Anaheim Ducks -
Season In Review: The Ducks overhauled their roster throughout the season, shipping off 10 players and receiving 5 back. It appeared at the trade deadline that the Ducks were throwing in the towel, dealing key cogs to their Cup run in 2007 like Travis Moen and Sami Pahlsson. However, they exploded for a 11-3-1 tear to slip into the postseason. They then deposed the President's Trophy winning Sharks in 6 games and took the Stanley Cup Champions to a 7th game. In all, it has to be considered a very successful season for the Ducks, where GM Bob Murray both shored up the present team and the future one without sacrificing much of value.
Key Unrestricted Free Agents: D Scott Niedermayer, D Francois Beauchemin, D Bret Hedican, C Todd Marchant, RW Rob Niedermayer
What Needs Upgrading: The Ducks have 2 of their top 4 defensemen set to become unrestricted free agents - it is unlikely they can re-sign both. Their second line was solid down the stretch, but faltered in the playoffs - more scoring depth is a necessity.
What's The Cap Situation Like? The Ducks owe 37.4 million to 13 players, which leaves about 17-19 million to sign the other 10. In 2010-11, they will owe 22 million to 6 players.
Grade of Salary Cap: Solid B. If it weren't for the Gigeure contract, a $6 million per annum albatross, they would be a definite A. They have the money they need to re-sign most of their best players, and with these depth players they've acquired in trade, they should have enough money to add a significant piece either this season or next.
Who's On the Horizon: LW Eric Tangradi had to be sacrificed in the Kunitz-Whitney swap; there is probably no one who will make a significant impact on the Ducks. Jake Gardiner and Mark Mitera are decent D prospects who are likely more than a season away.
Lines For Next Season:
This denotes a player RFA in 2009
This denotes a player UFA in 2010
This denotes a player RFA in 2010
Who Might They Go After:
F Nikolai Antropov (3/13)
C/LW Jason Williams (2/4)
C Blair Betts (2/2)
D Mattias Ohlund (4/19)
D Mike Komarisek (5/25)
D Johnny Oduya (4/14)
If.... The Ducks re-sign Scott Niedermayer and Special Nieds: They still have plenty of theoretical money to go after a forward in the 3 to 4 million dollar per season range. With Teemu Selanne likely to retire next season, the biggest need for the Ducks is a 2nd line forward, as they do not really have any in the organization. Players like Gaborik and Hossa are almost certainly out of their price range, but second-tier guys like Nikolai Antropov should be intriguing.
If... The Ducks do not re-sign Scott Niedermayer: They can afford any of the top defenders on the market besides Jay Bouwmeester - Mattias Ohlund or Mike Komarisek. They likely get one and a second-tier defender like a Nick Boynton or Derek Morris.
Final Conclusion: The Ducks have a solid outlook for next season and into the future. While they lack true top-end prospect talent, their core is young enough that this is not particularly important. The only bad contract on their books is the horrid J.S. Gigeure deal that is more inflated than his padding - in another offseason, they'd be able to foist this off to some team run by fools, but with the salary cap treading water or beginning to plummet, it's less likely. GM Bob Murray has shown he can get very creative when making deals - it should be a very interesting off-season for the Anaheim Ducks, and if things don't entirely fall apart, the Ducks should get into the playoffs as a 4 through 8 seed and be a very difficult first round opponent for whomever draws them.