So, What Now?
Assuming the Ducks are eyeing off that two-to-four-year window, what else is in store for us fans? Personally, while many of the moves made in recent days were likely necessary, they may not necessarily drive upward movement in the standings, outside of Helleson, should he turn it on as a top-4 defenseman. Thus from here, I’d expect two things.
1. Further trades. If Verbeek and the Ducks brass, are planning a very real rebuild, then they may not have gone far enough yet. I would anticipate all of the players currently over 24-years-old to be progressively moved off the team over the next two seasons. Rickard Rakell is the obvious first of these to go, and as a current UFA, it’s likely he’ll be moved soon after this article goes to press. Sonny Milano has had a resurgence this past season hitting career highs at 25-years-old. He’ll be turning 29 in four season’s time, and even should he follow up this season’s scoring next year, he’ll be on the downward trend by the time the Ducks are turning it on. Henrique, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Jakob Silfverberg will likely be shifted as their contracts near the end, and John Gibson’s destiny is anyone’s guess. Although the Ducks do already have their future goaltender in the fold, so it may simply be a matter of waiting for him to emerge as an NHL option.
2. I strongly believe that the Ducks will parlay some of the draft capital they’ve acquired in recent days into young players in the 20-to-23-year-old age backet. If 2nd round picks in the 2023 draft won’t drive the Ducks success, goal scoring players like the Ducks rumored trade target Dominik Kubalik just might. One player who might be intriguing to Pat Verbeek, is Filip Zadina. He’s not at all come on strong since he’s entered the NHL but has significant draft pedigree and obviously was a player for the Detroit Red Wings while Pat Verbeek was there. Would a swap of the higher scoring, but similar aged, Max Comtois and some of that draft capital be enough to pry Zadina away from the Red Wings? Does Verbeek believe he has enough upside to warrant such a trade? Nonetheless, whether at this trade deadline, or anytime between the upcoming NHL draft and next season’s, I would envisage the Ducks turning the recently acquired picks into players to who will fit the timeline the Ducks appear to be travelling upon.
What is certain, is that the 2022 trade deadline was the start of the road for the Ducks departure on an earnest rebuild. The new GM signaled his intentions by trading some fan favorites and ensuring that there could be no debate as to what the team was looking to achieve in the short term. His career from here, will likely reflect that of the franchise he’s been seen fit to lead. Should the Ducks succeed, the school of Stevie Y will continue to flourish, and Verbeek will be considered a master architect. Should the Ducks never truly rebuild and end up as the USA version of the Oilers, then it will be a far less rosy outcome for all involved.
**Statistics primarily collected from naturalstattrick. Player information such as age etc, was gathered from puckpedia.**