Anaheim Ducks UFA Targets: Defensemen

Brett Pesce

Free agency starts in just two weeks and the Anaheim Ducks have the cap space and the intent to seriously bolster the roster. General Manager Pat Verbeek said at the beginning of the offseason that he wants to add a top-six right-shot winger and a top-four right-shot defenseman. Let’s focus on the blue line.

With Pavel Mintyukov, Olen Zellweger, and Jackson LaCombe, the Ducks left side of the blue line appears to be set for the future. The right side, however, leaves a lot to be desired. Radko Gudas is the only right-shot defenseman that the Ducks have currently under contract, with Gustav Lindström being the only right-shot defenseman being a restricted free agent (RFA). The Ducks’ right-shot defensive prospects also do not appear to be ready to make the jump to the NHL besides maybe Tristan Luneau, but Luneau missed significant time this season due to illness and a knee injury.

Here are six unrestricted free-agent right-shot defensemen that I think the Ducks should target.

Brandon Montour

I admit, this one is more of a “Wouldn’t this be fun” pick. Montour was the Ducks’ second-round pick back in 2014 and played two and a half seasons with the Ducks before getting dealt to the Buffalo Sabres at the 2019 trade deadline for a first-round pick and defenseman Brendan Guhle. During his time in Anaheim, Montour showed the potential to be a top-pairing defenseman. His tenure in Buffalo did not go as planned, and he was traded again, this time to the Florida Panthers for a third-round pick.

Related Post: The Best Landing Spots for Sam Reinhart

Montour flourished in Florida. In his first full season in Florida in 2021-2022, Montour set a career-high point total with 37 points. The very next year, he smashed that career high with 16 goals, 57 assists, and 73 points and helped the Panthers reach the Stanley Cup Finals with eight goals and five assists for 13 points in 21 playoff games. This year was a step back in production for Montour, only tallying 33 points in 66 games, but he is still a top-pairing defenseman. Montour is an excellent skater and an elite puck mover. With the skating, puck-moving, and ability to unleash a howitzer, Montour is capable of being a power-play quarterback who can handle heavy minutes. 

The reason why I do not think the Ducks are likely to sign Montour is the price tag. At 30 years old and coming off a stellar tenure in Florida, Montour will be looking for a hefty contract. The Ducks obviously have the cap space at the moment to spend, but handing out a contract that steep to someone entering their 30s with a load of young talent nearing RFA status may not be the best route for the Ducks to take, especially since their contention window has not even started yet.

Dylan DeMelo

DeMelo is a more realistic option for the Ducks among the players over 30 years old on the market. The 31-year-old is a steady defensive defenseman who set a career-high in points this season with 31. DeMelo is not a star that will light up the scoreboard, but the Ducks do not necessarily need that at the moment. Pavel Mintyukov and Olen Zellweger are the two cornerstones of the Ducks’ future on the blue line who have the potential to fit as dynamic two-way players. You can never have enough star power, but this young Ducks squad needs depth, and DeMelo is someone who provides that at a reasonable price. DeMelo’s last contract was for four years with an average annual value (AAV) of $3 million. A similar contract is likely in play for him and is one that seems more believable for the Ducks to spend.

Sean Walker

Walker is yet another low-event defenseman. This year was his first season playing over 70 games, and he set a career-high in goals, 10, and points, 29. The 29-year-old is reliable defensively and can be a decent option for the Ducks on the penalty kill. He is also a decent skater who can join the rush when the opportunity presents itself. Coming off a four-year $2.65 million AAV contract, Walker’s next contract will likely be around the $3 million to $5 million AAV range. 

Matt Roy

A seventh-round pick in the 2015 draft, Roy has built himself a respectable career as one of the more consistent players on the Los Angeles Kings blue line. Standing at 6’1 and 205 pounds, Roy blocks a lot of shots and can use his body effectively. Roy is not flashy but has a good hockey IQ and makes smart decisions with the puck. Offensively, Roy has logged over 20 points each of the last three seasons. Roy can play 20 minutes a night and can help out the Ducks on the penalty kill. Evolving Hockey projects Roy to have a six-year contract with an AAV of $6.1 million. 

Alexandre Carrier

Carrier is a cost-effective defensive option for the Ducks. Carrier will turn 28 years old at the beginning of the 2024-2025 season and uses his speed to win puck races in the defensive zone. His speed and puck-moving abilities make him effective in all three zones but is mostly a low-event defenseman. With only two full seasons under his belt, Carrier can be a cheaper option to add depth to the blue line. 

Brett Pesce

Pesce can be a very good addition to the Ducks blue line. He’s 29 years old and plays a very responsible two-way game. Pesce is also a good size player standing at 6’3 and 206 pounds and skates very well. Pesce excels in playing a simple game to limit mistakes, which makes him a solid all-around defenseman. Do not expect him to rack up a ton of points, his career high is just 30 from two years ago. Pesce was only able to play the first two playoff games for the Carolina Hurricanes in their opening-round matchup with the New York Islanders because of a fractured fibula. It is not likely that the injury will affect his next contract, so Pesce can be looking at a contract of around $6 million AAV. 

Episode 91: Season Of The Picks Late Arrivals: An Anaheim Ducks Podcast

On this episode of LAP, the guys are back and get a re-do after Fridays attempt at recording was swiftly cut short by technical issues. They cover the draft and some of the key moments from the first ever "Flock Party". Some talk about the opening of free agency and the Ducks lack of moves is had and the guys give their thoughts on why that may have been a good thing after all is said and done. Lastly, they talk about the NewEra news and answer listener questions!Follow Late Arrivals Twitter: @latearrivalspodInstagram: @latearrivalspodFollow the hostsChris: @CJKChelConnor: @91_PlutyJake: @_JRobles71Louis: @Louiex37 Intro/ Outro done by Will Rice/ @pastorwillrice
  1. Episode 91: Season Of The Picks
  2. Episode 90: Pondering Thy Orb
  3. Episode 89: The Mighty Debrief
  4. Episode 88: Minute Muncher
  5. Episode 87: Coach Chaos

Jack Janes

Journalism major at the University of La Verne. Writer for Inside The Rink covering the Anaheim Ducks.

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