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Frontline Research: Anaheim Ducks

Is this a rebuild? Is that a goalie? Where does that highway go to? This is not my beautiful house.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Oilers are 2-0 this young season. They’d like to keep the wins coming, I’m sure of it. The Oilers look to make it 3-0 with a visit from the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night.

The Ducks had a tough season last year, winning just 17 games out of 56. What can we expect from the Ducks in 2021-22? More of the same? Are they going in for a rebuild? Does Dallas Eakins do that thing where he insists on the press box only having healthy choices? Sounds really fun.

The Ducks have a young centre in Trevor Zegras and some nice pieces, but I’m wondering exactly how many nice pieces are on that roster. What’s going on with John Gibson? I’ve got plenty of questions about these Anaheim Ducks, so I’ve enlisted Panagiotis Mavritis over at SB Nation’s sibling site Anaheim Calling for the details.

Let’s get at ‘er.

Copper and Blue: The Ducks finished with just 17 wins in their 56 game season last year, though they’ve got some nice pieces on this roster. Are the Ducks in a rebuild process? Or, are they going to let it fly this year hoping for a turnaround?

PM @ Anaheim Calling: The Ducks are a team that are in a rebuilding process from a management standpoint, but a competitive process from a player standpoint. Players like John Gibson have come out and said that they are tired of losing and want to compete, meanwhile their GM Bob Murray has made no moves in making that effort to ice more talent. Through their first two games this year though, they’ve looked competitive.

C&B: Trevor Zegras was drafted ninth overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, he’s currently on the top line with Rickard Rakell and Adam Henrique. He had a stint in the AHL with San Diego where he scored over a point per game (21 pts in 17 games), he also spent some time with the Ducks where he put up a little better than half a point in 24 games played. What kind of year are you hoping to see from Zegras in 2021-22?

AC: Zegras has been a little more quiet than you would like to see through these two games, but that’s not his fault, it’s more on the coaching staff for playing him significantly less than their depth players. If he sees the ice time, he should be competing for the Calder, but if it continues along like this, we may be in for a very disappointing year production-wise.

C&B: After Trevor Zegras and 36-year old Ryan Getzlaf, the depth down the middle looks wide open. Are the Ducks more interested in drafting and developing, or do you think they’d take a shot at Jack Eichel if given the opportunity?

AC: I think they have shown serious interest in Jack Eichel, I’m not sure if it’s worth it, but they have. I don’t think the Ducks would be willing to move Zegras for him, and likely not Drysdale either, so i’m not sure what pieces would be going to Buffalo. Perhaps McTavish? Nonetheless, if they don’t get Eichel, I think they’ll go the development route.

C&B: Dallas Eakins is entering his third season as Ducks head coach. Previously, he spent four years with the San Diego Gulls in the AHL. What’s the temperature of his seat? Is his job safe?

AC: I think the only reason Eakins’ seat is safe for the season is because the Ducks management doesn’t have a sense of urgency to compete just yet. His moves have been very questionable however, and it shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody if he does indeed end up getting the boot.

C&B: Goaltender John Gibson’s last two years have not been good. Prior to that, he had four good-to-excellent years. He’s got six years on his deal that’s now got a modified NTC built in. Is he locked into the Ducks’ future plans?

AC: As of right now, he is, that could change depending on how the season goes, however. If the Ducks at the very least compete for a playoff spot or show that they’re moving in the right direction, I think they’ll keep Gibson. If they’re in the basement for another year, I think they’ll move him and begin the development process for Lukas Dostal. Just doesn’t make sense to keep him and waste his talent if the team isn’t ready.

C&B: Finally, what does it take for the Ducks to be a playoff team in 2021-22?

AC: A lot. The Pacific division isn’t strong, but even then, the Ducks are not in a very good position. I don’t see any reality where they make the playoffs, realistically, but if we I had to say: Zegras would need to develop into a bonafide first-line centre this season, Gibson would need to perform like a top-five goaltender in the NHL, and surrounding pieces like Mason McTavish and Jamie Drysdale will need to have insane development growths towards the end of the season.

Thanks goes to Pangiotis for taking the time to answer some question about the Ducks. Folllow Pangiotis on Twitter here, visit Anaheim Calling here.

The Oilers host the Anaheim Ducks tomorrow night at 8 PM.