While the official start date of free agency remains in flux depending on when the playoffs end (the later of October 9th or a week after the completion of the Stanley Cup Final), many teams are already looking ahead to when it opens up. There will be several prominent players set to hit the open market while many teams have key restricted free agents to re-sign. Anaheim doesn’t have a ton of pressing contract negotiations but could use the period to add some more talent to the roster.
Key Restricted Free Agents
F Kiefer Sherwood – You’d be right if you don’t think Sherwood is a key for the Ducks moving forward, but his appearance here shows just how much work they’ve already done to lock up their young restricted free agents. The 25-year old forward doesn’t qualify for Group VI unrestricted free agency after just two years under a professional contract, meaning his future will be one of the decisions the Ducks have to make this summer.
Sherwood ended up playing in 50 games as a rookie in 2018-19 after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Miami University (Ohio), but was limited to mostly minor-league duty this season. A capable scorer and bottom-six option for the team, he could be brought back on an inexpensive deal to fill out the depth chart.
G Ryan Miller – Now 40, it’s not clear exactly what the future holds for Miller, one of the league’s best goaltenders over almost two decades now. In May, when the season was still paused, he explained that he had hoped to catch another Buffalo legend, Dominik Hasek, on the all-time wins list. Miller currently sits just two wins behind, meaning one last NHL season would likely get him there. He’s coming off a $1.125MM deal and could likely be brought back for close to the league minimum if he decides he wants to continue the chase.
D Michael Del Zotto – Remember when Del Zotto was a Norris Trophy nominee in 2012 after scoring 41 points in 77 games with the New York Rangers? That seems like a completely different player than the one who has suited up for three different teams the past two seasons. Del Zotto played in 49 games for the Ducks this season and is still only 30, but hasn’t been able to recapture that early-career magic in years. If he shot right, he might have a bigger market, but it’s hard to see him earning much more than the one-year, $750K deal he played on this year.
*Patrick Eaves is also scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after his three-year, $9.45MM deal expires, but is expected to officially retire due to health concerns.
Projected Cap Space
Amazingly, even though they were one of the league’s worst teams, the Ducks aren’t exactly flush with cap space as they head into next season. The team has over $78.5MM committed to next season for 18 players per CapFriendly, though that does include the $6.875MM hit of Ryan Kesler. Kesler is not expected to play again, meaning that number will be transferred to long-term injured reserve giving Anaheim a little more flexibility. With no huge names on expiring deals they won’t be forced to shed salary, but moving out some of their underperforming-but-aging names could give them an opportunity to add in free agency.
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