What Went Wrong: Anaheim Ducks

With the St. Louis Blues winning the Stanley Cup, 30 other teams are looking on with something to prove next season. And those 30 other teams, some more than others, are looking back on 2018-2019 with changes in mind and a little soul-searching to do. With that in mind, it’s time to delve into exactly what went wrong for some of these clubs – starting with the Anaheim Ducks.

The 2018-2019 season was not a pretty one for Anaheim, who missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011-2012.

They finished sixth in the Pacific Division and 13th in the Western Conference with a 35-37-10 record. They were a point behind the Vancouver Canucks and a point ahead of the Edmonton Oilers.

After opening the season with a 5-6-2 October, the Ducks picked up some wins in November and seemed okay throughout December before falling apart in January with a 2-6-2 record to start 2019. February wasn’t any better and the Ducks fired head coach Randy Carlyle, placing general manager Bob Murray in the post as interim coach.

Anaheim was 9-6-1 in March but it was too late and they missed the post-season.

So what happened?

For one, injuries.

Ryan Getzlaf, the team’s leading scorer, was limited to 67 games. He picked up just 14 goals in those 67 games, but back spasms were an issue. You have to expect the 34-year-old will have some core-strengthening work to do this summer in order to get back to proper game shape.

Jakob Silfverberg was second in scoring with 43 points in 73 games. If you’re spotting a pattern, you’re getting a sense for how things collapsed for the Ducks. Silfverberg managed a team-leading 24 goals – but that’s a team-leading 24 goals. Scoring 196 goals in a season, far from the league average of 244 goals, won’t cut it.

Rickard Rakell, another frequent leader of Anaheim’s offence, also saw a dip in production and scored just 18 goals.

Corey Perry, typically among the team’s offensive leaders, was limited to 31 games and scored just 10 points. He was ruled out of most of the year thanks to surgery for a torn meniscus and MCL injury. Returning in the latter half of the season wasn’t enough, though, and the Ducks bought out his contract. The former MVP is now an unrestricted free agent with something to prove.

The Perry buyout exemplifies more of what went wrong, as this was a team that couldn’t get anything going. Luckily, the Ducks have a range of wingers that can push for Perry’s spot and the drafting of Trevor Zegras is a good sign.

The Ducks are weighed down by older, larger players still and have some decisions to make in the near future, so you can bet the Perry buyout won’t be the last move for Anaheim. But they’ll have to tread carefully with that in mind, as the cap hit from the buyout will be atrocious in just a few years.

Some of Anaheim’s problems are the stuff of wear and tear, while some of it really has to do with a roster that has to put the puck in the net on a more dependable basis but cannot. There’s youth in the system and having Perry out of the picture may do the job, but he was out of the picture for most of 2018-2019 and they still narrowly found the net.

Maybe that will change under new head coach Dallas Eakins, who will have every chance to deal with the looming roster overhaul and remake the team in his own image.

If there’s any hope, it will be found with the young players in the system and a new coach ready to promote them. With a few extra pieces to gain through free agency, the Ducks could start 2019-2020 with a foundation to grow from. But the sooner they put 2018-2019 in the rearview, the better.

(Lead photo credit: NHL.com)

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