The Ducks have managed to keep things quiet for the most part about their head coaching search in terms of who is under consideration. Eric Stephens of The Athletic suggests (subscription link) that former Vancouver head coach Travis Green could be a possible fit for the role and knows the market well having played for the team twice while living in the Orange County area full-time. Green spent parts of five seasons behind the bench in Vancouver with the team posting a 133-147-34 record and was considered for Anaheim’s coaching job back in 2016, a job that wound up going to Randy Carlyle.
John Gibson Hoping For Trade From Ducks
Goaltender John Gibson has been a fixture between the pipes in Anaheim for the better part of a decade now and is one of their longest-tenured players. However, it appears that he’s hoping his time with the team has come to an end as Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reports that the veteran has told the team that he is ready for a change of scenery. Lisa Dillman of the Orange County Register adds that the request was made last month.
In his end-of-season presser back in April, Gibson made it clear that he wants to win. He hasn’t been doing much of that lately as the Ducks have missed the playoffs in each of the last five years. Although they’ve made some good progress in their rebuild by adding several key youngsters to the puzzle (including another with the second-overall pick later this month), they’re still not at the point yet where they’re ready to emerge as a consistent playoff contender.
With the team in front of him struggling, Gibson has seen his performance drop steadily as well. He posted a 3.99 GAA this season, leading the league in goals allowed (200) and losses (31) although he still managed a .899 SV% which is right around the league average. His highest save percentage over the last four seasons is .904 after putting up four straight seasons of .917 or better so it’s not as if this was a one-time dip.
It’s Gibson’s previous performance back when Anaheim was a playoff-caliber team that is likely to have teams interested in him this summer. How much of his weakened performance was due to the struggles of the team in front of him, particularly their back end which has gotten considerably weaker over the years? Is he still an above-average goalie with a better team in front of him? If teams believe so, he’ll shoot to either the top of the list or close to it for desired acquisitions this summer in a goalie market that doesn’t have a lot of number one options.
However, the 29-year-old does have a bit of a pricey contract, one that has four years remaining at a $6.4MM AAV. While plenty of teams could use a goaltending upgrade, not many of them can necessarily afford to take on the full freight of that deal. Anaheim hasn’t used any of their three salary retention slots for 2023-24 and beyond although it should be noted that they have two retentions on the books (defensemen John Klingberg and Dmitry Kulikov) until July 1st. Would they be willing to carry some dead cap space for four seasons to help facilitate a trade? Alternatively, taking a high-priced contract back as an offset might be more palatable for GM Pat Verbeek.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Anaheim look to get a goaltender back as part of a return if they move Gibson. Veteran Anthony Stolarz battled injury issues this season and is set to his unrestricted free agency and while Lukas Dostal might be ready to move up full-time to the NHL, he’s far from ready to take over as the starter. If not, they’ll have to turn to free agency for a replacement but Pittsburgh’s Tristan Jarry is the only true number one on the market, assuming he doesn’t re-sign in the coming weeks.
Seravalli noted that Gibson was available last summer but the asking price was quite high. While their asking price is still likely on the high side, if they’re more motivated to move him now as a result of Gibson’s ask, there’s a good chance that he’ll be suiting up somewhere else next season.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Free Agent Focus: Anaheim Ducks
Free agency is now a little more than a month away and teams are looking ahead to when it opens up. There will be several impact players set to hit the open market in July while many teams have key restricted free agents to re-sign as well. We begin our look around the NHL with an overview of the free agent situation for the Anaheim Ducks.
Key Restricted Free Agents
F Trevor Zegras – After finishing as the runner-up in Calder Trophy voting last season, Zegras took a small step forward this season, setting new benchmarks in assists (42) and points (65) while matching his goal total from 2021-22. That allowed him to lead the team in scoring this season. As a center, the 22-year-old is well-positioned to land a significant long-term deal if that’s the way he chooses to go. A max-term agreement could very well push the AAV past the $8MM mark. However, with still five years of team control remaining (he didn’t play enough in 2020-21 to accrue a season of service time for UFA purposes), it’s possible that one or both sides look to a shorter-term bridge deal. That would lower the AAV to somewhere in the $6MM range for now but potentially set Zegras up to push for much more down the road in a more favorable cap environment. Whichever route they take, a big payday is coming his way.
F Troy Terry – In 2021-22, Terry narrowly edged out Zegras for the team lead in points. This season, the tables were flipped but the 25-year-old still put up his second straight 60-point campaign after having just 48 career points over his first 129 NHL appearances. One of the goals for Terry this year would have been to show that his breakout year wasn’t a fluke. Mission accomplished on that front and he is set to reap the benefits. Two years away from UFA eligibility, Terry will have arbitration eligibility this summer and it’s likely that GM Pat Verbeek will be looking to do a long-term agreement and avoid the potential for a hearing. After playing on an AAV of $1.45MM the last three seasons, Terry’s next deal could more than quadruple that cap charge.
D Jamie Drysdale – At a time when the Ducks have all three top CHL defensemen, it could be suggested that Drysdale has fallen off the radar. The 21-year-old suffered a torn labrum in the eighth game of the season and that was it for his year. At that to the fact that he only suited up 24 times in his first year and Drysdale has just 113 total NHL appearances under his belt and the Ducks are working with a small sample size here. Drysdale, a 2020 first-round pick (sixth overall), is still a significant part of Anaheim’s future but with such a limited sample size to work with and coming off a year that was more or less a write-off, a bridge contract is the likely outcome. That could push his price tag closer to the $2MM range on a two-year deal and a bit closer to $2.5MM on a three-year term.
F Max Comtois – Two years ago, it looked like Comtois was coming into his own and was on his way to becoming at least a capable second-line power forward. Players like those have a lot of value but then GM Bob Murray wanted to see if his performance was repeatable first. That proved to be a wise move as Comtois simply hasn’t been able to play at the same level, failing to reach 20 points for the second straight season. He’s owed a $2.445MM qualifying offer this summer which is a bit on the high side for someone struggling to produce. On the other hand, losing him for free would sting with how important of a piece it looked like he was going to be not long ago. Verbeek will need to decide if he’ll give Comtois one more chance under a new head coach or if it’s time to move on.
Other RFAs: D Axel Andersson, D Simon Benoit, G Lukas Dostal, G Olle Eriksson Ek, F Benoit-Olivier Groulx, F Bryce Kindopp, F Josiah Slavin
Key Unrestricted Free Agents
D Kevin Shattenkirk – While the stigma of having his four-year, $26.6MM deal bought out by the Rangers back in 2019 still exists, Shattenkirk has settled in nicely in a lesser role first with Tampa Bay and the last three seasons with Anaheim. The 34-year-old has been a capable secondary producer throughout his career while becoming more of a willing shot-blocker recently. His days of playing on the top pairing are gone but as a fourth defender capable of logging around 20 minutes a night, there should be some interest in Shattenkirk once some of the big names come off the board. He had a $3.9MM AAV on his deal with Anaheim and the veteran should be able to come somewhat close to that on his next contract.
G Anthony Stolarz – This season was one to forget for Stolarz (the same can basically be said for many of Anaheim’s veterans) but prior to that, he has shown some promise in limited duty, including a .917 SV% in 23 starts back in 2021-22. The 29-year-old isn’t going to be near the top of the market for goaltenders but budget-conscious teams looking for a cheap second-stringer with a bit of upside should be looking his way. That mindset will likely describe a few teams which should give Stolarz a decent market and a shot at surpassing the $1MM mark for the first time in his career.
F Derek Grant – It wasn’t a great platform year for the veteran who had multiple stints on injured reserve, limiting him to just 46 games. However, he still managed to pick up 18 points in those contests, a year after collecting 15 goals and 29 points, both career highs. The 33-year-old also won more than 55% of his faceoffs while logging plenty of ice time shorthanded. Now with over 400 games under his belt, Grant is well-known at this point as a defensively capable middleman that can chip in a bit offensively. Those players don’t get big contracts in free agency but he should have several offers that come in around the $1.5MM he has made in each of the last three seasons.
Other UFAs: D Nathan Beaulieu, D Michael Del Zotto, D Scott Harrington, F Justin Kirkland, F Jayson Megna, D John Moore, D Olli Juolevi, D Chase Priskie, F Dylan Sikura, D Andrej Sustr
Projected Cap Space
Cap space won’t be an issue for Anaheim this offseason as they currently have more than $39MM in cap space based on the projected $83.5MM Upper Limit for next season. New deals for Zegras and Terry will take a sizable chunk out of that but the Ducks still project to be well under the cap for 2023-24, one that is expected to be another rebuilding effort. If there is budget room for them to take on a bad contract or two while being compensated for it with prospects and/or draft picks, they could be a team to watch for in the coming weeks.
Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Contract information courtesy of CapFriendly.
List Of NHL Prospects Attending 2023 Memorial Cup
After the OHL’s Peterborough Petes and the QMJHL’s Québec Remparts took home their respective league championships yesterday, the field for the 2023 Memorial Cup is set. They’ll be joined by two WHL teams – the league champion Seattle Thunderbirds and the host team Kamloops Blazers – on their quest to capture the pinnacle of North American junior hockey.
Pitting best against best at the U21 level from across the continent, the tournament also gives NHL-drafted prospects an early taste of high-pressure hockey on a larger stage than regular junior play. If you’re looking to see your favorite team’s prospects have big performances at this tournament, which runs from May 26 to June 4, we’re providing a comprehensive list of NHL-affiliated prospects attending the tournament.
There will be a new champion this year after last year’s winner, the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, lost to the Gatineau Olympiques in five games in their first-round series in the QMJHL playoffs. Chicago and Dallas lead the way with three representatives at the tournament, while nine teams (Boston, Colorado, Detroit, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Ottawa, Pittsburgh, San Jose, and Tampa Bay) don’t have any prospects playing this year.
C Nathan Gaucher (Québec, 2022 22nd overall)
LD Olen Zellweger (Kamloops, 2021 34th overall)
RW Dylan Guenther (Seattle, 2021 9th overall)
LD Jérémy Langlois (Québec, 2022 94th overall)
RD Vsevolod Komarov (Québec, 2022 134th overall)
LW Lucas Ciona (Seattle, 2021 173rd overall)
C Justin Robidas (Québec, 2021 147th overall)
LD Kevin Korchinski (Seattle, 2022 7th overall)
LD Nolan Allan (Seattle, 2021 32nd overall)
C Colton Dach (Seattle, 2021 62nd overall)
Columbus Blue Jackets
LW James Malatesta (Québec, 2021 133rd overall)
C Logan Stankoven (Kamloops, 2021 47th overall)
RD Gavin White (Peterborough, 2022 115th overall)
RW Matthew Seminoff (Kamloops, 2022 179th overall)
Detroit Red Wings
LD Evan Nause (Québec, 2021 56th overall)
Los Angeles Kings
C Caedan Bankier (Kamloops, 2021 86th overall)
RD Kyle Masters (Kamloops, 2021 118th overall)
C Owen Beck (Peterborough, 2022 33rd overall)
C Jared Davidson (Seattle, 2022 130th overall)
LW Reid Schaefer (Seattle, 2022 32nd overall)
RD Luke Prokop (Seattle, 2020 73rd overall)
New Jersey Devils
RW Chase Stillman (Peterborough, 2021 29th overall)
New York Islanders
LW Daylan Kuefler (Kamloops, 2022 174th overall)
New York Rangers
LW Brennan Othmann (Peterborough, 2021 16th overall)
LD Brian Zanetti (Peterborough, 2021 110th overall)
C Jon-Randall Avon (Peterborough, undrafted)
San Jose Sharks
C Tucker Robertson (Peterborough, 2022 123rd overall)
St. Louis Blues
C Zachary Bolduc (Québec, 2021 17th overall)
Tampa Bay Lightning
Toronto Maple Leafs
C Fraser Minten (Kamloops, 2022 38th overall)
C Connor Lockhart (Peterborough, 2021 178th overall)
Vegas Golden Knights
C Jordan Gustafson (Seattle, 2022 79th overall)
RW Jakub Demek (Kamloops, 2021 128th overall)
C Ryan Hofer (Kamloops, 2022 181st overall)
C Brad Lambert (Seattle, 2022 30th overall)
Anaheim, Washington Interested In Brad Shaw
A little under a year ago to the date, the Philadelphia Flyers announced the hiring of Brad Shaw as an associate coach for the 2022-23 NHL season. Shaw had spent the 2021-22 season as an assistant coach for the Vancouver Canucks, and also served as an assistant coach for the Columbus Blue Jackets during the tenure of John Tortorella from 2016-2021.
Before joining the Blue Jackets in 2016, Shaw spent a decade as an assistant/associate coach with the St.Louis Blues, serving primarily under legendary bench boss, Ken Hitchcock. As several teams are now looking for new head coaches for the 2023-24 season, Anthony Di Marco of The Fourth Period reports that Shaw has received interest from both the Anaheim Ducks and Washington Capitals.
Aside from the veteran head coaching candidates available such as Peter Laviolette, Gerard Gallant, and Darryl Sutter, Shaw would represent a rookie head coach in the NHL (although serving a couple of months as New York Islanders interim head coach in 2005-06). The fact that Shaw has made it this far into interviews, especially for foundational and important times for both of these organizations, shows the respect that he has earned throughout the NHL.
However, Shaw serving under Tortorella and Hitchcock for so many years may have influenced him to be much more of a chalkboard coach, something that many NHL organizations have moved past in recent years. If Shaw is able to be flexible and adapt to the new era of NHL hockey, he should have plenty of interest in his services.
Dominik Simon Terminates Czech League Contract
HC Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga announced today that forward Dominik Simon and the club have reached a mutual agreement to terminate his contract. The move makes Simon, who split the 2021-22 season between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Anaheim Ducks, an option to return to the NHL in 2023-24.
The Prague-based club had a strong season due in part to the contributions of former NHLers Vladimir Sobotka and Michal Kempny, but injuries made Simon a non-factor this year. Expected to be one of the team’s top forwards, Simon instead posted just two goals and an assist in 22 games, and injuries kept him out of the lineup entirely after the New Year.
With Simon understandably looking for a fresh start after his return to his home country went awry, it’s not surprising the club agreed to release him from his contract, which ran through the next season.
Initially eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft, Simon was passed over three times before Pittsburgh finally took a flier on him with a fifth-round selection in 2015 after he posted 30 points in 52 games with Extraliga club HC Plzen. Simon immediately headed stateside, posting strong totals in the minors with the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and even earning some brief call-ups early on.
Simon would eventually grow into a full-time role with Pittsburgh in the coming seasons, posting a career-high eight goals and 28 points in 71 games in 2018-19. Despite becoming a reliable enough bottom-six piece, the Penguins opted not to qualify him in the 2020 offseason, where Simon then signed a one-year deal with the Calgary Flames in free agency.
Things have consistently gone downhill for Simon after that COVID-laced 2020-21 season, where he appeared in just 12 games combined with Calgary and their AHL affiliate, the Stockton Heat, not getting on the scoresheet in any of them. A return to Pittsburgh the following season didn’t do much to revitalize his offense, and he was included as a minor piece in the Rickard Rakell trade with the Anaheim Ducks before heading to Czechia last year.
While it’s obviously been a trying few seasons for Simon, there is likely a place for him in an NHL organization looking to add a veteran presence to their AHL affiliate. He’s an attractive option given his brief playoff experience and teammates in Pittsburgh, and some high-end ice time could help him regain his confidence enough to push for an NHL depth role once again.
Latest On Anaheim’s Coaching Search
The Ducks have had a head coaching vacancy since the start of the offseason when it was revealed that Dallas Eakins wouldn’t be back after spending four years with the team. GM Pat Verbeek is known to be casting a wide net as he looks to make his first NHL head coaching hire but there haven’t been many names connected to them thus far. However, Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli reports (Twitter link) that Devils associate coach Andrew Brunette, Maple Leafs assistant Spencer Carbery, and Penguins assistant Mike Vellucci are under consideration for the spot.
Brunette is the only one of the three with head coach experience at the NHL level after being at the helm of the Panthers for most of the 2021-22 campaign. However, he wasn’t offered the full-time role (which instead went to Paul Maurice) and eventually landed on Lindy Ruff’s bench. It would have been understandable to think that Brunette was added with an eye on replacing Ruff but with the veteran working on an extension to stay with New Jersey, it’s possible that Brunette could be on the move. It would be a different situation for Brunette moving from a playoff team to one that’s squarely in a rebuild but the teams he has been with the last couple of years being strong ones offensively, that could be particularly appealing on a team with a lot of young talent up front.
Carbery has been viewed as a coach on the rise in recent years and after spending three years running the bench with AHL Hershey, he joined Toronto as an assistant in 2021. He has played an important role in coaching their power play, a group that has had considerable success lately, producing at a 26% clip this season, a small tick down from the 27.3% from the year before. Carbery is also known to be under consideration for the head coaching vacancy in Washington and if Toronto decides to make a change behind the bench following their exit against Florida, he’ll quite likely have a chance to get that role as well.
As for Vellucci, he has experience both behind the bench and in the front office having worked in various roles with Carolina for several years before spending a season as coach and GM with AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2019-20 before joining Mike Sullivan’s staff as an assistant in 2020. Vellucci also has a long history at the major junior level, spending more than a decade as the coach and GM with OHL Plymouth. With the Ducks transitioning to a younger group, someone with plenty of experience coaching younger players could certainly be beneficial to Anaheim.
When Verbeek announced that Eakins wouldn’t be returning, he wouldn’t commit to any sort of timeline for when he’d hire his replacement but indicated he hoped he’d have his new bench boss in place by the draft. Considering the draft ends just two days before free agency opens up, it would make a lot of sense to have Eakins’ replacement in place before that time so Verbeek has roughly six more weeks to find Anaheim’s next head coach.
Axel Andersson Signs In Sweden
For the second time in the past few weeks, an Anaheim Ducks prospect has opted to depart the minor-league ranks and return home. Defenseman Axel Andersson has now signed a two-year contract with Djurgårdens IF in the second-tier Allsvenskan, per a team announcement.
A pending restricted free agent, Anaheim can retain Andersson’s NHL rights with a qualifying offer next month.
A 2018 second-round pick of the Boston Bruins, Anaheim acquired Andersson in the deal which sent winger Ondrej Kase to Boston in 2020. Highly regarded as a prospect because of his puck-moving ability and power-play production, though he hasn’t quite yet panned out in a minor-league role for the Ducks.
He’s spent the last two and a half seasons in a San Diego Gulls uniform after Anaheim loaned him to the Allsvenskan’s Södertälje SK during the first part of the 2020-21 campaign. Since then, he’s struggled to stay healthy and stay in the lineup, posting 20 points in 84 career AHL games along with an even plus-minus rating.
It’s not the end of the road for Axelsson’s development at all, and it’s still a wise choice for Anaheim to qualify Andersson and examine bringing him back over when his contract with Djurgården expires, at which point he’ll be 25 years old. His AHL production wasn’t horrific, and he did show positive strides at points.
For Andersson, it marks a return to where he spent the two seasons prior to the 2018 draft developing, playing 84 games in the Djurgården junior program. The 6-foot, 179-pound right-shot defender should receive more opportunity on a Djurgården team looking to regain promotion to the SHL this season.
Sweden Announces 2023 World Championship Roster
Sweden has revealed its roster for the upcoming 2023 IIHF Men’s World Championship, and it’s filled with an impressive mix of NHL players, high-end SHL players, and young prospects. The team is hoping to bring in Sweden’s first medal at the tournament since winning back-to-back golds in 2017 and 2018.
Headlining the roster are some prominent NHLers, including seasoned veteran Jakob Silfverberg and younger players like Lucas Raymond, Jonatan Berggren, and Fabian Zetterlund. For Silfverberg, who’s rumored to return to Sweden after his current contract with the Anaheim Ducks expires, this is his first appearance at the Worlds in over a decade. There’s also top 2023 NHL Draft prospect Leo Carlsson, who could see his name called as early as third overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets after spending the entire season up in the SHL with Örebro HK.
On the blue line, Sweden is led by a pair of longtime NHLers in Christian Folin and Patrik Nemeth, but their best defender is undoubtedly Washington Capitals youngster Rasmus Sandin. Others, such as three-time Swiss league defenseman of the year Henrik Tömmernes, provide some valuable depth.
In net, Sweden will be relying on a trio of capable goaltenders led by one of the best prospects in the world – Jesper Wallstedt. The Minnesota Wild prospect posted a .908 save percentage in 38 games with the AHL’s Iowa Wild and put up a .940 mark in international play for Sweden last year at the World Junior Championship. If Wallstedt doesn’t run away with the crease, there’s a high-end second option in SHL and KHL veteran Lars Johansson, who recorded a sparkling .958 save percentage for Sweden at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The full roster can be found below:
F Pär Lindholm
F Dennis Everberg
F Marcus Sorensen
F Andre Petersson
F Leo Carlsson
F Lucas Raymond
F Oscar Lindberg
F Jakob Silfverberg
F Jonatan Berggren
F Fabian Zetterlund
F Linus Johansson
F Carl Grundström
F Jacob de La Rose
F Alexander Nylander
D Christian Folin
D Henrik Tömmernes
D Patrik Nemeth
D Lukas Bengtsson
D Rasmus Sandin
D Anton Lindholm
D Jonathan Pudas
D Joel Persson
G Jesper Wallstedt
G Lars Johansson
G Jacob Johansson
Chicago Blackhawks Win 2023 NHL Draft Lottery
One of the most highly anticipated nights on the NHL calendar has finally arrived as the annual NHL Draft Lottery was held to determine which team would have the honor of selecting first and second overall at the 2023 NHL Draft. The 16 teams that failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs all had a chance to win the lottery, though teams can only move up a maximum of ten slots, so the bottom 11 teams in the NHL standings all had a chance of landing the top draft pick.
The results are now in and the Chicago Blackhawks have won the first overall selection in the 2023 NHL Draft. They had the third best odds entering the night, but jumped ahead of the Anaheim Ducks and the Columbus Blue Jackets to win the top pick. The Ducks won the second overall pick and will now step to the podium second at the draft after entering the lottery with the best odds at winning the first overall pick. The Blue Jackets had the second best odds of winning the lottery, but have dropped to third overall.
The now official order of the first 16 picks in the 2023 NHL Draft will go as follows:
- Chicago Blackhawks
- Anaheim Ducks
- Columbus Blue Jackets
- San Jose Sharks
- Montreal Canadiens
- Arizona Coyotes
- Philadelphia Flyers
- Washington Capitals
- Detroit Red Wings
- St. Louis Blues
- Vancouver Canucks
- Arizona Coyotes (via Ottawa Senators)
- Buffalo Sabres
- Pittsburgh Penguins
- Nashville Predators
- Calgary Flames
The prize for winning the first overall pick is a big one this season. Connor Bedard is slated to go with the top selection at the 2023 NHL Draft and he promises to be an exceptional NHL player.
Bedard will not turn 18 years old until July, but he did lead the WHL in goals, assists and points this past season. He scored 71 goals, 72 assists and 143 points in just 57 games. He was away from the team for a few weeks around Christmas to suit up at the World Juniors where he brought his world-class skills to the biggest stage yet. He was named MVP of the tournament after scoring nine goals and 23 points in just seven games, helping Canada claim a gold medal.
Adam Fantilli is likely to be the second player off the board at the draft, but he is an exceptional consolation prize. He won the Hobey Baker Award as the best player in college hockey during his freshman season. Fantilli scored 30 goals and 65 points in just 36 NCAA contests, showing he is ready to take the next step to the NHL immediately after being drafted.
The 2023 NHL Draft will be held in Nashville, Tennessee on June 28.