects fans have already penciled into starting roles in Anaheim. So much so that many were bewildered when Silfverberg resigned. Namely, Maxime Comtois and Max Jones.

Both youngsters have shown the ability to become high-end players in the NHL, but have also shown areas in need of development. Comtois had a nice offensive output during his short 10 game sting in Anaheim (2 goals, 5 assists), but posted a putrid 33.6% Corsi. Meaning, he has the talent to finish but needs some time to develop his defensive game.

Jones has endeared himself to the heart of every Ducks fan with his performance since being recalled. Every game he creates a minimum of one high-end scoring chance and has been a fixture on the penalty kill. Fans are salivating at what he will do for the club next season.

Despite the numerous scoring chances he creates on a consistent basis, he has only appeared on the score sheet in two games this season (1 goal, 1 assist). Murray mentioned Jones is intense to a fault at times and has plagued his psyche when it comes to scoring (see his penalty shot.) There’s no doubt the power forward is physically ready for the NHL but will need some time in San Diego to rediscover his finishing touch.

NHL Impact for Max and Max

Taking into consideration Murray’s desire to let players develop, as well as the number of players vying for roles in Anaheim, I put the over/under on games played by the Max brothers at 110. Forcing either to immediately step into a top 6 role is a route to avoid unless they are fully ready.

Coming full circle, this is where Ritchie’s presence looms large. He’s capable of playing on the second line next season and will be given an opportunity to show he can take a large Tom Wilson like step forward. Being able to fill that role, especially to start the year, allows Murray time to groom the two prized prospects.

As previously mentioned, Ritchie isn’t a lock to make the roster and the role could also be filled by someone like Kase. Once the season ends, Duck fans will be glued to Twitter to see what tricks GMBM has up his sleeve.

Other Youngsters

Isac Lundestrom and Sam Steel are the other two talents front-and-center in the prospect development department. There is an opening for a middle six forward, which Steel looks poised to assume.

Lunderstrom, on the other hand, should be given ample development time before extended NHL exposure. This season, he definitively showed the skills and hockey IQ required to be an NHL player. Conversely, playing in the Swedish Elite League since he was 16, he was relied on to provide steady defense and was not afforded the opportunity to develop his offensive abilities.

With the young Swede, the fear is rushing him to Anaheim would relegate his upside to a bottom 6 center. Lundestrom has the potential to become a second line pivot, so getting extended offensive minutes in San Diego or Sweden for the next season or two is on the agenda.

Sprong Song

Another prospect Murray could be alluding to handling their development patiently is Daniel Sprong. It’s easy to forget he’s only 21 years old. When he was scratched for 4 games prior to the trade deadline, speculation he may not be in the Duck’s future began to fester. His play since returning to the lineup should have put that notion to rest.

But, yet again, he was scratched after their March 5th, tilt with Arizona. While frustrating to see the young sniper in the press box, Murray needed to take precaution with a young player that lacks focus at times. In the game versus the Coyotes, Sprong was responsible for the ‘Yotes lone goal due to a horrific line change.

Needing waivers to be sent to San Diego, Murray has to rely on scratching the high-end talent to ensure he maximizes his potential. DS11 is an important piece in the Ducks future if he is developed properly.

Next. 2019 Draft Prospect Profile: Bowen Byram. dark

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