ANAHEIM – Everything that Josh Manson needed to know about how the Ducks felt about his place in the team’s grand plan was laid out for him in the early part of the summer.
The NHL expansion draft was approaching and there was heavy speculation that either he or Sami Vatanen could be plucked away by the incoming Vegas Golden Knights as it was readily apparent the Ducks couldn’t keep all of their valuable defensemen under protection.
And who wouldn’t want on their blue line a 25-year-old that can skate, move the puck effectively and display an occasional mean streak when it came to opposing skaters on the open ice? Ducks general manager Bob Murray took a look at his challenging scenario and got to work.
Someone with loads of potential was lost in former first-round pick and top prospect Shea Theodore. But, with the help of a pipeline stocked with young defenders, Murray parted with him in order to sway Vegas GM George McPhee to take Clayton Stoner and leave Manson and Vatanen alone.
And that sent a meaningful message to Manson, the son of former NHL defenseman Dave Manson, and who is establishing his own name around the league.
“It makes you feel a little more valuable,” Manson said Sunday. “A little more of a key member of the team, I guess. It shows that management has confidence in you as a player and wants to keep you around.
“That always helps your play on the ice when you know that the team has confidence in you and that they want to have you on the team.”
Now in his fourth season, Manson sees himself as someone that established some comfort in the Ducks dressing room as opposed to the player who wanted to break onto the roster. Comfort only goes so far as he wants to remain one to fight for a spot against the next up-and-comers wanting to grab his.
“I always knew I was a late bloomer,” Manson said. “When I went to college and when I was in juniors and stuff, I just kind of took it step by step but the end goal was always the NHL. I always knew in the back of my mind, whether people doubted it or not, I always felt I still have room to grow. I still have room to grow. Still have room to grow.
“Sure enough, I think I was 22 and still felt like I was getting better and better and better. I’m hoping that this year will be another step in that direction where I’m just continuing to get better.”
Manson wants to remain at a place where he’s still has plenty to strive for in his game. Playing with an edge is a big part…