Just last week I wrote about the Anaheim Ducks looking into the idea of trading their recently confirmed 10th overall draft pick in the 2022 NHL entry level draft for a player or players. As a rule, the teams which have moved their pick to pick up a big name have lost out. The New Jersey Devils getting four quality seasons from Corey Schneider may have the best of the return in that vein in recent memory.
But what if the Ducks decided they wanted to move up in the draft? For example, when the Devils were slotted to pick 6th overall (based on end of year rankings) prior to the lottery, it was rumored that they would be willing to move that draft pick. What about now, being that they’re in the 2nd overall spot? First, is there a player that the Ducks think could be a key contributor to their franchise sitting available in the 2nd spot? If we’re all being honest, the Montreal Canadiens are going to pick Shane Wright with the first selection, so it would be up to the Ducks who else they could pick.
Amongst the forwards available Logan Cooley looks to be a good, if small, two-way pivot. However, after picking up Mason McTavish and having Trevor Zegras already on the ice, it’s tough argue the cost it would take to acquire the Devils pick on a guy who would likely sit in a third line spot if everything goes right. Juraj Slafkovsky is a big power forward which would be a point of difference to the Ducks current forward group, and he did have a really good Olympic tournament most recently. Matthew Savoie or Joakim Kemell both look to have some amazing goal scoring prowess but could potentially be nabbed at a later spot than 2nd overall.
On the blue line, Simon Nemec and David Jiricek are both nice looking defensemen who can put up a bunch of points from the back end. However, the Ducks have Jamie Drysdale and the older Cam Fowler locked up for the foreseeable future with Olen Zellweger on the way. The Ducks might need some players to put around them, but they don’t necessarily need to reach for the stars to get them. With Henry Thrun and co already in the fold, they may have these players already. Although talent always shines through.
The second question is what would the Ducks need to give up acquiring the 2nd overall selection? Given the trades for top-10 picks over the past two decades, the price could be steep. Most likely the Devil’s would be in the hunt for a big-name player such as Erik Karlsson or Matt Duchene (at the time of trade). At least these are the only times a top-5 pick has been traded since 2002. Without being snide, the Ducks simply don’t have a player who the Devil’s would want in this vein. Unless of course the Devil’s ignore John Gibson’s last three seasons and still pretend he’s the world beater he was back between 2016 and 2019. So that would likely mean a package of young players and picks.
Ducks fans won’t like hearing it, but the odds are that if the Devils were looking for picks and players, the first names on the list would be names such as Jamie Drysdale or other young players taken with high picks. Mason McTavish and Trevor Zegras would also come to mind. I don’t think I’m off base suggesting that most fans probably don’t want that, and it also doesn’t seem to fit the profile that the Ducks would want if they’re building around Zegras.
Another option would be some combination of Troy Terry, the Ducks 10th overall pick, and potentially something else. Would that be a worthy trade? I think most fans would say no and very likely Pat Verbeek would too. However, it probably isn’t the worst idea in the world if there is a guy they really like in this draft. Terry had an amazing season and could do no wrong, however it is just one season following three seasons as a part time player. Maybe he’s figured it out and this is who he is going forward. That, however, gives some cause to pause. Terry will be 25 before next season starts, which is the statistical high point in terms of goal scoring. Even if this past season is his new normal, statistically he only has 2-4 seasons left before he’s well outside of his scoring prime. The Ducks would like to think they’re a playoff team in the next four years, but are they a Cup contender? If the answer is unlikely, then trading up for a talent who is closer in age to their other recent high draft picks might be the smarter decision in terms of long-term benefits.
Nonetheless, the Ducks probably aren’t in a position that trading up in the draft is a move they need to make. This draft appears to be fairly even from 2-10 and the Ducks should pick up a decent player just by sitting where they already are. Their prospect pool is diverse so they don’t need to target any particular position and almost any position they could choose from would add to a decent stable. While they don’t need to trade out of their current position to add a player, they also don’t need to trade up to add to what they have. This might be one year that the Ducks would be better to just sit still and watch the chaos unfold around them.