The Anaheim Ducks still don’t have a head coach for the 2019-20 season, but we now know whoever it is will be leading a much different group. The Ducks are on the edge of a huge roster overhaul, one which might bring plenty of opportunity with it for their young prospect core.
Ryan Kesler won’t be back on the ice for the Ducks this season, if ever again, after undergoing a major hip surgery in May. The procedure was completed in part to restore some sort of normalcy to Kesler’s daily life and reduce his pain. He had fought through that pain to reach 1,000 games played for his career but was a shell of his former self on the ice and finished 2018-19 with just eight points in 60 games. Despite the three years remaining on his contract, no one should be expecting a contribution from the 34-year old.
Patrick Eaves too is a question mark for the Ducks after playing just nine games over the last two years. The veteran forward was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome in 2017 and doesn’t appear to be expected to play at all this season. Even if he was to somehow come back, it’s hard to expect much from a 35-year old who hasn’t played a meaningful stretch of games in more than two years. Eaves has just one year remaining on his contract, but like Kesler is likely headed for long-term injured reserve if the Ducks need some cap space.
That brings us to Corey Perry, who the team is apparently ready to move on from after 14 seasons with the organization. Perry was the 28th-overall pick in 2003 and became a superstar in Anaheim, recording a 50-goal season in 2010-11 to win the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player. He and partner in crime Ryan Getzlaf were the faces of Ducks hockey for more than a decade, something that appears to be coming to an end. If Perry’s contract was traded or bought out, it would not only open up cap space and salary for the front office to work with, but also another roster spot to use on the talent they have coming up through the system—that’s where there’s a glimmering silver lining for fans hoping to get back to the playoffs quickly.
All is not lost if the Ducks manage to open up some roster spots. If everyone was healthy and retained, they would have 12 one-way contracts already signed and not much to look forward to next season. But with the above trio potentially out of the mix, opportunity is coming for some of the prospects just outside of the NHL.