Anaheim Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek was active leading up to last month’s trade deadline, shipping out pending free agents Hampus Lindholm, Rickard Rakell and Josh Manson. With Cap Friendly indicating the Ducks have $41.1 million in projected cap space for 2022-23, Verbeek will have a busy off-season reaching the cap floor and perhaps beyond.
Verbeek told The Athletic’s Eric Stephens he intends to invest that cap space wisely to improve his roster. It’s expected he’ll put some of that money toward signing restricted free agents such as Sonny Milano and Isac Lundestrom to new contracts.
Stephens observed talented players such as Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau, Nashville Predators winger Filip Forsberg and Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg are slated to become unrestricted free agents in July. He believes it’ll take considerable salesmanship by Verbeek to entice such players to join the rebuilding Ducks.
John Gibson might require some reassurance of Verbeek’s plans for the franchise. The 28-year-old goaltender is signed through 2026-27 with an annual cap hit of $6.4 million. There could be concern he’ll be past his playing prime before the Ducks are contenders again.
Verbeek could also target talent on cap-strapped clubs in the trade market. Stephens suggested targeting restricted free agents with high qualifying offers such as the Calgary Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk, Columbus Blue Jackets’ Patrik Laine or the Winnipeg Jets’ Pierre-Luc Dubois.
The Ducks GM has some valuable assets to dangle as trade bait. He’s carrying two picks in each of the first, second and fifth rounds of this year’s draft, as well as three second-rounders and two third-rounders in 2023. Top prospect Mason McTavish is likely off-limits but Jacob Perreault or Sasha Pastujov could become trade chips.