When everyone is healthy, the Ducks are one of the stronger teams in the NHL down the middle. However, with their top two centers in Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler out long-term, GM Bob Murray has been trying to add help at that position, he acknowledged to Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register.
Currently, Anaheim is running with Derek Grant, Kalle Kossila, Dennis Rasmussen, and Antoine Vermette at that position. The team has experimented playing winger Rickard Rakell at center in the past so the fact they’re not doing so here is a telling sign that they don’t really view him as an option at that spot anymore.
[Related: Ducks Depth Chart from Roster Resource]
The Ducks were one of the teams that were in on then-Colorado pivot Matt Duchene who was eventually dealt to Ottawa last weekend in a three-team deal that also saw Nashville land and extend Kyle Turris. They also had interest in former Vegas center Vadim Shipachyov according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman although the signing bonus repayment, as well as the Russian center simply wanting to return home threw a wrinkle in those talks.
The fact that they were willing to take the second year of Shipachyov’s contract (which carried a $4.5MM cap hit before his retirement) is particularly noteworthy. The team already has more than $61MM committed to just 13 players for next season per CapFriendly so it’s a bit surprising that they would take on a sizable multi-year commitment to fill a short-term hole.
Further complicating things financially is the litany of injuries the team has. On top of missing Getzlaf and Kesler, Anaheim is also without defenseman Cam Fowler (knee) as well as forwards Patrick Eaves (Guillain-Barre syndrome), Ondrej Kase (concussion), and Jared Boll (lower-body injury). The recalls to replace those players have the team already using LTIR on Eaves and while they could transfer other players to there in the short-term, that will only create more complications later in the year when everyone is ready to return.
As a result, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Murray and the Ducks turn to cheaper expiring contracts in the pursuit of shoring up their depth without dealing any of their established defenders. That way, as players return, they could subsequently be waived and sent down with minimal cap consequences or simply moved elsewhere. There aren’t many top-six centers known to be available so if they can’t add there, improving their depth would at least represent a small improvement while serving as a hedge against further injury troubles. They already added Toronto center Eric Fehr on a minor league loan earlier in the week so it wouldn’t be surprising to see something done there if he plays well in AHL San Diego.