2008-09: 42-33-7 (8th in the West – Eliminated in Conference SF by Red Wings)
TSN.ca Pre-season Power Ranking: 11th
General Manager: Bob Murray (2nd Season)
Head Coach: Randy Carlyle (5th Season)
What They Did in the off-season:
Despite reaching the second round by upsetting the top-seeded San Jose Sharks, the Ducks underwent a complete roster overhaul in the off-season.
Facing a difficult cap situation, the team shed salary by sending former Hart and Norris trophy winning defenceman Chris Pronger to the Philadelphia Flyers for Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa and Ryan Dingle. Scott Niedermayer, Erik Christensen, Todd Marchant, James Wisniewski and Brett Federling were all re-signed while Rob Niedermayer, Francois Beauchemin and Brett Hedican were all allowed to walk.
The Ducks added some offensive punch signing Saku Koivu to a one-year deal, while bolstering their blue line with Nick Boynton and Steve McCarthy. Justin Pogge was acquired for a draft pick while Drew Miller was shipped to Tampa for Evgeny Artyukhin.
Biggest Issue facing the team:
This is a very different team then the one that one the Cup just three seasons ago. While the Ducks are far from pushovers, they are not the same intimidating unit that struck fear in the hearts of opponents under current Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke. Instead of beating you in the alleys, the once 'Fighty' Ducks are now content by beating teams solely on the scoreboard.
Anaheim has a formidable amount of firepower on their roster thanks to the offensive exploits of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan, Teemu Selanne and now Koivu. While they no longer have Pronger's booming cannon from the point, they still have one of the top power play quarterbacks the game has ever seen in Scott Niedermayer.
Pronger's absence cannot be overemphasized. Though the team did well to acquire some additional offence from the back end (thanks to the late season addition of Ryan Whitney), it would be impossible to replace all the intangibles that the towering blue liner brings to the game.
To put it simply, Anaheim's opponents didn't like to play against Pronger. He was a big, mean and nasty presence with great offensive instincts and solid defensive play. He was the type of player that made every one of his teammates better because they knew that he would be there to protect them.
While the Ducks' blueline was the envy of the league less than a season ago, they are now a bit of a patchwork group led by an aging Niedermayer (who may well be playing his final year). The group will be forced to jell very quickly to ensure that the Ducks don't struggle out of the gate like they did last season.
Player to watch:
While teammates Getzlaf and Niedermayer are virtual shoo-ins to be named to Canada's Olympic roster, Corey Perry may need to play his way on to the team with a fast start to the season. A couple of factors working in his favour are that he already has great chemistry with Getzlaf and he is a natural winger - something that Canada is lacking. He has also improved statistically every season he has been in the league, so another career year is certainly an expectation. And Perry got better as last season progressed and was phenomenal in the post-season, leading the Ducks in goals with eight.
While the Olympics are certainly in the back of Perry's mind, he will also remember that it's the Ducks who pay his bills at the end of the day. The team generously signed him to a five-year deal just a year ago in the belief that he would be a cornerstone for the future of the franchise. Perry has given Anaheim every reason to believe that their investment is a wise one. And if he continues on his current path, he could be among league's top power forwards along with Jarome Iginla and Rick Nash (two potential teammates on Canada's team). He has been a winner at every level that he has played, so the lure of Olympic gold should be motivation enough for an enormous campaign.
Scott Cullen's Fantasy Take:
The Anaheim Ducks will have a different look, now that Chris Pronger is gone, but a summer of change still leaves them with a deep enough roster to be a playoff team and have a number of viable fantasy options.
Off the top, centre Ryan Getzlaf is one of the game's brightest rising stars and his point production and penalty minutes have increased each year he's been in the league. Coming off sports hernia surgery in late July, Getzlaf may be slow off the start this season, but he's going to be anchoring one of the most dangerous lines in the entire league.