Welcome to the Five-Year Plan. In this summer exercise, we forecast the rosters for all 31 current NHL teams for the 2023-24 season. Are we bound for folly? Sure, but the point of the exercise is to give some sense of where an organization is heading based on current long-term contracts and the prospects they have in the system.
Some ground rules: No trades will be made and no future draft picks will be included – so you won’t see the likes of Alexis Lafreniere or Quinton Byfield on any roster, even though they will certainly be NHL stars in 2023-24. All current contracts are honored and most restricted free agents are projected to stay with their teams, unless it is determined the player will lose his spot or move on in the future. Some future unrestricted free agents will be kept on if the players are deemed integral and likely to re-sign. The Seattle expansion draft is not considered. With all that established, let’s take a look at Anaheim.
The first thing you’ll notice is the absence of Ryan Getzlaf. Based on the many hard years of NHL service the current captain has put in, it’s very possible Getzlaf retires by the summer of 2023. He’s only under contract until 2021 but could do the Joe Thornton one-year thing a couple times. Getzlaf already has a Stanley Cup ring, so he isn’t chasing anything at this point. His name will be in the rafters in Anaheim soon enough.
The Ducks have two veterans on long-term deals in Henrique and Silfverberg and while both could be gone as the team turns over a new leaf in the coming years, they could also be ballast for the kids. I see Devin Shore and Daniel Sprong moving on in the next five years. Anaheim has a ton of young centers, so some have been moved to the wings here. But the future looks intriguing up front.
Anaheim already has Fowler locked in and it’s hard to see them parting with Lindholm or Manson. There’s a nice pipeline behind them and let’s call 2019 draft prospect Jackson LaCombe the seventh D-man here. Hard to believe Anaheim will have basically the same ‘D’ corps in five years, but it’s a fairly young crew right now.
The MVP remains in Gibson, who is signed until 2027. Based on the pipeline, the backup job will be contested by Dostal and Olle Eriksson-Ek. Dostal gets the edge here based off his fantastic world junior performance with the Czechs.
Overall, the Ducks look to be in good shape, assuming their prospects reach their NHL potential. There’s a nice mix of skill and heaviness, with sharp goaltending backing it all up. There will be a lot of pain in 2019-20 and likely the year after, but Anaheim is building the next generation right now.