Official now, the Anaheim Ducks have hired Pat Verbeek as their next general manager. Verbeek leaves the Detroit Red Wings where he has spent the last three years as assistant GM. Ducks’ owners Henry and Susan Samueli released a statement on the hire:
Susan and I are delighted to welcome Pat Verbeek to our community to guide our hockey club as the next General Manager of the Anaheim Ducks. Pat’s outstanding work ethic and vast knowledge of the game as a successful executive and player throughout his 35-plus years in the NHL make him an outstanding fit to lead us forward. He brings a unique pedigree, having vast experience and serving in integral leadership roles for championship teams as both a player and executive at the NHL level.
Verbeek, 57, has a long history of success as a player, scout, and executive, being part of Stanley Cup-winning teams at all three levels. He has been moving through front offices right alongside Steve Yzerman for the last decade-plus but will now get a chance to run an organization of his own.
Replacing Bob Murray, who resigned earlier this year, Verbeek has an interesting challenge ahead of him with the exciting young Ducks’ group. There are core pieces reaching the end of their contracts this season–Rickard Rakell, Hampus Lindholm, and Josh Manson are all scheduled to become unrestricted free agents–but the youth of Troy Terry, Trevor Zegras, Jamie Drysdale and others have helped the team stay competitive in the Pacific Division. Selling off rentals isn’t something that playoff contenders do very often, but it would also be difficult to watch a player like Lindholm walk without getting anything in return.
With more than six weeks until the deadline, there is plenty of time to make those decisions and Verbeek comes right at the start of the All-Star break, meaning he’ll have a few days to get familiarized with his new staff and organization.
It’s an organization that does have a history of success, despite its relatively short lifetime. Since entering the NHL in 1993, Anaheim has reached the Stanley Cup Final twice, won it once, and gone to three other Conference Finals. The most recently long playoff run came in 2017, when a Randy Carlyle-led group fell in six games to the Nashville Predators in the third round. Currently, the Ducks sit seventh in the Western Conference with a 23-16-9 record, but they have played six more games than a couple of the teams chasing them and could quickly slip out of a Pacific Division playoff spot. Sorting by points percentage would drop them to ninth, making Verbeek’s job even more difficult in the coming weeks.
Of course, unlike some of the other managers that have taken over this season, Verbeek also isn’t really dealing with a cap table bloated with long-term deals. Only Adam Henrique, Jakob Silfverberg, John Gibson, and Cam Fowler are signed through the 2023-24 season, with just the latter two under contract past that. That sort of flexibility will allow Verbeek to put his stamp on the Ducks in short order, even if this case doesn’t require a tear-down.