ANAHEIM, CA -- The Anaheim Ducks had an amazing turnaround season, only to be followed by a disappointing first round exit in the playoffs. As a result, we can expect multiple changes to be made within the organization.
Bruce Boudreau was already relieved of his duties, and subsequently scooped up by the Minnesota Wild, and with multiple restricted free agents on the roster, talks of contracts and trades are going to be the central focus over the next couple months.
Ducks GM Bob Murray will look to fine-tune his roster to make sure the Ducks are not just a regular-season team, but a legitimate Stanley Cup contender.
Who are going to be the bigger cards to play this summer? While goaltender Frederik Andersen is arguably the most valuable card to play for the Ducks, it would be a big mistake to let him go.
This goes back to the debate of the season: Do you want the athletic goaltender who is pegged to be the "goalie of the future," or do you stick with the consistent, technically-sound goaltender who has proven himself in playoffs?
The Gibson vs. Andersen debate was quickly hushed in Round 1 against Nashville.
John Gibson was given the starting position in net, but was given the boot after two consecutive losses and a couple pretty soft goals. Andersen came in, posted a shutout, and although the team as a whole once again fell in Game 7, he was a much more steady goaltender to have in between the pipes.
Now, I know what the naysayers will argue here: "The whole team was underperforming, it was not Gibson's fault."
That's true, to an extent, but as a starting playoff goaltender, soft goals sneaking through are unacceptable. If Andersen had started Game 1 and 2, Anaheim probably would have made it through before Game 7. While the whole team was underperforming, Andersen is a goaltender who is proven in playoffs, and makes those big saves when they need him to.
Both goaltenders were absolutely stellar this season, both William M. Jennings Trophy winners and did what needed to be done in front of the net to help turn the team around. Gibson, once again, fell short in the playoffs. Let's not forget Round 2, Game 7 of the 2014 playoffs against Los Angeles. Gibson got blitzed for six goals, and the Kings went on to win the Stanley Cup.
While falling continuously in Game 7s is a fault on all fronts, not simply the netminder, the difference between these two goaltenders in playoffs is night and day.
This year, Gibson held a .900 save percentage with a 3.08 goals against average while Andersen went .947 with a 1.41 goals against average. Gibson has the second-worst even strength save percentage during the first round at .878, just ahead Devan Dubnyk.
Potential can be VERY dangerous to have on a team, especially when it comes to a goaltender. Gibson is young. He is 22, he has a few years to develop before hitting his prime and then time will tell if he pans out to be the goaltender everyone wants him to be.
Andersen and Gibson will not want to share the net next season, and you cannot bet on potential unless there is a great backup. That is why this year worked out so well; Gibson was given his time to shine, and while he certainly did at times, the times where he fell short, Andersen came in to recover. Although, if you take Andersen out of the picture, you have Anton Khudobin picking up the pieces. Not many like that idea.
Boudreau got fired not because he couldn't pull off regular-season wins -- the Ducks have four consecutive division titles under his watch -- he got fired because he is not a playoff coach. So why should Gibson be any kind of exception? Anaheim has a proven playoff-caliber goaltender who carried them to the Western Conference Final last year, and could have taken them to Round 2 had he started in Game 1 this year.
Andersen has already said he wants to play a lot next season and he knows he has proven himself a starting No. 1 goaltender. Teams like Calgary, Toronto and Carolina, who all need a great goalie, will certainly be looking at Anaheim, and while Andersen as an RFA is a great card to play, Gibson would be the better offer if Anaheim wants the Cup now.
While Andersen enters free agency, one can certainly expect he will want a much larger amount than the $1.15 million he was getting this year. Gibson, on the other hand, is signed with the Ducks for another three years at $2.3 million.
So how would Anaheim go about trading Gibson? Well, Anaheim will be seeking a top-six wing once again this year and a right shooting defenseman.
Trade Gibson to Calgary for Sam Bennett and a high draft pick. Calgary does not have a goaltender this next season, as every goaltender contract expires, and they need a No.1. Bennett, while he is a center, can play left wing, which is what Anaheim needs on their top line if certain RFAs do not resign.
Trade Gibson to Carolina for Jeff Skinner or Elias Lindholm, and Anaheim's top line is looking better. Carolina will be looking to Anaheim goaltending as either Gibson or Andersen would certainly add a great amount of depth to their organization. It is all about the right trade, and moving around the right players.
Trade Gibson to Toronto for James van Riemsdyk and a draft pick. All three of these teams need a No. 1 goaltender and can offer Anaheim a great piece along with a prospect or draft pick in return.
Before the expected expansion draft next season, Murray is going to need to figure out the situation in front of the net to get some kind of value for whomever he chooses to let go, and if Anaheim has trouble with Andersen's cap hit, moving a guy like Clayton Stoner, who is arguably overpaid, could significantly help that.
Big changes are coming. In order to sign the RFAs that Anaheim needs to be a Stanley Cup team, some guys are going to have to go to make that happen. This year's playoff run really set the tone for what Murray is looking for and looking to tweak.
Hannah Spraker is the Anaheim Correspondent for The Fourth Period. Follow her on Twitter.