Anaheim Ducks: 3 Questions Heading Into 2022-23 Season

The Anaheim Ducks finished the 2021-22 season with a record of 31-37-14, good for 13th in the Western Conference. General manager Pat Verbeek has been active so far this offseason as he gets accustomed to his new role. Loaded with some young stars and an intriguing mix of veteran talent, the Ducks look to sneak into the Stanley Cup Playoffs next season. Lets examine the waters as we dive into three questions for the Ducks next season:

How Good Can Trevor Zegras Be? 

With the ninth overall selection at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, Anaheim selected Trevor Zegras and it's been fun to watch ever since. Zegras at 21 is one of the best young talents in the game, bringing an offensive creativity that has influenced hockey fans all around the world. Zegras has a huge impact on how the game is portrayed to its audience and the Ducks forward may be in for a monster season in 2022-23. 
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

With Ryan Getzlaf retiring, Zegras is the face of the franchise. He scored 23 goals in 75 games last season and has the capabilities to reach 40 on a regular basis. Seeing how his chemistry develops with newcomer Ryan Strome will be a storyline early on next season. So will Zegras' next contract as he's headed for restricted free agency next summer. 

Can John Gibson Bounce Back?

As far as goalie trade rumors, Ducks tender John Gibson took the cake this summer. He's been linked to just about every team and at times in June and July it certainly felt like the 29-year-old would be moved. Gibson hasn't been elite of late, and in order for the Ducks to get back to relevance, they're going to need a key save when it matters most. We'll have to wait and see where Verbeek's confidence level is after 20 games next season.
 Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
In 56 appearances in 2021-22, Gibson posted a 3.19 goals against average and a .904 save percentage. A down year indeed as the Pittsburgh native tries to get back on track next season. He's signed through the 2026-27 season at $6.4 million per season and holds modified trade coverage as he submits a list of 10 teams he would like to avoid to management each July. Expect to see a major spotlight shining on Gibson's crease in 2022-23. 

How Active Will Verbeek Be?

The Ducks GM showed he's not shy by signing John Klingberg to a one-year $7 million deal. The market had fizzled on Klingberg and Verbeek swooped in and convinced the right-handed defenseman to bet on himself in 2022-23. We'll see how things play out on Anaheim's blue line as they now have Klingberg, Kevin Shattenkirk and youngster Jamie Drysdale who all play a similar style and the right side. Could be a way to limit Drysdale's minutes but that may not necessarily be a smart move.

Verbeek has a first rounder and three second rounders next entry draft so there's some assets to burn should the team overachieve next season. A lot will bank on Zegras' development and newcomers Strome and Klingberg and their impacts. Throw in some questionable goaltender and it should be an interesting year in Anaheim. 

Verbeek is loaded with $18 million in cap space and not many bad contracts on the books. Zegras will certainly eat into that with his upcoming extension, but regardless, there will be room to be active should the opportunity present itself. Consider the Ducks a wild card in the western conference.

Photo credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports