DAB Trade Series: Anaheim Ducks

For our Devils Army Blog trade series, we’re taking a look at every NHL team and who our fearless leader, general manager Ray Shero, should target in acquiring. And today, we’ll continue our little look at the Pacific Division. Last week, I took a long gander at the Los Angeles Kings, and now we’re going down the California coastline to a little town called Anaheim.

Anaheim, you may have heard of it, is famous for Disneyland, its baseball team, and a little NHL team the Devils beat for the 2003 Stanley Cup championship. A lot has changed, including their name. Gone are the days of “the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim” back when they were a Walt Disney Company. Now they’re simply the Anaheim Ducks.

The Ducks were perennial Western Conference playoff contenders ever since winning the cup in 2007. This year, luck finally caught up with them. After a skid where they lost 19 out of 21 games, the Ducks were outside of the playoffs looking in. That’s good for the Devils in the sense that Ducks’ management has a lot of “what went wrong” type questions to ask and might be able to make some adjustments to get them back on track next season.

Unlike their Los Angeles neighbors, the Kings, the roster isn’t too slow, too old or a dumpster fire. Up until their 19 losses in 21 games skid, they were decently in the playoff hunt. They shouldn’t be looking to make major changes, but after last year’s disappointment, nobody is unmovable.

Why Adam Henrique Isn’t Included

Adam Henrique looks on during warmups.
Adam Henrique looks on during warmups. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

You probably opened this article wishing that we had found a way to set up a joyful reunion between Adam Henrique and the Devils. Well, I’m sorry to break it to you, but that ain’t happening.

I wanted to include him. I wanted to include him so bad. I miss Rico, and I’m sure you miss Rico just as much, if not more. Every time I walk into Prudential Center and see that giant mural on the upper concourse wall of that beautiful “HENRIQUE IT’S OVER” goal, I shed an inner tear. When I woke up to the news that Henrique was dealt to the sunny shores of Southern California, any happiness I had for receiving Sami Vantanen was immediately replaced with sadness for the friend we lost.

Devils fans love Henrique, and want him back, because of nostalgia. Problem is, when you take away the rest of the reasons, nostalgia is about the only reason we have. With the almost definite conclusion that the Devils will draft Jack Hughes with the first-overall pick, the emergence of current Devil and former first-overall pick Nico Hischier, that would drop Henrique down to a third line center at best. As much as having Triple-H, Hughes-Hischier-Henrique down the middle, the cost to re-acquire Henrique would be more than re-signing current Devil and restricted free agent Pavel Zacha.

Henrique is a hell of a lot better than Zacha, but those resources could be better spent elsewhere. Besides, Henrique suffered a decline in production this year. He ended the 2018-2019 season with 18 goals and 24 assist, for 42 points.

Josh Manson

While he may not be the most prolific name on the Ducks’ blue line, Manson is a player that checks all the boxes that the Devils should be looking for. He’s a large defensive presence, standing at 6-foot-3 and weighing 216 pounds. Much more important, he’s a right-handed defenseman that the Devils are currently lacking. Not to mention the kid is a workhorse, never playing less than 70 games since breaking into the NHL in 2014-2015.

Manson’s production is a mixed bag. His best offensive season came two years ago in 2017-18 when he put up 34 points in 80 games. Those aren’t Brett Burns’ numbers, but for a then 26-year-old defenseman, they weren’t numbers to ignore. Add that to the fact he played almost every game of the season and ended with a +/- of 34, and you have a defender any team would like to have. This past season, the Ducks own struggles seemed to rub off on the young Manson. Despite only missing six extra games, his point production decreased to only 16 points in the form of 3 goals and 13 assists. Even worse was seeing that beautiful +34 drop all the way down to a -8. He did take a step forward in his average time on ice, clocking in at just over 22 minutes per game. His career average throughout five seasons stands at just under 20 minutes, 19:52 to be exact.

If the Ducks want to retool, and not rebuild, a former sixth-round pick shouldn’t be too hard to part with, especially considering his drop of production this year when given the responsibility of more ice time. Then again, at such a young age, the Ducks could argue he hasn’t reached his potential yet and was held back by the rest of the underperforming team. It’s highly a doubt that anyone on the Devils, both New Jersey and Binghamton’s current roster could meet the Ducks expectations for a return, or at least one that Ray would agree to. Anything higher than a third round pick would be overpaying.

Rickard Rakell

Rakell is another young player who, like Manson, went from being an incredibly productive power forward in 2018 to seeing his numbers diminish last season. Still, his 2018-19 season ended with 18 goals and 25 assists for 43 points and is nothing to ignore, even it’s down from the 34 goals and 35 assists he had a year earlier. The year before that, he broke the 30 goal mark as well. Not since his first NHL season in 2014-2015, the same season Manson broke in, has he scored less than 20 goals aside from this past frame.

The Ducks are going to be clenching to Rakell and clenching to him hard. As once franchise and cornerstone players such as Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry continue to get older and older as they fight with father time, the Ducks need their young players like Rakell to pass the torch to and keep the team competitive.

Rakell to the Anaheim Ducks now is what Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar were to Detroit Red Wings when they begin their rebuild: all were promising young players who were supposed to replace the aging legends on their team. While Tatar and Nyquist never lived that far up to lofty expectations and became expendable, one subpar season out of Rakell isn’t enough for the Ducks to give up on him just yet. After all, he is still 26 years old, 40-plus point player at worst.

But everyone has a price, and if Ray offers enough, the Ducks will at least listen. Considering Rackell’s productive history, and the fact he is a former first-round pick, the Ducks will demand a first-round pick be at least part of the conversation, and then some. Obviously, the Devils aren’t dealing their 2019 first-overall selection, and with no guarantee of the playoffs next year, offering their 2020 pick can be a dicey proposition as well.

Getting Rakell would be a major addition. It wouldn’t be as monumental as the Hall trade. But it would be on the level of the Kyle Palmieri trade, which is a perfect comparison considering how much those players produce. It might not be one the Devils would be able to afford, but it might the only one that makes sense with the Ducks as trade partners.

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