There are roughly four months to go before training camp opens, and while the Anaheim Ducks haven’t been on the hockey map since the regular season wound down, their fun has yet to get started. Here are three items, predictions even, that may come over the summer.
1. Hiring a new coaching staff
Let’s start with the most obvious one. Recently the Ducks let go of the entire staff for their AHL team in San Diego, and while the official news was the Ducks going in a different direction, a recent interview with David Weiss in Montreal (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjG-fFQ_vW0) paints a grim portrait of Bouchard as a developmental coach. One mans interview certainly doesn’t account for everything about a person, but it would showcase the Ducks wanting to move in a different direction in the future.
Again, a big if, but “if” this is true, then a change in developmental process should be cause for celebration for the Ducks faithful. Over the past decade, the Ducks have been considered to be a strong drafting team. Despite this seemingly strong history, they don’t have many players who have become more than role players, despite their junior hype. Isac Lundestrom, Sam Steel, and Jacob Larsson are prominent names leading this list. Conversely, there are many players who have excelled but only did so after they left the nest. Shea Theodore, Marcus Pettersson, and Kyle Palmieri lead this list. But there’s no need to debate this point to death just now.
It is worth mentioning that current Ducks head coach, Dallas Eakins, has a part to play in that development curve given that he was the AHL coach for four seasons. However, the road to success takes many small steps and this AHL coaching change is the first of those in a new system for General Manager Pat Verbeek. The Ducks will have numerous young prospects entering the AHL system over the next couple of seasons, should they use even half of their draft picks in these next few drafts. These prospects will likely play with current older drafted prospects such as Brayden Tracey and Jacob Perreault, and the recently acquired Drew Helleson.
Developing these players so that they may come into the top men’s league with developed bodies, an NHL skill level, and the tactical knowledge to implement it, is a key platform for any successful championship team. One only has to look at the Tampa Bay Lightning to see the players they’ve seemingly pulled from nowhere in the draft and molded them into elite NHL players. A new coaching staff may not be as exciting as acquiring a new players, however, this could be the most impactful decision of Verbeek’s tenure with the Ducks no matter how long he stays. It’s one thing to talk about the future and another entirely to actively work and build towards it. We should all be on the edge of our seats waiting to see what happens in this space.