IRVINE, Calif. — John Gibson responded Friday to the idea that the Anaheim Ducks are about to enter a rebuilding season.
“I don’t want to lose,” the goalie said at training camp. “I’m here to win.”
General manager Bob Murray opened camp Wednesday saying the Ducks were in a rebuilding phase, a term he had avoided in recent seasons.
“We’re sticking to our plan. We’re rebuilding,” Murray said, according to the Orange County Register. “This is how we’re doing it. We’re being patient. Everything we’re going to do going forward, all the trades we make, everything is for the future at this point in time.”
The Ducks made the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the Pacific Division winner in each of Gibson’s first four seasons, getting as far as the Western Conference Final in 2017, when they lost to the Nashville Predators. Anaheim has not qualified the past three seasons.
The 28-year-old has six seasons left on an eight-year, $51.2 million contract (average annual value of $6.4 million) he signed Aug. 4, 2018.
“I’m tired of it,” Gibson said. “Hopefully, going into this year, we can start off right and kind of turn the ship, because I think if you ask anybody in [the locker room], they’re tired of losing. I know I am, and I’m tired of being at the bottom of the division, and kind of out of things when there are still three months left to play in the season.”
The Ducks scored the fewest goals in the NHL in two of the past three seasons. Their 8.9 percent success rate on the power play last season was the lowest since it became an official statistic in 1977-78.
Forward Max Comtois, entering his fourth season, led the Ducks with 16 goals and 33 points last season. Anaheim’s two first-round picks from the 2016 NHL Draft, forwards Max Jones (No. 24) and Sam Steel (No. 30), have scored a combined 35 goals in their 264 NHL games.
“We’ve had guys that have been here three or four years now and I think it’s time for them to step up,” Gibson said. “We have some young guys who aren’t so young anymore and it’s time for them to take things to the next level, and if they do, I think we can be a good hockey team.”
Forward Rickard Rakell scored nine goals in 52 games last season after 30-goal seasons in 2016-17 (33) and 2017-18 (34). Forward Jakob Silfverberg scored eight goals after scoring at least 20 in four of the previous five seasons.
“As those things come along, we’ll keep adding to that core young group we have,” Murray said. “Just be patient. Just enjoy watching the young kids now and, hopefully, some of the veterans come back [to form] and give you something to be happy about.”
Anaheim should benefit from the return of defensemen Hampus Lindholm (wrist) and Josh Manson (oblique), who each missed more than half of last season with those injuries.
“We just have to have everybody contribute,” Lindholm said. “If guys go down, it’s never going to be a perfect year, you guys all know. Guys always go down here and there. Sometimes, you just have to have guys step up in those positions.”