September 23, 2013 by andymisek
I’m sure lower than most would assume, the Anaheim Ducks are next on the NHL Season Countdown. Ducks will be getting much younger this season with the emergence of a few young players. Emerson Etem, Peter Holland and Kyle Palmieri will be looking for larger roles while Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne might see roles diminish. It should be an interesting year for the Anaheim Ducks.
The Ducks opened the off season by trading Bobby Ryan to the Ottawa Senators for sophomore Jakob Silfverberg, prospect Stefan Noesen (21st overall in 2011) and a 2014 first round pick. Silfverberg will make an immediate impact playing on the first line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Noesen on the other hand, will develop in the minors after notching over a PPG for the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL.
With the 26th overall pick in the 2013 draft, the Ducks drafted defenseman Shea Theodore who scored a respectable 50 points in 71 games in 2012-2013 with a disappointing -24. Plus/minus should garner little attention as it is a team based stat, but it is discouraging that despite such high point totals for a defenseman he was still a very high minus. Theodore will be back with the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL next season.
Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are one of the league’s best one-two punches. Getzlaf has a great two-way game and could be considered one of the best centers in the Western Conference while Corey Perry could be considered one of the best snipers in the Western Conference. The addition of Silfverberg to the top line will give them a different feel. While Bobby Ryan played a similar physical style to Getzlaf and Perry, Silfverberg is more of a finesse player. Will be interesting to see how they mesh.
NHL.com has Teemu Selanne on the 2nd line with Nick Bonino and Emerson Etem. With all respect to Selanne (one of the games bests), he shouldn’t be playing on the 2nd line. His age seemed to be catching up with him last season and he wasn’t as speedy as he has been in the past. Kyle Palmieri deserves a shot at that 2nd line with Etem. Their speed and skill would be more threatening than Selanne at his age and he would slow down Etem.
Another young player receiving a larger role is Peter Holland. Palmieri, Holland and Etem will one day make up the 2nd line, but for now Holland will play his first full season in the NHL (appeared in 21 games in 2013). Holland will be flanked by Dustin Penner, who returned to the Duck this offseason, and Teemu Selanne (again my opinion, NHL.com says Palmieri). Holland will be lining-up with and learning from these two veterans in his rookie season.
Sheldon Souray is a great come-back story. After being buried in the AHL during 2010-2011, Souray made his comeback with the Dallas Stars before landing in Anaheim where his rocket shot quarterbacks the Ducks power play. The 37 year old should be paired with Francois Beauchemin as the Ducks (slightly slow and up-in-age) top two.
Cam Fowler is another year older and another year more experienced. He will be playing in the top four with Ben Lovejoy or Luca Sbisa. With three campaigns under his belt, Fowler should be ready to take the next step in his development. Once Souray departs, he will be playing top line minutes and is the future of the Duck’s defense.
Jonas Hiller is the starting goalie for the Ducks despite splitting time with Viktor Fasth during 2013. It appears his issues with vertigo are behind him and he is ready to recapture his position as the Ducks number one tender. Fasth is a more than capable back-up and will challenge Hiller for his starting job. A little healthy competition is good. That extra pressure could push Hiller to play above the level we have seen in the past.
The 2013 second place finish in the Western Conference may have set expectation a little high for the Anaheim Ducks. Don’t get me wrong, they are definitely a playoff team. The chances of them winning the division again seems remote. A slow start from Los Angeles will have less effect in an 82 game season. Once Anaheim makes the playoffs, they are capable of going deep and there is plenty for Anaheim to be excited about despite our 9th overall prediction.