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Pat Verbeek was hired as the Anaheim Ducks General Manager back in February 2022


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Pat Verbeek was hired as the Anaheim Ducks general Manager back in February 2022


Verbeek hired as Ducks general manager, was assistant with Red Wings
Former NHL forward replaces Solomon after Murray resigned Nov. 10


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Ducks hire Blues executive Rob DiMaio as assistant GM

Ex-St. Louis director of player personnel joins Martin Madden and Jeff Solomon as assistants under new GM Pat Verbeek



DiMaio Excited for New Challenge with Ducks


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  • 9 months later...

Verbeek Reflects on Ducks Struggles, Previews Crucial Summer in Anaheim


At an exclusive event for Orange Alliance members, Verbeek and Special Advisor to Hockey Operations Scott Niedermayer discussed the team's disappointing record, its impressive prospect pool, trade deadline deals and more







It's almost time for a busy, important summer in Anaheim, one that could shape the future of the Ducks' championship aspirations.


And for General Manager Pat Verbeek, it's a chance to turn the page on a disappointing season while putting more pieces in place in building the roster that fits his vision for Anaheim's style of play.


Verbeek discussed those plans and much more this past weekend in an exclusive sit-down with Special Advisor to Hockey Operations Scott Niedermayer, television analyst Brian Hayward and hundreds of Orange Alliance members.


The GM provided some rare public candor on his team's struggles this year, the details behind his moves at the NHL Trade Deadline and a look ahead to the decisions, strategies and relationships at the crux of his organizational philosophy.


Make no mistake, Verbeek is disappointed at how Anaheim's season has played out. He knew better than any that his team was headed for a rebuilding year and expected the growing pains any young team inevitably experiences, but a bigger priority for Verbeek was establishing the principles he believes should carry the organization: building a big, strong, physical team that opponents know well in advance is a bear to play against.


"I think overall, with the way the team was penciled on paper, I would have expected the team to have done better than what our record is," Verbeek admitted. "I think early on with the team, and you're going to hear me say this a lot, the compete level wasn't at a standard of what I expected. I want us to be really hard to play against, and we were too easily pushed aside. We weren't competing hard enough to win pucks. So I think that kind of contributed early on to the record. 


"I think as the season has progressed, we've certainly gotten a lot better in that perspective. There are a lot of things that different players and different teams have to go through, and they had to learn to compete harder."


To Verbeek's point, Anaheim's first two months of the season were at best difficult, and at worst miserable. On Dec. 15, the Ducks sat dead last in the NHL by point percentage (.306), with an 8-20-3 record. Since then, the club has gone 14-15-5, including two five-game point streaks and an 8-6-3 mark away from home ice.


Any season likely heading towards a conclusion well short of the postseason carries the subsequent questions on draft positioning, but Verbeek strongly shot down any notion that he would accept losing in exchange for increased lottery odds. To the man once known as "The Little Ball of Hate", competition must be at the core of any successful rebuild, regardless of the significance, or lack there of, in the standings or playoff race. Simply put, he had no interest in tearing down his roster to the absolute bare bones in hopes of a better draft pick.





"The integrity of sport is winning," Verbeek said. "We're here to win. So are the players. It's their careers. They're fighting for jobs, and I don't want to take that away, their ability to do that."


Young Core

Competition can still come with an increased opportunity for the organization's young core to prove itself in increased roles, as rookie Mason McTavish has done throughout the season. McTavish's offensive ability has caught the attention around the league, especially his propensity for crushing power-play one-timers, but Verbeek and head coach Dallas Eakins alike have taken notice at how the mature 20-year-old spends his days at the rink.


"He started on the fourth line and has worked his way now up onto the second line," Verbeek said. "He's progressed very nicely there. I think his defensive game has taken big strides. He's a smart kid. He's a smart hockey player. Now it's just about gaining more experience for him. He's only 19, so he's gonna get better in the next couple years. He'll take big steps."


McTavish lives by one of Verbeek's guiding principles in player development: You can never spend too much time in the gym.


"Mason's a really strong kid, so he's able to handle the physical part of it," Verbeek said. "A lot of times the reason these younger players can't make it to the NHL - it's not because they don't have the talent, it's because they're not strong enough. 


"They're playing against players that weigh 220 pounds now and some of them are only 185 pounds coming into this. So it becomes difficult. They're giving all that weight and strength up. The last thing that I want to do, and I've seen it in other organizations, is get these players hurt. They get nicked up or the odd concussion, and it's all because they're physically ready to play in the NHL ability-wise, they're able to play, but it's the strength. So that's why I constantly harp on these kids, 'Guys, in the gym, in the gym, in the gym.' You can't spend enough time in the gym."


McTavish constitutes one-quarter of the young NHL core Verbeek pointed to as learning the ropes, alongside Trevor Zegras, Jamie Drysdale and Troy Terry. Only McTavish is already signed heading into next season, with Zegras, Drysdale and Terry heading for restricted free agency. Verbeek said he will begin negotiations with each of the three following the season, electing to let the players focus on another formative year early in their careers.


"Troy's goal-scoring hasn't been quite as high, but I think there's been a lot of other elements [of his game] that have improved," Verbeek said of the now two-time All-Star winger. "His strength has improved. I still see a lot more upside with Troy Terry. It's funny, every player goes through different stages and how they get to the level that they need to get to. I think Troy is just actually really starting to figure out the off-ice conditioning, the strength that he needs to play against the best defensemen each and every night. He's starting to understand the mental approach that you need to take playing against the best players in the league every night."


Of Zegras he said, "He's obviously doing well offensively and he's made strides in his game defensively. For me, there's still has a lot to work on from a defensive standpoint. I would say he needs to get stronger as well. He's going to be facing the 6-foot-4, 6-foot-5 defensemen on a nightly basis. That's not an easy thing to do over an 82-game schedule. So being physically strong to be able to handle that on a nightly basis is tough. That's, to me, where Trevor needs to keep improving."


"Jamie Drysdale, unfortunately, was hurt early in the season," Verbeek concluded. "He's probably in the fourth month of his rehab on a shoulder surgery. So we'll see here in the next three or four weeks to if he returns or has consideration to return. At the worst, he'll be ready for next year."


For Verbeek, and his right-hand-man Niedermayer, there's no doubt next year needs to be another step in the rebuilding process, but both cautioned the perils of putting too much on a young player's plate too early.


"It's extremely important that these guys can have some success as they're finding their way," Niedermayer said. "It's a cruel game sometimes out there and when things start going bad, your confidence can kind of get soft. That's a tough way to play. So these young guys have to be able to, in a situation where they can be challenged, take some hard knocks, but also have some success as they're finding their way in learning their game.


"It does take time. If we're aware of that and we allow it, it should pay off where they have great long careers and a lot of success ahead of them."


Deadline Deals

The club's lack of early results made selling its prominent pending unrestricted free agents at the deadline a near certainty, with Verbeek and his staff eventually agreeing to a pair of deals with Pittsburgh and Minnesota.


Anaheim first sent defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, who Verbeek acquired just prior to the season for Future Considerations, to the Penguins in exchange for sparkplug winger Brock McGinn and a 2024 third-round draft selection.


"I've always liked McGinn as a player," Verbeek said. "He played in Carolina and was in Pittsburgh this season. He brings grit and competitiveness, an energy I want 20 players to have. Whether they're skilled or highly skilled, I want all of our players to bring that element every night to the rink. So we made the investment. He has two more years on his contract right now and I think we got good value there."


McGinn made his Ducks debut Tuesday night in Seattle, skating on a line with Zegras and Ryan Strome. 


The second trade went down to the wire, as Anaheim and Minnesota agreed on a Klingberg deal with literally two minutes to spare. Klingberg signed a one-year contract with Anaheim last summer, leaving Dallas for the first time in his then eight-year NHL career, and found difficulty in replicating the production that made him one of the game's best offensive blueliners.


"I think, at the start of the season, he really pushed and tried to do more than he probably should have tried to do," Verbeek said. "I think, with any player, when you're trying to have the best year possible, you can start pushing too hard and you start trying too hard. Things don't work out and, in this instance, he ended up having a real tough season."


In return for the Swedish defenseman, Verbeek acquired prospect forward Nikita Nesterenko, a fourth-round pick and former Duck Andrej Sustr, who also played under Verbeek in Tampa Bay.


"I'm really excited about the kid," Verbeek said of Nesterenko. "He's 6-foot-2, skates well and has high skill. I've been watching him for three years in college, so I know the player and feel comfortable with him coming into our organization. I think the big thing for him is he made a big jump in his competitiveness, being the type of player getting to the net and competing hard in front of the net. That's where he really changed his game and what made him more successful, being able to produce a lot more this year than he had in his prior two years. I was excited to get him."


Verbeek said the addition of Sustr was to provide another veteran defender to a group losing Kulikov and Klingberg.


One player Verbeek did not move, despite persistent rumors across the league, was goaltender John Gibson, whose outstanding February just reiterated the caliber of player and the immense value it would take to justify moving him.


"I'm not considering moving John Gibson," Verbeek said flatly. "I've actually sat down and had a conversation with him about this. We have an excellent number one goaltender. The hardest thing in the NHL is finding a number one goaltender and I can speak from experience on this, because when we were in Tampa, we did not have a number one goaltender and we gave up numerous assets trying to chase one. 


"Finally we were able to draft one with Andrei Vasilveskiy. When you have one, you don't give them up unless you've got another one that's coming behind. At this point, we're very young with our goaltenders and certainly we're not at that stage where anyone can take John Gibson's position at number one right now."


Prospect Pipeline

But maybe the biggest takeaway from the peek under the hood, was the palpable excitement from Verbeek and Niedermayer at the immense potential of the young defensive stable at their disposal.


"Next year, just on defense alone, we have Olen Zellweger, Pavel Mintyukov and Tyson Hinds (turning pro)," Verbeek said. "I'm not sure where Jackson Lacombe is gonna end up yet, but he's gonna start with Anaheim when his college season is over this year. But those are four highly respected prospects there. San Diego next year is probably gonna see a lot of who is gonna be playing for the Ducks, hopefully in a couple years. So it's really exciting for me, and for our both organizations."


Verbeek said he leans on his resident Hall of Fame defenseman for analysis and guidance on blue line prospects, more than comfortable in deferring to a man who knows more about the position that maybe anyone in the game.


"We have a really young defense corps," Verbeek said. "I ask him to go mentor them, go watch them. I also ask him to go watch games when we're looking (at a player). I don't profess to know every little nuance of what the best defenseman could be. So I ask him to go do that. I see what my eye sees, but I want his opinion too."


Niedermayer touched on the strengths of each of the four defensive prospects Verbeek mentioned, praising Lacombe's skating skills and smarts and highlighting Mintyukov's playoff chances on a strong Ottawa team, but seemed most impressed with the development of Zellweger.


A two-time World Junior Gold medalist, Zellweger was traded midseason for a monstrous haul of draft picks to the Kamloops Blazers, Niedermayer's old team in the Western Hockey League. Since first donning the blue, orange and white, Zellweger has collected 38 points in 22 games with a +29 rating.


But for Zellweger the offensive impacts are well-known. The knock has always been about his size as a 5-foot-9 defenseman in a league full of giants. For Niedermayer and Verbeek though, Zellweger's intense desire to compete and his willingness to make the gym his home away from home has stood out more than any on-ice play. 


"He wants to do something every time he's on the ice," Niedermayer said. "When you get to the highest level of hockey, sometimes that can be a challenge, and you have to figure out when and where you do that. But you love to see it. Pat talked about the competitiveness and what he wants in players. [Zellweger] has it. He has that competitiveness."



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Posted (edited)

GM Verbeek Recaps Ducks Trade Deadline Moves, Looks Ahead to Summer Plans







The dust has settled and the phones are down.


After a few hectic week around the National Hockey League stocked full with headline-grabbing deals, the Trade Deadline has now officially passed.


In total, the Ducks completed six trades this week, acquiring a quality NHL winger, three draft picks and multiple prospects.


General Manager Pat Verbeek joined Ducks Stream, with host Alexis Downie and television analyst Brian Hayward, immediately following the deadline to recap Anaheim's activity and look ahead to an important summer for the Ducks.


Some answers have been lightly edited for style and clarity.


On the Trade Deadline

Overall, I think it was a crazy one. There were a lot of prices, a lot of high prices and a lot of movement. Probably more than I've ever seen since doing this on the management side. It's been crazy.


On the trade with Pittsburgh

This morning we traded Dmitry Kulikov to Pittsburgh for a third-round pick and Brock McGinn. Brock's the kind of player that I've been looking to get on our team. He plays a gritty style, a hardworking, gritty style that can produce offense. 


So I'm happy that he was put in the deal that we could take and he's signed for a couple more years. It's a good fit for where we are in our process.


On the trade with Minnesota

Well, that one went down to 11:58 a.m. our time, which I guess is 2:58 with the league. You have to get the email in with the league [by 3 p.m. Eastern] and so we got confirmation from both teams and the league at 2:58 Eastern Time.


We were haggling over the last hour, looking at two or three different scenarios. In the end, we ended up trading [John] Klingberg for a fourth-round pick in 2025 and we ended up with the rights to Nikita Nesterenko, who is playing at Boston College. Since we shipped out two defensemen, we needed to get a defenseman back and Andrej Sustr will be coming back again in the deal. I'm very familiar with Sustr. We had him in Tampa. He's a great kid and a nice hockey player. He'll fit in well.


On Nikita Nesterenko

Well, there's a lot of things I like about him. He's six foot two and a very good skater. He has good skill. The thing he's added into his game that he hadn't had a couple years prior is he's he's competing harder and he's getting to the dirty areas of the ice to score goals...That's the part that's really changed for me. We started watching him pretty good. We've had one of our college scouts watching him all year, and he's taken a real good liking to him with improving his game overall from where he started in college to where he is now. We're excited to get the player.


He will be sent to San Diego, we'll sign him to an ATO, when his college season is over. We'll work on an NHL deal for next season.


On the Western Conference

I think the West is wide open now. I think Edmonton probably improved themselves quite a bit, getting Ekholm. He looks like a really good fit for their top four. They made some improvements there. 


It really is wide open. You can look at Colorado, you can look at Vegas, you can look at Edmonton. There are a couple other teams as well that could be in the mix. So it's gonna be an interesting west [playoffs]. There are a gonna be a lot of good teams. In the east, there are gonna be two, three good teams not getting past the first round. 


On Jackson Lacombe

Jackson Lacombe will be coming to the Anaheim Ducks when his season's over, but you know he is playing the for the top-ranked [University of Minnesota] Gophers, so we're not sure when that's going to be. I think, based on their status, it doesn't matter whether they win the Big-Ten. They'll get a big to play in the regionals and it's up to them from there. It's all one game knockouts.


On collecting draft capital

I like to get as many darts as I can to throw out the board, so I get a chance to hit that bullseye. That's what we're trying to do here. It is going to be important. When you start looking at the whole thing and how it's set up, both in the pro scouting and amateur scouting, they help each other in that sense. 


At the end of the day, we want the big club towin championships. We're working through that process to build a lot of depth in the organization and give us a long run as a championship team.


On the trade with San Jose

Well, when Henry [Thrun] informed me he wasn't going to sign with us, I worked with the agent and a few teams, to try to get a deal to where I he'll ultimately sign. We worked it out with San Jose. I was very happy with the return that I got for Henry from San Jose. 


On the prospect pipeline

Olen Zellweger is going to play in the Memorial Cup, so he won't have any chance to play in any part of the organization until after then.


Then [Pavel] Mintyukov is also on a first-place team too, so it's hard to predict where he's going to end up. Tristan Luneau as well is on a very good team. All these guys have chances to make deep runs in the playoffs with their teams. Those three players that I just mentioned, all three are close to leading their perspective leagues in scoring (by defensemen). So we're very excited. Luneau is actually leading his team in scoring. So we're very excited for those three players and the offensive ability that they're gonna be able to add to the team. 


We also have Tyson Hines, who's leading the Quebec League in plus-minus. We have Noah Warren, who is 6-foot-5, our second rounder from last year. We're excited for our defensive prospects. You mentioned Jackson Lacombe. We're excited for our prospects. There's a really nice core setting up what I think would be a championship team on defense. So now it's just, just a matter of these kids developing, improving their skating skills and getting stronger. That, to me, is going to be the biggest thing that they need to improve on and will give them the chance to be able to play in the NHL one day. 


On competition amongst the prospects

When you have competition, you push each other to get better. Whether there's high competition within positions or just within the team, it pushes everybody to raise their game. That's the best thing, you want to have happen. When everyone's pushing themselves to get better, that is going to really help the Anaheim Ducks organization. 

Edited by NHL HHOF
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