Anaheim: Possible Free Agency Targets

Photo: Derik Hamilton/AP

By Richard Gonzalez

The window to sign free agents opens this Monday, July 1, 2019. There is a lot of rumors and speculation on who is going where and who should stay where. Players and their agents have been already meeting with teams to discuss their futures. I am going to go through a few names that have been talked about through Ducks fans and from fan messages. This just an opinion piece talking about players and the Ducks.

Artemi Panarin:

Panarin ranks the highest among free agents this season. It has been reported he is seeking a contract worth $11 million plus. The Florida Panthers, New York Rangers and the Colorado Avalanche have shown interests in him. I am sure there is a lot of other teams too. Panarin is an elite left winger who can instantly bolster the Ducks roster. He scored 87 points (28 goals and 59 assists) in 79 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets last season.

As much as it would be great to see the Ducks sign a player of his caliber, it is not going to happen. There has not been any indication that he is interested in coming to the Ducks and without making cap moves, the Ducks would not be able to afford him at this time. Only hope one has is adding him on your NHL 19 Ducks roster.

Sergei Bobrovsky:

Panarin’s teammate, Sergei Bobrovsky is probably getting equal attention from teams around the league looking for an elite number one goaltender. He has won the Vezina twice and lead the league with his nine shutouts. He is going to instantly improve a team with his talent but we have a goalie who is flirting with the elite line and will win the Vezina in the near future. John Gibson is the Ducks future so that shuts that down.

Matt Duchene:

Duchene is a top center and has reached his career high in goals with 31 this season. He scored 70 points (31 goals and 39 assists) in 73 games with the Ottawa Senators and the Blue Jackets. He had a great playoff play to drive his price even higher. His playmaking abilities can easily set up teammates to score and would improve the Ducks instantly. As much as I would love to see Duchene in a Ducks uniform, I know it is highly unlikely. He stated that he is going to pick the best possible place for his family. He also did buy a house in Nashville months ago so there is speculation that he will sign there. He also did meet with the Montreal Canadians.

Jake Gardiner:

I had a discussion with a fan who mentioned Gardiner being a good top-four defenseman with the Ducks. Gardiner was originally drafted by the Ducks, in the first round (17th overall) in the 2008 NHL entry draft. Gardiner was then traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, with Joffrey Lupul, in exchange for Francois Beauchemin. Gardiner never played a game with the Ducks.

Gardiner scored 30 points (three goals and 27 assists) in 62 games last season with the Leafs. I think the pressure of not playing in a Canadian market can help him up his offensive production. He has logged an average of 21 minutes last season and can fill a top-four void in our lineup. This seems reasonable. His cap would be within reason and would improve the blue line. The only problem is there is a lot of defensemen who have an opportunity to crack the lineup and fill the role with less of a cap. Adding a 30-year-old blueliner can be a bad move if he ends up declining. This would also take away a roster spot from one of our up and coming defensemen.

Joe Pavelski:

We discussed Pavelski on the DucksNPucks Podcast. Thomas Harrington talked about how Pavelski and his 38 goals he scored last season can help the Ducks. Due to Pavelski’s age, a one-year deal would probably be better for the Ducks. Pavelski is 34-years-old and is coming off a 64 point season (38 goals and 26 assists). He added another nine points (4 goals and 5 assists) in 13 playoff games. He can play the wing or the center position, which can benefit the Ducks.

Pavelski is looking for a longer deal and that is something the Ducks are most likely not willing to do. There has been zero indication that mutual interest exists between him and Anaheim. He has already met with the Dallas Stars and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Do not rule out him taking a hometown discount to stay with the Sharks.

Tyler Myers:

Myers is a tall defenseman (6’8”) who played in 80 games with the Jets last season. He scored 31 points (9 goals and 22 assists). He logs approximately 20 minutes a night and can be an option on the power play. He can easier be inserted as a top-four defenseman. Speed and his age might be a factor and his production might not match the worth. Sportsnet 650 believes Myers will get a seven-year, eight million dollars a year type of contract, which the Ducks will most likely not want.

Anton Stralman:

Stralman is a top-four defenseman and comes with a lot of NHL experience. He also has two Stanley Cup final appearances. He is a stay at home type of defenseman that can play on the penalty kills. He can also be inserted in a bottom-six role if any of the younger players outplayed him to earn a top-four spot on the blue line. At the right price and year term, I would not mind seeing him with the Ducks next season. His experience can benefit the younger blueliners in Anaheim.

Gustav Nyquist:

Nyquist can play either wing and has been discussed as a possibility for the Ducks. He has scored 20 goals in the last two seasons and coming off a 60 point season. He has also only missed six games in the last six seasons, so he is family durable. Nyquist, 29, is going to get a raise from his $4.75 million cap hit from last season. He can fill in a top-six forward role for the Ducks and provide point production to the team. Nyquist would be an interesting one for the Ducks. His lack of production in the playoffs can drive his price down a little but for the right price, he can be a decent signing for the Ducks.

Mats Zuccarello

Zuccarello is a type of player I can see the Ducks going for. He scored 40 points (12 goals and 28 assists) in 48 games. He also scored 11 points (4 goals and 7 assists) in 13 playoff games with the Stars. He can instantly increase point production for the Ducks and can provide scoring chances for other players around him. He also has over 500 games of NHL experience and is one of my favorites for the Ducks to go after.

Wayne Simmonds:

Simmonds provides an excellent net-front presence. He is a physical player that can also be a points producer. He scored 30 points (17 goals and 13 assists) in 79 games last season split between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Predators. He was also credited with 137 hits. He did not perform well with the Predators, as he only was able to get three points in 17 games, so his value might have dropped. He would be a great bottom six player for the Ducks and one to get in those dirty areas, which the Ducks seemed to lack this season. This is one of my favorites for the Ducks to sign during the free agency period.

Joe Thornton.

The veteran center has played in 73 games with the San Jose Sharks, scoring 51 points (16 goals and 35 assists). Thornton said he wanted to continue to play as long as he can. I do not see him anywhere but in San Jose for this upcoming season. He will most likely take a hometown discount to stay with the Sharks.

I went through a list of some popular players and also players fans have mentioned on social media. It is tough to nail down on what type of player if any, the Ducks are going to try to sign. Bob Murray already bought out Perry, so it is safe to say that speed, age and production will be a priority. Murray might take a chance and spend a little more to get a better-known name to help the Ducks next season. Stralman, Zuccarello, Nyquist, and Simmonds are some of my favorites.

It might be a different feel this time around and I look forward to seeing what the Ducks plan on doing when the free agency. What are your thoughts about the above-mentioned names or do you have anyone else in mind you would like to see on the Ducks? Leave your thoughts.

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June 30th, 2019


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