Review of 2011-12: 34-36-12, 80 points, finished 13th in Western Conference
Key additions via free agency: Sheldon Souray, Bryan Allen, Daniel Winnik, Brad Staubitz
Key additions via trade: None
Key Losses: George Parros, Niklas Hagman, Sheldon Brookbank, Lubomir Visnovsky
The black cloud looking over the Ducks at present is Bobby Ryan, who expressed displeasure with the club around the time of the June draft and suggested he’d like to be moved. At press time, Ryan remains a Duck but who knows if/when that may change. If they give up Ryan, they’d be parting with one of the game’s better power forwards.
The good news is, Teemu Selanne has agreed to return for another season after again vowing to retire after the past two seasons. The seemingly ageless wonder had a very productive 11-12 and there’s no reason to believe he’ll drop off significantly in 12-13.
The biggest key to any success the Ducks have will be Ryan Getzlaf rebounding from a dismal 11-12 campaign and regaining some of the form that led him to a career year in 10-11. Getzlaf’s success is also directly influential on the success of Corey Perry, who dropped off to 37 goals from 51 this past season.
Biggest issue with the Ducks offensively, quite simply is depth. They’re a one-line team (especially if they deal Ryan), making the opposition’s job easier. The addition of bottom six guys like Brad Staubitz and Daniel Winnik won’t do much to help that either.
The Ducks have a solid number one in Jonas Hiller, who when healthy can be among the top 15 starters in the NHL, but health and consistency remain concerns for the Swiss-born southpaw. Hiller’s outstanding campaign before vertigo forced him out of the lineup in 2010-11 helped the Ducks reach postseason, but his regression to a 2.57 GAA and .910 save %, especially behind a porous defensive corps, was not a recipe for success. The backup position is also a big question mark. Viktor Fasth, the late-blooming swede was signed by the club with a lot of potential but no NHL experience. How much, and how well Fasth will play is a mystery at present but the Ducks’ brass expects him to be at least a solid backup if not push Hiller for the starting spot. Should the Fasth experiment falter, there’s always veteran Jeff Deslauriers waiting in the wings.
Prediction: 4th in Pacific Division, 12th in the Western Conference.
The Ducks neighbors 35 miles up the 5 freeway are defending Cup champs and should be the class of the Pacific Division. After that, I see the Pacific as a “throw it at the wall and see what sticks”. The Ducks have an opportunity to gain some traction if the stars align and finish second or third in the division, but this is a team in flux, one that should consider a full rebuild but hasn’t yet reserved itself to that fact yet. Should the season start off slow, a fire sale in OC is a real possibility. However, this isn’t too different from the team’s prognosis two seasons ago, and the Ducks got career years out of key players and made the postseason. Don’t expect that to happen twice in 3 years, though.