Anaheim Ducks: Possible Replacements for Saku Koivu
Since joining the Anaheim Ducks in 2009, Saku Koivu has become the first viable second line center behind Ryan Getzlaf since Andy McDonald. Koivu was a particularly good fit alongside Teemu Selanne, because of their experience together during the Olympics.
Throughout his career, Koivu has been a reliable 50-point player and has continued to be a steady offensive option for the Ducks. However, at 38 years old and in the final year of his contract, Koivu is looking at either retirement or a significantly reduced role in Anaheim's offense.
If the Ducks were to re-sign him, it would be for a reduced role on the third or fourth line, where he would likely be without the help of Selanne, who is expected to retire in the near future.
With the absence of Koivu on the second line, Anaheim finds itself once again in need of secondary scoring behind its powerful top three.
Considering their current roster and the 2013 NHL free-agent pool, the Ducks have a handful of workable replacements for Koivu should his tenure as their go-to second line centerman come to an end.
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Andrew Cogliano is capable of 40-point seasons, though since coming over to the Ducks from the Edmonton Oilers, he's typically spent his time on the third and fourth lines.
If Bruce Boudreau is looking to promote him, he's yet to suggest it publicly. However, he has stated that he's planning on moving Koivu to the third line. Add the fact that Anaheim elected not to go after a center during free agency, and it's certainly possible that Cogliano is set to get a promotion.
Even if we knew for certain that the Ducks were planning on looking for Koivu's replacement from within their organization, I wouldn't be putting my money on Cogliano. More on that later.
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Despite an injury that limited Travis Zajac to only 15 games during the 2011-2012 season, he continues to have tremendous offensive upside. Not only that, but at 27 years old, he's younger than a lot of the other centers in the 2013 free-agent pool.
With Patrick Elias also set to become an unrestricted free agent, it's more likely that the Devils will make a push to re-sign the younger Zajac. If he does decide to test free agency, though, Anaheim should take note.
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Yet to reach his 30th birthday, Stephen Weiss is capable of leading a team offensively and costs around the same price as Cogliano. He's also been in Florida his entire career and could be ready for a change.
His level of loyalty to the Panthers organization has been ambiguous and hard to discern at times, though if it's sun and beach that he's hesitant to leave behind, Orange County might be a nice compromise.
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Perhaps one of the most unfortunate trades in Ducks history was the one that sent McDonald to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Doug Weight. Sure, there was the cap issue of bringing back Scott Niedermayer, but it's still hard to accept.
Now 35 years old, McDonald will be a free agent at the end of next season. At this point, he might be more of a patch job in terms of replacing Koivu, though he's still an offensive threat.
A big concern surrounding him is his ability to stay healthy, though it's worth noting that he managed 50 points in only 58 games during the 2010-2011 season.
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The Ducks' prospect pool is rich with talent, and Peter Holland might just be the next one to make the transition to full-time NHL minutes.
The former 2009 first-round draft pick seems primed and ready to take on a bigger role at the NHL level. In recent years, the Ducks have been very slow to pull the big triggers in free agency, so it stands to reason that their preferred method of replacing a player like Koivu would be through their own farm system.
At this point, Holland's age and potential make him the most likely candidate to take over that second line spot. Even if we don't see him in such a prominent role, he'll get some time on the third or fourth line and will be a quick call-up in the event of an injury.