The Anaheim Ducks are off to another poor start this season, currently sitting in last place in the West Division with the fourth-worst record in the NHL. They aren’t trending in the right direction either; at 1-6-3, no team in the league has been as bad as the Ducks over their past ten games. Although head coach Dallas Eakins is only in his second season with Anaheim, there is still growing scrutiny of his failures so far and speculation as to his job security. After all, Eakins was brought in to lead the rebuild in Anaheim due to his past success with young players, yet many of the young Ducks continue to fall short of expectations. Eakins’ conservative style has also stymied the team’s offensive potential, as they sit second-to-last in the NHL in scoring with just 2.16 goals per game this season.
However, in the eyes of his general manager there is no need for Eakins to worry about his job just yet. Speaking with the media, Ducks GM Bob Murray gave a firm vote of confidence to his head coach. “I’ve got total confidence in Dallas,” Murray said. “I think he’s doing a pretty good job right now with everything that’s going on. I have no issues whatsoever. I have no problem with Dallas.” Despite this emphatic note of support, Murray did state later in the press conference that he expected the team to better this season. So if the blame does not lie with Eakins, could it fall on Murray? Many believe that the veteran GM could also be in danger of losing his job. If that is the case, Eakins’ own job security may only be as good as that of the man who hired him. Something has to change in Anaheim and ownership may soon step in and make changes.
- As for one major change that Ducks fans are hoping to avoid, Murray shared some news that they will find comforting. With rumors floating around that long-time captain Ryan Getzlaf could be traded, Murray made no qualms about his thoughts on that matter. “I’m tired of hearing this… how his name is out there,” Murray said, “the only way Ryan Getzlaf would go anywhere is if he came to me and said, ’Bob, can you try and trade me to a contender?’ As an impending free agent who would be a desirable rental even at his advanced age, there is certainly value in moving Getzlaf. However, the career Duck has earned the right to decide his own future. According to Murray, the two sides will wait to see how Getzlaf feels both physically and mentally about continuing his career and doing so in Anaheim, but he calls the relationship “wonderful” and is open to an extension if Getzlaf is.
- One player who seems likely to be traded or, if not, unlikely to return next season is Danton Heinen. Still only in his first season with the Ducks, Heinen’s name did not emerge as a trade candidate until a string of healthy scratches and then a very public negotiation between the Ducks and Vancouver Canucks that included he and Jake Virtanen. In over a week since that hypothetical deal went viral, Heinen has been scratched in three of the Ducks five games. In the two games he has played, Heinen has been held without a point or even a shot on goal, is a -2, and has seen a notable drop-off in ice time. Heinen simply does not seem to be a fit in Anaheim and as an impending free agent will see his time with the team come to an end soon, one way or another. If there is interest in acquiring the winger, who recorded 47 points as a rookie with the Boston Bruins just three years ago, then he will surely be traded. If not, he will walk this summer and have to look for a fresh start elsewhere.
- A young player who the Ducks will not rush into their rebuild this year is Brayden Tracey. The 2019 first-rounder is under contract and has already played a dozen AHL games this season, but his time in the pros won’t go any further in 2020-21. The San Diego Gulls have announced that Tracey has been reassigned to his junior club, the WHL’s Victoria Royals, to play out the rest of the season. With the Ducks having been criticized for bringing too many of their current top prospects to the NHL before they were ready, they will let Tracey continue to develop against his own peers instead. The 19-year-old forward has shown great skill at the junior level, but was held scoreless in the minors and will be grateful to re-discover his scoring touch back in the WHL.