The Anaheim Ducks have made some good decisions in the offseason so far, with the signings of Derek Grant and Kevin Shattenkirk. Their drafting also seemed to be positive, picking up both Jamie Drysdale and Jacob Perreault in the first round.
However, what’s a bit concerning is what Kevin Shattenkirk said of Ducks general manager Bob Murray’s pitch to him in free agency.
New Ducks D Kevin Shattenkirk says GM Bob Murray had a simple pitch to him: "What he expressed to me is he’s tired of this rebuilding situation. He wants to be in the playoffs next year, and he felt I was someone who would be part of that plan."
While seeking to be a playoff team is certainly a reasonable goal, hearing that Murray is reportedly already ‘tired’ of a rebuild doesn’t make a lot of sense to me, considering the Ducks never really committed to a rebuild in the first place. While the team has made some upgrades and seem to be moving in the right direction, they’re certainly not likely to be a contender anytime soon. It’s possible that the team could find its way back to the playoffs next season but that can’t be the ultimate goal.
Right now, the Ducks don’t even really have a legitimate top-line forward on their roster. As for prospects, Trevor Zegras has great potential but there’s no guarantee that he develops into a first-line center and even if he did, he’s likely still at least a few years away from getting to that point. Max Comtois and Sam Steel are both quality young forwards as well but we still don’t know what their ceiling is. Simply put, while the Ducks have made some good moves to put themselves in a better spot, they’re not ready to contend.
It’s certainly reasonable to have a goal to make the playoffs but if it becomes clear that won’t be a reality, the team can’t be afraid to sell off veterans to set themselves up for the future. In fact, that could be the quickest way to get back to ‘contender’ status.
We’ve seen what the Los Angeles Kings have been able to do, doing a full teardown, revamping their roster and building one of the best prospect pools in the NHL. While it took a few really rough years to get to that point, the Kings are set up to potentially be contenders for a very long time to come.
It seems like Murray wants to avoid a rebuild at all costs and while it may be possible to do a retooling on the fly, there needs to be an understanding that it isn't guaranteed to work. No matter how the season plays out, Murray has to retain draft picks at the very least and can’t start trading assets in a quest just to get the Ducks back to the playoffs.
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Here’s today’s poll question (results and discussion will be posted in a future article):