Free Agency opens today, and with an extra $4 million dollars, the Anaheim Ducks have quite a few decent options to address two major needs.
This season has been an interesting one for Anaheim Ducks fans. By the time hockey returns, it will be almost nine months since the boys have stepped foot onto the ice at Honda Center. However, with a new Stanley Cup Champion crowned and the NHL Draft complete, it’s time to start planning for the 2020-21 season.
Prior to yesterday, the Anaheim Ducks had less than $500k in cap space. However, a trade that saw Erik Gudbranson go to the Ottawa Senators gives the Anaheim Ducks a little leg room to sign a player or two in free agency.
It remains to be seen whether or not Bob Murray will be active on day one of free agency or stand by and twiddle his thumbs. Regardless, at some point, he has to address their needs. As it stands, their two biggest needs at the moment are a backup goaltender and a right-handed defenseman. There are several great options in both categories and they hit the open market later today.
2020 Free Agency
"2020 Free Agency Opens: October 9, 2020Time: 9 am PST/12 pm ESTAnaheim Ducks Projected Cap Space: $4,470,001Roster Size: 20/23"
The Anaheim Ducks’ most urgent need going into free agency is signing a backup goaltender. Ryan Miller‘s contract is off the books, and the Ducks are in desperate need of a solid backup. There are several viable options on the open market going into free agency. Granted, there are a lot of goaltenders the Anaheim Ducks logically cannot afford, but it doesn’t hurt to take a look.
Ryan Miller: Miller has spent the last three seasons with the Anaheim Ducks. Although he is already 40-years old, he has been a solid backup for the Ducks since 2017-18. He has been an incredible mentor for John Gibson and likely for Lukas Dostal, Roman Durney, and Olle Eriksson Ek. Re-signing him shouldn’t be an issue if the Ducks want to get it done. He has expressed his desire to stay in Southern California should he remain in the NHL. However, with the circumstances and questions surrounding next season, he has also been upfront and honest about the fact that he does not know if he will return.
Anton Khudobin: Dobby seems to be headed to the open market after a stellar playoff performance with the Dallas Stars. The rumor is that he refused the Stars qualifying offer, so could the former Duck be an option once again? Granted, after his incredible performance with the Stars in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he could be a little too expensive for the Anaheim Ducks, but that .930% save percentage and his 2.22 goals-against average makes him a pretty tantalizing option. Gibson and Dobby could be an incredible duo.
Jacob Markstrom: Markstrom could be a decent option for the Anaheim Ducks. He is durable and for the most part, reliable. Plus, he’s Swedish, so he already fits the Bob Murray narrative. This past season was his best in a while as far as save percentage and quality starts. That may also be in large part to the moves the Canucks made in free agency to improve their team and elite defenseman Quinn Hughes. However, overall, if he is willing to take a step back, Markstrom could become a solid backup.
Corey Crawford: It seems as though the Chicago Blackhawks and Corey Crawford are both in agreement that it’s time to move on. Crawford seems to be right up Murray’s alley as a former Blackhawk and two-time cup winning goaltender. The Canadian net-minder has had a pretty decent career. He might be the more expensive option, and he may not be ready to take a step back from the limelight, but he and Gibson could make magic happen in Anaheim.
Anthony Stolarz: Honestly, this option makes the most sense to me. He had a pretty good year with the Gulls last season and he’s already in their system. Kevin Boyle has yet to be resigned, so this could be a good chance for the Gulls to trial Olle Eriksson Ek. They’d more than likely still have to sign another AHL goaltender, but that would be more affordable than any of the above options.
Right Handed Defenseman
Currently, the Anaheim Ducks only have one right-handed defenseman signed to their team. This presents a bit of an issue for Dallas Eakins and co. There are a few in-house options. Cam Fowler could continue to play on the right side; he had one of his best seasons spending a good chunk of the year on the right side.
Kodie Curran can also transition to the right-side as well. Hunter Drew is a right-handed defenseman, but if he is ready for the NHL remains to be seen. Nevertheless, a lot of fans want to see the Ducks bring in another RHD, and they are justified in their thinking.
Anthony DeAngelo: There is a lot of controversy surrounding Anthony DeAngelo the person. However, in my opinion, Anthony DeAngelo the player makes a lot of sense for the Anaheim Ducks. He is one of the younger RHD entering free agency this year, at only 24-years-old. While he’s on the smaller side, he is an offensively minded defenseman who has good vision, skates well, and can quarterback a power play. He has 53 points with the New York Rangers in 2019-20 which is more than any of the players on the Ducks roster last year.
Kevin Shattenkirk: Last season, the Anaheim Ducks were said to have been pursuing Shattenkirk prior to him signing with the Lightning. Now, he’s back on the open market and could be a good option for the Ducks. The puck-moving two-way defenseman is a reliable option. He could be a great asset for the Ducks and their struggling power play. Despite his age, he can still produce offensively, putting up 34 points in his 2019-20 campaign with Tampa Bay and 13 points in their Stanley Cup run.
More from Free Agency
- Anaheim Ducks Say Farewell to a few San Diego Gulls via Free Agency
- The Anaheim Ducks Re-sign Brandon Montour for Two More Years
- Anaheim Ducks Sign Stay-at-Home Defenseman Luke Schenn
- Do the Anaheim Ducks and Jakob Silfverberg have a future together?
- Sunday Editorial: Anaheim Ducks Have Decisions to Make this Week (so do you)
Sami Vatanen: Sami has a history with the Ducks; Bob Murray knows what he’s getting with this player. His injury history might make him an affordable option for the Ducks, but it could also keep Murray from pursuing him. His possession numbers last season weren’t stellar, but he is a decent, affordable, second pairing option and could benefit the power play.
Tyson Barrie: The Tyson Barrie experiment in Toronto didn’t exactly work out as planned. However, it was just a few years ago that he was considered to be one of the best defensemen in the league. In his final two seasons with the Av’s he posted 57 and 59 points respectably. Even during this past season, he posted 39 points in Toronto. He could be an offensive asset to the Ducks blueline should Bob Murray take a chance on him. A Fowler-Barrie pairing could be intriguing. And, not to beat a dead horse, the Ducks need serious help on the power play, and if he returns to form, Barrie could be a weapon on the PP unit.
Chris Tanev: Tanev wants to stay in Vancouver, but the question is, does Vancouver want him to stay? He is another player, like Sami, who’s injury history makes him a questionable acquisition. However, the stay-at-home defenseman’s style of game screams Bob Murray.
Are you a passionate Anaheim Ducks fan that loves reading Pucks of a Feather? If so, we would love to have you on board as a contributor! Just follow the link above for more information on how to join the crew.