Fantasy Puck Preview: Anaheim Ducks

Scott Cullen
9/4/2008 1:37:38 PM
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One season removed from champion status, the Ducks still have a very strong team, particularly if they are going to have Scott Niedermayer and possibly Teemu Selanne for the entire season.

While Niedermayer and Selanne are marquee names with years of experience, the best Duck from a fantasy perspective is rising star centre Ryan Getzlaf who, at 23, is coming off a season in which he scored better than a point-per-game, racked up an impressive plus-32 and played with enough edge to his game to add 94 penalty minutes.

Since Getzlaf's career is still on the way up, and since his teammates have been marveling at his skills ever since he arrived in the league, there should be no hesitation to take him if he's available in the latter stages of the first round.

As Getzlaf goes, expect Corey Perry to continue to rise in value as well. Perry was the Ducks' leading goal-scorer last season and, like Getzlaf, he provides penalty minutes to go along with his point production. Give him a look a few rounds later.

Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere is a hair below the elite fantasy goaltenders because he isn't the type to play 70-plus games a season; however, Giguere's consistently strong numbers, to say nothing of a high-calibre defence corps in front of him, make him well worth a starting position on your fantasy squad.

Even at 38, Selanne is a force to be reckoned with. Making the leap of faith judgment that the Ducks will have Selanne signed and in the fold to start the season, it's not unreasonable to think Selanne will carry over at a level similar to last year's partial season production and that means 35-plus goals is still in the realm of possibility.

Ready to go for a full season, Scott Niedermayer has to be better than he was in 2007-2008, when he had 25 points in 48 games, coupled with his first minus rating since 1996-1997. A full year of Niedermayer means good things for the Ducks as a team and, presumably, for Niedermayer individually.

Niedermayer's tag-team partner on the blueline, Chris Pronger, will probably appreciate the help. Under a heavy workload last season, Pronger turned in 43 points; his lowest total of the past decade (not including 2002-2003 when he played five games).

The third-ranking member on the blueline would be the guy who had the best year of the bunch last year -- Mathieu Schneider. Ostensibly brought in to replace the waffling Niedermayer, Schneider impressed with 39 points and a plus-22 in 65 games. It's widely anticipated that Schneider will be moved before the season (helping to create salary room for Selanne, for one thing), so his production will very much depend on whomever he plays with.

Chris Kunitz has proven to be a solid complementary scoring winger, scoring 110 points and picking up 161 penalty minutes over the last two seasons. While he's not a first-line fantasy winger, he's certainly worth of selection as you try to fill out your roster.

Likewise, newcomer Brendan Morrison is coming off his first injury-plagued season and a fresh start in Anaheim may be the right tonic for the 33-year-old, who had topped 50 points for six straight seasons before scoring 25 points in 39 games last year. Don't forget about him.

If anyone is going to have a breakthrough season for the Ducks, look to rookie winger Bobby Ryan. While the 21-year-old only had 10 points in 23 games with Anaheim last season, he was better than a point-per-game in the AHL during both the regular season and the playoffs.

A spot in the top six forwards is there for Ryan's taking and his potential makes him well worth a late-round selection in many leagues.

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