2.) Looking at the start of the 2020-2021 season, do you see this team making a run for a Stanley Cup Playoff spot, or are they one or two years away from returning to the playoffs?
Ben Thomasian: Probably not, no, and also no to the following 1-2 seasons. They’ll get worse over the next 3 years as their prime movers get older and players of Troy Terry‘s age bracket don’t sufficiently fill the gap. Kevin Shattenkirk makes them better this year, but better enough to make the big show…? It’s possible, but I don’t think quite enough.
They’re doing the budget version of Karlsson to San Jose, and we know how that turned out. When prospects like Trevor Zegras come into maturity as players they will likely have a chance at the postseason again, but that will be determined by whether they continue to add players around him of the same ilk and age bracket, or if they attempt to chase a playoff berth and give up on rebuilding with an aim for a cup win one day down the track.
Garrett Brown: The goal is to be as competitive as possible, as it should be. The aim is the playoffs (and the added revenue that comes with it), and without sounding overly biased, I think there is an outside chance at that happening.
Let’s consider for a second that the Anaheim Ducks were only 5 points away from making the playoffs last year (11 in a normal playoff format). The ground to make up is not completely out of the realm of possibility.
Let’s also consider the (small) additions that Murray has recently made. Kevin Shattenkirk boosts a defensive corps and instills confidence in a lowly powerplay. Christian Djoos also adds some much-needed depth to a defense that will hopefully make life on John Gibson easier.
Derek Grant adds #Elite1C effectiveness to a growing, improving forward group. I, for one, also believe that Troy Terry is bound to take major steps, along with Maxime Comtois, Max Jones, and Sam Steel. It’s fair to say that the Ducks could show improvement in every position group next year.
Considering the requirements to make the playoffs (especially in a potentially altered regular season), the Ducks do have some divisional ground to make up. Vegas is sure to be in, and Edmonton is always a dark horse and seems to have had a strong offseason. Vancouver also appears to have a strong chance of clinching. Barring any surprises, the Ducks will be in a dog fight with a handful of other teams.
Brad Senecal: I think the Ducks could very unlikely sneak into the playoffs this year, but they are not close to contending. Vegas, Edmonton, and Calgary will likely be at the top of the Pacific Division. Vancouver had its fair share of losses this offseason but still hold the talent where they will be a postseason favorite. That leaves the Anaheim Ducks competing with Arizona, Los Angeles, and San Jose, along with four teams from the strong Central Division.
The Coyotes I believe will take a big step backward, barring their young talent emerging. The Kings should improve this season with their loaded prospect pool beginning to push for roster spots. The Sharks are still very intriguing with their big-money talent. I believe they are still a year or two away, but the Ducks could surprise many and make the playoffs. However, they also could finish at the bottom of the division.
Ciara Durant: As much as I would love to answer this question with a resounding yes, I don’t see how it’s possible. Yes, Bob Murray has made it clear that he believes this team can compete, and I suppose his acquisition of Shattenkirk was the evidence to back up his claims. Nevertheless, I don’t believe Shattenkirk is going to fix all of the Anaheim Ducks glaring issues.
Unless Shattenkirk can outscore every single player on his new team, and as a veteran defenseman, the chances of that happening are slim to none. Sure, he will improve the blueline, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that Dallas Eakins doesn’t seem to understand how to coach his defense.
Derek Grant is back, and maybe that counts for something, but, like Shattenkirk, he doesn’t really fix any issues. In fact, as much as we love Elite 1 C, he may be adding to them (please do not come for my head!)
I genuinely believe the Anaheim Ducks’ focus should be building through the draft. Trevor Zegras, Jamie Drysdale, Lukas Dostal, and Jacob Perreault are all a good start. However, taking into consideration the competition, the possibility of a shortened season, division realignments, and everything else, Anaheim making the playoffs this season, and even the season after, seems illogical. It’s certainly not impossible, but it’s not a realistic goal for the franchise.