Ducks Migration 2024

By Michael Walters

The Anaheim Ducks held their second annual Ducks Migration event. Hockey Analyst Brian Hayward talked to Ducks General Manger Pat Verbeek. DJ Jojo then talked to President Aaron Teats and Verbeek with some hard-hitting questions afterward.

Hayward: First off, everybody, obviously the trade deadline is over. And a lot of people would like a little bit of a look behind the curtain on the Adam Henrique trade with the Edmonton Oilers and the acquisition of a first round pick. Can you kind of give us some insights as to that process and how did it unfold? Did they contact you? Did you contact them? What happened?

Verbeek: Well through the whole process, I think over when I started, when I first got hired here. I think every general manager, they all check in with one another, looking to see what each other is looking to do. And I had the time and a lot of free agents and Hampus (Lindholm) and Josh (Manson), you know and (Rickard) Rakell. And the same thing happened this year. We all check around, but they ended up calling me. Adam Henrique and Sam Carrick were having great years. You know, they were having, based on where they were in the lineup, they were having really good years. I got a lot of interest on those players. probably five or six teams, believe it or not, were wanting to acquire both those players.

And so it became just a process of, you know, I had a couple of teams checking in with me everyday, you know, just to see what I was doing. So well I talked to yesterday and things have changed. (Crowd Laughs) So anyway, so well, we just want to make sure we’re in the mix. Yeah I wrote it down.

Anyway, as you get closer to the deadline and the urgency and it seems to pick up and then you know, I based on certain things in the market, I looked at Monahan, I looked at Lindholm when he got traded, Adam (Henrique) was probably the third centermen on the market, what I would consider the next centerman. Those markets went for a first round and Winnipeg got an additional third if they win the Stanley Cup.

So, I kind I when I, when I go into that sort of thing, I set a price and I really don’t deviate from it and try to hold the line for as long as I can. And anyway, I was able to get what I was looking for and, and it just, it just, you know, I just played just as another chance to get a really good player and so….

My goal when I first got hired here is to build this organization as deep as we can and I think when we get through this draft we are going to be very, very deep. Next year we got probably six or seven 20 year-olds coming to San Diego that I am very excited about.

You know, they’re going to learn what the pro game is all about. And I am excited about some of the players that are going to be here probably in two or three years and really contributing in an impactful way.

And so it’s just keeps I guess for me it keeps the pump primed for us to keep pushing forward to where we are going to have a team that is going to be four lines deep. They are going to be competitive and skilled type of team.

Hayward: And seven picks now in the upcoming draft in the first three rounds, two in the first, two in the second, and three in the third.

Verbeek: And it is very similar like that next year.

Hayward: Kind of a question I have, current trade rules you know, the deadline rules, my understanding is and this happened before we had a our salary cap that teams like the wealthier teams, if you will, when there is no cap, like the Red Wings, would every year at the trade deadline, they would just outspend everyone and add a bunch of players to the roster to load up. You can’t really do that now, except some teams seem to be able to do that. I just wonder how you feel about the rules as they currently sit with the trade deadline, anyway what do you think about it?

Verbeek: Well, I think the rule I mean, you know, we’re all looking to try and think outside the box. You know, we’re all competitive and we’re all looking for that competitive advantage. And so teams have figured out how to work the system.

Hayward: Players on long term IR, takes them off the cap then they go out spend money and add players at the deadline. Magically they are all healthy once the playoffs begin.

Verbeek: Yeah I want us to be in a position like that in about four years from now. You know I think, you know it’s probably something that’s probably going to change, you know, it’s probably an easy fix. I was talking to you about this before, in the sense when you get to it, if cap is 83.5 and next year it’s going to be 87.5 million. It’s going to go up 4 million. So it’s going to probably gain more momentum. And so when you do acquire those players, it would add up to 95 million or something of that amount.

You’re only going to be allowed to address whatever the cap is, $83 and a half or $87 and half million dollars. You know, I see that coming. Yeah you are going to be able to have the depth, you know that you want for a playoff run, but you’re not going to be able to put more than 83.5 or the 87.5 on the ice.

Hayward: We talked little bit about the asset you acquired in the first round pick with the Henrique deal, but there were a couple of other players that most of our folks are unfamiliar with, maybe you can give us a little bit of background on Jan Mysak, Ben Meyers, and William Lagesson, those acquisitions.

Verbeek: So all of those guys I watched. Mysak I watched during his draft year, so I, you know, great kid that works hard. He lives in the gym, he lives in the rink, I want a lot of those guys. I want guys really dedicated to the craft that want to get better. I am excited to get him, I think he is a hard working kid. His game is going to be built off of work ethic and gets things accomplished through work ethic and see more skill and stuff. But you know, his game is built of what I call energy and work ethic. So I like those players. He’s got a chance to be a fourth line player and probably on the upper scale we can develop him into a third line player.

Ben Meyers when I was working with Detroit we were actually trying to get him to sign with us in Detroit as a centerman. He had a really good year, his last year of college. He played really well, you know, skilled, smart, hardworking player that has good skating ability.

And that’s one of the things that we’re looking to do with our bottom six, improve our speed, we need more foot speed on the bottom six. He was a guy that became available and I thought when you look at draft picks they are valuable, but I gave up a fifth round draft pick for him. When you start to analyze this stuff, when you really look at this year’s draft picks at a fifth round, the best is it going to take him five years for a chance to be in the NHL. That’s how I look at it, so I got a player that that could help us now.

Lagesson is basically a depth play that gives us eight defensemen at the NHL level. And we are getting really thin in San Diego with injuries and I didn’t want to, we have a couple of injuries up to here in Anaheim, I didn’t want to have to go down to San Diego and have to start pulling guys from there. This was for me, it was an easy acquisition it’s free with the exception of the waiver wire cost. You know, other than that is free and I know this guy, he is a competitive guy, strictly a stand at home defensive defensemen I think he competes, has size, and is not easy to play against so I am looking for those types of players to insert. We will be able to have a nice 20 game look at them and then hopefully we can, we like him, we can keep him in the organization.

Hayward: So often times teams talk about developing a winning culture. It’s a big factor why they are successful. And you think you sense that we’re starting to build that kind of mindset in the locker room. And if not, how do you, the coaching staff, really know?

Verbeek: I think we’ve taken big jumps there. You know, that was part of the reason I hired Greg Cronin, he and I think very similarly when it comes to accountability, when it comes to compete and it comes to work ethic. And so I think probably the main component of all of that and I can give you my perspective when it comes to the coaching staff, part of culture is accountability. So when you let players get away with certain things on the ice, others other players see that and it’s not good, it creates decent within.

And so when everybody’s held to the same standard, it becomes a staple of everybody to show in that when they come to the rink, they have to perform at this level.

And if they don’t, they don’t get to play or they get to get sent out or their ice time decreases.

So it becomes a reason why everybody works hard and compete hard, because every player that’s here, you know, they all want to play, they’re all competitive and they want to contribute. So it’s it’s just holding them accountable to that standard.

And they understand that now there’s a structure in place and that they have to adhere by. And for me, culture really starts, believe it or not, culture starts with training. Okay, so how hard you work off ice, because when you’re a young player and I think I said this last year, when you’re a young player, you may have all the skill and all the talent in the world.

But when you go like when you watch, when you watch us play against a team like Dallas last night and a very, very mature team, not only, you know, in age, but in, you know, in maturity as far as strength. And so, you know, I’ve already sat down with our group and talked about it, especially with our younger players and how they have to introduce this level of strength because the older guys that are strong and mature, they’re not going to let you play your skill games they got the smarts and experience, be able to take things away from you on the ice.

And if you don’t have the strength to hard them off or push through them, they’re not going to let you play the way you want to play. And so it becomes for me, culture starts with that. And when I push hard with the strength and conditioning and now understand there is a work ethic, there is a sacrifice. There’s a commitment, dedication to the Ducks organization.

And that’s for me, is where it all starts. And then as the process goes along, learning, learning how to play hurt, learning how to fight through injury, learning one goal game.

We lost this year, 23 games now by one goal. I played on a team like this, so I have you know, I’ve gone through it and it’s frustrating when you’re younger player.

I’m telling you guys like I when I speak to the players, they go, this is what’s going to happen. You’re going to have to sacrifice and you’re going to commit. And then those games that we lost are not going to turn into wins. And so it’s a process, you know, through culture. It doesn’t happen overnight. And frankly, for this group getting Greg Cronin, it’s been culture shock.

So they’ve been drinking water through a firehose. And so that’s been very difficult for them. So next year now, they’re now going to understand the accountability part. They’re going to now understand the strength and the training part that’s expected of them. And so for me, it’s going to be an easier transition their next year than now. We can look to improve on things that we have weaknesses in and now we can try and make those weaknesses stronger. And now we grow as players and as a team on the ice.

Hayward: We’ve focused a lot on talking about the young talent and bringing them into the league. Is there mentoring talent that you will look to have over the course of the summer? I mean, adding we can see the benefit of what a guy like Gudas, Killorn bring to this roster for these young guys to learn. Is the intent at this point is to add more?

Verbeek: Yes, I would. I’d probably look at two things that I’m looking at doing this summer. I’m not quite sure we’re going to be able to pull them on, but I’d like to probably find another top six right handed winger.

We have so many left shots from the team. That was always nice, but you need a variety and we don’t have enough right hand shots in our lineup and don’t like to do that. And then probably next year, probably in season four, improve our bottom six. You know, when you start looking at production of the best teams in the league and where they’re getting all their production from, you know, where you can probably go across the league and everybody’s top six production, you know, there’s some that are going to look like, you know, they’ve got production from their top six.

And so but then there’s then there’s improving down low and our top six guys are competing with that You know that next sector underneath, where we’re failing is our bottom six production whether it’s our third line whether it’s our fourth line. We’re not getting enough production from that group to be able to hold the top group when you know they’re having an off night.

And so when you start to look at those one more games that we keep losing, that’s the difference for me. That’s how we’re going to turn this thing to our favor.

Hayward: A couple of questions, players specific, Olen Zellweger played in his eighth game of the season last night. Is he here for the rest of the season?

Verbeek: Yeah, he’s going to be here for the rest of the season.

Hayward: Leo Carlsson, your thoughts on Leo and it’s an unfortunate now that he’s injured, when you expect back?

Verbeek: He should be back, we’re looking at him playing in Minnesota. He suffered a concussion so we’re getting through all of that. When we play Minnesota on Thursday, he should be back for Thursday’s game.

Hayward: Trevor Zegras, when he gets back will he be at the center position or the wing?

I think all of us feel that with the Leo and McTavish playing center, Trevor is probably going to play wing when he comes back.

Hayward: Do you intend on using both our first round picks this year or is there a potential to use them in a deal?

Verbeek: There is always the potential to use them in a deal. I keep an open mind when it comes to opportunities that I think can help our group because I think with our group now we are going to have three good drafts under us. But if we can, you know, you’re starting to see our young kids are starting to take these steps and start to really see what it’s going to look like.

And now I want these guys to take a step and if there’s an opportunity and I don’t want to be in the celler anymore, you know what I’m saying? I want to see this team take a step and building to being in a playoff race next season.

Hayward: One of those prospects is Cutter Gauthier and everyone is excited to see him. By the way, Cutter’s got 31 goals in 33 games this year. He will be a welcomed addition to the lineup.

Verbeek: He is young, he is only 19, people tend to forget that. He is a good kid, he has a really good shot. He is really underrated about him is he play making ability. I am so excited, he doesn’t even know how good he can really be yet. He is 6’3 and there is an ability I see in him and it’s going to be up to our coaches to develop to where he can be a dominate power forward with a skill component.

Hayward: People ask if there is something that you would like to see that would improve overall the NHL. For me, this is my opinion only, I would like to experiment with going back to one referee rather than two just to see if there are fewer of the ticky tack penalties called where it seems like a competition between the two officials on the ice to make more calls. Not going to put you on the spot with that one. Is there anything when you look at the National Hockey League, is there anything, any change of any type, that you would like to see happen that would make the whole experience fans, players, and managers better?

Verbeek: Some of the things we you know, we’ve talked about, you know, in overtime and I’m not sure it’s quite there yet is you know, it becomes a real puck possession. When it first came out. You know, and coaches really can really mess things up. And so three on three. So I remember when it first came out mean it was it was exciting.

I mean, there was opportunity, opportunity, opportunity, now everyone just rags the puck and hangs onto it. So we kind of I think we need to see if we can make it more exciting again for the fans to where there’s opportunity and someone scores, you know, So we looked at that.

The thing that really bothers me is when pucks get batted out of the rink unintentionally. Those plays when I was playing there were goaltenders when pressure was on that would shoot it out of the zone. It should be discretionary and not an automatic penalty.

Hayward: So the last two deadlines the Ducks have been sellers, is the rebuild now compete, are you no longer a seller?

Verbeek: We are in a transition phase. I don’t say it’s a rebuild, a rebuild is where you are just tearing down. I feel we are at a place now where can take a step, we got our good young players are already in place and some more are arriving, like Cutter Gauthier and there will be a couple more next year. We are taking steps, and now for me I want to push to where these guys now are pushing to get into a playoff race. That’s going to be my goal. If I am going to tweak things to where I can help the team, sure. I will always look at those opportunities, but I want our young kids to start taking steps and getting experience and win one goal games. I see us as contract wise, not having those contracts to sell. We are going to be a team that everybody is here and we will continue to push forward.

DJ JoJo then did a surprise Q and A season with Aaron Teats and Pat Verbeek.

What would be your go to meal before a game?

Verbeek: Chicken Parm

What is your ideal vacation spot?

Teats: Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Verbeek: Italy

If you could choose one superpower what would it be?

Teats: Being invisible
Verbeek: Superman’s laser eyes

What is one phobia you have?

Teats: Being in elevators alone, especially in tall buildings.
Verbeek: Heights

After a long day, what is the first thing you put on TV?

Teats: The Office
Verbeek: NCIS, the original

What is your favorite music artist?

Teats: Garth Brooks
Verbeek: Garth Brooks

What is a hidden talent you have that most people don’t know?

Teats: Whistle very loud. He demonstrated for the crowd.
Verbeek: Shooting clay pigeons, saying he is 90% accurate.

What is your favorite sport besides hockey?

Teats: Golf
Verbeek: Golf and Baseball

Arena Updates/OA Benefits:

President Aaron Teats announced that the owners are going to put $100 million in improvements to Honda Center in the near future. He also mentioned looking at improving discounts and benefits for Orange Alliance members. The organization is looking at possibly having season ticket holder only entrances in the near future.

For a video version of the event please visit below.

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March 9th, 2024


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