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In Pat Verbeek’s limited time as general manager of the Anaheim Ducks, he’s already made an impact.
Verbeek was hired by the Ducks in early February after longtime GM Bob Murray resigned. Shortly after being hired though, Verbeek had to make some key decisions ahead of the trade deadline, shipping out several unrestricted free agents, in exchange for future assets.
His short tenure so far can be classified as a success, simply based on the returns he was able to get for Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Rickard Rakell and Nicolas Deslauriers. In terms of future assets, Verbeek managed to acquire a first-round pick, four second-round picks, a third-round pick, and prospects Urho Vaakanainen (a 2017 first-round pick), Drew Helleson (a 2019 second-round pick) and Calle Clang (a 2020 third-round pick). He also picked up roster players in Zach Aston-Reese and Dominik Simon and was very close to leveraging Anaheim’s cap space to acquire Evgeni Dadonov along with yet another second-round pick.
After a successful trade deadline though, Verbeek now has more decisions to make heading into the offseason. A key for Anaheim right now is their incredibly low payroll, with nearly $40 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly. That said, that’s only factoring in 15 roster players, with Isac Lundestrom, Sonny Milano, Sam Steel, Simon Benoit and Urho Vaakanainen all now restricted free agents. However, none of these deals will yield any significant spending from the Ducks, with each player likely to receive a fairly short-term deal.
The Ducks could also look to re-sign any of their pending unrestricted free agents in Zach Aston-Reese, Vinni Lettieri, Gerry Mayhew, Dominik Simon or Andrej Sustr, though any one of those contracts would likely be for around $1 million or less.
That said, while it’s not so much about this season where Anaheim needs to track their spending, they’ll have to deal with Troy Terry, Jamie Drysdale and Trevor Zegras all in need of new contracts in 2023, meaning they can’t overspend this summer.
Even with that in mind though, Verbeek certainly has room to add, it’s just a matter of how he wants to use Anaheim’s cap space. The Ducks seemingly still aren’t too close to the playoffs, but they may be approaching the point where they start to see improvements going forward. As a result, picking up a free agent or two seems like a smart move and especially given how weak the defense group is after the departures of Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson, we can expect to see some players added.
The scenarios that make the most sense for the Ducks would be to go after free agents rather than going the trade route. Giving up assets would obviously be foolish and counterproductive, given Anaheim’s current situation.
In terms of free agency, the scenarios that make the most sense for the Ducks would be to add someone on a short-term deal or sign someone who’s young enough to still make an impact several years from now, once the Ducks are hopefully legitimate contenders.
That said, it’s not just adding that Verbeek has to be considering. Despite John Gibson’s decline in performance over the last few years, he’s still a key trade chip for the Ducks. With Gibson turning 29 years old this summer, he’ll be into his 30s by the time the team is competing again and it might make sense to capitalize now, getting assets back in a trade. Plus with Anthony Stolarz proving capable of providing short-term help and Lukas Dostal projecting as a future starter, the Ducks’ goaltending depth is in a place where Gibson really may not be needed soon.
So it’ll be interesting to see how aggressive Verbeek is over the offseason. He could play conservatively and not make any bold splashes, opting for short-term solutions, or he could look to bring in a major player who can help speed up the Ducks’ timeline and also help long-term. Either way, this offseason will be another good chance to see what Verbeek is capable of.
OTHER ARTICLES FROM MAY
Final week of season sees Ducks beat Sharks and EBUG used in loss to Stars
Ducks hire Rob DiMaio as Assistant GM
Ducks sign Calle Clang
2021-22 Season Recap: Anaheim Ducks
Ducks will select 10th overall in 2022 NHL Draft
Trevor Zegras named Calder Finalist, Joel Bouchard fired/Geoff Ward leaves
Four players from Ducks participating in WHC
Ryan Getzlaf named finalist for King Clancy Trophy