Complete Guide to the Anaheim Ducks' 2014 Offseason
The Anaheim Ducks had a very successful regular season in 2013-14. They finished the year with 116 points, good for the top record in the Western Conference and one point behind the Boston Bruins for the best record in the NHL.
But the Ducks' season ended in disappointing fashion. After holding a 3-2 series lead over the rival Los Angeles Kings, they lost the next two games of their second-round playoff series including Game 7 at the Honda Center.
Here is a guide to what to expect during the offseason for the Anaheim Ducks. Despite their regular-season success, there will be some changes coming in Anaheim this summer.
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The Ducks finished the season with a 54-20-8 record, good for 116 points and the Pacific Division title. They were also the top seed in the Western Conference.
They scored more goals than any other team in the NHL. They were led offensively by the dynamic duo of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Perry's 43 goals were second best in the league.
The Ducks went on three lengthy winning streaks during the season; a seven-game streak in early October, a 10-game winning streak in December and an eight-game streak in January.
Anaheim struggled a bit later in the season but recovered to win their final four games to take the division title and clinch the top spot in the West.
Goaltending was a strength for the Ducks as was a young defense corps which featured three players under the age of 23 in prominent roles.
In the playoffs, the Ducks got past the Dallas Stars in six games in the opening round before falling to the Kings in seven games in Round 2.
Biggest Storylines to Follow
The Ducks already said goodbye to future Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne at season's end.
Saku Koivu has yet to make up his mind, but is reportedly thinking of retiring.
“I’m going to get away from the game for a couple of weeks and really take a good, careful look and what happened,” Koivu told Eric Stephens of The Orange County Register. “How the season went and if there is enough left to come back and push for another year.”
The other major issue Anaheim needs to resolve during the offseason is the goaltending situation. Veteran starter Jonas Hiller is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent this summer.
The team has two young and highly-regarded prospects in John Gibson and Frederik Andersen. Would they go with two youngsters, re-sign Hiller for another year or bring in an experienced goalie as insurance in case the youngsters aren't quite ready.
One way or the other, the Ducks have decisions to make about who will be between the pipes next season.
Notable Players Hitting Free Agency
Goalie Jonas Hiller is the biggest name heading to free agency. It's possible the Ducks try to sign Hiller for another year, but they have two young goalies who may be ready to start in the NHL in Frederik Andersen and John Gibson. If he's back, Hiller would be an insurance policy.
Saku Koivu will either retire or sign another one-year deal to return to Anaheim.
Veteran defenseman Stephanen Robidas will also be a UFA, as will forward Daniel Winnik. Winnik has a better chance of returning than Robidas.
There are three forwards scheduled to be restricted free agents. Mathieu Perreault, Jakob Silfverberg and Devante Smith-Pelly all should be back in Anaheim next season.
Defenseman Sami Vatanen, the 22-year-old Finnish rookie, will also be a RFA and should be a big part of the future in Anaheim.
Top Free-Agent Targets
The Ducks need to add scoring depth. While Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf combined for 74 goals, only two other players scored more than 20.
Adding a player like Matt Moulson or Thomas Vanek would give the Ducks a pair of dangerous scoring lines and make it tougher for defenses to focus in on Perry and Getzlaf.
The Ducks would also benefit by adding a big, physical defenseman who would be strong in the defensive zone. Kyle Quincey or Clayton Stoner may be good fits at this position.
Best Options in the NHL Draft
The Ducks have the 10th pick in the draft as part of the Bobby Ryan trade, as well as their own first-round pick.
Look for the Ducks to add a forward who could add some offense with this pick as they need to add secondary scoring ability.
A good choice for Anaheim would be forward Robby Fabbri of Guelph Storm. The speedy Fabbri scored 45 goals and 87 points in 58 games. He has excellent hockey sense and awareness and should develop into a dangerous top-six forward at the NHL level.
Another possibility is winger Jake Virtanen of the Calgary Hitmen. He adds more size to the equation, something the Ducks like in their forwards.
Players Who Should Be Placed on the Trading Block
The Ducks don't have a lot of movable players right now.
Defenseman Sheldon Souray is on the injured list but has one year left on his contract. If Souray is able to play again next year, the Ducks would be wise to move him although he may not have much value at this point in his career.
The other dilemma is in goal. John Gibson and Frederik Andersen are both young and talented netminders. Only one of them can start for the Ducks over the long haul. The other could be available as part of a big trade to add another scoring forward, a physical defenseman or a veteran goalie who could help mentor the remaining youngster.
Top Trade Targets
The Ducks could use a big, physically dominant defenseman. Dustin Byfuglien has been rumored to be on the trading block, according to Lyle Richardson of The Hockey News and may fill this roll well.
Byfuglien is in his prime at 29 and stands 6'5" while weighing 265 pounds. He has already won a Stanley Cup and has the versatility to play forward when called upon.
When he's motivated, Byfuglien can take over a game and make life miserable for opposing forwards. The question is, would Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau be able to encourage Byfuglien to play at a high level on a consistent basis.
Prospects Most Likely to Debut in 2014-15
The Ducks are full of prospects and were actually ranked first by The Hockey News in their annual "Future Watch" issue this spring.
Goalie John Gibson saw action in three regular-season games with the Ducks and four playoff games. Gibson played very well in most of his limited NHL action and is considered the top goaltending prospect in the game right now. At 20, expect him to be in Anaheim before next season is over.
Rickard Rakell is a center who has a chance to stick with the Ducks next season if he has a strong training camp. The 20-year-old has excellent hockey sense and could be part of a second scoring line in Anaheim once he's ready for the NHL.
When you add defensemen Sami Vatanen and Shea Theodore, you can see the Ducks are loaded with young talent. Vatanen spent most of the season with the Ducks while Theodore is still a year or two away.
Projected 2014-15 Depth Chart