My 3 Wishes for the Anaheim Ducks 2019 Off-Season

ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 5: Wild Wing amps up the crowd prior to the game between the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings on April 5, 2019 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - APRIL 5: Wild Wing amps up the crowd prior to the game between the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings on April 5, 2019 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images) /
Anaheim Ducks
ANAHEIM, CA – APRIL 05: Anaheim Ducks players react after center Carter Rowney (24) scored a gaol in the first period of a game against the Los Angeles Kings played on April 5, 2019 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA. (Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Anaheim Ducks have a lot of unanswered questions entering the 2019 off-season, no head-coach, veteran players whose playing future is in question, a logjam on the wing, and no real plan of succession down the middle.

The 2018-19 Anaheim Ducks season was a disappointment, almost the entire team underperformed, the Ducks finished with the 8th worst record in the league and we saw more regression from some of the Ducks veterans players. Here’s my wish list for the off-season to try and make next season better than the last.

Hire a Head Coach Who Is Not Part of the “Old Boy’s Club”

The NHL has a habit (which I consider a problem) of not being able to move on from dinosaurs. We see it time and time again when a head coach is “relieved of his duties”, we see the same names listed as potential replacements over and over despite mixed results by doing so. We’re at the crossroads of a new era in the NHL, built around speed, skill and almost blurring the lines between traditional positions and players who play multiple positions. We see coaches like Randy Carlyle who can’t seem to grasp the new era and rest on their laurels and what worked in the “good old days” but it doesn’t work anymore and if you can’t adjust your team isn’t going to last. Yes we can see some coaches come in and buck that trend but I’d argue that it’s more because of who they have on their teams rather than their coaching style (but that’s an article for another day)

My first wish is that we don’t fall into that same trap, that we don’t follow suit with the Kings and Flyers and hire guys who were once great but have had trouble adapting to the new NHL. I want to see Bob Murray learn from the mistakes he made with Randy Carlyle and bring in some new blood. Initially, I wanted that to be Rikard Grönborg, but his recent signing as head coach of the ZSC Lions in Sweden dashed those hopes. It leaves the likes of a Lane Lambert, a Dallas Eakins, or similar. I’d even be willing to give a chance to a coach like Kirk Muller, Kevin Dineen or a college coach like Scott Sandelin or Nate Leaman. Just don’t give us more of the same, please.

Anaheim Ducks
BUFFALO, NY – APRIL 02: Buffalo Sabres left wing Jeff Skinner (53) scores goal past Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne (35) during the Nashville Predators and Buffalo Sabres NHL game on April 2, 2019, at KeyBank Center in Buffalo, NY. (Photo by John Crouch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Don’t Sign Any High Profile Free-Agents (Except maybe one)

When you look at the list of upcoming free agents there are some extremely notable names. Erik Karlsson, Jordan Eberle, Matt Duchene, Artemi Panarin, Kevin Hayes. All very highly touted players who have been key pieces to the teams they’ve been on for quite some time. Karlsson is considered one of, if not the best defenseman in the league, Artemi Panarin can score like nobodies business and Duchene is a rare talent at the center ice position. So why don’t I want to target any of these players?

Age mainly. Most of these players are veterans to the NHL, they’ve played a ton of games and have a lot of mileage on them. They’re all looking for their biggest pay-days to date and what could be their last huge payday. The youngest among the top 30ish UFA’s is 27 and while they still have a lot of hockey to give, they are all in, or near the end of their prime, it’s plausible to say that some of these players have seen their best playing days already and it could be downhill from there. For a team that has seen the effects of paying someone in their prime, and suffering once they exit it with Ryan Kesler, and I don’t want to see them make that mistake again.

There’s one player I would make an exception for however and think the Ducks should be all-in on, and that’s Jeff Skinner. He’s 27 years old and could be the natural goal-scorer that the Ducks have looked for, for so very long. Coming off a career-high 40 goals (Although his 4th 30 goal season) he won’t be cheap, but with the draft being littered with playmakers and not a ton of true goal scorers Jeff Skinner could be the Ducks best option, although I don’t think he’ll make it to the market, I see him re-signing in Buffalo.

Anaheim Ducks
KELOWNA, BC – DECEMBER 01: Kirby Dach #77 of the Saskatoon Blades skates against the Kelowna Rockets at Prospera Place on December 1, 2018 in Kelowna, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images) /

Draft a Center with 9th Overall and a Defender with 29th Overall.

The Ducks have some promising prospects on offense and defense, they have a lot of players who are projected to be at the very least, every-day NHLers. But looking at their prospect pool over-all, there’s not really any “THE guy” style guys out there. There’s not a prospect in the pool that I’d be comfortable calling the future of this team, I don’t particularly see a Ryan Getzlaf or Hampus Lindholm among them, and that’s not a knock on them or Bob Murray’s drafting, it’s incredibly rare that the Ducks draft in the top 10, even the top 20. The Ducks are almost always in the 20-30 range with their picks and (understandably) finding franchise cornerstones in the second half of the first round is not easy. The Ducks have a lot of good guys, don’t get me wrong but I don’t consider any in the current crop as a legit blue-chip prospect, the last one of those Anaheim had was Hampus Lindholm who was selected with the 6th overall pick.

I want to see the Ducks pick the best forward available 9th overall, the reason being the Ducks need a true blue-chip prospect badly. While the Ducks defensive corps are fairly well off for the next couple years with 3 D-Men 27 or under who are signed for the next 3 years. But with Getzlaf aging, Adam Henrique turning 30 and not much else there at center, the Ducks could badly use a center to build the team around in a couple of years. One of Alex Turcotte, Peyton Krebs, Dylan Cozens, Trevor Zegras, or Kirby Dach should be available at 9th overall (With Bowen Byram, Cole Caufield, Matthew Boldy, Jack Hughes, Kaapo Kakko rounding out the top 10 prospects in my opinion, and 3 of them all but a lock to be gone before 9th overall)

The Ducks have done well drafting defensemen late in the first round and there’s plenty to choose from this year. The Ducks drafting at forward in the late first is less impressive and that’s why I think the Ducks should draft a forward with their first pick and a defender with their second.

Those are my 3 wishes for the 2019 Ducks Off-Season, what are yours? Let us know in the comments below or on twitter!

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