Join TSN in a 30 teams in 30 days tour of the NHL in preparation for the upcoming season. Teams will be unveiled in reverse order of the pre-season TSN.ca Power Rankings, and the Anaheim Ducks are up next. Get the lowdown on their off-season and the issues they face this season. Use the Your Call feature to give us your take on the Ducks!
2009-10: 39-32-11 (11th in West, missed the playoffs)
General Manager: Bob Murray (3rd Season)
Head Coach: Randy Carlyle (6th Season)
What they did in the off-season:
After 18 magnificent seasons and an overflowing trophy case, Scott Niedermayer decided that the time was right to hang up the blades and kick back and await his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. For a period of time it appeared as though he would be joined in retirement by Teemu Selanne, however the ‘Finnish Flash' decided to return for at least another year and re-signed with the Ducks. Mike Brown was moved in a draft day deal to the Maple Leafs, while Nathan Oystrick was bought out.
The Ducks hit pay dirt in the draft as third-ranked prospect Cam Fowler fell into their lap at the 12th spot, immediately giving Anaheim a future replacement on the PP for the retired Niedermayer. Toni Lydman was also added in free agency to bolster the Ducks blueline while Saku Koivu re-signed as well. The deals continued as Steve Eminger was sent to the Rangers in exchange for Aaron Voros and Ryan Hillier while James Wisniewski flew the coop in a trade with the Islanders. To fill his spot on the blue line the Ducks signed Andy Sutton to a two year deal. While it took much longer than hoped, Bobby Ryan eventually put pen to paper and agreed to a new five-year deal worth $25.5 million to keep the budding sniper in Southern California for the foreseeable future.
Biggest issue facing the team:
The song remains the same in Anaheim as once again the Ducks will need to address discipline issues if they hope to succeed in the up-coming season. Since capturing the Stanley Cup in 2007, the ‘Big, Bad Ducks' have established themselves as a team that plays on the margins every night. They are consistently among the most penalized teams in the league and led the NHL with 78 fighting majors last season. While there is something to be said for setting a physical tone, the Ducks repeatedly shot themselves in the foot last season taking bad penalties and being punished thanks to a porous PK that was in the bottom third of the league.
Losing Niedermayer will not help the situation and the newly acquired Lydman and Sutton will be under a great deal of pressure to fill the skates of one of the most decorated players in the history of the game. The Ducks will be in a life or death struggle all season long to make the playoffs in the very tight Western Conference and they cannot afford to be done in by a lack of discipline yet again.
Player to watch:
Ryan Getzlaf faced plenty of criticism in Orange County when he revealed that an injury that he suffered just prior to the Olympics lingered all year and eventually caused the premature end to his season. Ducks fans were not terribly thrilled that their top player appeared to place more value in his Olympic participation than he did on helping the team that paid his salary earn a playoff berth.
When healthy, Getzlaf is among the most dynamic players in the game, however injuries severely limited his effectiveness last season. He should be fit once again to start the season and should resume his reign of terror on opposing defencemen along with running mate Corey Perry. Getting Bobby Ryan signed will certainly help but with Joffrey Lupul likely to miss the beginning of the season, Getzlaf will be under immense pressure to make up for lost time and carry the Ducks offensively.
For additional analysis, be sure to read Scott Cullen's fantasy take.