Arizona has re-upped with young blueliner Brandon Gormley on a one-year, two-way deal, the club announced on Thursday.
Gormley, 23, has spent his entire professional career with the Coyotes after they took him 13th overall at the 2010 draft. A former junior standout — he was named Top Defenseman at the ’12 Worlds — Gormley has yet to make his mark at the NHL level; as an illustration, consider that the defenseman taken one spot ahead of Gormley, Cam Fowler, has already appeared in 345 career contests.
Gormley, meanwhile, has played just 32.
Despite that, it looks as though he’ll have a good shot at extended minutes in Arizona this season. Gone from last year’s blueline are the likes of John Moore and Andrew Campbell but, that said, GM Don Maloney did bring in a pair of veteran presences this summer by re-signing Zbynek Michalek, and adding Nicklas Grossmann via trade.
The Anaheim Ducks are out to win the Stanley Cup now after falling just one win shy of beating the eventual champions in the Western Conference Final. They certainly have the core to go far, but do they have the depth?
Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are one of the best offensive duos in the league while Ryan Kesler is a great two-way center that helped improve their second line in his first campaign with Anaheim in 2014-15. However, those three were the only members of the Ducks to record at least 40 points last season, which is part of the reason why Anaheim finished close to the middle of the pack with 2.78 goals per game.
There are reasons to hope for more in 2015-16 though, even if they did lose Matt Beleskey (22 goals) over the summer. The Ducks have added some capable secondary scorers Carl Hagelin, Shawn Horcoff, and Chris Stewart, but it’s Jakob Silfverberg that stands out the most among Anaheim’s forwards outside of its top-three. The 24-year-old had 39 points in the regular season, but he broke out in the playoffs with four goals and 14 assists in 16 contests. He meshed well with Kesler in the playoffs after Silfverberg only spent spent about a third of his five-on-five regular season minutes with the second-line center. If the two share the ice more frequently this season, it could result in a significantly improved second line.
Defensively, the Ducks will be anchored by newcomer Kevin Bieksa after losing Francois Beauchemin on the free agent market. That being said, it’s the team’s young defensive core of Sami Vatanen, Hampus Lindholm, and Cam Fowler that will go a long way towards determining if this is a successful campaign for Anaheim. They’ll also be leaning heavily on 25-year-old goaltender Frederik Andersen.
The hope is that their younger players have grown thanks to their lengthy playoff run. That needs to be true for the Ducks because while Getzlaf, Perry, and Kesler are a vital part of their success, they’ve also already reached their peak. If Anaheim is to grow enough to get over the final hurdle standing between it and a championship, then that improvement will have to come from its talented youngsters.
Manson’s extension doesn’t kick in until 2016-17. He’ll still be on a two-way deal next season.
Manson split last season between the NHL and AHL. He had three assists in 28 games with the Ducks, having made his NHL debut in October.
The 23-year-old son of former NHLer Dave Manson will again have to compete for playing time next season. The Ducks have a deep blue line featuring Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, Simon Despres, Clayton Stoner, Korbinian Holzer, and new addition Kevin Bieksa.
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.
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.
Video: Maroon stays hot in playoffs, gives Ducks hope
With the man advantage late in the period, Maroon got into position and deflected Cam Fowler’s shot past goaltender Corey Crawford to narrow Chicago’s lead to two:
Maroon has been a pleasant surprise for Anaheim in the playoffs. After scoring nine goals in 71 regular season games, this was his seventh in 15 playoff contests. He’s found the back of the net in three of the Ducks’ last four games.
Anaheim still has an steep uphill climb ahead of it though. Including the regular season, Chicago is 30-0-0 when leading through 40 minutes.