Beyond The Benches

Anaheim Ducks Koivu, Hiller, & Winnik To Hit Free Agency

After consecutive Stanley Cup Playoff disappointments, it is no surprise the Anaheim Ducks are looking to shake things up in the time leading up to the 2014-15 NHL season. Despite the Ducks finishing at the top of the Pacific Division for the past two seasons, the team has failed to make it past the conference quarter finals both years. While the Los Angeles Kings recent second Stanley Cup win in three years explains a lot about why both the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks have struggled the past few playoffs, fans expect more from a team with firepower like the Ducks.

General manager Bob Murray made the announcement today that the Ducks will not be re-signing goalie Jonas Hiller, 29-year-old winger Daniel Winnik, and their veteran alternate captain, Saku Koivu. At 39-years-of-age, it is unknown whether Koivu will continue playing in the NHL after his past five season with the Anaheim Ducks.

Murray held a conference call where he broke the news about the three players who would become free agents.

“It was just time for me. And that [Koivu] was the hardest decision of the three, as you can well imagine.” Murray explained during the call, according to the LA Times. “Again, Jonas did so much for us. But we have pretty good kids there, so the writing was on the wall there.”

While the departure of a veteran player, an extremely consistent goaltender, and a big-bodied forward at center ice is plenty to despair about, Murray is wise in his decision to let the Ducks young talent further develop at the NHL level. Players such as Jakob Silfverberg, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Rickard Rakell in particular will benefit from the freed up space. Although Silfverberg was relatively quiet during the playoffs, Smith-Pelly scored a team-leading five goals and Rakell produced two points in just four games.

The departure of netminder Jonas Hiller is a similar situation in the fact that it allows the extremely young and talented John Gibson and Frederic Anderson to spend more time between the pipes next season. Gibson especially gained a great deal of attention when he shutout the Los Angeles Kings in his playoff debut. While it is a strong possibility that the Anaheim Ducks end up recruiting a more experienced goalie to mentor the youngsters, expect to see plenty of them next season.



Writer: Timmy Sclafani is a Sophomore Journalism student at Roger Williams University. He is not only passionate about hockey, but also film, biking, and music. Feel free to follow him on Twitter at @tsclafani20