The impending Expansion Draft might be two summers away, but it’s not too early for the Anaheim Ducks to start mapping out a plan of action. Who should they protect and who should they expose?
You’ve no doubt heard that the Anaheim Ducks are due for a rebuild. After being amongst the top teams for over half a decade, the curtain is being drawn upon their Stanley Cup dreams, at least for the moment.
Rebuilds, or re-tools, to use the modern lexicon, are often fraught with danger and risk. Look towards the Edmonton Oilers who floundered their way through what felt like a decade long rebuild, selecting the #1 overall pick again and again, before finally getting out of their own way long enough to luck into Connor McDavid. While the Oilers are a worst-case scenario that critics of bottoming out may use in the same way that critics of clean energy criticize nuclear power plants, it does highlight that building a team from the very bottom can be an arduous task. Yet, this is a path the Ducks will soon have to take.
A further wrinkle for the Anaheim Ducks in their bid to build a team that can once more take them back to relevance amongst the league’s giants is the upcoming Expansion Draft which is scheduled for June 2021. At this time, the city of Seattle will begin to play host to an NHL team. An NHL team, that will also play in the Ducks’ Pacific Division.
Certainly, many things can happen with that two-year time frame, however, planning should begin now if it hasn’t already begun. The players the Anaheim Ducks deem surplus to needs, will be a topic of discussion as the draft draws closer. Particularly given the events surrounding the relatively recent Expansion Draft in which the Vegas Golden Knights came into the league.
Looking back to that draft see’s the Ducks giving up talented young defenceman, Shea Theodore, so that Golden Knights would take Clayton Stoner‘s contract off their hands. This move allowed the Ducks to protect Cam Fowler, Josh Manson, Hampus Lindholm, and Sami Vatanen, while keeping a similarly young talented defenceman, Brandon Montour, in the fold. Fast forward a few years later until today and the Ducks are short a number of top defencemen after Vatanen and Montour were also traded away.
The Anaheim Ducks will want to ensure that this time around they maintain the strengths that they have. Yet, the situation is different. Back then, the Ducks were on the tail end of being a Conference Final, Stanley Cup, contender, filled with talent across their line-up. Fast forward 2 years, and it is very likely the Ducks will be immersed in a rebuild, and talent will be in short supply, but ‘potential’ could be everywhere. So, given the state of play today, who will they try to protect then?