It’s the offseason. I’ve been absent from this blog and haven’t written in months. Life gets in the way sometimes. Graduate school has taken over. I still have some thoughts.
trent yawney is gone
I advocated for Yawney’s reassignment within the organization sometime mid-season. Nothing was working and the team was getting routinely outshot. John Gibson and Brad Thiessen kept the team in every game the best they could. Yawney’s reward for another Lost in Round 2? Ascending to an assistant gig in Anaheim to replace Bob Woods, who left for Saskatoon of the WHL. Yanwey will most likely work on the penalty kill in Anaheim. No matter what the press releases say, #YawneyHockey didn’t win that first round. John Gibson did.
jarrod skalde named head coach
Most fans could see this coming as soon as Yawney left. Skalde had previous head coaching experience and was named the best bench boss one year in the ECHL. A career minor-leaguer as a player, he brings some insight to what many players might feel. It’s a refreshing change of direction. Perhaps Norfolk will be home to some attacking, possession hockey because they’ll need it. Skalde’s promotion left room for another assistant.
eric veilleux named assistant
Anaheim went in another smart direction by hiring someone with head coaching experience in Eric Veilleux. His last stop was with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, who helped to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Finals. Unfortunately, he ran into the Halifax Mooseheads juggernaut that had a couple players named “MacKinnon” and “Drouin” on it. Still, his biggest accomplishment came when he lead the Shawnigan Cataractes to the Memorial Cup Championship. The coaching staff is young, smart, and accomplished. This is a good direction for Anaheim to go with their prospects.
ryan kesler traded to Anaheim, matthieu perrault walks, nate thompson acquired
The biggest move the Ducks made in the offseason was the acquisition of all-star center Ryan Kesler. Anaheim has had a bit of a hole in the 2C role and has was widely believed to have pursued the former Canuck heavily at the trade deadline. After some major changes in Vancouver, Bob Murray and Jim Benning struck a deal. It worked out heavily in Anaheim’s favor. This momentarily pushed Rickard Rakell down the depth chart. Then, the Ducks decided to let Matty P walk. Finally, they traded for Grind Line center Nate Thompson. What does this mean for the Ads?
Center depth is now Getlzaf-Kesler-Thompson-Rakell, meaning that the skilled Swede will most likely not be seen on the Ads this year. It’s not official but Rakell had a fantastic playoffs and did a great job of driving play. He can still be moved down easily-he’s in the 2nd year of his ELC-but he looks to have earned a job.
Igor Bobkov is now your starter for the Norfolk Admirals. Yes, the Ducks signed Jason LaBarbera but it’s obvious he’s there to be an AHL vet. John Gibson and Frederik Andersen, who were dazzling, are now going to platoon in the NHL. They’re talented and have deserved it. Personally, I would have gone with Andersen/LaBarbera to start the year and let Gibson get more AHL time. This is not the direction of the Ducks. All of this creates the ripple effect of Igor Bobkov starting. He signed a one-year “prove it” deal, and will need to in Norfolk. Bobkov greatly improved in his time with the Utah Grizzlies and perhaps this will translate in his getting full-time starts in the AHL.
louis leblanc is added
So far, Anaheim has made very few veteran moves that would affect the Admirals. Their biggest gambits have been adding LaBarbera and the trade for Louis LeBlanc. A career like LeBlanc’s seems destined to languish in the minor leagues. Once a former first round draft pick, the former Canadiens organization player has never cracked 30 points in his professional career. He’ll likely be in Norfolk, and it’s unclear what line he’ll start on.
stortini not re-signed
Many fans were disappointed about Norfolk not re-signing Zack Stortini. Problem here is that he was signed by Anaheim and bad at hockey. He’ll now play for new division foe Lehigh Valley and I’m sure he’ll rough it up with somebody. Hey, John Kurtz is still on the team.
wait for training camp.
Anaheim’s roster makeup is largely done right now with the exception of signing RFAs Jakob Silfverberg and Devante Smith-Pelly. Both of those just seem like time deals. Still, there is reason to believe that Emerson Etem might have to compete for a roster spot despite being awarded a low number. Training camp is especially important to Admirals fans. This is a spot where many players may get awarded with PTOs or AHL SPCs. Last year saw Maxime Sauve, Garnet Exelby, and Teigan Zahn awarded with PTOs from the Ducks organization. It’s unclear how much will come from this year’s camp but the Ads will probably want some vet bodies.
I haven’t done the roster projection yet and it’s still hard to tell. Expect that to come in the next couple of weeks.