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Anaheim’s Group Six Free Agents
By Thomas Harrington
With San Diego’s season coming to an end in the conference finals, it’s time to turn to the summer prospect reports. Normally, I’d start off by going over Anaheim’s graduated prospects, but instead, this summer will start a little different. I’ll start by discussing Anaheim’s group six free agents, a special group of prospects who are in a different situation than any other prospect in Anaheim’s system.
The Anaheim Ducks have four group six free agents: Kalle Kossila, Kevin Roy, Andy Welinski, and Jaycob Megna. A group six free agent is a player who is 25 or older, has completed three or more professional seasons, whose contract has expired, and has played less than 80 NHL games. A Group Six free agent will be able to sign with any team. Therefore, all four of them could leave for other teams, unless Anaheim decides to re-sign them. All four of them spent time with the Ducks this season, while both Kossila and Roy dealt with injuries throughout the year. Given how much time Megna and Welinski spent in Anaheim to end the year, I’ll go into more depth on them when I get to the graduated prospects.
Over the last several seasons, Kossila has played in 19 NHL games, Roy played in 28 NHL games, Welinski has played in 33 NHL games, and Megna has played in 43 NHL games. So they are all well below the 80 NHL game mark.
Roy had a rough season; he suffered an injury before the year even got started, and didn’t see any game action until mid-February. He played in five games with the Gulls and scored one goal and four points. He then got called up to the Ducks and saw some time next to Ryan Getzlaf. He played in three games for Anaheim but went scoreless and was then returned to the Gulls. He played in six more games for the Gulls and recorded a lone assist. He then missed the rest of the regular season with a foot injury. Roy also missed the first round of the playoffs but returned for game one against Bakersfield, where he recorded one assist. However, Adam Cracknell took his spot on the fourth line in game two. He did return to the lineup for the last few games against Bakersfield and scored goals in two straight games. Against Chicago, he played in four of the six games in the series. Overall, Roy played in eight playoff games, and he scored two goals and three points.
I really wanted Roy to spend most of the season in Anaheim and prove that he was an NHL regular. With Nick Ritchie missing the start of the season because he wasn’t signed, and the number of injuries that Anaheim went through, Roy had a real chance to make his mark in the NHL. Unfortunately, Roy’s injury really derailed his season and he was just nowhere near his level of play from the previous season. While he did return to play in the playoffs, because of how much time he missed during the regular season, he found himself as a healthy scratch some nights. Roy had missed so much time that other players had stepped up to fill his spot. He still scored some points, but he just wasn’t the same player that he had been in previous seasons. Hopefully, he’s able to rebound and have a much better year next season.
Kossila also missed the start of the season, but he returned in late October and scored three goals in his first two games. He was called up to Anaheim at the start of November and was back and forth between Anaheim and San Diego throughout the month. With the Ducks, he played in eight games and scored one goal, his second career goal. With the Gulls, Kossila scored 14 goals and 35 points in 44 games. It was his lowest offensive output of the last three seasons, but also the fewest games that he had played in over the last three seasons. In the playoffs, he played in all 16 games and scored three goals and seven points. Against San Jose, he was scoreless in the first three games but picked up two assists in the final game against the Barracuda. Against Bakersfield, he scored three goals and four points, including a two-goal game in game six, helping the Gulls defeat the Condors. Against Chicago, Kossila recorded only one assist in game one. More offense from Kossila might have been enough to tip a game or two in the series against the Wolves.
Kossila also fell short of the expectations that I set for him a year ago. He did miss time with injury, but his points per game dropped quite a bit. I wanted him to be one of the Gulls’ top scorers, but he didn’t finish in the team’s top five scorers. In the NHL, his eight games were fewer than the 10 he played in during the 2017-2018 season. He did lead Anaheim rookie forwards in shorthanded ice time per game, averaging close to two minutes of penalty kill time per game. That total was actually 10th on Anaheim, so if he does stick around, he could carve out space for himself on the Ducks’ penalty kill unit. In the playoffs, if he had gotten hot, he might have been able to help San Diego get past Chicago. Instead, he had only one assist in six games.
Jaycob Megna & Andy Welinski
Megna spent the beginning of the year in San Diego but was one of Anaheim’s four call-ups following the NHL deadline. Overall, he played in 28 games and scored one goal and four points. Welinski was up and down between Anaheim and San Diego throughout the year. He wasn’t one of Anaheim’s final four call-ups, but he was called up when the Ducks defense ran into injury trouble late in the year and spent much of the end of the year with the Ducks. Overall, he played in 26 NHL games and scored one goal and four points.
I think the Ducks would like to bring back both Roy and Kossila but will put more effort into bringing back Kossila. Roy is a scorer, but his injury-plagued season could make the Ducks less likely to bring him back. However, a number of players in San Diego will likely be in Anaheim this coming season. If that does happen, the Ducks could try to bring him back to help out with the Gulls’ offense. At this point, he looks to be more of an AHL player who gets NHL games every now and then. For Kossila, he’s a center who can kill penalties. So even though his offensive ceiling isn’t as high as Roy’s, he is a more versatile player. While he could never replace a player like Ryan Kesler, the Ducks may want to keep Kossila around to help out with the team’s penalty kill this coming season. If the Ducks do re-sign either player, it will be a short one- or two-year deal on a two-way contract. There’s also a possibility that the Ducks could try and get either one on an AHL only deal.
The first graduated prospect will be Kiefer Sherwood.
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June 2nd, 2019