The Anaheim Ducks have been one of the most anemic offenses in the league this season, scoring just 11 times in six games. Perhaps most notable is the complete lack of effectiveness with the man-advantage, where they have been outscored 1-0 on the season thanks to a shorthanded goal by Ryan Hartman of the Minnesota Wild. The fact that they’re 2-2-2 with such poor offensive production could be seen as something of an encouraging sign if they are able to fix what ails them at the dangerous end of the rink.
It comes as no surprise then when Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports in his latest 31 Thoughts column that the Ducks are looking for scoring help. When 31-year-old Carter Rowney—he of 58 career NHL points—is your team scoring leader, there’s reason for upgrade.
Yes, the easy answer may be to recall Trevor Zegras and feed him as many minutes as possible, but the Ducks obviously have a plan for their top forward prospect’s development path. For now, that’s the minor leagues, as he prepares with the San Diego Gulls of the AHL. If you’re another team’s front office that wonders if you could steal Zegras away in exchange for a proven scorer, understand that Friedman also reports that neither he nor Jamie Drysdale were included in Anaheim’s offer for Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Part of the problem is that many of the other young forwards that Anaheim was hoping would take the next step, seemingly haven’t. Max Comtois has three goals in six games (to lead the team), but Sam Steel, Max Jones, Isac Lundestrom, and Troy Terry have all failed to register a single goal through the early part of the season. Even older additions like Danton Heinen and Sonny Milano have been held off the scoresheet in the games they’ve been part of, leading to an almost laughable points chart that includes Rowney and fellow journeyman forward Nicolas Deslauriers at the top.
Where they can find that scoring help isn’t clear. It’s not like teams are just handing out top offensive talents at this point in the season, meaning the Ducks—and the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are also apparently looking for help at forward—may have to dig deep to find a fit. For a team that will have a tough time competing for the Stanley Cup, sacrificing future assets or young players seems like a mistake. Whether the Ducks know they are a rebuilding club—or are willing to act like one—is another question entirely, given it has now been several years since the club had any postseason success. In 2018 the team finished with 101 points and made the playoffs, only to lose four straight games to the San Jose Sharks in the first round. They’ve gone 66-72-21 since then and should perhaps be looking at selling, not buying, even in a shortened season.