NHL.com is providing in-depth roster, prospect and fantasy analysis for each of its 30 teams throughout August. Today, the Anaheim Ducks.
The Anaheim Ducks are hopeful coach Randy Carlyle can re-create some of the magic from his first stint as their coach.
Carlyle, who won the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007 and is their all-time winningest coach (230-155-49), was hired on June 14, more than six weeks after Bruce Boudreau was fired.
A new coach typically brings big changes, but it's not so much change that Ducks general manager Bob Murray wants to see, but rather accountability. He's hoping that Carlyle, a highly respected coach, can inspire that in Anaheim's leadership core, which showed little of it when the Nashville Predators eliminated the Ducks in the Western Conference First Round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Following the firing of Boudreau, Murray issued a stern warning to the Ducks' leaders, saying they needed to take responsibility for poor play in a disappointing season that ended with a fourth straight Game 7 loss at home.
"He will hold people in the organization accountable," Murray said after he hired Carlyle. "And that's just not on the ice during games; he'll do it in practice, he'll do it in the weight room, he'll hold everybody accountable."
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The Ducks know the window for winning the Stanley Cup with aging players like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler -- each 31 years old -- could be closing. With that in mind, Murray decided to add veteran center Antoine Vermette as a free agent Aug. 15.
Vermette, whose contract was bought out by the Arizona Coyotes, brings depth up the middle and gives Anaheim five capable centers.
Perhaps more importantly, Vermette brings a playoff pedigree, having won the Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015 and helping the Ottawa Senators reach the Cup Final in 2007.
"He's got some experience, he's an older guy and he's been around and part of a championship team and been in the Finals before that," Getzlaf said. "It's going to be good for us down the middle."
Despite the Ducks' recent playoff failures, Vermette said he sees them as a contender.
"That's a big thing for me," Vermette, 34, said. "I had the chance to win it not too long ago, and now later in my career, I believe in this team and organization."
Video: Ducks sign Antoine Vermette
The Ducks traded goaltender Frederik Andersen to the Toronto Maple Leafs on June 20, clearing the way for John Gibson to become the No. 1 goalie. They also acquired goalie Jonathan Bernier from the Maple Leafs on July 8 for a conditional pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.
Bernier is familiar with Carlyle and his system, having played for him in Toronto from 2013-15, and with the Pacific Division as a member of the Los Angeles Kings from 2007-13. Bernier went 12-21-3 with a 2.88 goals-against average and .908 save percentage in 38 games with the Maple Leafs last season.
"I'm just looking to focus on myself," Bernier said. "You can't think about how many games you're going to play or whether Gibson is playing more games than me or not. I've been working hard this summer, and I'm ready to go for the upcoming season."
For the second year in a row, center Nate Thompson will start the season on injured reserve, after tearing his Achilles tendon during an offseason workout. Defenseman Sami Vatanen agreed to a four-year contract on June 18, but two key restricted free agents remain unsigned: defenseman Hampus Lindholm and center Rickard Rakell.
Close friends, fellow Swedes and roommates in Orange County, Lindholm has long been seen as a top young defenseman in the organization, and Rakell is coming off a breakout, 20-goal season. The Ducks boast tremendous depth at each position, but Murray repeatedly has said the two are priorities.
Ten years after Carlyle helped the Ducks become the first California team to win the Cup, they're turning to him again to help deliver another championship.
"It all came back to Randy," Murray said. "Randy is back, and I welcome him back."
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