The Anaheim Ducks seem to consistently position themselves for a realistic run at the Stanley Cup, year in and year out. If this off season is any indicator, the 2015-2016 season will be no exception. In fact, the only disappointment in the eyes of the Ducks and their fans over the past two season is that there have been no Conference Championship Banners added to the Honda Center. Granted, this is a major disappointment. At this point, nothing less than a championship will be settled on by management, players, or fans. So, this offseason was spent building upon a game plan that saw the Ducks rack up 225 points combined over the course of the past two seasons. Building upon that success will not be easy given the fact that the Kings and Sharks will be hungry this coming season after missing out on the playoffs, but they have certainly moved in the right direction.
The Ducks are already in a great position. Two of arguably the best players in the NHL, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, are well anchored in Anaheim and do not intend on going anywhere anytime soon. In addition, the past few off seasons have seen the Ducks pick wisely in drafts and acquire young talent from around the league. Those players are now beginning to mature and should start making an impact in the coming year, and the seasons to follow. This has also benefitted the club from a financial standpoint, as the young players have not taken a chunk out of the money available for salaries, which has given them flexibility this offseason to go after some quality free agents.
Graphic via hockeytalkwithcourtney
To begin the signing and draft season, the Ducks were able to agree to terms with existing centers Chris Wagner and Michael Sgarbossa for at least another year. In addition, they went out and signed free-agent defenseman Shane O’Brien, at the same time that they were able to agree to terms with their pick in the second round of the draft, center Julius Nattinen. They are now well set at these positions. The team was also able to confirm that they have signed Chris Stewart to a one year contract worth a reported $1.7 million. This is a major signing for the team given Matt Beleskey’s decision to leave the team during free agency himself, leaving a definite void at the power forward position that was sure to be felt.
Aside from the aforementioned signings and acquisitions, and apart from one notable departure, the team remains mostly in tact. It appears that the general philosophy in Anaheim is to build on past success and to bring in young talent to gradually replace veterans over time. Few can argue with this plan, as the Ducks have been just a few unlucky moments on the ice away from getting back to their first Stanley Cup since 2007. At the end of the day, however, success at this level is measured by championships, so fans in the city will certainly be looking for this season to be the one to bring the cup back to Anaheim.
Graphic via ducks.nhl