A trip to the Western Conference finals in 2016-17 added more playoff experience for the Anaheim Ducks\’ big two stars, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. The Ducks, with head coach Randy Carlyle back behind the bench for the first time since 2011, the Ducks had a 105 point season, winning the Pacific division. Believing that their team can win with their 2016-17 roster, GM Bob Murray didn\’t make many changes to the team. To prove it, here\’s a look at what the Ducks did this offseason.
Notable additions: G Ryan Miller, G Reto Berra, D Francois Beauchemin, D Steve Oleksy, C Derek Grant, C Dennis Rasmussen.
Notable subtractions: G Jonathan Bernier, D Shea Theodore, D Clayton Stoner, C Nate Thompson.
Here are my projected lines for the forwards.
Patrick Eaves – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano – Ryan Kesler – Jakob Silfverberg
Nick Ritchie – Rickard Rakell – Ondrej Kase
Nicolas Kerdiles – Antoine Vermette – Jared Boll/Dennis Rasmussen.
Even though he\’s a right winger, Patrick Eaves played so well with Getzlaf and Perry in 21 games in 2016-17, that I think he\’ll stay at left wing in 2017-18. The second line is straight \”forward\”. Even though I think Rickard Rakell is a top six forward, I also think he can run a line well. Kase, a sophomore, and Ritchie, a 2nd and a half NHLer form a kid line for Anaheim. Kerdiles just breaks the roster, assuming he has a good training camp. Vermette is a solid 4th line center. Rasmussen is a nice power forward, and Boll is a tough grinder, but there isn\’t room for both of them to start. I think Rasmussen will play in more games in 2017-18. Chris Wagner, Derek Grant and Logan Shaw will either be scratches and injury replacements, or clear waivers and go to the AHL.
Here are my projected defensive pairs.
Cam Fowler – Sami Vatanen
Hampus Lindholm – Josh Manson
Kevin Bieksa – Brandon Montour
With both Vatanen and Lindholm likely starting the season on the IR after surgery this offseason, Francois Beauchemin will start the season on the third pair. Either Korbinian Holzer or Steve Oleksy will join Beauchemin on the third pair during their recovery. They traded Shea Theodore to Vegas so they could keep Vatanen and Manson after the expansion draft, and lose Clayton Stoner instead. Bieksa and Beauchemin could split time after Vatanen and Lindholm returns, since Bieksa is a righty, and is playing on the left side, because Montour, their best prospect, is a righty.
Twenty-four year old John Gibson is entering his third full season, and his second as a full-time starter. In case he struggles, the Ducks brought in 37 year old Ryan Miller to be a backup and a 1B to Gibson. Miller has been a starter all of his career, including the 2010 Vezina trophy. If one of those two go down with an injury, Reto Berra will be called up from the AHL, where he\’ll be the starter. He should clear waivers.
The Ducks are still a big playoff
contenders. But, with the rise of the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, that will make it harder for the Ducks. I think they will have 101 points in 2017-18, a four point drop from their 2016-17 total. They will finish second in the Pacific division, making the playoffs.
Check out this YouTube video preview I also made.