No team does a better job being competitive and well positioned for the future than the Ducks. They’ve been at or near the top of the NHL and Future Watch standings the past few seasons under the direction of GM Bob Murray and top talent assessor David McNab. The Ducks are parsimonious with picks and prospects, not willing to give up much in the way of future players just to get a playoff boost.
Round 1, pick 27
Round 3, pick 80
Round 3, pick 84
Round 5, pick 148
Round 6, pick 178
Anaheim has a fine assortment of talented forwards in their early 20s who are regular contributors. They’d love for at least one of Kyle Palmieri, Rickard Rakell, Emerson Etem or Jakob Silfverberg to break through and become the 25- to 30-goal secondary scoring threat the team has lacked since Teemu Selanne moved on.
Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry turn 30 in May, so they’re just recently starting the back nine on future Hall of Fame careers. With so many talented young blueliners already in Anaheim and the aforementioned forwards, the Ducks’ greatest need in coming seasons will be cheap depth players – proven veterans for the third and fourth lines willing to play for a discount if it means having a good shot at winning a Stanley Cup.
The Ducks are well positioned now, but Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, Simon Despres, Palmieri, Rakell and goalies Frederik Andersen and John Gibson will be coming off entry-level deals and looking for big raises in 2016. And Ryan Kesler will be a pending UFA next summer. That will be a test for Murray.
IN THE SYSTEM 2015-16
Nick Ritchie has the size and soft hands to play a top-six role next season, and the Ducks can hardly wait. Look for him to get a test on the big line. Shea Theodore will be given every chance to crack Anaheim’s young D-corps.
DID YOU KNOW
The Ducks are on the dean’s list when it comes to report card grades for prospects in Future Watch. From 2012 to 2015, they’ve ranked third, second, first and second among the 30 NHL franchises.