Although we’re not even two months into the season, the trade deadline is just over a month away. Where does each team stand and what moves should they be looking to make? We begin our look around the league with the Anaheim Ducks.
It has not been a fun season for Anaheim, to put it lightly. While they are still in the middle of transitioning to a younger roster, there was some hope that they’d be able to hang around the playoff race with the re-aligned divisions for this season. That hasn’t happened. Instead, the struggles from the last few seasons continue to plague them, highlighted by a complete inability to score as they are averaging just over two goals per game this season. That has put extra pressure on the goaltending, and the results haven’t been there, which has them squarely in the basement in the West Division.
6-12-5, 8th in West Division
No base cap room, $5.47M in full-season space using LTIR, 0/3 retention slots used, 50/50 contracts used, per CapFriendly.
2021: ANA 1st, ANA 2nd, ANA 3rd, ANA 4th, ANA 5th, EDM 5th, ANA 6th
2022: ANA 1st, ANA 2nd, ANA 3rd, ANA 4th, ANA 5th, ANA 6th, ANA 7th*
*- This pick technically belongs to Edmonton until the end of the season as part of a 2020 trade involving defenseman Joel Persson. The Oilers get to keep the pick if Persson plays in 25 NHL games this season, but with Persson in the SHL and not on an NHL contract, that won’t happen. However, the pick remains encumbered for now, and while the Ducks will get it back, it cannot be dealt at this time.
Danton Heinen’s name came up in recent discussions with Vancouver in a deal that ultimately didn’t make it to the finish line for financial reasons, a particular caveat that is basically going to be the focal point of every trade that does or doesn’t get made over the next five-plus weeks. The change of scenery last year from Boston was supposed to spark him offensively, but that hasn’t happened. He has just six goals and four assists in 27 games with Anaheim, including last season, making him a candidate for another change of scenery. The 25-year-old is a pending restricted free agent with arbitration rights and is owed a $2.775M qualifying offer (just below his $2.8M AAV), and at this point, he looks like a non-tender candidate. Whether it’s moving him for another player making similar money or, frankly, for anything of value, Heinen is someone who should be on the move.
Ryan Getzlaf highlights their list of pending unrestricted free agents, but it’s hard to see him moving. First, making the money work due to his $8.25M AAV would be tricky, and the veteran doesn’t seem to have much interest in leaving at this point. Ben Hutton ($950K) could be someone to watch. He has just one assist in 17 games this season but is logging more than 18 minutes a night on the back end. He could be an affordable addition for a playoff-bound team that’s looking to add some injury insurance. If he’s able to return by the deadline, Carter Rowney ($1.133M) could be a fourth-line upgrade for a team as well.
One wild card in this market has to be Rickard Rakell. A few years ago, the 27-year-old looked like he was on a steal of a deal with an AAV of just $3.789M. However, his production has tailed off sharply since his 2017-18 69-point campaign and has dipped even farther this year with just three goals in 23 games. They wouldn’t be moving him from a position of strength by any stretch, but it’s now fair to wonder if he’s in their long-term plans. With one year left on his contract, his value probably isn’t going to be much higher in the summer, and we saw with the failed Heinen trade that GM Bob Murray is open to a player-for-player swap. Rakell is the type of player several teams are likely to kick the tires on.
1) Offensive upgrades: The Ducks a total of two players who have at least five goals this season, and one of them (Isac Lundestrom) barely got there after getting a hat trick on Monday. Even though they’re in a rebuild/transition stage, they need some veteran offensive production and if they move players like Heinen or Rakell, it will probably be for veterans making similar money and not futures.
2) Unsigned assets: If the Ducks want to get a longer look at top prospects Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale, it means they’ll be activating the first year of their contracts, giving them no flexibility with regard to the 50-contract limit. The college free-agent market figures to be more intriguing this year with players getting a shot at playing for six weeks or so compared to the handful of games that they typically get. It’s a good year for the Ducks to shop in that market, but they need to have some available contract slots to be able to do so. Moving signed players like Hutton or Hakanpaa for a pick or unsigned prospect would certainly help in that regard.