No matter what they do, the Anaheim Ducks cannot grab a win to save their lives. The franchise-worst 12-game losing streak that this team has been suffering through since Dec. 18 has featured a cavalcade of leads slipping through their fingers. In just the past week, the Ducks have blown 3-0 and 4-3 leads against the Penguins; they’ve wasted 2-0 and 3-2 leads against the Jets; and they’ve squandered a one-goal advantage that they took into the third against the Red Wings on Tuesday. After hanging close with Calgary for first place in the Pacific through the opening chunk of the year, the Ducks have sunk down to sixth, just seven points ahead of league-worst Los Angeles. This team is drowning, and it doesn’t look like there are any life preservers around.
But at least the Ducks are kind of trying to find one—if not for now, at least for the future. The Ducks made three different trades on Wednesday, which, combined with a trade on Monday, makes by my count four trades in a week. There was a very minor one with the Penguins you don’t need to care about, and another mostly irrelevant one with the Canucks that gave them lowkey defenseman Michael Del Zotto. But more importantly, the Ducks swapped a declining veteran in Andrew Cogliano for a slightly cheaper and younger Dallas player named Devin Shore, which isn’t much but hey, it definitely shakes up the vibe. And perhaps most riskily, the Ducks sent away recently acquired 25-year-old winger Pontus Aberg, who was stuck in a slump but still showed flashes of offensive prowess, for Minnesota prospect forward Justin Kloos, who’s looked good in the AHL but hasn’t really had a chance yet in the pros.
With the exception of young goaltender John Gibson, who has nearly singlehandedly kept the Ducks out of the basement with his top-notch play, nearly everyone on this team has been underwhelming or simply injured for a significant chunk of the year. And therefore, the front-office tinkering underscores that nearly everyone is a candidate to get sent out the door. Ahead of the loss to the Red Wings, Ducks GM Bob Murray specifically called out his “mid-20s guys” for not being better, in what would be a portent for the Aberg trade and possibly more as the deadline draws nearer.
You may have noticed one person that Murray is avoiding blaming, and that’s head coach Randy Carlyle. The former Stanley Cup–winner, who’s on his second stint with the Ducks, has a contract that shouldn’t get renewed at the conclusion of this season. But for now, Murray isn’t moving to hasten Carlyle’s end, publicly stating that he is not considering a coaching change. Murray’s satisfaction with Carlyle through such an extreme low point is a far cry from the high standards of just a couple years ago, when Bruce Boudreau got canned from a top-performing team because he couldn’t win Game 7s.
The lone piece of good news right now is that Ducks have their goaltender for the future, which is a damn hard piece to get. But as they transition away from the era of Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler, and Ryan Getzlaf and into what I guess is going to be the Rickard Rakell and Ondrej Kase show, they’re going to need to figure out how to bring in worthy reinforcements for an offense that’s currently last in the league in shots per game, and second to last in goals. With the three pricey veterans all sporting no-movement clauses, and at least Kesler specifically saying he won’t waive his, it’ll be tough to find the space to get fresh talent. But it seems like it’s be better to start now, with whatever moves they can make, than coast through the year with a bunch of lame ducks.