Ducks expected to retain Dallas Eakins as coach next season - Orange County Register

Ducks expected to retain Dallas Eakins as coach next season – Orange County Register

SUNRISE, Fla. – The Ducks are expected to retain Dallas Eakins as their coach for at least a fourth season, an NHL source said. A statement on Eakins’ future is anticipated later this week from general manager Pat Verbeek, who has not been with the team to start its four-game trip.

Eakins’ three-season contract is set to expire when the season ends on April 29, and it wasn’t immediately certain whether the team held an option on a fourth season or whether he would be given an extension for 2022-23 and possibly beyond . Verbeek was expected to clarify the situation.

Neither Eakins nor Verbeek were available for comment Monday, a scheduled day off for the Ducks in South Florida after starting their trip with a 5-3 victory Saturday over the Philadelphia Flyers and a 5-2 loss Sunday to the Carolina Hurricanes. Verbeek was on a scouting trip.

The Ducks took significant strides in the early months of the 2021-22 season before COVID-19 took its toll on the lineup at the Christmas break and into January. The Ducks were 17-9-6 and among the Pacific Division leaders at the holiday break, but their lack of depth was quickly exposed.

As a result, they will miss the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season for the first time since the franchise began play in 1993-94. A series of deals before the NHL’s trade deadline last month sealed their fate, with veterans Nicolas Deslauriers, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson and Rickard Rakell dealt.

The Ducks are 29-33-12, sixth in the eight-team Pacific.

Eakins has a 75-96-30 record with the Ducks. He also coached the Edmonton Oilers for 113 ill-fated games over the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, posting a 36-63-13 mark. Each of his three years with the Ducks have been impacted by COVID-19, especially this season.

The Ducks’ 2019-20 season was halted after 71 games because of the coronavirus outbreak. Last season’s schedule was shortened to 56 games because of the pandemic, with teams playing only within their divisions until the postseason. This season, only a handful of Ducks avoided testing positive.

However, several of the Ducks’ youngest players took significant strides this season, especially right wing Troy Terry. With a goal in Sunday’s loss to the Hurricanes, Terry, 24, extended his team-leading total to 32 goals in 67 games. Terry’s previous high was seven in 48 games in 2020-21.

What’s more, rookies Trevor Zegras, 21, and Jamie Drysdale, who turned 20 this past Friday, have earned enhanced roles as the season has progressed. Each has soared and slumped at times this season, but their growth has been evident since dipping their toes in the NHL waters last season.

Zegras, a center, was tied for third among NHL rookies with 20 goals and tied for second with 54 points in 67 games going into Monday’s games around the league. Drysdale, a defenseman, was 11th among rookies with 30 points in 73 games. He also was second among rookie defensemen.

Additionally, the Ducks’ power play, which set a modern-era record for futility with an 8.9 percent success rate last season, climbed from the depths of the league to 13th among 32 teams with a 22.1 percent success rate going into Tuesday’s game against the Florida Panthers.

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