Report: Anaheim Ducks ‘Big-Game Hunting’ For Second-Line Center

The Anaheim Ducks have a huge void at center on their second line, and the defending Pacific Division champions hope to fill that hole with a top-tier player.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported Monday that Anaheim is looking to build a 1-2 punch down the middle with Hart Trophy finalist Ryan Getzlaf.

The Ducks reportedly tried to acquire Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler at the NHL trade deadline in March, but the former Selke Trophy winner wasn’t dealt. This forced Anaheim to enter the playoffs with veteran Saku Koivu and Nick Bonino playing on the second line, and that wasn’t a good matchup against the incredible down-the-middle depth of the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings in Round 2.

As McKenzie noted in the above tweet, Ducks general manager Bob Murray has plenty of assets to dangle on the trade market for a marquee center. Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen are among the better young D-men in the NHL, and forwards Devante Smith-Pelly, Rickard Rakell and Emerson Etem all have top-six potential. Murray also has two first-round picks in the 2014 NHL draft (Nos. 10 and 24) to offer rival teams.

Kesler is a better option than Jason Spezza, who will be an unrestricted free agent in 2015, because the Canucks forward has two more years left on his contract at a cheaper $5 million salary-cap hit.