Ryan Getzlaf’s Mighty Free Agent Sweepstakes

Written by on July 13, 2021

Anaheim Ducks center and face of the franchise Ryan Getzlaf, will become a free agent for the first time in his 16 year career. How will the NHL respond?

Jul 11, 2021

By Peter Fifoot

On a spring evening on May 8th in St.Paul, MINN., Ryan Getzlaf and his Anaheim Ducks found their season come to an end in overtime thanks to a sudden death goal by Wild forward Victor Rask. However, this could have ended up being an even more polarizing end to a season since 2003 when Paul Kariya left the Anaheim Ducks. The 16 year tenure of Getzlaf in Anaheim and decade of captaincy may be coming to an end as Getzlaf will be entering free agency for the first time in his career.

Ryan Getzlaf will be entering his 17th season in the fall and potted five goals and 12 assists while playing 48 games out of 56 in his last season,which has been his lowest performing season of his career. However, the 36 year old Getzlaf brings some intangibles to the free agency market, rarely seen at any age, let alone for an athlete in his mid-30’s. Getzlaf has won gold at the World Juniors in 2005 and gold in the Olympics in 2010 and 2014 as well as making the NHL All Star Team three times, is the Anaheim Ducks franchise leader in games played and assists as well as winning the Stanley Cup in 2007.

Getzlaf has many destinations he can fly to as a free agent. The Vegas Golden Knights, the Colorado Avalanche, the New York Islanders and the Philadelphia Flyers are four of the teams he could end up with because of the valuable offensive players these teams have to support Getzlaf as well as the great quality of the teams and their consistency in the front office.

The Case for the Anaheim Ducks

Anaheim would behoove themselves to re-sign Ryan Getzlaf, as he has a few seasons of quality hockey left and has been the captain and unquestioned leader of this Ducks team for over a decade, and the franchise is needing some consistency and firepower as they have missed the postseason three straight years. For a franchise that since the 2005 lockout has been seen as one of the more dominant NHL franchises, familiarity breeds the feeling of being content and even though Getzlaf’s numbers have dipped the past two seasons, he has shown signs of still being a great player in the league for a couple of years and he does not have to be Superman on the score sheet. Off the ice he will continue to be a great mentor to fellow young offensive scoring teammates Rickard Rakell and Trevor Zegras, not to mention the other fact that Ryan Getzlaf has a family that like him have only known Anaheim, his wife Paige and children Ryder, Gavin, Mac and Willa. The Ducks will also have the third pick in the draft where they can give Getzlaf scoring help or an NHL ready defenseman as well as being able to trade Getzlaf at the deadline if he desires a cup because Anaheim is not close to one. The question will be how much longer Getzlaf can wait.

getzlaf shooting a goal

Ryan Getzlaf shoots a puck for Team Canada on Team Germany Goaltender Thomas Greiss in the 2010 Winter Olympics | Photo by S.Yume Wikimedia Commons 

The Case for the Colorado Avalanche

Colorado is in a much better position than Anaheim to give Getzlaf a Stanley Cup, as they are arguably the deepest and best team on paper. They are stacked with offensive firepower with Nathan MacKinnon, Captain Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen, Andre Burakovsky, Joonas Donskoi and more. They also boast a solid young core of defenseman like Norris Trophy Finalist Cale Makar and Sam Girard as well as having an elite goaltender, Phillip Grubauer. They have the third most cap space in the NHL and are looking for more experienced battle hardened players. Despite the Colorado Avalanche’s strength they have not advanced further than the second round since 2002 and agonizingly had their season end to another Getzlaf suitor, the Golden Knights. Colorado does not have the experienced gem that has what it takes to win a Stanley Cup, and Getzlaf might be the piece to take the Avalanche over the hump and he would not be pressured to score as much and have to go overboard just to play a competent scoring role as well as being a physical checking center and mentor off the ice.

The Case for the Vegas Golden Knights

Vegas is much more suited to win in the playoffs than Colorado, but their window is remarkably closing for a fledgling franchise in its fifth year. The Golden Knights have never missed the playoffs in their franchise history and have made the conference final three out of the last four years, as well as making the Stanley Cup Final in their first year of existence, so they can offer Getzlaf with a culture of winning. Due to high risk trades, however, Vegas has traded draft picks and their youth for experienced veteran players such as Mark Stone and Max Paccioretty. Due to a small prospect pool and dwindling cap space, the Golden Knights championship hopes are fading away and to get Getzlaf would probably have to trade influential role and depth players like Nicholas Roy, Tomas Nosek and Keegan Kolesar to free up space. Vegas would immediately get a huge advantage at the center position and Getzlaf would have large opportunities to score with a solid defense and a future Hall of Fame goaltender backstopping, but would the price to pay with depleted depth be enough.

The Case for the New York Islanders

The Islanders are a team committed to playoff style hockey and have a very solid style of play and great depth. The Islanders went all the way to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning after upsetting Pittsburgh and Boston all without their captain and most important player Anders Lee for all of the playoffs. The Isles have an incredibly consistent and workman like fourth line made up of Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin. Their defensive lineup, specifically the pairing of Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock is as good as any in hockey and have the benefit of 2 way forward Anthony Beauvilier and inconsistent but when dialed in, offensive superstar center Matt Barzal. If that was not enough New York boasts a great duo in goal with Semyon Varlamov and second year man Ilya Sorokin who are directed by director of goalie personnel, Mitch Korn, a man who helped build the careers of the likes of Pekka Rinne and Dominik Hasek. However, this team will probably need to be altered a bit in free agency to fit the rules of the expansion draft and the small cap space of the Islanders. If Travis Zajac leaves in free agency, Getzlaf is an almost perfect fit, and can act as second or third center where he can decide to shoot or set up teammates giving a team close to championship potential most needed goal support and offense.

The Case for the Philadelphia Flyers

Philadelphia has the only team in the sweepstakes that are not Getzlaf’s original team that did not qualify for the playoffs this past season, but still boasts a very solid roster. The majority of the roster are loaded with young forwards like Oskar Lindblom and Nicolas Aube-Kubel that will need to continue their growth as they learn to win, but the team also has a fearsome trio of experienced forwards in Sean Couturier, Jakub Voracek and Captain Claude Giroux.The majority of this team has rich playoff experience with most of them playing in the playoffs in 2018 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and against the Montreal Canadiens and New York Islanders, who they pushed to a game seven in 2020 after being down 3-1 in the series. Although he suffered the worst year of his young career in a lackluster season for the Philadelphia Flyers, Carter Hart is a very competent and solid goaltender that can give confidence and support to an older player like Ryan Getzlaf. The Flyers defense core suits a player like Getzlaf well because of the offensive tendencies of young defensemen, Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere,who can set him up well for assists or point blank range goals. Provorov especially fits well with the two players on the power play when thor tendencies mirror each other. Getzlaf’s no nonsense personality and play on the ice will also endear himself to Philadelphia Flyers fans who love hard nosed, tough power forwards.

The Best Fit for Ryan Getzlaf

In reality, the best fit for Ryan Getzlaf, benefitting both team and individual, are the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers also give Getzlaf the best amount of free reign in the center position on the first to fourth line and have an incredible powerplay for Getzlaf’s skill set. It goes through defenseman Ivan Provorov and utilizes the circles and hash marks with great quality but also keeps the blue line set empty where Getzlaf loves to shoot. Philadelphia in the past decade, in the years they made the playoffs have incredible numbers on the power play. Ryan Getzlaf is also quite good friends with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier having played alongside in the Olympics and the World Cup of Hockey on Team Canada. Getzlaf is a captain without the c in the city of brotherly love and a lot of the weight falls off him. If the Flyers can get everything clicking, Getzlaf might be lifting his second Stanley Cup and parading down Broad Street in the early summer of 2022.