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In this edition of the hotstove, we share our thoughts on what the Anaheim Ducks should do following another disappointing playoff run.
One thing the Ducks absolutely have to do is get younger and faster.
When you look around the league, a lot of teams – especially ones that surprised such as Vegas, New Jersey, and Colorado – are built off youth and speed.
The Ducks are the exact opposite. A lot of their core players have already seen their best days and, for some reason, they have been surrounded by slow veterans with limited puck skills like Kevin Bieksa, Francois Beauchemin, Chris Kelly, Antoine Vermette, and Jason Chimera, among others.
A lot of the big guns have a) big contracts and; b) no move/trade clauses so it could be difficult to make drastic changes. Even if the Ducks have to run it back with a very similar core, I think they'd benefit greatly from cutting the dead weight around the edges. If they replace their veteran role players with guys who can skate, and perhaps bring in a more modern day coach, I think they'd be much better off.
I think the Ducks need a bit of a revamp in their forward core. Sam Steel is an intriguing prospect, but they really don't have much else. He's also not a guaranteed star. I wouldn't be surprised if he tops out at a 40 point winger.
What do the Ducks have? Defenders. Like the Preds, the Ducks have managed to continuously refresh their defense core through savvy drafting. Most teams would fold when losing players of Shea Theodore and Sami Vatanen's skill in the same year, but the Ducks remained unscathed because they have Lindholm, Manson, Montour, Larsson, Pettersson, Fowler and even an interesting prospect like Mahura.
They need to make a move for more wingers with speed. I think a team like the Leafs would be a good team to look at for a move. They have depth wingers and prospects that are promising. Guys like Kapanen or Johnsson. Not superstars, but speedsters with more to give. The Leafs have them on the 4th line right now and I think they have more to give. Getting a defender for one would be a smart move for both teams. Much like the Henrique deal. I'd also look to the Islanders who have some forlorn forward prospects that have been spinning their wheels.
I don't think any team is dumb enough to take on the albatross deals that are Kesler and Perry. So that won't work. They need to surround their core with more speed to help them out.
Oh...and let Carlyle go. He and his toaster will thank you for it. His attempts to turn his team into the 70's Flyers every time the playoffs roll around is embarrassing. At some point, he needs to be sat down and told he doesn't have three first ballot Hall of Famer's on his team anymore and that Brad May wasn't that good. The Ducks have so much more skill than that style of stupidity. They don't need to get involved in those shenanigans.
Seeing as the Ducks have had only two head coaches since Mike Babcock left for the Red Wings after the 2004 lockout year, it's time for a new face in the dressing room. Randy Carlyle relies far too heavily on his goaltenders and has zero desire to coach a possession game. On top of that, his team has little in terms of an up-tempo speed game.
The Ducks may be in a similar position to the LA Kings, needing to change their style. A more modern approach and head coach gave the Kings a 12 point improvement over last season and a playoff berth this year. The Ducks still managed to finish second in the Pacific division without any real changes to their style of play.
A new speed emphasized system would take the Ducks further than the Kings, since Anaheim actually has depth, especially on the blue line. Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler all have lots of term and no move clauses, so they're going nowhere.
Kevin Bieksa's four million dollar cap hit goes off the books, along with several other veteran players that are simply slowing the Ducks down. No need to blow the core up, just bring in a new head coach and hope first round pick in 2016 Sam Steel can make the jump to the NHL next season!
The core is old. Perry is lost as a player not knowing if he is a goon or a scorer. They need a charge and it's probably not coming from within. Can you trade one of Getzlaf, Perry or Kesler, maybe, but that's a big maybe.
I don't think they fire Carlyle because the same fundamental problems exist with the roster and that's what's killing them. Fix that, if you can and see what Carlyle can do before you get into the coaching carousel this offseason.
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