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Ducks Migration Event
By Michael Walters
The Anaheim Ducks hosted an event today for the Orange Alliance members. Brian Hayward asked questions to hall of famer Scott Niedermayer and General Manager Pat Verbeek. Here is a summary of what was discussed:
What was the goal at the trade deadline?
Verbeek said there are several ways to improve the team and acquiring draft picks is one method. In regards to Dmitry Kulikov, he was able to get a third round draft pick and Brock McGinn. He said he likes McGinn as a player because he brings grit, competitiveness, and energy. Verbeek wants more people in the lineup with “energy” to their game.
He felt John Klingberg didn’t play to his abilities with the Ducks. Klingberg also told him he was trying too hard early in the season. He said it was more difficult to move Klingberg because of the type of season he was having. Verbeek said the Ducks needed another defenseman with Kulikov and Klingberg being traded, so he brought back Andrej Sustr. Verbeek said he likes Nikita Nesterenko because he skates well and has a high skill level. He likes how he competes and will go to the net.
Verbeek stated that Henry Thrun told him three weeks before the deadline that he didn’t want to sign with Anaheim. Thrun gave him a list of five teams that he wanted to play for and he was able to make a trade to San Jose to get a third round pick in 2024.
Scott Niedermayer on his role and Olen Zellweger, Pavel Mintyukov, and Jackson LaCombe:
He views his role as passing along advice to the young prospects. He mentioned how Zellweger and Mintyukov will be able to experience some playoff hockey in the minors, which is invaluable. He said Zellweger is always looking for work and is high speed. He said LaCombe is a great skater and extremely smart player.
Verbeek on the young core of the team:
Troy Terry has improved his strength and he is starting to figure out his conditioning. He has to play against the best defensemen on many nights. He should be able to make it hard for defensemen to play against him soon.
Trevor Zegras has made strides offensive, but sill needs work defensively. He feels he needs to get stronger.
Mason McTavish is having a really nice rookie year going from the fourth line to the second line. He has improved defensively and only needs more experience. He is 19 so he is only going to get better in the next few years.
Jamie Drysdale was unfortunately hurt this season. He is on the fourth month of his shoulder surgery. We will see where he is in the next 3-4 weeks and if he returns this season, but if not at worst he will be ready for next season.
Is the rebuild 5-6 years? Where are we?
Verbeek said we are a couple years into it. The hardest thing going through this process is to remain patient and to not push the young players too much. He stressed the importance of hitting the gym and working on their individual strength.
How was the rebuild in New Jersey?
Niedermayer said he was fortunate with the veterans on his team that he was able to focus on his own game. He said there was more pressure on the veterans to perform and speed up the rebuild. During that time he was able to improve himself and realized there is a lot to learn about your body. He mentioned how you have to be able physically to play an 82 game season.
What is your overall assessment of the team this season?
Verbeek thought the team would have done better than what the record is. He thought earlier on with the team the compete level wasn’t there. He felt the team needed to battle harder for pucks. He did feel the team got better as the season went on.
Were you considering moving John Gibson?
Verbeek replied, “No, I am not considering moving John Gibson. I actually sat down with him and had a conversation with John Gibson about this. We have an excellent number one goaltender. The hardest thing in the NHL is finding a number one goaltender. I speak from this with experience because when we were in Tampa we did not have a number one goaltender and we gave up numerous assets trying to chase to get one. Finally we were able to draft one with Andrei Vasilevskiy and so when you have one you don’t give him up unless you got another one that is coming behind. At this point we are very young with our goaltenders and certainly we are not at that stage to have anyone take on Gibson’s position at number one.”
Verbeek on the coaching staff:
Verbeek said there a lot of things that go into the process of evaluating the coaches. He said he is going to take the full season to evaluate how the coaching staff did and then decide if any changes need to be made.
Verbeek on the upcoming draft:
Verbeek said it’s difficult to determine how the picks will end up. Sometimes you can draft someone that is 20th overall and they can be one of the best picks. Some players mature different physically. He likes how the top three players look and mentions how they could all improve the team.
How is the relationship between you two(Verbeek & Niedermayer)?
Verbeek stated that Neidermayer is the voice of reason and values his NHL experience. Niedermayer emphasized the importance of scouting and contracts. He said the responsibility is a huge trying to watch over so many players and see the big picture at a management level.
What is the budget and what are you allowed to spend?
Verbeek said he told the owners when he interviewed for the position of GM that he “would spend the money like it was his money.” He asked when the “time is right, can we spend to the cap” and the owners said “absolutely, yes.” Verbeek said “we are going to do what we need to win.”
What about the draft and the positioning? Do you try to influence Dallas Eakins? Not saying we are trying to lose but…
Verbeek said, “Integrity of the sport is winning, we are here to win and so are the players. It is their careers and they are fighting for jobs. And I don’t want to take away their ability to do that. They are doing their best and I won’t do that to the coaching staff either. It’s their jobs too that are obviously on the line. They are trying to do the best they can, I would never do that.”
This summer you have some players like Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry whose contracts are up, when does that process start?
Verbeek said he wanted to let the players get through the season and then afterward he would start to address their contracts.
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March 4th, 2023