Which defenseman could the Ducks sign in free agency? Here are five candidates
Ducks general manager Bob Murray has money to spend and roster spots to fill going into the NHL’s annual free agency frenzy. But will he spend it and can he address those glaring needs when the signing window opens Monday.
Murray has roughly $10 million in salary cap space available, which means he could ask team owners Henry and Susan Samueli to write a hefty check for the first time in a long time in order to plug one rather large hole on the right side of the Ducks’ defense corps.
The Ducks have something resembling NHL-quality depth on the left side with battle-tested veterans Hampus Lindholm and Cam Fowler staking a claim to the first two spots and youngsters Jacob Larsson and Brendan Guhle likely set to battle for the third slot.
But what about the right side?
There’s Josh Manson and Korbinian Holzer, and that’s it for right-handed shooting defensemen. Manson has established himself as a standout who can shadow the best of the opposition’s offensive threats, but until the end of last season Holzer had been a classic seventh defenseman.
Attempts to solidify the right side through free agency last summer failed miserably.
Andrej Sustr played only five games with the Ducks after signing a one-season deal for $1.3 million and Luke Schenn was traded to Vancouver after appearing in eight contests after signing for $800,000. Jake Dotchin was claimed from the slag heap for $800,000, but he wasn’t the answer either.
Sustr and Dotchin were not re-signed as free agents.
Murray has options again this summer. There are plenty of right-handed shooting defensemen available via free agency, some more expensive than others and some more useful than others. Trades could be difficult because partners will likely want one of the Ducks’ top prospects.
So, who is out there and what might they cost?
Here’s a look at a few possibilities for the right side, ranging from expensive to reasonable:
At 29, he’s the most expensive of all the right-handed shooting defensemen available, with a cap hit of $5.5 million this past season with the Winnipeg Jets. He’s also the biggest, standing 6-feet-8, and the most productive with 31 points, including nine goals, in an average of 20:20 ice time last season.
Myers will want more money and a longer deal than Murray is likely to offer. Murray likes one-year deals and although he has money now, thanks to the buyout of Corey Perry’s contract, next season will be different. Perry’s cap hit of $2.6 million for 2019-20 rises to a less manageable $6.6 million in 2020-21.
His cap hit last season with the Tampa Bay Lightning was $4.5 million, but he could feel right at home in Anaheim if he’s added to the Ducks’ sizable Swedish contingent. He’s 32 and coming off a season in which injuries limited him to two goals and 17 points in 47 games in 2018-19.
He spent parts of three seasons with the Ducks and could be plugged in fairly cheaply, what with a cap hit of $2.67 million last season with the New Jersey Devils and Dallas Stars. At 35, he’s a reliable defender, a good passer and would be a good role model for the Ducks’ young defensemen.
He would give the Ducks additional size, at 6-4 and 210 pounds, and, at 32, more experience on their blue line. His cap hit of $2.75 million last season with the New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets was reasonable. He’s not a big producer, with only 16 goals and 73 points in 512 career games.
His salary cap hit last season with the Vegas Golden Knights was a modest $1.5 million. He played big minutes in his second season with Vegas, averaging 19:52 of ice time in 2018-19. But at 37, his production fell to two goals and 12 points from five goals and 23 points in 2017-18.
DUCKS ADD DESLAURIERS
The Ducks added to their depth on left wing by acquiring Nicolas Deslauriers from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick in 2020. Deslauriers, 28, had five points, including two goals, in 48 games last season. He has one season and $950,000 left on his contract.