As the NHL season is now less than a month away, we continue our look at each team’s offseason and preview the upcoming year. Today, we focus on the Anaheim Ducks.
Last Season: 46-25-11 record (103 points), 1st in the Pacific Division. Lost 4-3 to Nashville in Round 1.
Remaining Cap Space: $7,5MM per CapFriendly.
Key Departures: Jamie McGinn (LW) – signed with Arizona; David Perron (LW) – signed with St. Louis; Frederik Andersen (G) – traded to Toronto; Brandon Pirri (LW) – signed with NYR; Mike Santorelli (LW) – signed in Switzerland; Chris Stewart (RW) – signed with Minnesota; Anton Khudobin (G) – signed with Boston.
Player to Watch: Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell. The former first round draft picks—and Swedish natives—remain unsigned as of writing. With training camp looming, it is possible that both are on the outside looking in when the puck drops October 12th.
Lindholm has established himself as one of the Ducks’ top defensive prospects, scoring 10G and 18A in 80 games while playing 22 minutes a night. Hampering Hampus’ negotiating power, however, is the presence of other defensive prospects Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen. The Ducks have an embarrassment of riches on defense, and can afford to play hardball with Lindholm’s camp. What is not helping is Lindholm’s scarce playing time at the World Cup of Hockey. Lindholm has not received any significant exposure this fall in a tournament that could’ve showcased his skills and potentially increased his value.
Rickard Rakell is in a similar situation. An unsigned RFA playing for Team Sweden in the World Cup and hoping to increase his value—until complications from a previous appendectomy required additional surgery and a two week recovery period. Rakell broke out last season, scoring 20G and 23A in 72 games, and finished fourth in team scoring. An inability to come to terms with the Ducks most likely stems from whether the production outburst was a fluke, or just Rakell’s natural upward development.
Bruce Boudreau was let go at the end of last season despite four consecutive first place finishes in the Pacific. The problem in management’s eyes was that Boudreau could not get it done in big playoff games and a new voice was needed. One could debate the existence of ’clutch’, but losing four straight game sevens gave management enough ammunition to seek out someone new. Or Randy Carlyle, the man Boudreau replaced in 2011-12. Carlyle last coached the Toronto Maple Leafs, missing the playoffs in 2 of 3 seasons, and fired midway through the fourth. The former Ducks coach is an odd choice to replace Boudreau, but the thought is that an old voice may motivate veterans Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.
On the ice, Anaheim shipped out RFA goaltender Frederik Andersen this summer to the Maple Leafs and move forward with John Gibson as their undisputed starter. Gibson appeared to grab the starter’s role from Andersen last season, going 21-13-4 in 38 starts, and posting a .920SV% and 2.07GAA. Those personal stats are slightly better than Andersen’s .919SV% and 2.30GAA. Either way, the Ducks had a decision to make in net, and chose the young netminder over the Danish RFA. Gibson has not played a full season, however, and questions remain as to whether his numbers can remain consistent with a full workload. The Ducks brought in Jonathan Bernier from the Leafs to potentially ease the growing pains, but the starter’s job is clearly Gibson’s to lose.