Josh Manson is perhaps a little more difficult to discuss. It feels like he’s a player who is always on and off the injured reserve list. He played in 45 of the Ducks 62 games (before he was traded) this season, in 20 of 56 last season, and 50 of 71 the season prior. For a player who will be 31 before next season starts, it’s an injury risk that the Ducks seemingly couldn’t see themselves committing to.
Nonetheless, when healthy, Manson was considered a top-4 defenseman on the team. Over the past two seasons, his minutes primarily came alongside Cam Fowler, reflecting his top-4 status. As a rule, this pairing was one of the Ducks better pairings over the stated time frame, with on-ice results equating to positive CF%/60, GF%/60, SCF%/60 and HDCF%/60 numbers. Individually, this past season, Manson led the team in CA/60, GA/60, and was 2nd on the team for xGA/60, amongst defensemen with at least 10 games played. All of which he did sitting around a 99.5% PDO.
That is to suggest that the Ducks did move on from a bona fide top-4 defensive player and one who was amongst the team leaders on the defensive side of the puck. Given the Ducks sit 19th in the league, and give up 3.11 goals per game, it’s easy to imagine them slipping further away in the goals against category in the short term.
However, if age and injuries wasn’t a concern for the Ducks, Manson being incapable of playing with their younger players might have been. Despite playing few minutes with the Ducks younger defensive players, including Jamie Drysdale and Jacob Larsson, Manson’s results were simply subpar. His minutes, primarily coming last season, contributed to one of the poorest debut seasons (statistically) for a debut defenseman in years. Given that the Ducks GM has flagged a rebuild, it’s unlikely that Manson would have performed well in the future based on the results he’s show us with the younger players so far.
When presented with everything, it’s easy to imagine that the Ducks chose short term pain over what may hurt in the future.