Of course, as new things come in, old things are thrown away. It is only to the Ducks benefit if their new players supersede the old ones. Sonny Milano was once considered the savior of the Columbus franchise, and yet the Ducks picked him up for a song. Well, if you ignore the games we all suffered through Devin Shore that is. Nothing against Shore himself, it was just unlikely that he was going to stick from the get-go, and it was a sad day moving on from Cogliano. However, in Milano, they have a big ball of potential. Only 8 months older than Terry, Milano had never really got it together in Columbus and often ended up in the coaches dog house. Yet, in the 5 games he’s played in Anaheim colors, he’s hit 4 points (2 goals and 2 assists), and his underlying numbers are at least passable. Heinen is the other who has come into the team with some success upfront. Since arriving Heinen has played in excess of 22 minutes per game and has 3 points across those 4 games. His underlying numbers don’t really support his heavy usage, however, and the Ducks aren’t necessarily trying to win games today as much as they are attempting to define a direction for the upcoming seasons. If Heinen can make his mark, he’s a good chance of sticking around. If not, well, there is the expansion draft coming up.
On the back end, Matt Irwin has been a warm body they’ll be happy to move on from quickly, or rather he would be if the coach wasn’t playing him 22 minutes a night. Needless to say, he’s been as advertised. A slightly lesser version of Korbinian Holzer. On the flip side of that, Christian Djoos has been a real find. The signs are certainly there as to why the Capitals had moved on from him, but for a Ducks team starved for NHL defensemen, Djoos has been a gift from heaven. Since his arrival, he leads all Ducks defencemen in all metrics. All of them. Well not quite, but close enough to make the point. The question will be whether he remains after the expansion draft next year, yet there’s no doubt that on a healthy team he supersedes the Ducks current young players in Brendan Guhle and Josh Mahura. It would not surprise to see a Djoos-Larsson third pairing next season.
What then does this all mean? Quite frankly it doesn’t mean much. These players who have come on strong and superseded the Ducks youth are all discards from stronger teams with cup fancies. It doesn’t mean that they’re not good players, conversely, most of them are solid players in their own rights. They’re not necessarily players that you build cup winning teams around, however. That is the crux of the argument for the Ducks moving forward. They need to acquire talent that forces these players out of the lineup. The coming entry draft is one such occasion they may be able to do this and with a potential top 3 pick on the cards, it seems likely that one of the current young players will be pushed out of the team. If the Ducks do as well to pick up Drysdale, then it would seem that Larsson, Guhle, and Mahura will be surplus to needs and shifted out-of-town. If the Ducks draft Byfield or Holtz, then one of the forwards will likely be sent packing. Should the Ducks draft #1 overall…. well then, the world might just be their oyster.
Nonetheless, what is certain is that the false hope from the seasons’ start has been washed away. The hype of Sam Steel being a potential Calder candidate is laughably in the rear vision mirror. The picture that Terry would be a big-time player has been shoved to the side. All that is certain is that change has come and will continue to come. The Ducks as they are can no longer continue to pretend that they have a team that requires only but a few tweaks. Or should I say that Ducks fans can no longer pretend this is the case.
The Anaheim Ducks organization itself has made the moves necessary to begin a necessary rebuild. The next 15 games are going to hurt, and the 82 after that will likely hurt just as much, as will the 82 after that. However, biting the bullet, ripping the band-aid off, burning the crops, salting the earth, and poisoning the wells will undoubtedly benefit the Ducks in future years. If those games are as fun as the recent Avalanche game, it’ll be a worthwhile endeavor. It’s time to become draft watchers, for that is where a new hope lies. Also, after watching MacKinnon end Ryan Getzlaf’s career the other night, we may need a new captain as well. Just some food for thought.
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