By Daniel Bishop
I would like to take a look at the upcoming free agents that could possibly fit nicely inside the Ducks lineup. I am only going to look at forwards since Anaheim is pretty stacked defensively.
Let me touch on the Steven Stamkos rumors that I am seeing around town for just a second. I think the Ducks would have to move a bunch of pieces to get Stamkos to Anaheim, and I’m not sure the Ducks would look to move anyone like Ryan Kesler, Jakob Silfverberg, or Cam Fowler, which would deplete our best line in the playoffs last season. Just the thought of Stamko’s contract cost and length he might be looking for, in my eyes, wouldn’t be worth it.
The most intriguing one for me would be 28-year-old RW Kyle Okposo. A big bodied guy who can put the puck in the net would be a huge welcome on the Getzlaf line and take some pressure off of Corey Perry. Okposo played in 79 games last season with the New York Islanders and notched 22 goals and 42 assists for 64 points. A player with those numbers would definitely help out a Ducks team that lacked scoring for most of the first half of the season and on and off all season long. Coming off a 5 year, 14 million dollar contract, he is definitely going to look for a raise. My guess would be somewhere in the 5 million per season range. Being a three-time 20 plus goal scorer, I’m sure he will have a lot of teams contacting his agent and I’d like to think the Ducks will throw out a line and see what bites.
Keeping with the same need at RW, Anaheim can take a look at someone who might come a bit cheaper in Radim Vrbata. He is more of a pure goal scorer which would help if Anaheim can’t re-sign David Perron. Vrbata had an off-year last season with the Vancouver Canucks, but then again, who didn’t? He played in 63 games scoring 13 goals, 14 assists, and a plus minus at a whopping minus 30. The minus 30 is a huge “EEK” when talking about the Ducks that like to play a tight defensive game. However, the Ducks also like to take chances on players looking for a second chance. Vrbata is no spring chicken at the age of 34 so he might come somewhat cheap. He is coming off of a 2 year, 10 million dollar contract and I’d be shocked if a team gave him anything close to that after such a dismal season. I could see him fetching around half that, somewhere between 2-3 million. He is a five time 20 goal scorer, so depending on the length and cost of what he is looking to get, this could be an option for the Ducks to take a look at if they miss out on Perron or someone with more talent like Okposo.
Another RW to hit the market is 32-year-old Jiri Hudler. He is a complimentary player that can put the puck in the net, similar to David Perron. I’m not sure of his overall fit with the Ducks other than helping out an offense that struggled at times early in the season. He is going to come rather cheap too while looking to rebound from a poor playoff showing after being dealt at the trade deadline last season from Calgary Flames to the Florida Panthers as a pure rental. He had just 1 assist in 6 playoff games this season with Florida, but has 42 points in 83 career playoff games(16 goals, 26 assists). His overall season numbers last season were not too bad, scoring 16 goals and 30 assists in 72 regular season games. If he can put up numbers like he had in 2014-15(31 goals and 45 assists), he will be a huge impact player for the team that takes a chance on him. I think he would fit best on the Rickard Rakell line, which would allow moving Perry back with Ryan Getzlaf.
Mikkel Boedker looks to be heading on the market as well. Rumor has it, the 26-year-old left winger is seeking a big time contract of 5 years and 5.5 million per season. While he is looking for big money, I love the thought of seeing him in a Ducks jersey next season. If the Ducks lose Sami Vatanen, Boedker could take some of the money that would have been given Sami. During a split season between Arizona and Colorado, he played in 80 games scoring 17 goals and 34 assists for 51 points, but still had a plus minus rating of minus 33. He might be asking a lot for not even having scored 20 goals yet in his career, but his potential to score is through the roof. I could be biased with this one because I’ve always liked him, and coming to a team with solid leadership could possibly do wonders for his stat lines.
I’d like to think the Ducks would go get David Backes who is set to hit the market, but I doubt the Blues will let him go. The fact Anaheim has three top end centers makes me believe he wouldn’t be on Murray’s radar, but it’s nice to dream about bringing in another Kesler type.
These would all be quality players that could pitch in to fill the holes the Ducks had last season. The Ducks also have to think about re-signing a few of players from last season in Jamie McGinn(who I desperately want to keep). I love his style of play and how he fits in the Ducks’ lineup. I would like Anaheim to keep Perron as well, who proved to be a valuable asset to the Ducks, and who looks like a Andrew Cogliano type hustler with more offensive prowess(who doesn’t want more of that guy!)
Want to be an Editor or Writer? Join The Puck Network!
DucksNPucks is part of The Puck Network, which covers the entire NHL. There are openings to cover your favorite team(s) and earn school credits! If you are interested, then apply by filling out the form here: Join Our Team