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Head Coach Search Continues; Zucker To Anaheim?
By Richard Gonzalez
It has been a long off-season for Anaheim Ducks fans waiting to hear any news out of Anaheim. The San Diego Gulls playoff run kept fans content but with their elimination from the Calder Cup playoffs, all eyes are back on the Ducks.
Anaheim Has Interest In Zucker
Michael Russo from The Athletic posted an article about the Minnesota Wild and their attempt to trade Jason Zucker. In his article, he mentions sources have linked the Ducks as being one of the few teams interested in the services of Zucker.
Zucker was born in Newport Beach, Calif. but he and his family relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada shortly after his birth. He was drafted in the 2nd round (59th overall) by the Wild in the 2010 NHL draft. The 5’11”, approximately 185-pound left winger has played in 411 games scoring 214 points (118 goals and 96 assists).
The 27-year-old is a speedy, two-way forward, who plays with a lot of energy. He can play a grinding style of game that can finish on a play. He loves to score as one can see how his energy is when he celebrates a goal. His best season was the 2017-18 season where he scored 64 points (33 goals and 31 assists) in 82 games. He signed a five-year deal on July 25, 2018, worth $27.5 million dollars ($5.5 million dollar cap hit). He has a modified NTC where he can submit a ten team no-trade list, which is effective on July 1, 2019.
Zucker would be a good addition to the Ducks as he brings his speed and some much-needed grit to the lineup. He can have success being inserted on the top line’s left wing and bounce back from his 42 points he scored last season. Zucker has been subjected to numerous trade rumors to included the two nixed deals that would have sent him to the Calgary Flames at the deadline and the Pittsburgh Penguins a few days ago. He probably just wants to have some stability and be on a team that wants/needs him.
The problem is his cap hit and what the Wild want or would take in return. Rumors said they were going to get Phil Kessel and Jack Johnson from the Penguins and Michael Frolik plus a draft pick from the Flames. It seems like the Wild would like a top-six forward in return and possibly a draft pick.
Some talk amongst Anaheim fans has included Adam Henrique and Nick Ritchie as possible trade targets for Zucker but I do not think the Wild will go for that. They are going to probably want a draft pick, plus a Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg or one of our valued prospect type of players. As much as it would be great to get a player of his caliber, I do not want to give up some of our valued players that have the potential to surpass his points from last season.
Also, it would be interesting to see how Corey Perry and Zucker would break the ice after Perry was suspended for a late hit that injured Zucker in 2013.
The good news from this is the Ducks are planning to be a competitive team and will look to get better for next season. If the re-tool was going to bleed into next season, then why show any interest in trading for those caliber type of players.
The Head Coach Search Continues
In other good news, a few other names have come into the coaching mix for the Ducks.
Eric Stephens’ article in The Athletic, mentions Dallas Stars assistant coach, Todd Nelson, and the Manitoba Moose (AHL) head coach, Pascal Vincent as other rumored candidates joining Dallas Eakins and Lane Lambert.
Lambert helped coach the Washington Capitals to consecutive Presidents’ Trophies and to a Stanley Cup. He was part of the New York Islanders staff as an associate coach last season. He helped the Islanders make the playoffs and advance to the second round. He played a role in improving the Capitals penalty kill. He also gets his players to perform to their highest abilities. Former NHL player and NHL Network analysts, Stu Grimson thinks this would be a good hire for the Ducks noting the “significant” NHL experience and the low cost it would cost to hire him.
In the 2014-15 season, Nelson took over as interim head coach for the Edmonton Oilers when they fired Eakins. The Oilers decided to replace Nelson after the end of the season. Nelson also had success in the AHL when he coached the Grand Rapids Griffins to a Calder Cup championship in 2017. He was hired on as an assistant coach to the Stars on May 31, 2018. He brought success to the Stars’ power play as they were ranked 11th in the NHL. Nelson will interview for the Ducks coaching position this week according to Bob McKenzie.
McKenzie also mentioned Rick Bowness as a candidate for the Ducks coaching job. Bowness started his coaching career with the original Jets AHL team (Sherbrooke Jets) as a player and coach. He would resign his position after finishing last in their division. Bowness started his NHL coaching career with the original Winnipeg Jets in 1989. He served as a head coach for the Boston Bruins, first head coach of the Ottawa Senators, Islanders, and the“Phoenix Coyotes.” He would also serve as an assistant coach to the Vancouver Canucks, an associate coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning and as of recent the Stars. He has coached in over 2,000 games and is responsible with the success and the development for the Stars defense. He uses a positive approach and uses mistakes as a learning experience.
Pascal Vincent has been the head coach for the Moose for the last three seasons. He spent five years as an assistant coach for the Winnipeg Jets before being named head coach of the Moose. At the conclusion of the 2017-18 season, Vincent won the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award, which is awarded to the most outstanding coach for the season.
I think it’s great for the Ducks to consider all options and to find out he is truly the best for the team. Given the success with the Gulls and the development of our younger players, it makes sense that Eakins is considered a favorite to land the head coaching spot. Lambert seems to have success following him and has been around a very good coach in Barry Trotz. To have a mentor like that to pick good coaching qualities from is something of value and adds an interesting turn of events for the coaching position.
I want the best coach for the Ducks. If it is any of the above listed or someone not yet mentioned then so be it. Whoever will bring success back to Anaheim and get the most out of our players. Anaheim definitely needs a coach that will get the Ducks to play a full 60-minute game. It never hurts to have options to make the best determination. I would prefer to have a coach named prior to the draft so his input can be used but there is really no need to put a rush on this. This will probably be the most significant signing the Ducks will make this season.
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May 29th, 2019