NHL

2010-11 NHL Previews: Anaheim Ducks

| by Sports Nickel

2009-10 RECORD:

39-32-11/89 pts

4th in Pacific Division

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This judge looked an inmate square in the eyes and did something that left the entire courtroom in tears:

11th in Western Conf.

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GM: Bob Murray

COACH: Randy Carlyle

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2010-11 PAYROLL:

$48,674,000 ($11.0M below cap)

The Anaheim Ducks missed the playoffs last year for the first time since the lockout wiped out the 2004-05 season. They watched as their California brethren upstaged them, both Los Angeles and San Jose making the playoffs; worse still, they had to watch as perennial doormat Phoenix rose up to discover a winning formula… and they finished the year with just one more point than division cellar-dweller Dallas.

Things continue their transition for the franchise just three years removed from winning the Stanley Cup. None of their vaunted blueline from that Cup run remains with the squad anymore — Chris Pronger is in Philadelphia, Francois Beauchemin is in Toronto and Scott Niedermayer finally retired this offseason after 18 NHL seasons. Once their greatest area of strength, the defensive end is going to be the biggest question mark heading into 2010 for the Ducks.

After an offseason that was spent largely watching players head out of town, the Ducks have flipped their fortunes in the Pacific Division — and it isn’t for the better. It is likely going to be another long season at the Pond for this franchise…

#
POS
Name
Height
Weight
Age

39
F
Matt Beleskey
6′ 0″
204
22

33
F
Jason Blake  
5′ 10″
186
37

50
F
Troy Bodie  
6′ 4″
196
25

20
F
Ryan Carter  
6′ 2″
200
27

28
F
Kyle Chipchura  
6′ 2″
206
24

15
F
Ryan Getzlaf
6′ 4″
220
25

12
F
Josh Green  
6′ 4″
225
32

 
F
Jason Jaffray  
6′ 1″
195
29

11
F
Saku Koivu
5′ 10″
178
35

14
F
Joffrey Lupul  
6′ 1″
206
26

22
F
Todd Marchant  
5′ 10″
179
37

16
F
George Parros
6′ 5″
222
30

10
F
Corey Perry  
6′ 3″
206
25

9
F
Bobby Ryan  
6′ 2″
208
23

8
F
Teemu Selanne  
6′ 0″
196
40

42
F
Dan Sexton  
5′ 10″
170
23

 
F
Trevor Smith
6′ 1″
195
25

 
F
Aaron Voros  
6′ 4″
215
29

21
D
Sheldon Brookbank  
6′ 1″
200
29

53
D
Brett Festerling  
6′ 1″
210
24

 
D
Toni Lydman  
6′ 1″
210
32

60
D
Brendan Mikkelson  
6′ 3″
205
23

5
D
Luca Sbisa  
6′ 2″
204
20

 
D
Andy Sutton  
6′ 6″
245
35

 
D
Danny Syvret
5′ 11″
203
25

17
D
Lubomir Visnovsky  
5′ 10″
188
34

1
G
Jonas Hiller  
6′ 2″
190
28

31
G
Curtis McElhinney  
6′ 2″
193
27

MOST IMPORTANT COG IN 2010: Ryan Getzlaf (forward) — The 25-year-old center needs to take the next step as a leader after the retirement of Niedermayer and play as big a game as he is capable of playing. He is the anchor of the young corps that was instrumental in driving this team to its Cup three years ago, and Getzlaf must recapture that form after being sidelined in February last year with an ankle injury. He had the potential to produce a 100+ point season, but will the weight of a greater leadership role distract his scoring and set-up touch and stunt his development as an elite pivot? How well he shoulders the added responsibility is going to set the tone for the Ducks’ season… 

KEY ACQUISITION: Toni Lydman (D — FA from Buffalo) — The 32-year-old Finn was a stalwart on the Buffalo blueline over the past five years, a key contributor in their 2006 playoff run and a player Anaheim will turn to in hopes that he will be the answer to the defensive talent sieve of the past few seasons. Lydman doesn’t have much offensive upside, but with the windfall of offensive talent — Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, Teemu Selanne et. al. — on the front end the Ducks won’t depend on Lydman to play much two-way hockey. He is going to be playing high-end minutes on the west coast, and how well he can keep the traffic in check in front of Jonas Hiller will determine where the Ducks rank in goals allowed when the season is done.

KEY DEPARTURE: Scott Niedermayer (D — retirement) — The captain of the Ducks since the NHL returned from its lockout and he signed with Anaheim as a free agent from New Jersey, Niedermayer was instrumental in the Stanley Cup coming to California for the first time in its history. His leadership, two-way defensive skills and vision on the ice were unmatched by 99% of the defensemen that have ever played the game at the NHL level, a truly transcendent talent that will be difficult if not impossible for the Ducks to replace. But replace they must, because at 37 years old and after 1263 regular-season and 202 playoff games he has hung up his skates for the sweet relaxation of the early retiree.

KEY YOUNGSTER: Cam Fowler (D/18 years old) – The kid from Windsor, Ontario is going to have a real opportunity to step up and gain some significant defensive minutes at some point during this season. When he was in attendance at the 2010 NHL Draft, his slip all the way to 12th and Anaheim — behind fellow defensemen Erik Gudbranson and Dylan McIlrath — it was visible in his visage just how disgusted he was with the other teams’ assessment of his talent. But in landing in Anaheim, at the current stage of turnover in its history, he has a real opportunity to put his own spin on the two-way defensive position that has become a stalwart in the Anaheim gameplan over the past half-decade and develop into a top-pairing defenseman in his own right.

OUTLOOK: Last year Anaheim was dealt a harsh dose of early tee times for the first time in a long time. From their postseason upset special in 2003 to their Cup victory in 2007, the franchise was truly Mighty in its performance as a Western Conference contender throughout the decade. With the drain of veteran talent through free agency or retirement on the back end, the onus is now on Jonah Hiller and a green blueline corps of retreads and rookies to shore up the loss of three of the best defensemen in the NHL. And with only Curtis McElhinney behind Hiller after the Swissman’s play last season forced management’s hand and led to the trade of Jean-Sebastien Giguere to Toronto at the end of January last year, and thus it becomes even more imperative that the 28-year-old have a strong season in net.

In general the Ducks are either getting old at positions, looking at uncertain futures with their young players as contract years near or hoping to bleed teenagers in at key positions straight out of juniors. It is going to be a recipe either for catching lightning in a bottle or for sputtering right into the basement of the division. The decision to keep with the Teemu Selanne/Saku Koivu Finnish connection up front — they will likely link up together on the second line, with Koivu centering the unit, 37-year-old Jason Blake on his right and Selanne on his left in an Old Goat line — is a major gamble. That trio and third-line C Todd Marchant represents one-third of the top four forward lines that is age 35 or older. Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan can work all their magic possible on the top line, but the team must be deeper and remain healthy behind them for Anaheim to remain in the battle just for an eight seed.

It’s a far cry from the glory days in Anaheim, but if the youth movement is enacted properly and the few acquisitions fill their intended roles as well as management could possibly ask there is hope for the future. With the rest of the depth in the Pacific, though, it’s going to be a battle with another divisional rival trying to redefine its identy that really sets the tone for the 2010-11 season in the Pond. Anaheim is fighting a losing battle and will be in a photo finish with Dallas to try to stay out of the cellar…

FINAL PREDICTION:

  • 34 wins
  • 82 points
  • 5th in Pacific/13th in Western Conference

2010-11 NHL Previews: Anaheim Ducks is a post originally from: SportsNickel.com - In Sports We Trust

 

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