2013-14 Season Preview : Anaheim Ducks

We start our through the Pacific Division with the Mighty Ducks (they are bringing it back for at least one night, so its ok).

The Ducks was one of the only teams to have the Blackhawks number during the regular season. The Ducks won all three meetings with the Hawks and that had many Chicago fans a little uneasy heading into the playoffs. But, as most Bruce Broudreau coached, top heavy teams do, they underachieved in the playoffs after a great regular season. The Ducks season ended with a Game 7 loss to the Red Wings on their home ice.

The Ducks biggest move of the offseason was shipping Bobby Ryan off to Ottawa for Jakob Silfverberg and Stefan Noesen. Only time will tell who will get the better out of this deal, but the Ducks do need to get younger. They brought back all 700 years of Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne for one more season. They also made the IHOP owners in southern California breathe a sign of relieve when they signed Dustin Penner, keeping him in the region.

Today we talk to Jen Neale, who does a fantastic job over at Anaheim Calling,  to hear what she thinks about the upcoming Ducks season.

Last year the Ducks seemed to be the only team that had the Blackhawks number. Are the Ducks built for postseason success or just one of many Bruce Boudreau coached "good regular season" teams?

If only we could have played the Blackhawks in the first round... Bruce's system works when his super stars are scoring. Bobby Ryan had a few clutch goals but Corey Perry was MIA. If hockey was played with 5 forwards and a goalie, the Ducks would win the Cup every year. They have an incredibly deep pool to pick from.

The defense of the Ducks will be their Achilles heel this season. Francois Beauchemin is coming off ACL surgery and may or may not be ready in time to open the season. Sheldon Souray is out 4-6 months (not totally heartbroken at that one). Luca Sbisa hurt himself in the first preseason game. This leaves Cam Fowler and Ben Lovejoy as the #1 pair and Bryan Allen and (a player to be named later) as the #2. Yikes.

The Anaheim Ducks and Chip Kelly's (former) Oregon Ducks are a lot alike. Terrible defense but they can score a ton of points. As long as they score one more than their opponent, they'll be just fine.

Trade rumors have surrounded Bobby Ryan for the last couple of years and he was finally moved over the summer. Are you happy with what the Ducks got from Ottawa in return? How do they replace Ryan's offensive production?

It was sad to see Bobby go but it was inevitable. He didn't like living in the shadow of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Replacing a 30 goal scorer is going to be difficult but the Ducks have enough young talent at forward where a bunch of guys can score 10-15 goals and they'll have made up for the loss.

I like what the Ducks got in return. Can't go wrong with a first round pick. I just need Ottawa to tank it this season for a high pick (highly unlikely). I've only seen Jakob Silfverberg and Stefan Noesen at practice but I can see why the Ducks wanted them. Big, fast, strong puck handling players. Silfverberg has clicked with Teemu Selanne in preseason. I think Noesen will need a bit more polishing in the AHL before he's ready for the big club.

How do you see the goaltending situation, between Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth, playing out during the season?

The goaltending is a plus for the Ducks, it's just that damn defense. Both Fasth and Hiller are going to face A LOT of shots. Hiller is in the last year of his deal and I could see him being dealt at the deadline. Frederick Andersen in Norfolk is a great insurance plan, should they move Hiller. To replace Andersen is future heir to the Ducks net, G.I. John Gibson, American hero.

Ryan Getlazf and Corey Perry are now locked up long term. Did the Ducks make the right move by investing so much in both of these players?

Yes, the Ducks made the right decision locking up both Perry and Getzlaf. With Teemu retiring at the end of this season (probably, maybe...) and Bobby gone, they are the faces of the team within the community. They will put butts in seats. The familiarity is needed in a market like Southern California where there are sooooo many things to do.

The only concern I have with Getzlaf is complacency. He played like crap for a while until his contract year. Perry will be Perry. As I said earlier, the Ducks have a deep prospect pool of forwards to build the other lines around the top two.

The Ducks have quite a bit of young talent that could contribute significantly this year like Kyle Palmieri, Jakob Silfverberg, Peter Holland and Rickard Rakell. Which one of these guys is set to make the biggest impact on the 2013-14 season?

None of the above. They'll be good but the one poised for the breakout year is So Cal native Emerson Etem. He was amazing in the playoffs. The kid just works his ass off and does whatever is asked of him. He's tenacious, fast and has a sniper shot. Having spoken with him a few times, he's just an all around good kid, too.

Peter Holland had better light a fire under his own ass. He's been progressing at an incredibly slow pace compared to those in his draft class. You know it's bad when you've been in the AHL for a couple years and the coaches make you come and work out at the rookie conditioning camp during the summer. He was the oldest of the entire group by a good 2 years.

Cam Fowler broke on the scene with a pretty productive rookie season in 2010, but his +/- leaves much to be desired. What are his expectations going forward?

I think everyone had expected Cam to do waaay more out of the gate than he was ready for. The Ducks didn't send him back to junior, nor did he ever take a trip to the AHL. From the day he was drafted he was expected to be the heir to Scott Niedermayer. Not exactly the easiest skates to fill. I think he would have done better with one more year in junior.

I'm not a big advanced stats person but I believe plus/minus is a limited way to assess a player. Sheldon Souray had one of the highest plus/minuses last season and he stunk up the joint to where he was benched in the playoffs. He benefitted from having Beauchemin as a partner. Fowler switched around partners until finding a groove with Ben Lovejoy this past season. Now that things have settled into place, I expect Cam to have a really strong season.

Teemu Selanne is a robot, right?

No. He's one of the X-Men.

Thanks again to Jen for helping us with our preview. The Blackhawks will make two trips to Anaheim, on December 6th and January 17th. The Ducks will come to Chicago only once this year, on February 5th, and could be Teemu Selanne's last game at the United Center.