Join TSN in a 30 teams in 30 days tour of the NHL in preparation for the upcoming season. The first team up are the Anaheim Ducks. Get the lowdown on their off-season and the issues they face this season. And use the Your Call feature to give us your take on the Ducks.
While the Ducks' 2010-11 season ended sooner than they had hoped, there is a lot to be excited about for the next season on the pond.
Corey Perry broke out last season en route to winning both the Hart and Rocket Richard trophies. He'll be leaned upon as a leader this year and will draw more attention than in previous seasons when teams divided their attention between Perry and fellow snipers Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan.
Here's a look at what's in store for this season.
Additions: C Mark Bell, D Mathieu Carle, C Andrew Cogliano, G Jeff Deslauriers, RW Andrew Gordon, LW Jean-Francois Jacques, D Bryan Rodney, D Matt Smaby.
Subtractions: C Kyle Chipchura, C Josh Green, LW Jason Jaffray, D Andreas Lilja, C Todd Marchant, D Mark Mitera, D Andy Sutton.
Prospect Report: Cam Fowler and Luca Sbisa are logging regular minutes on the back end and after dealing blueline prospects Jake Gardiner and Mark Mitera over the last few months, the Ducks will be looking up front for their immediate future.
The time may be now for former first-rounders Emerson Etem and Kyle Palmieri. Etem tore up the WHL with Medicine Hat last year to the tune of 45 goals in 65 games, while Palmieri put up a very respectable 51 points in 62 games with the AHL's Syracuse Crunch. Palmieri's AHL performance earned him a stint with the Ducks in November, when he put up a goal in 10 games with the big club.
Breakout Player To Watch: It may seem silly to expect a 'breakout season' from a player that's coming off his third consecutive 30-goal campaign, but Bobby Ryan may be ready for the kind of jump Corey Perry enjoyed in 2010-11.
With defenders increasingly worried about Perry as an offensive threat, it could open up space for the young power forward and see him jump from his 34 goals last season to the 50-plus plateau. If the Ducks' power play becomes less about Teemu Selanne (depending on his return to the lineup) and more focused on Ryan, he could see a huge jump on his five goal, five assist output on the man-advantage from last year.
Marquee Matchup: Jan. 13 at Edmonton - Andrew Cogliano steps into Rexall Place for the first time as a visitor. After scoring 11 goals and 24 assists, the Ducks acquired the speedy centre from the Oilers for a second-round pick in the off-season. The Ducks are hoping for Cogliano to regain his scoring touch and he'd like nothing better than to do it against his former club.
Other Dates To Watch: Oct. 7 and 8 - Ducks kick off the NHL season in Helsinki and Stockholm. Oct. 29 - Ducks return to Nashville for a first-round rematch. Dec. 17 - Teemu Selanne's long-awaited return to Winnipeg (should he re-sign in Anaheim).
Reason To Get Excited: A healthy Ryan Getzlaf can only help the Ducks. It was in his absence that Perry started lighting up the scoreboard, so if Getzlaf is able to put in 80-plus games this season, the Ducks could challenge for the Pacific Division crown and avoid a tough first-round playoff match-up.
Home Hardware: Jonas Hiller was among the Top 5 in save percentage last season, but missed 22 games down the stretch. A healthy Hiller between the pipes could be the bump the Ducks need to join the Western Conference elite. If that happens, look for the Swiss netminder to get serious consideration for the Vezina Trophy.
Hot Seat: Heading into his contract year, it will be interesting to see how the Ducks use veteran defender Francois Beauchemin. He's a steady, veteran presence on the back end and is well liked by the Ducks' brass that brought him back for a second tour of duty. But they gave up a lot to get him and he'll face stiff competition for top minutes from young and talented defenders Cam Fowler and Luca Sbisa. If his play (or the team) falters, could he be one of the first names on the block?
Your! Call: Can the Ducks unseat San Jose and win the Pacific for the first time since winning the Cup?
The Ducks could see a bump in their point totals this season with a healthy Getzlaf and Hiller, but the key to a Pacific Divsion crown could lie more with the rest of the division than it does with the Ducks.
Only four points separated the Ducks from the last-place Dallas Stars, with four out of the division's five teams making the playoffs. So should the roster shake-ups in L.A. or San Jose falter or if ownership issues in Dallas and Phoenix take a negative affect on those clubs, the Ducks could pull ahead of the pack.
Will the Ducks need the help? Or are they good enough with the pieces they have to compete with the Sharks and the rest of the West?