The 2019-2020 season will be upon us sooner than we think and that’s why it’s time to start looking at how your favourite teams will do and how your not-so-favourites will stink up the joint.
Up first, the Anaheim Ducks.
We’ve already talked about new head coach Dallas Eakins and how he’s got his work cut out for him. The Ducks are hoping last season’s playoff miss was an anomaly and it’ll be up to Eakins to prove he can put his stamp on this club.
Anaheim didn’t do a whole lot in the off-season and it looks like some prospects will get a big chance to shine. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
Ryan Getzlaf led the team in scoring in 2018-2019, posting just 48 points. The Ducks want more from their captain this season, especially since that total was his worst since an abbreviated 2012-2013. With that in mind, it looks like the new coach has plans.
“Ryan Getzlaf is our captain and he’s been an excellent one, but we’re looking for people to step up and to help him with that,” Eakins said. “Whether you’re an older guy or a younger guy, someone has helped you along the way, made a positive influence on you, and I believe it’s for everybody to chip in on that.”
The Ducks will be transitioning heavily this season and a lot of that has to do with two critical absences. Ryan Kesler will probably miss the entire season after hip surgery, while Corey Perry is now a Dallas Star.
That leaves openings up front, which isn’t a bad thing when you consider that mix of guys put the Ducks dead last in NHL scoring and shots last year.
The complement of prospects on the way could mean good things for Rickard Rakell, who missed 13 games last year and had a disappointing stat line. That said, Rakell could be on the way to resurgence if he’s paired with the right people. Last season, he put in a point-per-game run with Sam Steel and Jakob Silfverberg to end the season.
In terms of the Calder Trophy, some people are rattling Maxime Comtois around. The winger is typically ranked behind the likes of Cale Makar and Jack Hughes in terms of probable 2019-2020 output, but this dude can go. His stats through 10 games last season in Anaheim were quality at seven points and he’ll be back for more.
Defensively, the Ducks pulled out of 2018-2019 with a drop-off in goals against. That’s not something they’re proud of, especially in light of their offensive weakness, so you have to imagine Eakins is going to tighten up while finding more goals. Does that mean Anaheim opens the floodgates and becomes a run-and-gun team? Not likely.
The Ducks have six defenceman signed right now: Michael Del Zotto, Cam Fowler, Brendan Guhle, Korbinian Holzer, Hampus Lindholm, and Josh Manson. The group fetches about $18 million altogether. There’s a cluster of possibilities signed to the minors, including Chris Wideman. Jacob Larson could be due a promotion to the bigs.
But it’s hard to identify a standout or a star among the Ducks’ D. That may not be detrimental, as Eakins has stated intentions to dig in and do things by committee.
John Gibson is the clear starter, with Ryan Miller the veteran backup. That’s a good mix and Gibson could be ready for a quality year. Anthony Stolarz is in the wings.
Gibson posted the worst year of his career in 2018-2019, with a 2.84 goals against average and a .917 save percentage. The 26-year-old is the guy for the Ducks and will be for the long haul, however, so last season is already well in the rearview mirror. The challenge ahead is redemption, returning to the post-season and pushing Stolarz to be all that he can be.
The Ducks undeniably have their work cut out for them in 2019-2020. But Eakins’ optimism and outlook could be the ace in the whole, which could consequently push Anaheim back into the post-season and back to some semblance of respectability.
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