The Anaheim Ducks will start 2019-2020 with a new head coach in Dallas Eakins and that’s where the fun begins. Eakins was the bench boss of the Edmonton Oilers from 2013 to 2015, posting a 36-63-14 record. That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.
And believe me, Eakins has his work cut out for him. Anaheim missed the playoffs in 2018-2019, the first time in six seasons, and they ranked last in the league in goals with just 196.
Ryan Getzlaf led the squad in scoring in 2018-2019, but his 48 points weren’t exactly the stuff of an offensive superpower. It’s time for Anaheim to push the needle.
But the Ducks didn’t exactly stack the roster in the off-season. Barring any surprises, Anaheim haven’t signed any free agent forwards who’ll start the new year. That means more pressure on the likes of Sam Steel and Max Comtois.
Winger Troy Terry should also see a boost in ice time. He skated in 32 games last season, putting together a nice little campaign with 13 points. There’s a lot of upside to this 21-year-old and he’s a gem on the shootout.
To draw this full circle, Eakins has experience with many of Anaheim’s young cats. That means he’ll know how to integrate them with the likes of Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell to produce a more composed offensive approach.
“Some people think we’re just going to put all those young players in the lineup,” Eakins said. “But those players who were in San Diego, they’re certainly going to have to earn their spots, and hopefully those spots are going to be very hard to earn because we’re a competitive team.”
The Ducks will also start 2019-2020 with two noteworthy omissions: Ryan Kesler and Corey Perry. Perry had his contract bought out and will skate for the Stars on a one-year deal, while Kesler is expected to miss the season after hip surgery.
That cranks open two roster spots, which is where Eakins is hoping things get competitive.
“For me, when you look around at championship teams, I don’t care what sport you’re in, competition is usually the life blood of the organization, and that is everything to me,” Eakins said. “It makes everyone better, so I’m all for the competition up and down the lineup, just not for one or two spots. We want it right up and down the roster.”
So what does hockey look like in Anaheim this coming season?
The Ducks may benefit from addition by subtraction, which should give the young guns a chance to shine and might put Getzlaf’s diminishing offensive returns in perspective. They’ve got solid goaltending in John Gibson, a sure candidate for a bounce-back season in 2019-2020.
Eakins’ team could be a playoff team. They’re far from a sure thing, but these guys have the size and skill to produce more offence than they did in 2018-2019 and hopefully retire that year as an anomaly rather than a new norm.
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