Are the Ducks or Kings set up better in the immediate future?

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 23, 2019 (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 23, 2019 (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings are both in down points in terms of success but which team is set up better for a quicker return to form?

The Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings have slowly been going through a rebuilding phase for the last couple of years. They both did not make the playoffs last year, and yet again they will not make it this year.

However, let’s take a look at both franchises in their path to rebuilding and see which one is set up better for the immediate future.

The Ducks

The Ducks had been an annual Stanley Cup Contender up until last year when they missed the playoffs for the first time since the 2011-2012 season. Last year, they bought out franchise player Corey Perry, lost Ryan Kesler to a hip injury, and fired coach Randy Carlyle due to a lengthy losing streak.

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This year, they hired Dallas Eakins, who coached for their AHL affiliate the Gulls and has been a key addition to the Ducks coaching staff. He has brought a good steady mentality to the team and has mostly eliminated the dump and chase strategy that Carlyle had installed in this team for the past couple of years.

Furthermore, he has slowly helped develop the Ducks young players who played for him like Sam Steel, Max Jones, Troy Terry and Jacob Larsson.

Though Steel has the most points out of them with 22, each player has played an enormous amount of games this year and has gained valuable experience with the ice time they have received this year.

Additionally, the Ducks made a bunch of moves this trade deadline, trading out Derek Grant, Nick Ritchie, Ondrej Kase, Korbinian Holzer, Daniel Sprong and Devin Shore for a fourth-round draft pick, Kyle Criscuolo, Danton Heinen, Sonny Milano, Matt Irwin and David Backes along with a first-round draft pick.

In the 2020 draft, the Ducks will have seven draft picks, including two in the first round. Additionally, in the 2021 draft, the Ducks will have six draft picks, but no seventh-round pick.

Out of the players listed, the Ducks may be able to build something with Milano and Heinen as they are young and their salaries are below $3 million combined.

The biggest part that will determine the immediate future of the Ducks will, however, depend on the Captain Ryan Getzlaf. Getzlaf is 34 and is signed for one more season after this one.

There is much uncertainty as to whether he will continue playing beyond then. If he continues to want to play and embrace the role of growing this young team it will surely help the Ducks in their immediate future of making the playoffs again soon.

The Kings

The Kings won two Stanley Cups in the first part of the last decade, and ever since the 2014-2015 season, they have been in a free fall from the upper echelon of cup contenders.

The game has passed them as it has gotten quicker while they have played the game slowly. This has caused them to miss the playoffs the last two years and be in the basement of the Western Conference standings.

They have stayed old and still have aging veterans Jeff Carter and Dustin Brown on high-priced contracts at their advanced ages.

However, there is a sign of optimism that the Kings have slowly turned things around this year. Though they are still in the basement, the Kings did do a bunch of moves at the trade deadline, enhancing their number of draft picks while shipping out some salary.

They have 11 draft picks for the 2020 draft and a possible 10 in the year 2021.

The Kings also have won a season-high 5 games in a row and have increasingly been showcasing their younger players, in particular, Alex Iafallo and Adrian Kempe.

Iafallo has been the most impressive out of the two with 16 goals and 26 assists while Kempe has been no slouch easier as he has 11 goals and 21 assists.

They are both signed at affordable contracts at less than $2.5 million each and look to be in the Kings’ future plans.

Additionally, the trade of Jack Campbell to the Leafs has opened up more starts for young goalie Cal Peterson who has essentially alternated starts with Jonathan Quick. Peterson has won his last three starts and is signed at an affordable $865k per year for the next three years.

With more starts, Cal Peterson will only get better and might be the successor to Jonathan Quick once his contract expires or is possibly traded.

The Kings’ biggest obstacle to being set up for the immediate future however is ensuring their duo of Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty are healthy and functional throughout their contracts. Kopitar is signed for $10 million for the next five years while Drew Doughty is signed at $11 million for the next eight years.

Kopitar is the captain and an essential cog to ensuring the young talent on the Kings gains valuable experience as he anchors the top line with Iafallo and Brown.

Furthermore, Doughty is the backbone of the blue line and will be essential in teaching younger defensemen on tactics and in-game skills.

These two, along with the younger talent will definitely bolster their playoff chances in the upcoming year.

Who is set up better for the immediate future?

The Ducks have more NHL-ready talent than the Kings and are less salary cap-strapped than the Kings at this stage of the year. However, their situation with their longtime captain is a big question mark as to whether he will stay and anchor the development of the younger talent on the roster past next year.

On the other side, the Kings have taken the approach of developing their younger wingers, and backup goaltender as they hope to reach the playoffs once again. Their captain situation is not a question mark as they know Kopitar will be along for at least the next four years to develop young talent along with Doughty.

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The Kings are set up for better success in the immediate future due to their certainty about their captain situation, and also because they have more draft picks than the Ducks in the next two years to set themselves with younger players and to get faster and quicker.