The Ducks have lost 17 of their last 19 games since mid-December. Since then, they have been outscored 72-32 and nothing seems to be working. Although Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray seems to be standing firm by not firing head coach Randy Carlyle or trading any big names, standing firm isn’t going to get the Ducks to win any time soon. This team, amazingly, is still in the playoff race but this lack of success isn’t going to get them anywhere. The Ducks need to sell at the deadline and prepare for the future.
Since going to the Stanley Cup Final in 2003, the Ducks, and Mighty Ducks if you will, have missed the playoffs a measly three times in 2004, 2010 and 2012. They also visited the Western Conference Final in 2006, 2007, 2015 and 2017. Pacific division champions six times, they reached that plateau in 2007 and then again five times straight from 2013 to 2017. Oh, and they also won Lord Stanley’s Cup in 2007. The Ducks have been really good for a really long time. Very few teams can remain competitive for over ten years straight and even fewer can do it at the caliber the Ducks have demonstrated.
Eventually, that train of success was going to come to its final stop. Last season’s first round sweep at the hands of their Nor. Cal. rival, the San Jose Sharks, was the last stop for the Ducks. That was the turning point for this franchise. Going into that series, they were the same Ducks that most expected to be successful. Following that series, they were a team knocking on the door of rebuilding. It is time for the Ducks to accept that this roster they have now is not sufficient for success but rather the team is in desperate need of a higher draft pick and then some.
The Ducks have some great pieces in their lineup and on paper do not appear to be that bad of a team. However, paper doesn’t do justice to the lack of performance that, at times, the entire Ducks roster seems to be falling victim to. With the exception of goaltender John Gibson, the entirety of Anaheim’s roster is underperforming heavily.
Jonathan Davis stated, “[There is] Just so much going wrong with #NHLDucks[.] 2-13-4 in last 19. Just 16 goals total from D-men. Compare that to Morgan Rielly (13), Letang (12), Gio (11)[.] Montour 0 goals last 21 games, Lindholm 0 goals last 21 games, Fowler 0 goals last 16 games, [and] Manson 0 goals last 27 games.” (via Twitter @westcoasthky)
The defense isn’t playing defense and in addition to that they aren’t even helping out on offense. It seemed like these defensemen were players that the Ducks could build around to create a championship team but now it’s looking like they could be handsome trade bait. If the Ducks are going to sell at the deadline, a defenseman like Montour or Lindholm could earn the Ducks an additional first round pick and maybe even a little bit more if the right deal is struck.
From the forwards, a key piece that is actually looking more like a part of the solution rather than a contributor to the problem is Jakob Silfverberg. However, Silfverberg is due to hit free agency at the end of this season and could be hearing offers from other teams if he chooses to hold out on Anaheim. He is currently making 3.75 million per year and could be looking for a raise into the four to four and a half million range.
Ducks big names like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler are all eating up a big chunk of the cap but there is a very slim chance any of them will be going anywhere before retirement. Getzlaf and Perry in particular have a strict no move clause in their contracts and have made it clear in the past that they want to be career Ducks.
Pieces like Ondrej Kase, Adam Henrique, Nick Ritchie, Patrick Eaves and Daniel Sprong could be possible trade bait at the deadline if Ducks general manager Bob Murray is looking to move some pieces for the future.
Essentially, besides the Ducks three big name players, Rickard Rakell, John Gibson and the young rookies, no one is safe. The Andrew Cogliano trade in January was a great example of this. Although that might have been just a move to make a move, it was done nonetheless.
The Ducks as they are now are not going anywhere. They aren’t a completely horrible team, even though as of late they have been playing like it, and at the same time they are certainly not a team built for immediate or long-term success. One of the worst things a franchise can be in any sports league is stagnant. A team either has to be building for the future so that one day they can be competing for a championship or they have to be successful in the moment and be putting everything they have into winning then and now.
Anaheim is in limbo right now with an average roster that is not playing up to par, a coach that will never get them back to glory or even the conference finals, and a general manager that seems to be standing firm on decisions like not to firing the coach or making any big changes.
For the Ducks, there is an expectation that hasn’t been present in the locker room or the city since before their run for the Cup in 2003. That expectation is failure. If something isn’t done by the trade deadline, the Ducks could be looking at a somewhat similar situation next season. With key pieces in place now and a young rookie core coming up into the league shortly, the franchise needs to ensure that this expectation of losing ceases very soon or things could get even uglier for months to come.