Free Agency is full of hard goodbyes, and the Anaheim Ducks are having to say farewell to a few of their San Diego Gulls.
The Entry Draft and Free Agency are two of the most exciting events of the NHL offseason. This is every team’s chance to welcome new faces into their organization that could help them achieve the ultimate goal of raising the Stanely Cup. Rather than welcoming new players into the fold, however, the Anaheim Ducks are saying goodbye to a few of their AHL players, and we want to wish them the best of luck on their new venture.
Ben Street Joins the New Jersey Devils
The Anaheim Ducks signed Ben Street via free agency in 2018. He was one of Bob Murray‘s “rehabilitation” projects, and although he had one of his best seasons in the NHL to date, things didn’t quite work out for Street with the big club and he was sent down the 5 to play for the San Diego Gulls.
Things completely turned around for him in San Diego and he became a great asset for the Anaheim Ducks AHL affiliate. In 32 games, the veteran forward posted 26 points during the regular season. To add to that, he became an important piece in their Calder Cup run, posting 11 points in 16 games. Not only did he have a great season with the Gulls as far as point production goes, but he offered the team valuable veteran leadership that the younger players needed.
Although it would have been nice to see him join the Gulls again in 2019-20, the New Jersey Devils have swooped in during free agency and have signed Street to a two-way contract worth $750,000 ($425,000 at the AHL level.) Ben Street is a depth signing for the New Jersey Devils, but it is likely he will join the Binghamton Devils as a source of veteran leadership. Plus, he’s proven to be a very valuable AHL player and the Devil’s AHL affiliate is in need of a player like Street.
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Jake Dotchin Joins the St. Louis Blues
The Anaheim Ducks signed Jake Dotchin prior to the 2018-19 season after the Tampa Bay Lightning let him go due to a breach in his contract. So, Bob Murray decided to take a chance on the gritty defenseman. Over the course of 40 games, Dotchin split his season between the Anaheim Ducks and the San Diego Gulls.
It seemed as though he spent more time in the sin bin than he did on the ice, accumulating 107 PIM between the two teams. However, while he was not reliable offensively, Dotchin could get things done defensively when he wanted to. Unfortunately, when he returned to the Gulls, he was outshined by his fellow defenseman and by the time the playoffs rolled around, he found himself on the bench more often than not.
When it came time for the Ducks to make a decision regarding his status with the team, they did not extend a qualifying offer to Jake Dotchin. This is not a huge surprise, but the good news is, the defending Stanely Cup Champions see potential in him and are willing to take a risk.
For the 2019-20 season, Dotchin will be joining the St. Louis Blues after signing a one-year two-way contract for $700,000. He can add some physicality to their blueline which will be helpful when they play teams like Boston, who are unlikely to back down after St. Louis defeated them in the finals. There is potential for him to be reliable on the back end if he learns to be a little more responsible.
Jaycob Megna Joins the Vegas Golden Knights
Jaycob Megna was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the 7th round (210th overall) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. After his three seasons in the NCAA (one played prior to the draft), Megna joined the Ducks AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals, and eventually the San Diego Gulls.
Over the past 4 seasons, Megna has been a staple of the San Diego Gulls roster. His exceptional leadership qualities earned him the role as captain this past season, and he led the team to the third round of the Calder Cup Playoffs.
However, due to the Anaheim Ducks depth on the blueline over the past few years with players like Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Cam Fowler, Sami Vatanen, Shea Theodore, and Brandon Montour, Megna was never given the opportunity to make the transition into the NHL.
He has played 43 games with the Anaheim Ducks over the past few seasons. He has shown flashes of brilliance but was never given the opportunity to really thrive at the NHL level. At the age of 26, his window to being a full-time NHLer was quickly coming to a close. So, being a Group 6 Unrestricted Free Agent at the end of the season, he really needed to consider what his next step was.
As it turns out, Megna really wanted the opportunity to play in the NHL and he knew it was unlikely he would be given the opportunity if he stayed with the Ducks. It was announced that Megna has signed a contract with the Vegas Golden Knights worth $700,000. The Knights are currently looking for a player to slot in as either their 6th or 7th defenseman, and with both his leadership qualities and talent, it would be no surprise if we see Megna dressing up with VGK full-time next season.
Andy Welinski Joins the Philidelphia Flyers
Andy Welinski joined the Anaheim Ducks prospect pool via the 3rd round (83rd overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Much like Megna, Welinski fell victim to the depth already found on the Anaheim Ducks blueline and, at the age of 26, has yet to make the full time leap into the NHL. He spent quite a bit of time with the Ducks during the 2018-19 season, but unfortunately, there were a few prospects who stood out more than he did.
Nevertheless, he had a rather decent season with the San Diego Gulls, playing 27 games and registering 19 points. His time with the big club seemed to build his confidence and help him improve different areas, mostly physically, of his game that would be useful if he were to ever make it in the NHL.
Again, like Megna, he became a Group 6 Restricted Free Agent (a free agent who is 25 or older and has had 3 years of professional experience at either an AHL or NHL level but has played less than 80 NHL games.) With his time to become an NHL player running out, it came as no surprise that Andy Welinski decided to test the market.
The Philidelphia Flyers made the choice to take a chance on the 26-year-old right-handed defenseman. Currently, the Flyers have several defensemen that are already signed with the club, but it is unlikely at this point that they will make the leap into the NHL.
This opens up a big opportunity for Welinski to add depth to a team that is hoping to make it into the playoffs this next season after an incredibly difficult 2018-19. He has been signed to a one year contract worth $750,000 and it would not be surprising to see him on the ice when Philly comes to town in December.
While it is sad to see these four players leave the Anaheim Ducks and San Diego Gulls, we’re excited for where this journey will take them next. They may be on opposing teams, but we wish them the best of luck and hope they find what they’re looking for!