The Ducks do seem to have their formula down, where they are an exceptionally tough team to play against and one that can score in the clutch moments of the game to help squeak out wins or they can score early and hang on for dear life with a good number one goalie in their crease in John Gibson.
Looking ahead to the 2018 season, the Ducks did a little bit more organizing than housecleaning in the off-season, most notably signing contract extensions, rather than shopping around for the biggest name talent on the market. The only significant addition to the team was to the back-up goalie position, adding Ryan Miller, bringing him home to California on the cheap, which should provide very good insurance down the road, if needed.
The core group of forwards are another year older, the young scorers are another year wiser and the defense will start the season behind the 8-ball a bit (see injuries below), but overall, the Ducks do appear to be quite strong again and they should give us poolies some confidence, when we see the team name pop up on our lists at the draft.
Table last updated on August 5th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
The Anaheim defense is what should have been the Achilles heel to their team in the playoffs last season, given that they were banged up, icing some pretty young kids night in and night out, but those kids really fought through and they nearly made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, edged out by a healthier, more powerful blueline in Nashville, but that isn't to take away from their achievements.
This leads me to picking Josh Manson as the most intriguing player on the team, who I have projected to be pool worthy on the blueline, as he will likely start to log a lot more ice-time to start the season and that will ultimately lead to bigger and better things, assuming he does well with it.
First Round Picks
The Ducks haven't quite been the offensive juggernaut they once were and their numbers have reflected that in the last season or two. There isn't any reason why they should excel again this season and with the Pacific Division getting much more difficult to play in, scoring could be a little harder to come by. Currently, I have no opening round picks slated for the Ducks.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
Anaheim shouldn't be too short on scoring though, I currently have the Ducks with six forwards in the conversation for the hockey pool. Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry, Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg and the trade deadline acquisition Patrick Eaves should all get there this year. Nick Ritchie and Ondrej Kase are certainly two players who could make their mark this season, but I have them as a bit of a gamble this year.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
If the playoffs were any indication, this blueline is quite good and is poised to be good for quite a while. Cam Fowler, the injured Hampus Lindholm & Sami Vatanen, Josh Manson and Brandon Montour are all set for a good worthy year, while a kid like Gabriel Carlsson could be the kind of guy that keeps this team afloat, when the two injured blueliners are off recovering from off-season surgery.
Both Ducks goalies are set to battle this year, as John Gibson, the number one and the grizzled veteran Ryan Miller, have both shown in the last couple of years, that they'll dig in the trenches for their team. Miller was a good cheap pick-up in the off-season for the Ducks, just in case something goes south for the Ducks and Gibson. Nevertheless, look to feature both of these guys in the pool this year.
Team To Pick From Late?
Your comfort level with taking Ducks, especially late, will hinge on how strong you think this team could be, especially down the stretch. These guys will certainly skate with and grind down their opponents, but it will be their finish that goes under the microscope. There are couple more wild cards in there, as Andrew Cogliano, the league's iron man, will show up everyday, and Antoine Vermette, who is sneaky some years, sliding up and down the rankings.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
As for free agents, the Ducks have one more minor free agent left to re-sign in forward Nick Sorensen, but he is due to be more of a minor league player this season, given the depth up front.
The Ducks are currently showing $7.2 million in unused cap space with a relatively full roster under the ceiling, so they will be a big player at the trade deadline, if they can put a good season together and then push for the playoffs.
Two major shoulder surgeries happened to the blueline, shortly after the Ducks were eliminated by the Predators in the Western Conference Finals, as both Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen underwent major surgery and they still likely have about two or three months left for their recovery, as Lindholm was 4-to-5 months at the end of May and Vatanen was "longer."