Anaheim Ducks have struggled this year. Here’s how to fix them

Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

It is no secret the Anaheim Ducks have struggled this season. Questions must be answered about the future of the team.

The Anaheim Ducks entered the All-Star Break on a high note, winning the last two games of their four game road trip. It was their first two game win streak since early November.

With the Ducks 14 points out of a wild card spot and third in the Pacific Division, the club has a lot of ground to make up if it wants to return to the playoffs. The Ducks have been well-known to play a better second half than first half in the past several seasons, so its possible they could make a run.

However, its far from likely. The Ducks are looking more like a rebuild than a relaunch or retool at this moment. It was thought that the infusion of youth, surrounded by a younger veteran core would give the club a chance to still be competitive and within a grasp of a playoff spot. That has not happened.

The Ducks have been in and out of the Western Conference basement. As the team sits on the outside looking in for a playoff spot, rumors have surfaced on what the club will do this season to improve its future outlook.

Per Elliott Friedman of Sportsnet, Ducks’ GM Bob Murray has been open about taking on salary in exchange for assets like early round draft picks and young players. Weaponizing his salary cap is a smart movev. Who knows if Murray will actually act on this though, or if he is bluffing.

To explore the future of this team and where it might soon be, here’s a simple Q&A  I did with myself of who the Ducks presently are, what they will be the rest of this season, and plans for beyond.

Who’s team is this now and who’s will it be in the future?

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As long as Ryan Getzlaf is playing in a Ducks uniform, it will be his team. Getzlaf is still an elite player at the end of his prime. The team will be happy to have Getzlaf as long as he wants to play and has the desire to lead this team.

As to who’s this team will be in the next 3 or 5 years, it’s a mystery. Getzlaf is signed for one more season after this one and will be 36. Its foreseeable he could play a couple of years after the next one, but very soon there will need to be someone to take his place as captain. Maybe Cam Fowler?

What are the two biggest problems with this Ducks team this season?

Scoring. The Ducks rank 30th in the league at 2.46 goals/game. It seems for the longest time, this team has had struggled to score goals and management has done nothing to address it.

Allowing too many goals. The Ducks have been trending in the wrong direction in terms of goals allowed/game. Compared to the previous 3 campaigns, the Ducks were at 2.73 during the 2016-17 season, 2.86 during 2017-2018, 3.05 during 2018-2019, and this season are at 3.10. Allowing too many goals and not scoring enough gives a slim margin for success.

The trade deadline is February 24, 2020, and the Ducks figure to be sellers. Who are 4 Ducks’ players currently on the roster that Murray may seek to trade for young assets?

1.      Ryan Miller (39). If the Ducks current situation does not change, look for Miller to be on the move. He is still searching for that elusive Stanley Cup, and if his desire for it is still strong, could be moved to a contending team that needs solid backup goaltending for the playoffs.

Potential teams are Vancouver, Vegas, Tampa Bay, and Florida.

2.      Carter Rowney (30). Rowney has a cap hit of $1.13 for next season and may be moved for a fourth or fifth round pick. He has formed quite the trio with Derek Grant and Nicolas Deslauriers on the 4th line. Offensively, he does not bring much to the table, but is an excellent penalty killer.

3.      Nick Ritchie (24). Ritchie was drafted 10th overall in the 2014 NHL draft, but has been a severe disappointment. He was deemed to be the Ducks’ power forward that could help solve their scoring problem, but has not been the consistent player the Ducks hoped he would be.

After being with the team 5-plus years and not panning out, Murray should finally move on from Ritchie.

4.      Jacob Larsson (22). A 27th pick in the 2015 NHL draft, Larsson thus far has not been the impact defenseman the Ducks thought he was going to be. The Ducks believed him to be a top 4 defensemen by now, but he has been glued to the third pairing and has not progressed to the manner the Ducks have hoped.

Its possible Larsson, like Ritchie, may need a different environment to continue his career.

Question: Who has disappointed most this season for the Ducks?

Ondrej Kase. Sad to say this, because he drives possession a lot for the Ducks. However, he has not produced enough in terms of goal scoring. ONLY 5 goals this season, when he was on pace for 30+ last season before tearing the labrum in his shoulder.

How will the Ducks end their season?

The Ducks will be fifth in the Pacific with 92 points, but miss the playoffs with the last team in having 97 points. Though the Ducks won’t make the playoffs this season, the continued development of the young kids (Troy Terry, Max Jones, Sam Steel, Max Comtois among others) will bring hope for team’s future next season and beyond.

Anaheim Ducks
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

What are the Ducks 4 top priorities for next season?

Backup goaltender. Should Ryan Miller retire, choose not to re-sign with the team, or be traded, the Ducks will need to find a second option behind starter John Gibson.

If they are going toward youth, is it possible young Swede Olle Eriksson Ek or Czech Lukas Dostal get a chance to work behind Gibson if they’re ready?

Sniper/Scorer. The Ducks need to find a real good, consistent scorer. Maybe someone like Mike Hoffman from the Florida Panthers who has scored 20+ goals in his last 5 seasons? Or someone like Craig Smith from the Nashville Predators who has scored 20+ goals in 4 of his last 5 seasons?

While the two mentioned above won’t be groundbreaking, they’ll at least give the Ducks an additional scoring option and power play threat.

Both are unrestricted free agents after this season. The Ducks just have to make sure they don’t overpay for one of these guys.

Find a superstar in the draft. Preferably, the Ducks need one of those ‘generational’ talents that transcends the game and can affect it in multiple ways. Preferably, a young superstar similar to a Connor McDavid on the Edmonton Oilers or Jack Eichel on the Buffalo Sabres. The Ducks roster currently does not have any of those generational talents to take the reigns from Getzlaf, but very good quality young and veteran role players.

Stay committed to youth. It’s extremely key for the Ducks to stay the course and be patient with the youth on the team. As the team gets its youth developed, they’ll hopefully become better players and learn how to win. The hope is that the youth can support and eventually surpass the veterans so the club can contending for a playoff spot every year.

The Ducks must invest in their youth, it is their future.