The Anaheim Ducks ended the 2017-18 regular season on a five-game winning streak. It boosted their point total to 101 and gave them a one-point edge over the San Jose Sharks for second place in the Pacific Division. The Sharks would get the last laugh, sweeping the Ducks out of the first round. The durability of Anaheim’s aging core is a major concern heading into the 2018-19 season.
Captain Ryan Getzlaf missed 26 games last season with a myriad of injuries. Knee and shoulder injuries forced Cam Fowler to miss 15 games last season. After failing to top 20 goals in back-to-back seasons, Corey Perry is expected to be sidelined for up to 5 months. The 33-year-old underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus and a previously damaged MCL. Finally, hip surgery limited Ryan Kesler to 44 games last season. He has yet to be medically cleared for contact, making it extremely unlikely he’s ready for opening night. Rickard Rakell, Josh Manson, and Brandon Montour are promising young players that seem ready to take on larger roles. The team isn’t as strong as it been in years past, but the elite play of John Gibson might be enough to earn the Ducks a playoff spot on its own.
➕ Pontus Aberg (Waivers)
➕ Brian Gibbons (Free Agency)
➕ Luke Schenn (Free Agency)
➕ Andrej Sustr (Free Agency)
➕ Carter Rowney (Free Agency)
While injuries are becoming a growing concern, Getzlaf is still one of the very best playmakers in the game. He picked up 50 assists in just 56 games last year, making it the eighth time in his career that he’s topped 50 apples. Given his declining shot volume, a 20-goal season is a stretch for Getzlaf at this point in his career. Rakell will need to step up in a major way in the absence of Perry. He is coming off a career season in which he put up 34 goals and 35 assists. Given the lack of goal-scorers around him and his 11.6 on-ice SH% last year, Rakell is unlikely to match his 35 assists from a year ago. Still, he has an elite shot and managed to get 230 pucks on target last season. He’s primed for his first 35-goal season in 2018-19.
Troy Terry is expected to start the year alongside Getzlaf and Rakell. A fifth-round pick of the Ducks in 2015, Terry morphed into a perennial point-producer in the NCAA over the last two seasons. He put up 48 points in 39 games for the University of Denver last season. He impressed in training camp and the rookie could hold some sleeper value in deeper fantasy leagues. With Kesler out, Adam Henrique will centre the second line to start the season. The longtime Devil picked up 20 goals and 16 assists in 57 games after being acquired by the Ducks last season. He is reliable two-way forward that is essential to the Ducks’ success given their lack of depth at the position. Jakob Silfverberg and Maxime Comtois project to start the year on Henrique’s wings.
Given their lack of depth down the middle, Sam Steel seems likely to start the season with the Ducks. Steel was the No. 30 overall pick in 2016 and was a prolific scorer in junior hockey. He racked up 338 points in 258 games over five seasons with the WHL’s Regina Pats. He was the MVP of the 2018 Memorial Cup and has done nothing but impress the Ducks’ coaching staff this pre-season. Considering the nagging nature of Kesler’s hip injury, Steel could very well spend the full season in Anaheim. He skated between Andrew Cogliano and Ondrej Kase in the Ducks’ final preseason game on Saturday. Carter Rowney, Ben Street, and the recently-claimed Pontus Aberg possess little offensive upside. They are all unlikely to move up the Ducks’ lineup anytime soon.
The Ducks have one of the more underrated top-fours in the league, and it’s only getting stronger. Fowler and Manson are the elders of the group at just 26-years-old. Anaheim’s top-two pairings are interchangeable, but Montour did skate alongside Lindholm on Saturday night. Fowler played primarily with Montour last season so don’t be surprised if head coach Randy Carlyle shifts back to that early in the season. Regardless, the Ducks have two pairings capable of shutting down any line in the league. They do more than their fair share offensively, too. The Ducks joined the Predators as the only teams that rostered four 30-point blueliners in 2018-19. Their top-four can go toe-to-toe with any team’s in the league, but they lack quality options for the fifth and sixth spots.
Marcus Pettersson and Luke Schenn are set to start the season as the bottom pair, giving Anaheim the seventh-worst third pairing in the league, according to Corsica. Pettersson hasn’t looked particularly impressive in his limited NHL action, posting a 44.1 CF% in 22 games. Schenn is a former No. 5 overall pick but barely held down a roster spot with the Coyotes last season. He offers no offensive upside and has a 48.1 CF% across his 10-year career. As long as their top-four are healthy, Schenn and Pettersson shouldn’t be too much of an issue. They should see sheltered matchups at 5v5 and won’t play much more than 15 minutes a night. But the Ducks took a risk by not insuring their biggest strength this off-season. They would have done well to add a more capable defender than Schenn to their bottom pair.
Gibson had the second-highest SV% among goalies last season but finished 10th in the NHL in wins. He has been incredibly consistent in his young career. He is the only goalie in the NHL to post a SV% greater than .920 in each of the last three seasons. He is an elite goaltender that could carry this team back to the post-season. Gibson’s improved ever year he’s been in the league and could easily be in the Vezina conversation by season’s end. His durability concerns are eased by a capable backup in Ryan Miller. Though he made just 21 starts last year, Miller’s .928 SV% was the second highest of his 15-year career. Between Gibson and Miller, Anaheim has one of the best goaltending tandems in the NHL.
|Rickard Rakell (33)||Ryan Getzlaf (59)||Ryan Getzlaf (74)||Rickard Rakell (7)|
|Adam Henrique (24)||Cam Fowler (28)||Rickard Rakell (59)||Adam Henrique (6)|
|Ondrej Kase (22)||Brandon Montour (27)||Ondrej Kase (46)||Ryan Getzlaf (5)|
- 54. Ryan Getzlaf — C17
- 58. John Gibson — G7
- 70. Rickard Rakell — LW13
- 129. Cam Fowler — D31
- 149. Brandon Montour — D37
- 235. Ondrej Kase — RW47
- 248. Adam Henrique — C54
- 249. Ryan Miller — G42
- 262. Ryan Kesler — C58
- 266. Hampus Lindholm — D69
Predicted Pacific Standings
With an elite group of defensemen and goalies, Anaheim should be as tough to score against as any team in the league. The key will be scoring enough goals to compete with the best of the Pacific Division. The Ducks gave up the third-fewest goals in the NHL last season but scored the 19th-most. That lack of goal scoring was the only thing holding them back from a division title last season and the narrative could repeat itself in 2019. Losing Perry is a blow to their offense but not nearly as big of a detriment as last season’s injury to Getzlaf. A full 82 games from their captain should provide a sizable boost to their offense. They have premier talent on the backend and in goal, but a mediocre group of forwards has Anaheim projected to finish behind the likes of Vegas, San Jose, and Los Angeles.
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