California hockey is at an all-time low right now. None of the three teams are good and the battle of them is to see which one can get better quicker. After this past offseason, the Ducks have dropped in that leaderboard. They decided to be as quiet as quiet can be. They brought back captain Ryan Getzlaf, but that was about it. Anaheim has a ton of cap space, so the potential moves are never over. But for now, the team appears to be trusting a group of young players, something NHL teams rarely do.
Offseason additions: F Buddy Robinson, D Greg Pateryn.
Offseason subtractions: F Danton Heinen, G Ryan Miller, D Haydn Fleury, F Carter Rowney, F David Backes.
So much of the hype surrounding the Ducks this year sits on the shoulders of Trevor Zegras. He posted 18 points in seven World Juniors games, then had 21 in 17 AHL appearances. This earned Zegras an NHL stint, where he scored just three goals but with 10 assists in 24 games. He will be either a first or second line center this season. He will be paired with Max Comtois, who was a World Junior star of his own. At age 22, Comtois led the Ducks with 16 goals and 33 points. However, he did ride an unsustainable 17 percent shooting rate. Finishing off a potential line of World Juniors legend is Troy Terry. He dominated the AHL and has carved out a decent path to becoming a top-nine winger. In 48 games last year, Terry scored 20 points. Back on a one year deal is Ryan Getzlaf. The franchise icon has completely dwindled down. He scored just five times last season, in the worst division in hockey. The interesting part of him going into the season is if the Ducks will trade Getzlaf. The same could be said for Rickard Rakell, who has a manageable cap hit and is a year away from free agency. The former back-to-back 30-goal scorer had just nine last season, although his 19 assists led the club. Also on the downswing is Jakob Silfverberg, which is bad because instead of trading him for a bundle, they extended him longterm a few deadlines ago. Uh oh! Silfverberg had just 16 points in 2020-21. Like Silfverberg, Adam Henrique is signed for three more seasons. He was not unloaded to Seattle like many thought after scoring 12 goals this past year. Anaheim really missed offense production from former first rounder Isac Lundestrom. He killed penalties and was fine overall defensively, but had just nine points. The very same thing could be said for Sam Steel, who finished with just 12 points. Both need big seasons as they enter the final year on their entry level deals. Max Jones, drafted with Steel, was second on the team with 100 hits. Still, his seven goals was a bit underwhelming. Derek Grant has been a great penalty killing fourth liner for a bit now. His 15 points does not stand out, but it was seventh on the team among forwards. The final spot in the lineup is between Alex Volkov and Nic Deslauriers. Deslauriers is a physical force but that is about it. Volkov emerged as a solid two-way player after being acquired at the deadline from Tampa Bay. He put up eight points in 18 games, which is saying something compared to everyone else’s numbers. Also in the mix are Buddy Robinson and Sam Carrick. Carrick had six points in 13 games last year, while Robinson had none in nine games for Calgary.
The struggling Anaheim defensive corps lost Haydn Fleury to Seattle in the expansion draft, weakening it even more. The healthiest of them in 2020-21 was Cam Fowler. Fowler is still a solid player, but his contract is awful. His 23 points led Anaheim defenders by eight, over Kevin Shattenkirk. Shattenkirk’s best day as a Duck so far has been his day with the Stanley Cup from his time with Tampa Bay. He was a fine two-way defender for the Ducks last season. The health of Hampus Lindholm will be key this season, especially as he will be entering free agency. Lindholm missed all but 18 games in 2020-21. Josh Manson had a rough season in 2020-21 and is also a year from the open market. Manson appeared in just five more games than Lindholm did. 2020 sixth overall pick Jamie Drysdale was rushed to the NHL last year and still put up eight points in 24 games. He is talented but should be sheltered more. A healthy Manson will help that. Jacob Larsson is yet to prove himself as a legitimate NHL defenseman. He has struggled defensively and does not put up points. Kodie Curran tore up Sweden as a point-per-game defender. He went to the AHL last season, putting him 13 points in 24 games. Josh Mahura and Brendan Guhle have been around the Ducks organization for the past few years, but neither have been outstanding.
After a second consecutive bad season, John Gibson has fallen down the goaltending power rankings. Yes, the Ducks were awful last year. But Gibson posted much worse numbers than fellow goalies on bad defensive teams like Connor Hellebuyck, Thatcher Demko, and Cal Petersen. His .903 save percentage and 2.98 GAA were unimpressive. With Ryan Miller retiring, Anthony Stolarz will rise to the backup role. He was great in nine games last season. He posted a .926 save percentage with a 2.20 GAA.
Jakob Silfverberg – Ryan Getzlaf – Rickard Rakell
Max Comtois – Trevor Zegras – Troy Terry
Sam Steel – Adam Henrique – Max Jones
Isac Lundestrom – Derek Grant – Alex Volkov
Extras: Nic Deslauriers, Sam Carrick
Hampus Lindholm – Josh Manson
Cam Fowler – Kevin Shattenkirk
Jacob Larsson – Jamie Drysdale
Extras: Kodie Curran, Josh Mahura, Brendan Guhle
The Ducks fell asleep this offseason. After how bad they were last year, doing that probably was not the smartest decision. They could have rented out their cap space, but chose to not get free draft picks. Anaheim could have been an even more Western Arizona, but instead will not reap the benefits. The Ducks have the talent, but the talent has not given them results yet. Will they this year? No matter what, it won’t end in a playoff birth.