Evaluating Ducks’ Drysdale As His Free Agency Looms

While the primary spherical of the 2023 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs is in full swing, the Anaheim Ducks are set to start maybe their most necessary offseason in franchise historical past. For the primary time, the Ducks have choices to make on a number of homegrown skills turned free brokers in the identical summer season. Those free brokers – Jamie Drysdale, Trevor Zegras, and Troy Terry – comprise the commonly accepted “core” of the staff, aside from Mason McTavish, who simply accomplished his spectacular rookie season and stays below contract. If the Ducks need to transfer in the best route, then committing to those gamers shouldn’t be seen as a selection however a requirement.

Over the subsequent few days, I’ll be doing a collection on these free brokers, analyzing their play and the place they match, and my prediction for his or her subsequent contract with the Ducks.

We’ll begin with Jamie Drysdale, the extremely gifted but inexperienced younger defenseman who followers and administration alike need to see lead the Ducks’ top-four protection corps properly into the long run. With two seasons of his rookie contract successfully incomplete, he’s the trickiest case however stays an integral piece of Anaheim’s future.

Jamie Drysdale the Player

The sixth total choose in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, Drysdale got here into the Ducks group as an 18-year-old with big-game worldwide and junior expertise. He turned simply the seventh 17-year-old to go well with up for Team Canada in a World Junior Championship (2020). While not seeing a ton of minutes, he bought the publicity and confidence essential to tackle a management function the next yr, enjoying top-pairing minutes with Colorado Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram en path to a silver medal (he fell to fellow Ducks teammates Trevor Zegras and Jackson LaCombe within the WJC remaining).

Related: Ducks 2022-23 Superlatives: Defense Edition

Drysdale is a right-handed shot who’s proven poise, nice skating, and stable decision-making at each stage he’s performed at. Leading an influence play, killing penalties, and making an excellent first go are simply a few of his many attributes. He’s a bit undersized at 5-foot-11 and fewer than 180 kilos however possesses all of the traits that one would count on in a prospect you envision main your defensive unit.

Electric Start to Drysdale’s Career

After spending a couple of weeks of his first skilled season within the American Hockey League, Drysdale was known as up on March 18, 2021, and impressed instantly, scoring a objective and an help in his debut towards the Arizona Coyotes. He utilized persistence, imaginative and prescient, good skating, and a sneaky shot to get his first profession tally.

It was for these causes that he was taken with the sixth total choose, and it was a nice shock to see him show these abilities and confidence in simply his first style of NHL motion. In the identical recreation, he linked with fellow rookie Zegras on his first profession NHL objective as properly. Drysdale completed his rookie season enjoying 24 video games with three objectives and 5 assists.

First Full Season & Shoulder Injury in 2022-2023

Drysdale started the 2021-2022 season with the Ducks and performed 81 video games. Despite enjoying nearly 60 extra video games, he didn’t construct a lot on his objective complete however confirmed his imaginative and prescient and passing capability to the tune of 28 assists. He bought alternatives in all phases of the sport, produced 12 power-play factors and gave everybody a glimpse at his potential. He was minus-26, however the Ducks weren’t nice that season, and it was his age-19 season. All issues thought-about, he picked up worthwhile expertise that was anticipated to catapult him into his contract yr.

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However, Drysdale’s third and remaining season of his rookie contract was derailed by a torn labrum in his shoulder. It’s unlucky, particularly the affect it had on him as a teen and participant. Picking up a season-ending damage is hard for anybody, not to mention a 20-year-old simply beginning his profession. The damage will even have an effect on his subsequent contract; Ducks administration will definitely contemplate this throughout negotiations this offseason.

Trickiness of a Case Like Drysdale

With three seasons handed and barely 110 video games performed, Drysdale’s subsequent contract in each size and compensation is difficult to pinpoint. Granted, he was good in his solely full season, and he had moments the place he confirmed off his abilities and potential. However, defensemen take longer to develop, usually, so burning by way of his entry-level deal and not using a higher concept of what they’ve in him shouldn’t be ideally suited.

General supervisor Pat Verbeek’s resolution can be attention-grabbing, particularly since he didn’t draft Drysdale. With his personal imaginative and prescient for the roster, has he seen sufficient, and if he hasn’t, what does he supply Drysdale to offer him an opportunity?

Jamie Drysdale Trevor Zegras Anaheim Ducks
Jamie Drysdale and Trevor Zegras, Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI by way of Getty Images)

However it performs out, bringing Drysdale again into the fold is a tantalizing proposition. When wholesome, he’ll in all probability get loads of time enjoying with Cam Fowler at five-on-five. He’ll additionally get worthwhile power-play time. Can you think about the potential, the other ways to create probabilities, and the dynamic motion of a unit that features Drysdale, Fowler, Zegras, Terry, and McTavish? The mere considered it’s thrilling.

Prediction: Short, Prove-It Contract for Drysdale

Among the Ducks’ free brokers, Drysdale is the least confirmed. My prediction is that he’ll get a shorter “show me” deal, the place he’ll have two or three seasons to try to keep wholesome, produce, construct chemistry together with his younger teammates, and show that he belongs within the core for the foreseeable future. My guess for compensation is $3 million-$4 million yearly. Unless you’re Cale Makar, Adam Fox, or of the same caliber, younger defensemen is not going to get that long-term extension on their second deal. I see Drysdale in the same state of affairs to Charlie McAvoy, who signed a three-year deal with the Boston Bruin proper after his rookie contract, however at a decrease worth, given he has much less expertise and manufacturing.

Drysdale belongs on the Ducks, nonetheless, and I count on Verbeek will see it the identical approach. Injuries are part of the sport, and he’s the kind of participant who ought to keep in a Ducks uniform, irrespective of how deep their defensive prospect pool is. Right-handed defensemen with top-pairing potential don’t develop on bushes, and the Ducks have the chance to nurture and develop one in Drysdale. They higher make the most of it.

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