Wednesday, August 31, 2011

2012 Projections: Anaheim

The Anaheim Ducks were carried into the playoffs by the league MVP, Corey Perry, but he did have a good supporting cast by the end of the season, so as a team, the Ducks look like a pretty good squad going into the 2012 season.

The Ducks obviously felt that they didn't need to make many major changes to the team that earned home-ice advantage in the playoffs, but some tinkering was done to the overall look of the team.  The Ducks added a little bit of speed up front, while also shored up the blueline with another key acquisition.

Anaheim did deal with some injury concerns in 2011, all of which have now been sorted out and they should be able to resume regular season play with a full compliment of players.  All things considered, the Ducks could be in the running for a Pacific Division title this season.

Ryan Getzlaf90Lubomir Visnovsky55Jonas Hiller75
Corey Perry85Cam Fowler35Dan Ellis20
Bobby Ryan80Kurtis Foster30
Saku Koivu40Toni Lydman25
Jason Blake35Francois Beauchemin15
Andrew Cogliano30Luca Sbisa15
Dan Sexton30Sheldon Brookbank5
Brandon McMillan25
Matt Beleskey20
J-F Jacques5
George Parros5
Kyle Palmieri25Matt Smaby5Jeff Deslauriers5
Andrew Gordon10Nate Guenin5

Pool Worthy Forwards (Inside the top 160, 40 points)
Thanks to the big three, the Ducks do have a chance every night, but their scoring depth really drops off to a whisper, hardly pool worthy.  Yes, Corey Perry led the way for the Ducks in 2011, but I think it will be a return to the top of the heap for captain Ryan Getzlaf, who had an off-year last season, mired with injury as well.  Bobby Ryan should now be coming into his own now as well, especially with the help from a healthy Getzlaf.

A pair of veterans highlight the bottom end of the pool worthy players, as Saku Koivu and Jason Blake may be able to help a team in the last couple forward spots for a team.  Both players, 36 and 38 years old, respectively, will likely continue to get some top six minutes, as the team waits on some more of their youth to come in and render these two obsolete.

There is certainly some real potential for Brandon McMillan to make the jump into being pool worthy in 2012, but he would have to make the leap over a few players like Andrew Cogliano or Dan Sexton to get there, which could be difficult.

Pool Worthy Defensemen (Inside the top 80, 25 points)
The Ducks had the best scoring defenseman in 2011, Lubomir Visnovsky, and he'll be leading another solid top four into the hockey pool conversation.  Visnovsky found a great home in Anaheim in 2011 and with solid footing with the Ducks, he should be able to work his way back up to the top of the list again.

Sophomore Cam Fowler will be building upon one hell of a rookie campaign last season, but will likely face some stiffer competition, now that every team in the league knows what to expect from the smooth skating American.

Pool Worthy Goalies (Inside the top 40, 25 points)
It sounds like all systems are a go for Jonas Hiller for the 2012 season.  Hiller missed the back half of the 2011 season dealing with vertigo and other head injury symptoms, which means we should be expecting another solid  season, especially with a blossoming Ducks team.  If there is any concern or a warning, it is the season after a head injury, which should be taken into consideration.

Pool Worthy Rookies
The Ducks are not boasting a great class of rookies for the 2012 season, although if you were going to pick one that should succeed, it would likely be Kyle Palmieri, who is probably the closest, but has a number of bodies to jump over in the depth chart to get there.

Unsigned Players
If there is going to be a return of Teemu Selanne to the league, he'll be playing for the Anaheim Ducks, but as of right now, he remains unsigned.  Sure, he's an unrestricted free agent, but it has been made public that his return will only be with Anaheim.  If I was to wager a guess right about now, I would say that he will make a return and actually play very well once again.

Key Injuries
Defenseman Toni Lydman underwent major shoulder surgery in May, repairing a torn labrum, which had the potential of him missing out on training camp entirely and putting the start of the regular season in doubt for him.  I haven't yet seen any new updates on his condition, so I would say he'd be a questionable pick this year.

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