Ducks Cut Roster To 29

Photo: NHL

By Thomas Harrington

The Anaheim Ducks have cut a number of players over the past several days, bringing their training camp roster down to 29. The Ducks have assigned goaltender Lukas Dostal, forward Chase De Leo, forward Justin Kirkland, defenseman Olli Juolevi, defenseman Austin Strand, forward Danny O’Regan, forward Benoit-Olivier Groulx, and forward Josh Lopina to San Diego.

Dostal is Anaheim’s top goaltending prospect and there’s no question that he’s going to be back in Anaheim at some point this season. Whether it’s because of injury, a trade, or just because the Ducks want to give him more NHL experience, he’ll be back with the Ducks this year. He started two preseason games and won both of them while serving as the back up in other games.

De Leo, Kirkland, Juolevi, Strand, and O’Regan are all veterans who could be called up to Anaheim as the season goes along. This is actually De Leo’s second go around with the Ducks and Gulls; he played with the organization for three years and played in three games with the Ducks. Kirkland has only been a minor league player to this point in his career, but if he plays well enough with the Gulls he could make his NHL debut this season. Juolevi is a former top five pick who is trying to get his NHL career back on track. He’s spent most of his time in the AHL but did get 18 games of NHL action last year. Strand is another player who has spent most of his career in the AHL, but has gotten spot duty in the NHL with the Kings. This will be O’Regan’s second season with Anaheim and San Diego and he played in five games for the Ducks last year. I anticipate him getting a similar number this season.

Groulx being cut and sent to San Diego is a bit of a disappointment. He made the roster out of training camp last year after a strong preseason. He’s played in three preseason games and was scoreless in them. Even though he’s starting the year in San Diego, I’m confident that he’ll be back with the Ducks this season. If he has a strong start to the year, he could be called up before October is over. He made his NHL debut last year and played in 18 games with the Ducks. I’m hoping he gets at least a similar number of games this year.

Lopina being cut is unsurprising, but it was great to see him last in camp so long. He made his AHL debut last year and played in 13 games with the Gulls. I expect him to spend most, if not all, of the year in San Diego, but he’s on my list of dark horse candidates to make his NHL debut this year. He played in three preseason games and scored a goal, but was scoreless in three games at the Rookie Tournament.

The Ducks have six more players to cut to get down to the 23-man roster. However, both John Moore and Sam Carrick will start the season on injured reserve, so the Ducks only need to cut four players before opening night next week. Also, if Trevor Zegras and/or Urho Vaakanainen are also on injured reserve, then there are even fewer to cut before opening night.

Excluding Carrick, the Ducks are currently carrying 14 forwards, so Anaheim technically doesn’t have to cut another forward before opening night. However, I do think they’ll probably start the season with 13 forwards, not 14, so I think at least one more cut will come from the forward ranks. The easiest one to cut is Rocco Grimaldi, who is in camp on a tryout contract. However, he’s been one of Anaheim’s better players in the preseason and I think has done enough to earn at least a two-way contract. If he does make the team, the other players who could be cut instead are Glenn Gawdin or Pavol Regenda.

Regenda is a rookie and has six points in five games, including a three point night against Los Angeles. Gawdin has two goals in five games and signed a two-year agreement with the Ducks over the summer. Personally, I think Regenda should make the opening night roster, while Grimaldi should be signed to a two-way deal and be the spare forward. Gawdin should start the season in San Diego and be among the first callups to Anaheim as needed. Once Carrick is healthy, either Grimaldi or Regenda would head to San Diego to make room for him.

The Ducks are currently carrying 12 defensemen, and will likely carry seven or eight when the season starts. However, with Moore on injured reserve, the Ducks only need to cut three or four players to get down to the seven or eight on the roster. The easiest and most obvious one to cut is Noah Warren. He was drafted this past summer and is expected to spend the year in juniors. He has yet to sign his entry-level deal, so it’s just a matter of time before he gets sent down. The other player I expect to be sent down is Colton White. He was signed to a two-year deal over the summer and will probably get some games with the Ducks, but I think he’ll spend most of the year in San Diego. With both of them gone, the Ducks will need to cut at least one or two more players. 

The final spots will probably come down to Josh Mahura, Simon Benoit, or the recently-signed Nathan Beaulieu. Mahura is an Anaheim draft pick from 2016, while Benoit was an undrafted free agent. All three would have to pass through waivers to get to San Diego. Before the signing, I would have thought Beaulieu was the one who would not make it, but his signing makes me think the Ducks want a veteran presence as the sixth, seventh, or eighth defenseman. If that’s the case, then at least one of, if not both, Mahura and Benoit will be San Diego-bound. If the Ducks do keep eight defensemen on the roster, then one of them could stay. In that case, it comes down to whether or not Anaheim wants Mahura’s offensive upside or Benoit’s physical presence on the roster.

With only one preseason game left, Dallas Eakins and the Ducks have a few more spots to figure out. Expect the final roster to be announced some time after their game with the Kings on Saturday. And there’s a good chance that much of the roster who plays against LA will be on the ice against Seattle next Wednesday.

Related Articles:

Anaheim’s Top 10 Rookies

Ranking Anaheim’s Prospect Positions

Ducks Make 1st Round of Cuts

Ducks Make 2nd Round of Cuts

Ducks Assign 11 Players To San Diego

Ducks Make Weekend Moves

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October 6th, 2022



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