Losing on such a big stage in an ugly way obviously stings, but is the situation really that dire for the Anaheim Ducks?
On paper, Anaheim accomplished a lot in 2014-15, yet that’s not how many will depict the situation. Let’s not deny it, either; the optics weren’t pretty in another Game 7 loss.
Sportsnet correspondent Elliotte Friedman describes Boudreau’s relationship with Ducks GM Bob Murray as “strained.” Many fans feel like this is the last straw … and Murray may just end up agreeing.
Here’s the thing though: the Ducks’ future could be incredibly bright, even if you merely look past the situation with Boudreau. Let’s ponder a few reasons why Anaheim may just be primed for bigger and better things.
They have a ton of cap space
According to General Fanager (a great Cap Geek supplement), the Ducks have about $17.6 million in cap space as of this moment.
Key free agents such as Francois Beauchemin and Matt Beleskey are primed to eat up some of that excess, but few contenders are poised to have this much breathing room in the offseason. Could the Ducks gain from other contenders’ salary cap pain?
Their defense is both young and deep
As PHT’s Jason Brough also points out, the Ducks’ defense boasts an enviable array of young, promising defensemen.
Cam Fowler, Sami Vatanen and Simon Despres are all 23. Hampus Lindholm is just 21.
Not many teams would enjoy the luxury of parking a (somewhat?) healthy James Wisniewski in the press box, but the Ducks did that this postseason. This defense could look downright scary in 2015-16.
Their goalies are cheap (and could get better)
The funny thing about the Ducks is that Frederik Andersen might not even be “their guy,” as John Gibson could very well have a brighter future. It’s conceivable that one or both of those netminders will play well in 2015-16.
In a league with big spending on goaltending, Anaheim enjoys the kind of flexibility that other teams can only dream of. Andersen and Gibson combine for about a $1.88 million cap hit next season with one year left on each of their deals. Murray could stick with both or decide to target a more experienced goalie via a trade or free agency.
Either way, it’s a pretty good problem to have, even if goaltending remains a perpetual question mark for the franchise.
Stars close to their primes
Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler are all 30 as of this writing. Maybe that isn’t “prime age,” but it’s close … and players like Jakob Silfverberg could make big jumps for all we know.
No doubt about it, this is a big offseason for the Ducks, but they’re in a prime position if you look at the bigger picture.