The Big Apple Comes To Anaheim

Photo: NHL

By Michael Walters

Last season the New York Rangers made their push for a Stanley Cup championship. New York was able to take down the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes in dramatic fashion with both series going the distance. Ultimately the Rangers would lose in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Tampa Bay Lightning after 6 games.

Frank Vatrano contributed 13 total points(5 G + 8 A) and Ryan Strome (AKA Daddy Duck) had 9 points(2 G + 7 A) during the playoffs. During the regular season Strome scored 21 goals and earned 33 assists. He had played in 263 games with the Rangers recording 195 total points(71 G + 124 A). Vatrano was traded from Florida to New York last season. He scored 18 goals and had 14 assists last season. He had 8 goals and 5 assists while with the Rangers.

General Manager Pat Verbeek signed these two players who can play top six forward roles and contribute offensively to the team. Since the 2018-19 season, Strome has averaged 18 goals per season. And in his last three full seasons with the Rangers, he put up 54 total points on average. Since the 2018-19 season, Vatrano has averaged 19 goals per season. During that time he averaged just under 33 points for the season.

Fellow Ranger Jacob Trouba tweeted this about Strome:

The Ducks signed Strome to a 5 year deal worth $25 million. According to some this is a deal for Anaheim because it was expected Strome would have gotten at least $7 million per season for a contract of 5 years or more. Vatrano was signed to a 3 year deal worth just under $11 million.

The Ducks Sign Several Other Players

Anaheim also signed Glenn Gawdin on the first day of free agency. According to Frank Seravalli, “He was heavily sought after (20+ teams) as one of the top scores in the AHL last season, maybe a player ready to pop in the NHL”. Last season with the Stockton Heat he recorded 50 total points (15 G + 35 A). In the last two seasons, he appeared in 9 games with the Calgary Flames and recorded one assist.

Gawdin brings a strong two-way game and can play on special teams(both penalty kill and power play). He brings an element of grit to his game and isn’t afraid to be physical. He has a good hockey IQ and can make plays. The question is whether he can make the jump to the NHL and be a point producer at that level or not. He signed a two year deal with the Ducks. It’s a one-way deal in year one and a two-way deal in year two with $530,000 guaranteed. The AAV in the NHL is $762,500.

The Ducks also brought back Chase De Leo and then signed Justin Kirkland, Austin Strand, and Colton White. De Leo was with the Gulls from 2018-19 through the 2020-21 season. He put up 45 goals and 70 assists in three seasons while in San Diego. Last season he dropped 21 goals and 35 assists while with the Utica Comets. He has proven he can produce at the AHL, but he has only seen limited action in the NHL. Maybe this year will be his breakout season in the NHL. Anaheim signed him to a two year deal with an AAV of $762,500.

Justin Kirkland, 6’3″ 205 pounds, had a breakout season last year with the Stockon Heat. He scored 25 goals and added 23 assists in 66 games. He set career highs in goals, assists, points, and power-play goals. He also had 7 goals in 13 playoff games last season. The Ducks drafted big this year and Kirkland fits the theme at 6’3″ and 205 pounds. He is also skilled with a quick release shot. The question for him is if he can be consistent offensively or not. He is a RFA and his deal is one year for $750,000.

Austin Strand is another big player at 6’3″, 215 pounds. The defenseman has spent the last 4 season between Ontario and Los Angeles. He has three assists with the Kings in 21 games over the last two seasons. While in Ontario he had 12 goals and 15 assists in 92 games. He brings a physical game and has a good hockey IQ. The concern with him is he holds onto the puck too long before deciding to make a pass. He is a RFA and his deal is one year for $750,000.

Colton White is another big defenseman at 6’1″ and 187 pounds. He was drafted by the New Jersey Devils in 2015. He has appeared in 28 games with the Devils recording 4 assists. In the AHL he has 14 goals and 47 assists. He tries to keep the game simple and isn’t flashy with his passes. His offensive side is limited, but his positioning defensively is solid. He signed a two year deal with an AAV of $762,500.

So What’s Next?

According to Cap Friendly, the Ducks are sitting at just under $52 million for their cap hit. Anaheim needs to get to $60 million to reach the cap floor. The theme from the draft and free agency has been to add big and skilled players for Anaheim. Verbeek also decided to inject some players from New York to help the Ducks offensively.

The question is what will Verbeek do next? We discussed rumors of Nazem Kadri as an option for Anaheim on the podcast. Rickard Rakell, Josh Manson, and Nicolas Deslauriers have all signed with other teams so Verbeek will have to look else where for new players to fill out the Ducks roster. He has made it known he will take on bad contracts so that could be a possibility for Anaheim moving forward.

Related Articles:

Ducks Give Four Qualify Offers

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July 14th, 2022


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