|“Good luck to Bob Murray this summer,” Getzlaf said. “He has his work cut out for him. He’s fully qualified and knows what he wants. I’m excited to see what we bring next year.” |
Even though the thought of the Ducks’ season being over now is still too fresh to completely fathom, the focus has already shifted on what will become of the team in 2009-10.
Entering the first offseason under Executive Vice President and General Manager Bob Murray, Anaheim has plenty of question marks going forward. Who will and won’t be back from this version of the Ducks, which came together for a late-season surge that saw them down the top-seeded Sharks and nearly knock off the defending champion Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
“Good luck to Bob Murray this summer,” said Ryan Getzlaf after Thursday night’s Game 7 loss at Detroit. “He has his work cut out for him. He’s fully qualified and knows what he wants. I’m excited to see what we bring next year.”
Before the team can ponder which players they may want to bring in from the outside, the Ducks will first need to figure out the fate on several of their own. Anaheim has seven players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents and another six restricted free agents come July 1. The person at the top of that list is future Hall-of-Famer and team captain Scott Niedermayer, who has flirted with retirement each of the past two seasons.
“I haven’t thought about it much,” said the defenseman, who may opt for another go-around with the Ducks to also get a chance to play in the impending 2010 Olympics being held in his native British Columbia (Vancouver). “I will now. We’ve had a lot of fun playing the last few months. The team has played well. It’s been fun to be here. I’ll figure it out.”
Others joining Scott Niedermayer in the unrestricted group are his brother Rob, his longtime defensive partner Francois Beauchemin, do-it-all forward Todd Marchant and one-year Ducks Bret Hedican, Josh Green and Brad Larsen.
|“I haven’t thought about it much,” said Niedermayer of his future. “I will now. We’ve had a lot of fun playing the last few months. The team has played well. It’s been fun to be here. I’ll figure it out.” |
On the restricted are defenseman James Wisniewski and forwards Mike Brown and Erik Christensen, three players acquired during the season that played huge roles in the team’s stretch run. They are joined by prospects Brett Festerling, Troy Bodie and Petri Kontiola. Being restricted free agents, Anaheim will have the right to match any offer that may come these players way in the coming months and teams who sign them would have to give draft picks to the Ducks as compensation.
“We all know Bob Murray,” Teemu Selanne said. “He wants to have success. That’s a great sign.”
Wondering whether or not to hang up his skates alongside Niedermayer the past two summers has been Selanne. A free agent during those periods, the Finnish Flash is signed with the Ducks through next season and may also have an eye on playing in the Olympics once again. But he too will also take some time to figure out the future.
“I want to see what’s happening, what direction they want to go, and go from there,” Selanne said. “I feel I can really play at this level, and play well. I think it (a decision) is going to happen pretty quick.”
While the sting of losing to the Red Wings in the closing minutes of regulation in Game 7 will undoubtedly take some time to fade, the Ducks showed incredible grit and determination to even get to that point.
Mired near the bottom of the Western Conference standings at the trade deadline, Murray made several bold moves that proved to invigorate the Ducks. In 12th place as late as March 18 and afforded little room for error, the team went a remarkable 10-2-1 to close out the regular season and claim the final spot in a chaotic playoff race.
Given little chance by prognosticators against San Jose, the Presidents’ Trophy winners, Anaheim coolly dispatched the Sharks in six games of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. The Ducks were in it until the end against Detroit too in the Semifinals, fighting back from a two-goal deficit to tie the game in the third period of Game 7 before their season was cut short.
|“Obviously nobody knows what’s going to happen with this team,” Selanne (left) said. “They have big decisions coming up. You can’t really think about that too much because you don’t know, but the future for this franchise, I think, is very great. There are a lot of main guys here. They’re young. It’s a great way to build a good team, so a lot of good things are happening here.” |
“We definitely take the second half of the season as a success, but we dug ourselves a pretty big hole at the (All-Star) break,” Getzlaf said. “Our guys did an unbelievable job coming back. Guys (brought in) at the deadline meshed in really well and gave our team that boost. We’re pretty excited and happy to have gone as far as we did, but we didn’t reach our goal.”
Said another key acquisition, Ryan Whitney, “We really jelled as a team and became pretty close and probably had as good a chance as anyone to go all the way.”
Tough decisions will have to be made on the team’s roster going forward. But aiding the cause is the fact that the team has an incredible young nucleus to build around in Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, Whitney and goaltender Jonas Hiller. The 27-year-old netminder shined in the 2009 postseason with two shutouts, a 2.23 goals-against average and .943 save percentage.
“Obviously nobody knows what’s going to happen with this team,” Selanne said. “They have big decisions coming up. You can’t really think about that too much because you don’t know, but the future for this franchise, I think, is very great. There are a lot of main guys here. They’re young. It’s a great way to build a good team, so a lot of good things are happening here."