For a team that finished 27th in 2019-20, you would expect the @Anaheim Ducks to be in a better cap situation than they are.
Because of their minimal cap space, GM Bob Murray wasn’t overly busy in the first week of free agency. He did land one of the top defensemen, signing Kevin Shattenkirk to a three-year deal worth $3.9M AAV. As things sit right now, the Ducks are actually $154,999 over the cap, according to our friends at PuckPedia.com.
After 2021, they’ll get some relief with Ryan Getzlaf ($8.25M AAV) and David Backes ($4.5M AAV) coming off of the books but have a lot of players with term.
Projected Forward Lines
With very little movement up front, other than bringing @Derek Grant back on a three-year deal, the Ducks lines should look similar to how they finished 2020. Besides their fourth line the trio of Rickard Rakell, Adam Henrique and @Jakob Silfverberg was their most frequently used line in 2020 (per MoneyPuck.com). They had a strong 50.3 xGoals% and finished the season with a 60.0 Goals% together and look like the Ducks’ top-line heading into 2021.
After bringing both @Danton Heinen and @Sonny Milano in via trades in February, Ryan Getzlaf was often saddled with the two new-comers. Their numbers weren’t great, getting outscored 5-to-2 in just 57.7 TOI but they basically become the projected second line by default. The young-guns of @Max Jones, @Sam Steel and @Troy Terry have played together quite a bit and have had a lot of success so I don’t foresee them breaking them up. And as I mentioned, Grant, @Nicolas Deslauriers and @Carter Rowney played together more than any trio on the Ducks roster in 2020 and were solid for a fourth line.
Some of the players that could push their way into this lineup by opening night are:
- – @David Backes, most likely in a fourth-line role.
- – @Trevor Zegras is one of the 2019 NHL Draft picks that could make the jump in 2021. He had a terrific freshman season at Boston University, finishing third on the team with 36 points (11G / 25A) in 33 games.
- – @Maxime Comtois is one of the Ducks’ top prospects and already has some NHL experience. He could play anywhere from L2 to L4 in 2021 if he makes the team out of camp.
- – @Isac Lundeström, also as a fourth-liner to start. The former first-round pick was so-so in 2020, recording 21 points (6G / 15A) in 43 AHL games so don’t be surprised if he starts in the AHL.
Projected Defensive Pairings
It seems like a given that @Hampus Lindholm and @Josh Manson will be the Ducks’ top-pair and shutdown duo again. They played together more than any duo on the Ducks in 2020 and were one of 57 pairings across the NHL to play over 400 minutes together. However, they gave up the third-most Goals Against/60 of those pairings. @Cam Fowler and Manson produced better defensive numbers in 160.5 TOI together but I still expect Fowler to be paired with Shattenkirk. This pairing will produce a ton of offence and will get more O-zone starts than any other pairing.
As for the third-pair, the Ducks have plenty of mediocre options to consider. Right now I have @Christian Djoos and @Jani Hakanpaa as the projected third pairing, giving them a secondary penalty kill pair.
Others that will be considered for the third pair:
- – @Jaccob Larsson played 60 games with the Ducks last season, which was actually the most of any of their defensemen. He wasn’t always trusted to kill penalties and with @ERik Gudbranson gone, someone will have to.
- @Brendan Guhle, has good size (6-foot-2, 197 lbs.) and is the most mobile of the three. Guhle can also post some points, picking up eight (4G / 4A) in 30 games with the Ducks last season.
- @Josh Mahura has the most offensive upside of the group of five and has actually done so at the NHL-level. He has nine points (2G / 7A) in 28 career games with the Ducks.