Salim Valji, Anaheim Ducks General Manager
Considering how close the Anaheim Ducks were to dealing Chris Pronger at the deadline, a second round playoff exit should be considered a success.
If anything, the 2009 playoffs showed the Ducks management just how good of a goaltender they have in Jonas Hiller. That being said, there certainly are a few holes they will have to fill by training camp.
It seems that every team is looking for a top six forward, and that certainly is the Ducks case as Teemu Selanne is once again considering retirement.
Even if Selanne stays, there is still room for another scoring forward; Mikael Samuelsson fits the bill well. Samuelsson is a skilled second line forward good for 40-50 points and brings championship experience from Detroit. His numbers would probably be inflated if he wasn't sharing ice time with the likes of Pavel Datsyuk, Hennrik Zetterberg and Marian Hossa. Samuelsson has been overshadowed by star players throughout his entire career and would be a great fit amongst the Ducks forwards.
Another name to be mentioned is Maxim Afinogenov, the Buffalo Sabres castoff. Although he was run out of the city he played in for nine years, he posted very solid numbers, including a career-high 73 points in 2005-2006.
Even if his point production has decreased the past four seasons, he is a playmaker, something the Ducks have lacked since Chris Kunitz was dealt.
Another need is for the Ducks to replace/resign two of their checking line players, Todd Marchant and Rob Niedermayer. If they cannot come to terms with Marchant, Marty Reasoner is a good option.
On defense, Francois Beauchemin and Scott Niedermayer are UFA's.
On paper this looks like a bad loss for Anaheim and it definetly is, but with Ryan Whitney and Brendan Mikkelson, along with Brian Salcido coming up from Portland, they have enough depth to get them through those departures.
Retaining at least Beauchemin should be a priority, as well as signing a depth blueliner such as Greg de Vries.
Eric Tangradi was the only real skilled forward prospect the Ducks had before they traded him to Pittsburgh, so they should definitely try and acquire another one with the 15th selection. Scott Glennie is an option here, he had a solid 2008-09 season in the WHL where he garnered 70 points in just 53 games.
Another player is Zach Kassian, a power forward similar in many ways to the aforementioned Tangradi. The Ducks love size up front, so he would be an intriguing option.
The Ducks have many solid role players in their farm system but they lack any true stay-at-home defensmen. This should certainly be a priority in the second round.
What Salim Valji should do:
Retain Francois Beauchemin
Sign either Mikael Samuelsson or Maxim Afineganov, as well as Marty Reasoner
Sign Greg de Vries and another depth blueliner
Draft Zack Kassian and another offense-first forward, as well as blueline depth
Stay tuned for more in this series of articles.
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