The Anaheim Ducks’ season hasn’t gone according to plan. Even with the departures of franchise mainstays like Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler, the team was excited about their young group of forwards that looked ready to come up and contribute. With the historically excellent John Gibson in net, there was always a chance that the team could compete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Unfortunately, with Gibson in the midst of the worst season of his career and the team in front of him not scoring nearly enough to make up for it, that hasn’t come to pass. The Ducks now sit in last place in the conference and are ahead of only the Detroit Red Wings league-wide. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise when Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports the team is willing to take on bad salary in order to acquire some additional young assets.
Not only do the Ducks already have several million in full-season cap space available, they could also potentially place Kesler and Patrick Eaves on long-term injured reserve to open even more if they needed to. That kind of capability could prove very useful for a contender looking to open a bit of room for a trade deadline addition, though it would surely cost them.
One thing to note with any plan like this is that the Ducks only have three vacant contract slots under the 50-contract threshold. Bringing in bad money plus young players would eat up those slots quickly, and with a prospect like Trevor Zegras lighting up the NCAA (and World Junior tournament) the team needs to keep at least one open if they intend to try and convince him to turn pro at the end of the college season. If they do try to weaponize their cap space, there may have to be bodies going the other way as well, something that only complicates a deal like that even further.