The Top 6 Of The Future
With the bottom-6 group lined up, the Ducks now need to fill in top-6 roster positions. For the next few years, Adam Henrique, Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg, and Ryan Getzlaf, will all command top-6 roster slots. Though over the next 3 seasons all of these players, bar Rakell, will likely be moved on. In the short term, Danton Heinen and Sonny Milano will likely be afforded the opportunity to show that they should remain Ducks.
Given their relative youth, it is possible that they do command these positions, though they would not likely cut the mustard on a cup contending team in those roles. It isn’t to say it cannot be done with them, but the Ducks should be aiming higher.
Trevor Zegras will eventually slide into the mix, and he could easily be moved between a wing (which I believe him to be better suited to in the NHL) and his regular center position. There’s no reason to think he couldn’t switch in and out with regularity until he’s established himself as dominant in one of those positions.
This season the Anaheim Ducks will also likely draft another top-6 player with the 6th overall draft selection, be it Marco Rossi, Anton Lundell, Alexander Holtz, or another prime time player. When Rakell is included in the mix, the Ducks need only find three more top 6 players and they have time and means to do so.
Potential Lineup Ideas
In this early stage of planning the rebuild the Anaheim Ducks could easily pencil in a line up that looks something like:
It’s a really nice looking line-up. Where the Ducks go from here though is up for debate. Silfverberg is still a productive player, and at worst is a strong two-way threat. While we would be looking into the future and Silfverberg may be considered older, he isn’t necessarily a goal scorer who is going to lose his offensive output in the way a traditional sniper would.
He could easily fit on the Rakell-Lundell line above for the foreseeable future. After all, if Justin Williams can continue playing into his 70’s, then surely Silf can still be useful at 33 years of age. However, should the Anaheim Ducks decide the risk is too great and that they truly want to reach for the stars, then Silfverberg and his teammate Henrique could be flipped for draft selections anywhere from the late first-round through to the early third-round. They’re both productive players and both currently under 30 years of age.
Dan Heinen and Sonny Milano both have uncertain futures with the Ducks. Heinen is the standard “two-way” power forward that the Anaheim Ducks like to have on their roster. However, with Jones and Comtois both being homegrown players with cheaper contracts, and both taking middle-6 “two-way” power forward roles, Heinen could easily be seen as surplus needs moving forward.
It would behoove the Ducks to move him for a future draft pick, thus mitigating the chance of losing a forward player in the expansion draft. Milano has long been touted as an offensive player, tantalizing with his skills. Yet to date, he has scored at only a slightly greater rate than Troy Terry. While the Ducks would enjoy his speed, at 24-years of age, Milano may have reached the peak of his offensive prowess. His defensive liabilities could be overlooked should he score with aplomb, however, this has yet to be the case yet given his 0.38 point per game pace as evidence. The Anaheim Ducks may be best to dangle Milano as trade bait.
Given Steel and Groulx are our preferred centers for the 3rd and 4th lines, Lundestrom will be the center prospect left over. Given his relative youth and high draft billing, the Duck could consider flipping him for a draft pick, and once more, mitigating the risk of losing a player to expansion for nothing. One consideration would be to enter discussions with Seattle regarding them acquiring Lundestrom and perhaps Milano, for a late first-round selection or a second-round selection, with the agreement that they then select a player the Ducks do not necessarily require moving forward.