With the NHL season now just underway, we continue our look at what each team has done this summer and what to watch for in the year to come. Last up is a look at the Anaheim Ducks.
Last Season: 44-25-13 record (101 points), second in the Pacific Division (lost to San Jose in the first round of the playoffs)
Key Additions: F Pontus Aberg (waivers, Edmonton), F Brian Gibbons (free agent, New Jersey), F Isac Lundestrom (draft), F Carter Rowney (free agent, Pittsburgh), D Luke Schenn (free agent, Arizona), F Ben Street (free agent, Detroit), D Andrej Sustr (free agent, Tampa Bay)
Key Subtractions: D Francois Beauchemin (retirement), D Kevin Bieksa (free agent, unsigned), F Jared Boll (retirement), F J.T. Brown (free agent, Minnesota), F Jason Chimera (free agent, unsigned), F Derek Grant (free agent, Pittsburgh), F Chris Kelly (retirement), F Antoine Vermette (free agent, unsigned)
[Related: Ducks Depth Chart From Roster Resource]
Player To Watch: F Jakob Silfverberg – The 28-year-old was the key player coming to Anaheim as part of the deal that sent Bobby Ryan to Ottawa back in 2013. They viewed him as a core forward and while he hasn’t really emerged into a top line piece, he has been an important part of their supporting cast since being acquired.
Silfverberg now finds himself in the final year of his contract and with the long-term injury to Corey Perry, he also now has a golden opportunity to demonstrate that he can be more than a secondary scorer. The expectations will be there given the higher ice time but a good showing here would go a long way towards bolstering his case in free agency.
What will be interesting to see is if Anaheim finds a way to lock him up. GM Bob Murray acknowledged over the summer that inking him was a priority but with having more than $74MM tied up in just 16 players for next season, finding a way to keep him around is certainly going to be a challenge.
Key Storyline: Anaheim has been a team in the bottom half of league scoring in each of the past three seasons and didn’t really address that in their offseason movement, opting instead to change some of their depth pieces around.
Barely a week into the year, the injury bug has struck hard. Perry will miss most of the season after undergoing knee surgery, Patrick Eaves is recovering from a shoulder issue after missing most of last year with Guillain-Barre syndrome (so even when he returns, he will be rusty for a while), while Ondrej Kase, who quietly tied for second on the team in goals last season, is dealing with a concussion. For a team that isn’t a prolific offensive unit, this is a lot of firepower they’re missing already.
With that in mind, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Ducks look to make a move sooner than later to bolster their attack. While getting back into cap compliance will be a factor when Perry gets back four-to-five months from now, they’ll have plenty of time between now and then to make that work. Given their cap situation beyond this season though, they’ll already be forced to look through the rental market.
Overall Outlook: Anaheim can sometimes be a trendy pick in terms of teams that will take a step back but they always seem to be in the mix at the end. Their injuries up front will certainly hurt but when all is said and done, they’ll likely still be in the hunt for a Wild Card spot at least in what looks to be a very tight Pacific Division.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.