The 2021 NHL Draft will consist of many top-end defenders, but in 2022 the focus should shift back to scoring depth. 2022 prospects include two highly touted players in Shane Wright and Brad Lambert, who are both seen as generational talents (think 2015 draft), to go along with Jack Hughes, Noah Greuter, and Matthew Savoie. There is also a good share of defensive prospects too, including players such as Seasmus Casey and Elias Salomonsson, so if the Ducks were able to get multiple first-round picks in this draft it could go along way in developing a strong core for the future.
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Should the team still be in a rebuild, Bob Murray would have a great opportunity to continue to acquire draft capital, with Rickard Rakell, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Nic Deslauriers, and Kodie Curran all currently lined up to be UFAs at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season. Obviously, a lot can happen between now and then, maybe some of these players are already gone, but there would be a great opportunity to build draft stock by moving these players.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are a perfect example of a team that is willing to spend to finalize a championship team, as they shipped two first-round picks for Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman. Both Goodrow and Coleman are good players in their own rights, but if a team is willing to pay first-rounders for bottom six players, guys like Rakell and Lindholm would likely bring in a similar to better haul.
At this point, the Ducks would have to commit to the rebuild, and with the contracts expiring in two short years, it could be tough to convince players to resign on a struggling team. While the trades may not be popular at the time, they could still be the best course of action.
Right now, Bob Murray is committed to icing a competitive team, even after two down years, a rebuild is not of interest for the Ducks GM. However, there are a lot of things that need to go right for the team to make it back to the playoffs. Without any cap space, Murray is going to be banking on the younger Ducklings to take the step that most fans are clamoring for under coach Dallas Eakins.
However, should the plan not take place as soon as this year, there could be a major opportunity missed. With many of the important veterans on the roster coming up on contract years, many may decide to move on from the team should they still not be competitive. Doing this could eventually cause the Ducks to lose many of these players for nothing should critical decisions be made.
Looking at the next couple of drafts, Bob Murray is likely better off looking towards the future and continue to construct the team’s young core, giving the team an opportunity to go back to the consistency the team saw throughout the 2010s.
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