2008/09: 42-33-7 – 91 pts (2nd in Pacific, 8th in West)
Arrived: Joffrey Lupul (PHI), Luca Sbisa (PHI), Saku Koivu (MTL), Nick Boynton (FLA), Evgeny Artyukhin (TAM),
Departed: Chris Pronger (PHI), Drew Miller (TAM), Francois Beauchemin (TOR)
Anaheim roared to the finish line last year with a 10-2-1 record, locking up the 8th seed in the West and becoming the team that no one wanted to face in the playoffs. They steamrolled the Sharks in the first round before losing to Detroit in seven games. The off-season was just as exciting, as defensive anchor Chris Pronger was shipped to the Flyers for Luca Sbisa and Joffrey Lupul, who the Ducks once traded for Pronger. While this does give them another scorer up front, it will create a huge vacuum on the blue line. Scott Niedermayer has lost a step as evident by his -8 rating last year, and Boynton is no Pronger. The Ducks season will hinge on their defence, as no one doubts their forward core. They boast arguably the best top six unit in the league (Getzlaf, Perry, Ryan, Selanne, Koivu, Lupul), and Artyukhin and Parros will ensure that no one messes with their skill players. Anaheim could finish anywhere from 4th to 8th in the West depending on their defence and goaltending situation, but they are definitely a playoff bound team.
FANTASY WORTHY FORWARDS
Ryan Getzlaf (C) – Getzlaf has established himself as a premier fantasy player over the last two campaigns, scoring 173 points while recording 215 penalty minutes and a +37 rating. No one else can provide that kind of production in every category, and he will probably be off the board before the first seven or eight picks of the draft are made. With two elite scoring lines, teams will not be able to focus on Getzlaf without being punished, which should allow him to finally break that elusive 100 point barrier.
Corey Perry (RW) – Perry broke out last season, combining with Getzlaf to give Anaheim a dynamic one-two punch. He is ranked #5 in Yahoo’s pre-draft rankings, so there are huge expectations this season. I think this is a little high, and I would not be drafting him in the top 10 when guys like Getzlaf and Iginla are still available. I project 35 goals, 45 assists and 100 penalty minutes for Perry.
Bobby Ryan (RW) – If it was not for Steve Mason, Ryan would have been a shoo in for the Calder Trophy last season. Even though he played in only 64 games, he scored 31 goals and added 26 assists. With a year of NHL seasoning under his belt, expect those assists totals to improve, and Ryan could put up 85 points. No longer will he be “the guy drafted after Crosby”.
Teemu Selanne (RW) – Health is always a concern with the 39 year old Finn. However, he should team up with fellow countryman Saku Koivu to produce some magic. He will probably only play in 70 games to limit the wear and tear on his body, but should be good for almost a point per game.
Saku Koivu (C) – Koivu spurned more lucrative offers from other teams to team up with Selanne, and will help give Anaheim that secondary scoring they were missing last year. Like Selanne, health is a concern, but he should be good for close to a point per game.
Joffrey Lupul – Lupul is on his second tour of duty with Anaheim after scoring 28 goals in 2005-06, his best professional season. Expectations are high, and he should be good for 60 points. As you can see, there are four naturals right wingers among this top six, so we should see a couple of these players earn LW status.
DRAFT WORTHY DEFENCEMEN
Scott Niedermayer – Even at his advanced age Niedermayer is a solid fantasy performer, and his smooth skating allows him to keep pace with the rest of the league. Last year, his 59 points and 70 penalty minutes were an excellent combination, although you expect a positive plus minus from a guy like him. The loss of Pronger will hurt but he should be good for 50 points.
Ryan Whitney / James Wisniewski – These two players were late additions to the Ducks last year, and both performed very well. Whitney scored 10 points in 20 games, but only had 5 on the powerplay. Wisniewski on the other hand had 7 of his 11 points on the powerplay. Keep an eye on this situation to see who gets the majority of the powerplay time, although both players could be fantasy worthy.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
Jonas Hiller / JS Gigeure – This really is an unfortunate situation for fantasy owners, as a clear cut number one on Anaheim would have tremendous value. However, it is a 1A/1B situation with Hiller probably holding down the starting job to start the season. He will be on a very short leash and could easily lose playing time to Gigeure. As a fantasy owner I do not want to have to use two roster spots to get the production of one goalie so I am staying away from these two.
Bonus: Not content with being the second-most penalized team in the league last year, the Ducks added Evegeny Artyukhin and his 150 penalty minutes to their roster. It will be a tight battle between them and last year’s number one, Philadelphia, who added the always dirty Pronger to their roster.