A new era has begun for Ryan Getzlaf, and the Anaheim Ducks as the star center announced his retirement from the team.
The Ducks hope that next year will finally be their year to reclaim their status as a contender in the NHL. There is a rising abundance of youthful talent that suggests that the Ducks will soon have the players to end their four-season Stanley Cup playoffs drought.
“I feel like we’re making the progress, even if it’s not always coming through in the results,” said Getzlaf. “There’s better days ahead for this franchise, and I’m going to be happy to see it.”
Even though they showed progress at various points throughout the season, they eventually fell well short of what was required to get there while finishing 31-37-14. Placing them in the seventh place in the Pacific Division.
Until the All-Star break, the Ducks were in the running for the playoffs. An 11-game losing streak in March wiped out the Ducks’ chances of making it to the playoffs and finished a losing string of 27 of their last 35 games.
Ducks lineup, seeking to improve success
Anaheim’s roster offers a good blend of youth and experience. With new GM Pat Verbeek in charge, the Ducks have a chance to improve their long-term success. After realizing he couldn’t reassign any of the pending free agents, Verbeek hopes to accelerate the rebuilding process by trading Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Rickard Rakell, and Nic Deslauriers before the trade deadline.
All four brought in selections and players that could be useful in the Ducks’ next era. Anaheim’s fate rests at Verbeek’s hands.
The future of John Gibson, the long-serving Ducks goaltender who turns 29 this summer, is still up in the air. Gibson’s value is unknown in the trade market, and he has a no-trade agreement.
Despite being one of the top goaltenders in the NHL when healthy and in peak form, backup Anthony Stolarz had a better record this season. Gibson hasn’t expressed any significant remorse about spending most of his career on a losing team.
Verbeek will have to improve an underwhelming defense that has suffered since Lindholm and Manson were traded to make a difference. Almost every location along the defensive line might benefit from lineup change, and Verbeek will be able to accomplish this through various means.
Youngster Jamie Drysdale continues to improve, while Cam Fowler and the unreliable Kevin Shattenkirk are under contract for next season.
Since Getzlaf took over as team captain following Scott Niedermayer’s retirement in 2010, the Ducks will have to choose a captain. The obvious pick would be Fowler, who has spent his 12-season career with the Ducks. Still, the team may elect Zegras or Terry instead, who would represent a new generation of Ducks leaders.
Eakins returns for fourth season
A key offseason question was already answered by Verbeek earlier this month when he confirmed that coach Dallas Eakins would return to the bench for the fourth season. In addition, Eakins’ three assistant coaches, Mike Stothers, Geoff Ward, and Newell Brown, will all be back on the field this season.
While coaching in the NHL for parts of six seasons, Eakins has never had a winning record, and he has had minimal success with the Ducks during his time with the team. Eakins’ contract option for 2022-23 was picked up by Verbeek, who saw enough to keep the team on track while making significant changes in other sections of the franchise.