Cash This Czech

Photo: Associated Press

By Michael Walters

As the 2018-19 NHL season approaches, the Anaheim Ducks forward lineup could see a shakeup. It appears that Patrick Eaves will be available come October, while Ryan Kesler is still a question mark.

This past week the Ducks did sign Ondrej Kase to a three-year deal worth $7.8 million, $2.6 million AAV. If one thing is certain Kase should see an increased role with the Ducks even if both Eaves and Kesler play come October. This past season Kase played in 66 regular season games recording 38 total points(20 G + 18 A) and he had an on-ice rating of +18. He averaged almost 14 minutes of ice time per game and found chemistry playing with Adam Henrique and Nick Ritchie. He played in 13 more games and averaged just over two more minutes of playing time from the previous season.

The Return of Ryan Kesler?

Kase was tied as the second leading goal scorer on the team last season behind only Rakell(34). Henrique who was acquired during the beginning of the season also had 20 goals in his 57 games in Anaheim. Kase and Henrique played well together and seemed to gel almost immediately. Both of them have good vision on the ice, solid puck handling, excellent offensive abilities, and are fast skaters. Could they be the future Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne for Anaheim? Okay maybe I am reaching a little bit, but it’s not a far-fetched prediction that they both can reach 20 goals again this coming season.

The question is who should play with Kase and Henrique next season?

One choice could be Ritchie, who was on the same line with them for a good portion of last season. Ritchie had 10 goals last season but hasn’t lived up to expectations as a first-round pick(10th overall) of the 2014 NHL draft. Ritchie is a restricted free agent and still needs to be signed, which should happen in the near future.

Some other options could be Jakob Silfverberg or Corey Perry. If Kesler doesn’t start at the beginning of the season, then Randy Carlyle might consider putting Silfverberg with Henrique and Kase. Perry could also be a possibility if the Ducks roll with Ryan Getzlaf, Patrick Eaves, and Rickard Rakell as their top line. Another advantage of Kase is that he can play right or left wing, giving the Ducks more flexibility with the lineup. Regardless who the third player on the line will be, the Ducks need to keep Henrique and Kase together.

General Manager Bob Murray didn’t land any big name free agents in the offseason but retaining a potential 20 goal scorer at an affordable price should pay dividends in the upcoming seasons. Murray also signed Henrique to a five-year deal worth just over $29 million with Anaheim. If the Ducks are going to make a run for the Cup in the coming seasons, you can bet Kase and Henrique will be key factors in achieving a championship.

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August 18th, 2018


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