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Anaheim Geese’ State of the Rebuild: 2024 Offseason – The Hockey Writers –

After consecutive weeks of draft and free company buzz, the center of July is likely one of the extra quiet parts of the NHL calendar. The Anaheim Geese shocked the hockey world by taking Beckett Sennecke third total within the 2024 NHL Draft, however have been comparatively quiet since.

Associated: Geese’ Stunning Choice of Sennecke Will Solidify Prime-6

The Geese are in the course of a six-year playoff drought, the longest the franchise has ever skilled. There’s been quite a lot of shedding lately, however there’s hope for a extra profitable future. Anaheim is one in every of a handful of groups presently present process a rebuild, a course of that sheds older and expiring belongings in change for prospects and draft capital.

With a number of years of rebuilding behind them, it’s honest to surprise how for much longer this course of will take. There’s no set timetable for a rebuild, and endurance varies from entrance workplace to entrance workplace. The Geese appear to be doing all the fitting issues to construct a aggressive roster, however outcomes have but to manifest. In the present day, we’ll be taking a look at why the Geese wanted to rebuild and the steps the group has taken within the following years.

How the Geese Obtained Right here

The Geese’ present six-year playoff drought comes on the heels of probably the most profitable eras in franchise historical past. From 2005-06 to 2017-18, Anaheim certified for the playoffs in 11 out of 13 seasons. The early a part of this period noticed the group win its solely Stanley Cup in 2007, however the later years noticed unparalleled consistency. The Geese gained the Pacific Division in 5 straight seasons from 2012-13 to 2016-17 — a streak that ended by the hands of the enlargement Vegas Golden Knights.

The 2010s had a number of dynasties. The Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Los Angeles Kings accounted for eight Stanley Cups in 9 years from 2009-2017. Consequently, the Geese couldn’t safe a second Stanley Cup.

Sustaining a Stanley Cup-caliber roster is unattainable over time, and the cracks started exhibiting. Corey Perry’s manufacturing was in a free fall. Second-line middle Ryan Kesler was a perennial Selke candidate at his peak, however he by no means actually recovered from hip resurfacing surgical procedure within the 2017 offseason. The Golden Knights enlargement draft the identical yr uncovered flaws in what was believed to be a stacked defensive pipeline. Kevin Bieksa’s no-move clause compelled youthful choices unprotected, and common supervisor Bob Murray successfully threw Shea Theodore at them to stop shedding Sami Vatanen, Brandon Montour, or Josh Manson.

Mismanaged belongings and an getting old core outlined the subsequent few seasons. As a substitute of acknowledging the membership wanted to rebuild, Murray favored a re-tool on the fly. This technique depends on draft picks to refresh the ranks, however that’s a troublesome activity when Anaheim was yearly deciding on from the mid-to-late 20s. Jacob Larsson, Max Jones, Sam Metal, and Max Comtois wanted to turn out to be productive NHL gamers. They didn’t, and the Geese went from ending with 101 standings factors in 2017-18 to solely 80 the next yr.

Constructing By means of the Draft

The draft is crucial facet of a corporation’s rebuild. Youth changing getting old expertise is the everyday course of for a rebuild, however accumulating younger, high-end belongings strengthens a group’s leverage to commerce based mostly on group wants. With the ninth choice within the 2019 Draft, Anaheim took Trevor Zegras. Zegras has developed a polarizing repute, however he’s made a big impact for the Geese each on and off the ice. The playmaking middle has been one of many extra constant producers since his debut in 2021, and his wizard-like puck expertise ceaselessly present up on spotlight reels.

Trevor Zegras, Anaheim Geese (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Anaheim has spent lots of draft capital on facilities and protection within the final 5 years. Together with Zegras, the Geese used first-round picks on facilities Mason McTavish (third total in 2021), Nathan Gaucher (twenty second, 2022), and Leo Carlsson (second, 2023). After almost depleting the defensive prospect cabinets to remain aggressive, they’ve rebuilt to have one of many strongest pipelines within the league. Jamie Drysdale (sixth total, 2020) and Pavel Mintyukov (tenth, 2022) have been the one top-10 picks, however later picks like Jackson LaCombe, Tristan Luneau, Olen Zellweger, Noah Warren, and Tyson Hinds have both reached the NHL or are anticipated to achieve it shortly.

With a surplus of defensemen within the group, the Geese have strengthened a few of their weaker teams. Regardless of being the highest-drafted and most skilled defenseman of their pipeline, Drysdale was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers for Cutter Gauthier. The fifth total choose within the 2022 Draft, Gauthier is an influence ahead with a knack for goal-scoring. The commerce not solely addresses the group’s want for wingers, but it surely instantly addresses their largest on-ice weak spot. The Geese completed thirtieth in targets final season and thirty second the yr prior.

Final month’s draft continued the theme of shoring up weak spots. The Geese want an influence proper winger, and Sennecke may very well be the reply. Geese followers can be paying shut consideration to his upcoming season with the Oshawa Generals of the Ontario Hockey League. The 6-foot-3 ahead must proceed to develop into his body, however he’s already thought-about a strong two-way participant. Anaheim’s second choose within the first spherical was defenseman Stian Solberg. Solberg isn’t an enormous scoring risk, however he’s a bodily drive. He attracts some similarities to Radko Gudas, which supplies the Geese much more choices to combine and match puck-moving defensemen with a conventional stay-at-home defender.

The Pat Verbeek Period

In November 2021, Bob Murray resigned as common supervisor of the Geese, a place he had held since 2008. 4 months later, Pat Verbeek was launched as the seventh common supervisor in franchise historical past. Verbeek had an interesting profession as a participant, amassing 522 targets and a pair of,905 penalty minutes (PIMs), the one individual in NHL historical past to hit each 500 targets and a pair of,500 PIMs. Since retiring as a participant, he held front-office roles with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Purple Wings below Steve Yzerman.

Verbeek’s arrival got here at a time when Anaheim lacked any important id on the ice. Ryan Getzlaf, longtime captain and the final holdover from the 2007 Cup group was about to retire. Zegras scoring with the Michigan-style wraparound is enjoyable to look at, but it surely doesn’t create an id when he’s the one individual on the roster who can pull it off. As a substitute, Verbeek has spent the previous couple of drafts and offseason constructing the group round a number of themes. One of the apparent themes is dimension. Energy forwards Carlsson, Gaucher, Gauthier, and Sennecke are all at the very least 6-foot-2.

Pat Verbeek Anaheim Ducks
Pat Verbeek, Normal Supervisor of the Anaheim Geese (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Dimension shouldn’t be the one issue, and Verbeek and consensus are inclined to deviate from right here. With the second total choose in 2023, most pre-draft hypothesis had Adam Fantilli going to Anaheim. Nonetheless, Verbeek went with Carlsson. Among the many causes, Carlsson had expertise on the skilled degree in Sweden and was already a well-established two-way participant with a brilliant hockey IQ. Sennecke was a fair greater deviation from expectation. He addresses Anaheim’s largest want alongside the fitting wing, however he must proceed to develop to make good on his expectations. If growth pans out throughout the board, the Geese are taking a look at a prime line of Gauthier, Carlsson, and Sennecke as probably the most bodily imposing strains within the NHL.

Free company has been a blended bag within the Verbeek period. His first offseason noticed the arrival of New York Rangers teammates Ryan Strome and Frank Vatrano. Vatrano has sufficiently performed his position as a top-six hair-trigger with 59 targets over the past two seasons, together with a career-high 37 final season. Nonetheless, Strome was the dearer and long-term signing and he’s successfully settled right into a third-line position. The following offseason introduced in Alex Killorn and Gudas, two gamers introduced up in Tampa Bay’s system whereas Verbeek was within the entrance workplace. These offers had their share honest of criticism as they’re older gamers, however each appear to be higher signings a yr later. Gudas was an amazing mentor on the blue line for Anaheim’s younger defensive core, and his hard-nosed fashion of play has endeared him to followers and teammates. Killorn’s debut season in Anaheim was derailed by accidents, however he’s nonetheless anticipated to carry a top-six position whereas their prospects proceed to develop.

The State of the Rebuild Is Encouraging however Unproven

The Geese have taken important strides towards constructing a aggressive group. Their prospect pool is commonly thought-about the finest within the league and all indicators level to a return to the postseason inside a couple of years. That mentioned, there aren’t any ensures in a rebuild. Anaheim’s return to the playoffs hinges on these prospects creating to their potential and meshing into Verbeek’s imaginative and prescient for the membership.

Verbeek was a gorgeous front-office rent due to his affiliation with Yzerman and what they completed along with Tampa Bay’s roster. The duo then went to work on a rebuild in Detroit earlier than Verbeek’s hiring in Anaheim broke up the band. The Purple Wings’ rebuild was an enormous enterprise, however Yzerman was trusted and got here in with a ton of fine religion as a franchise icon. Nonetheless, Detroit’s playoff drought simply prolonged to eight seasons. Final season was the closest they’ve been, however outrageous taking pictures luck wasn’t sufficient to account for the roster’s shortcomings and so they fell out of a playoff spot within the ultimate days.

Rebuilds take time, however there’s no set period of time one must take. As extra time passes, the extra the group resembles Verbeek’s imaginative and prescient. For higher or worse, that is his group now. It’s far too early to deem something a failure, however the on-ice outcomes haven’t improved in half a decade. The Geese have been quiet in free company to this point, which may open the door for some youthful gamers to make the roster out of camp. The 2024-25 season can be crucial in Anaheim’s rebuild. In some unspecified time in the future, the outcomes on the ice want to enhance. It’s tough to think about the younger core staying intact if gamers start to point out indicators of plateauing.

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Olivia Brown
Olivia Brown
Olivia Brown specializes in soccer, covering MLS, NWSL, and international competitions. She graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in Sports Media. Olivia has written for and ESPN FC, providing thorough coverage and in-depth analysis of the sport.


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