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Ducks Give Qualifying Offers To Seven
By Thomas Harrington
Monday evening, the Anaheim Ducks announced that they had extended qualifying offers to all of their restricted free agents: Nick Ritchie, Nicolas Kerdiles, Brandon Montour, Ondrej Kase, Kevin Roy, Andy Welinski, and Kalle Kossila. When the Ducks and other teams extend qualifying offers to their restricted free agents, they are essentially signaling that they are planning on retaining that player’s rights.
Depending on how much the player made the previous season, the team must offer a contract that pays at least a certain percentage of the previous contract. For example, if a player made less than $660,000 the previous season, the qualifying offer has to be at least equal to 110% of the previous season’s salary. If there is no qualifying offer made, the player becomes an unrestricted free agent and can sign where they want, including back with the team that failed to qualify them. Once an offer has been made, the two sides can work out a longer deal, or the player can take the qualifying offer as a one-year deal.
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Montour and Kase are the two most valuable RFAs that the Ducks have, both having breakout years. Montour has helped solidify Anaheim’s top four and played well alongside Cam Fowler. Kase, a former seventh-round pick, scored 20 goals, tied for second on the team with Adam Henrique, and behind only Rickard Rakell’s 34 goals. The Ducks could opt to sign either to a bridge deal or a long-term contract. Both types of deals have their pros and cons. While both players were great last season, neither one has a long history of NHL success and neither are expected to become elite players. Coming into this season, Kase had scored five goals in 53 games. Despite scoring 20 goals this past season, he did have stretches of inconsistencies when he went scoreless for long stretches of games.
Before playing in 80 games this past season, Montour had only played in 27 career NHL games. Similar to Kase, he had stretches of inconsistent play. A bridge deal would essentially give each player a chance to prove that they can do it again. However, if either one puts together a couple of great years, then they would be substantially more expensive to retain. A long-term deal would solve that problem, but it brings with it a risk that either player wouldn’t live up to the long-term contract. Personally, I’d like to see a three to five year deal for both of them. If the Ducks feel that either have more to prove, then a three year deal makes sense. If the Ducks feel like they can replicate their previous season’s success, then a five year deal makes sense.
Ritchie struggled this past season, scoring only 10 goals after registering 14 the year before. Besides his offensive totals dropping, he just struggled all over the ice and hasn’t earned a long-term contract. I think a one year deal, two at most, would make sense, at a pretty low price. He hasn’t done anything to warrant a big raise, but he’ll probably get a one-way contract since the Ducks are unlikely to send him to the minors any time soon. The Ducks could also choose to move him if they think he won’t recover his game in Anaheim.
After appearing in four playoff games with Anaheim a year ago, it looked like Kerdiles would receive significantly more playing time in the NHL this year, but ended up appearing in only two games. He spent most of the season in San Diego, in what was another injury-plagued season. Given his age and injury history, I was a little surprised to see Anaheim qualify him, but I’m glad they did. Even if Kerdiles ends up only being an AHL player going forward, he’s a valuable part of the Gulls’ team. Expect him to get a two-way deal for probably one or two seasons.
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Roy and Kossila were San Diego’s top forwards last season, and both spent time with the Ducks last year, combining for seven goals and nine points in 35 games. Both have proven what they can do in the AHL; now it remains to be seen if either will become a full-time NHL player or not. Of the two, I think Roy has more skill but Kossila has a more complete game. Depending on what happens to Anaheim’s roster this summer, there could be a roster spot or two for both to compete for this coming season. I think both will likely warrant a two-way contract, but if either gets a one-way deal, that will show who the Ducks think is more likely to make the NHL this coming season.
Welinski made his NHL debut this past season, playing seven games, and got three more in the playoffs. He spent most of the season in San Diego and was one of the Gulls’ best defenseman. He’s got a cannon of a shot, which he uses to great effect on the powerplay. With Kevin Bieksa and Francois Beauchemin both gone, there are some holes on Anaheim’s blueline. If the Ducks don’t add anyone, Welinski, Marcus Pettersson, and Jacob Larsson are the most likely to fill those spots. Of the RFAs who spent most of the season in San Diego last year, I think that Welinski is the most likely to get a one-way deal, because of Anaheim’s current needs on the blueline, but I still think he’ll get a two-way deal. Given that he’ll probably want a one-way deal, I think he signs a one-year deal in the hopes of signing a one-way deal next season.
With these seven players now extended via qualifying offers, the Ducks have time to work out a deal with each. They can turn their attention to their unrestricted free agents. While Anaheim will probably let most walk, personally, I hope that Derek Grant and Corey Tropp are brought back. Grant for the fourth line, and Tropp for San Diego. With July 1st just around the corner, Anaheim is likely already talking to multiple players, gauging their interest in the hope of improving their roster. Depending on who is signed, that could impact the deals for their current RFAs.
Utah Grizzlies On The Move
Earlier today the Utah Grizzlies posted on their Twitter account that on Thursday, June 28th, at 12:15 p.m. they will announce details of their new affiliation with the Colorado Avalanche at the Maverik Center. The Grizzlies were the Ducks ECHL affiliate team. There has been no word on if another ECHL team will be affiliated with the Anaheim organization.
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June 25th, 2018