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More changes expected for Ducks after playoff failure

Anaheim will have new coach, roster turnover next season

by Abbey Mastracco / Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- A few days removed from losing their fourth straight Game 7 at home in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and one day after coach Bruce Boudreau was fired, the Ducks were at Honda Center on Saturday to clean out their lockers and hold meetings to determine what the next steps are in moving forward after a failed season.

Anaheim believes it can win now and a new coach will be chosen with that objective in mind. However, general manager Bob Murray issued some stern words, saying Boudreau's firing is on more on the players, who on Saturday took full responsibility, admitting they haven't figured out how to solve their playoff problems.

With several important players set to become restricted free agents, a goalie decision that needs to be made, and a coaching search underway, Murray promised that the Ducks will look different next season.

WHAT THEY SAID: "[Boudreau is] a good man. He was a good coach, obviously. I think losing that Game 7 was, you know, the nail in the coffin. It's obviously tough to see your coach fired. I think the onus goes on us. Yeah. It's still too early to look back for me, just the whole way this season's gone. It was a tough year. It was a tough year for everyone, I think. The way we started to the way we started the playoffs, it just for whatever reason didn't come together like we hoped." -- forward Ryan Kesler

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm7: Kesler nets gorgeous tac-tac-toe PPG

THE BURNING QUESTION: What do the Ducks need from a new coach? Murray went from a strict disciplinarian in Randy Carlyle to an open, laid-back players' coach in Boudreau. In Murray's press conference Friday, he said he wasn't sure if he needed to go all the way to the opposite end of the spectrum again but will start discussions with players as soon as this week to determine what type of coach would best fit this group.

Murray also has a big decision looming with goalies Frederik Andersen and John Gibson. The two were able to split time effectively this season but Andersen outplayed Gibson in the second half of the season and in the playoffs.

Contract talks with Andersen were shelved at the start of the season because Andersen, a restricted free agent, considered making a change in management groups. Gibson signed a team-friendly deal before the season and will make $2.3 million in each of the next three seasons without a no-trade or no-movement clause.

"I like playing here and all the guys love having me in the net," Andersen said. "It's their decision to make, but I think I definitely proved that I can be a No. 1 goalie, especially in the playoffs to do well. Last year, I took the team deep. It didn't pan out this year, but I feel like I personally did my part in trying."

The Ducks made the two-goalie system work this season, but Andersen said he feels he deserves more playing time. With the possibility of losing a goalie to an expansion draft as soon as next year, it doesn't look as though the Ducks will keep Gibson and Andersen.

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm2: Gibson gloves Weber's big shot

INJURIES: There were no surgeries announced, but Murray said that could change when some players have more examinations.

Defenseman Simon Despres, who missed most of the season with a concussion, will see a doctor. Murray said he felt Despres wasn't able to play with the same aggression after the concussion and that too many players took shots at him.

Defenseman Kevin Bieksa (upper body) and forwards David Perron (shoulder) and Rickard Rakell (appendectomy) were healthy for the playoffs, but it became apparent when the series wore on that none was at 100 percent.

"You look at me and Perron, we had injuries where ideally, you're looking at 4-6 weeks of recovery. That's a standard recovery for our injuries," Bieksa said. "We pushed them, we got back as soon as we can, we wanted to play in the playoffs, it's just the way it goes though … I wasn't able to be super physical, I tried to be physical but sometimes the arm wouldn't work. I had to manage my game a little bit that way."

Rakell lost significant weight when he was recovering and was never able to get fully back up to speed.

"I got tired quicker," he said. "I felt like if I was stronger, I could have protected the puck better. That was kind of expected."

Defenseman Josh Manson did not play after a hit by Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg in the first period of Game 1. The hit separated his shoulder and gave him a mild concussion.

Video: ANA@OTT: Lindholm ties game with under a minute left

WHO COULD GO: Aside from one of the goalies, defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen, and Rakell will be RFAs this summer. All of them are key pieces to this group and priorities for Murray.

With so much talent on defense and even more coming up (Shea Theodore and top prospect Brandon Montour), depth defensemen Clayton Stoner and Korbinian Holzer likely would be the odd men out.

Some of the midseason acquisitions may not be staying. Forward Brandon Pirri was cheap to acquire and may be cheap to keep, but his lack of defensive prowess may not fit the Ducks' defense-first mentality. Forwards Jamie McGinn and Ryan Garbutt and Chris Stewart -- all to become an unrestricted free agent -- provided a fourth-line spark but their statuses are uncertain.

WHO COULD ARRIVE: Although a new coach will ultimately have the final say, it seems unlikely that the Ducks will put Getzlaf and Corey Perry back together on one line. Murray, Perry and Getzlaf agreed that the Ducks were better with them split up. But a left wing to complement either line would make a difference.

Perron seems to have the job locked up if the sides can agree on a contract.

"You work hard to get to be a UFA, but I think my style fits this team," Perron said. "I like to play the hard way, a puck-possession game, and I think I can show what I can bring every night … I think [Murray] is happy. The way I showed the game I could bring. I was proud that I was consistent. Not about goals and points, but I was able to make an impact on puck possession and scoring chances."

2016 DRAFT PICKS: Anaheim has five picks, including one first-round pick. The Ducks also have one in the third round, two in the fourth round and one in the seventh round.

REASON FOR OPTIMISM: Murray wants to see more from his leadership core. They seem to have listened to their general manager and the firing of Boudreau has put a greater sense of urgency on winning now. This team is built for a Stanley Cup and are frustrated with being perennial underachievers.

"The only way to erase them is to just do it. Whether we get the opportunity again to play in a Game 7, I will never know," Getzalf said. "Obviously the Stanley Cup is our goal again. We want to get that Stanley Cup back here again, like we experienced as young players (in 2007). In doing that, it is frustrating. It ticks me off. I'm a competitive person. I want to win, I want to be able to take this team to the next level and get the Stanley Cup again. I'll work hard to try and do that again next year."

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