In this series, we”re going to break down individual teams before the expansion draft. In this one, see which players the Anaheim Ducks should protect, why, and who they could lose.
The Anaheim Ducks have a few players on No Movement Clause contracts. Those players are going to be kept in Anaheim, but who else will join them? Will the Ducks go with the classic 7/3/1 protection strategy for forwards, defensemen, and goaltenders? Or will the Ducks choose to protect four defensemen?
The forwards Anaheim will look to protect include their core, which is crucial to their having made the playoffs for the last six seasons, including this year. Those three forwards are Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler, and Ryan Getzlaf. All three have NMCs too, which makes the decision easy.
The three also led the Ducks in points this season, so that helps. Kesler is a leading contender for the Selke award this year, Perry remains one of the best power forwards in the league, and Getzlaf remains a prominent passer. Getzlaf had 73 points, a huge uptick from last year. Kesler had 58, Perry had 53.
The Ducks are also going to keep their other 50 point scorer, Rickard Rakell. Rakell is 23 and scored 33 goals, the most on the team. Protecting Rakell just makes sense, just like with Perry, Getzlaf, and Kesler.
The Ducks will expose Jared Boll, Chris Wagner, and Logan Shaw in the expansion draft. This meets their minimum requirement of two forwards who have played enough games over enough years and are still contracted.
And I don’t think Bieksa is going to waive his NMC. Why should he? He’s at the end of his career, he’s going to the playoffs with the team, if he’s going to win the Cup it’s going to be in Anaheim. Stay in Anaheim and win the Cup. That’s better than anything Vegas has to offer.
Which means Anaheim should protect Vatanen and Lindholm along with Bieksa. They’re Anaheim’s best duo when they’re healthy, and they could get more for Fowler than for either of them because Cam is a better offensive defenseman. Fowler could bring in a great return, and so should be traded at the draft.
Which means that Anaheim has to expose Josh Manson. They can make a backroom deal with Vegas not to take Manson, say hey, take Logan Shaw instead. But I think Vegas is going to turn that deal down and get a good young cheap defenseman for free.
Ultimately, the Ducks are going to lose Manson or Shaw. They’ll survive it though, and a good return for Fowler will do the Ducks well. Maybe get them back into actual Cup contention, if GM Bob Murray deals well enough.