Murray, Ducks Have Quiet but Successful Free Agency
Before the draft, the Anaheim Ducks made one of the biggest moves to help increase their 1-2 punch down the center with Ryan Kesler. They had to depart with key player Nick Bonino and defenseman Luca Sbisa.
GM Bob Murray followed up his big acquisition by filling another center role with former Tampa Bay Lightning player Nate Thompson, and should be expected to line up right behind Kesler.
Free agency came and there were a number of key free agents who could slot in on the wings around Kesler and even Ryan Getzlaf. The team was looking for a top-6 winger and another stay at home, gritty defenseman.
From the big waves made, the Ducks sat by and watched every big name get picked off the market within the first few hours, and as time wore on there seemed to be no news about possible players coming into Anaheim. They also saw Mathieu Perreault head to the Winnipeg Jets and Jonas Hiller go to Calgary.
Then the first new acquisition came in- Clayton Stoner.
This was puzzling at the start, but he is a great pick up for the team and will fill the role of a tough defender on the blue line. At 6’4” 216 pounds, the 29-year-old will serve to be the nuisance on the team, and provide the goalies with a cleaner area in front of the net. He signed a 4 year deal worth $13 million, and will take the place of departed Stephane Robidas, and could possibly oust Brian Allen out of a role.
After that, the team remained silent. They still needed to address a top-6 winger to compliment Kesler on the second line but nothing has emerged this late, and it could be the end of a quiet free agency for the Ducks.
Realistically, the only players left the team might target is Dany Healty, Devin Setoguchi, Lee Stempniak, and maybe Ryan Malone. Other than that, they could be relying on their draft picks and youth from last season.
They still are in talks with winger Pat Maroon on a contract extension, along with Devante Smith-Pelly and Jakob Silfverberg. They are all expected to be on the team and in the lineup come October. Smith-Pelly showed signs of significant improvement in the playoffs, and was one of the best players consistently on the ice.
A quiet free agency period doesn’t always mean a bad thing, but the Ducks will need to address at least one more winger before the training camps start. Especially since the West became a bigger threat than it was last season.