The Ducks were a strong team in the 2018 season, relying heavily on the team game and a strong system, in front of a top quality goaltender. Health played such a big part of that, since many of their top players spent some time on the shelf with injury, so the rest of the team really had to step up and work even harder to get the job done. Anaheim finished 2nd in their division, because of all that hard work and it would have been interesting to see what would have happened, if everyone was healthy all year.
Moving on to 2019, the outlook is pretty good for healthy bodies, but there is some skepticism, as to whether or not they could actually stay healthy. If there was some sort of guarantee that most of these guys would play 75+ games in a season, the numbers might be a little bit better, but I think I am more willing to hedge my bets and project the numbers that we'll actually see, more than the numbers that could happen with an unblemished season. The numbers still aren't too bad, there are plenty of guys worth taking on this team, but it does come with a 'Buyer Beware' sticker slapped on.
Table last updated on August 6th
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
In the rookie watch department, I'm looking at Troy Terry to possibly step up and make an impact with the Ducks this season. The well-decorated collegiate athlete has a national title under his belt, not to mention a World Juniors gold medal around his neck as well.
Before joining the Ducks last season, he finished his NCAA career with 14 goals and 48 points in 39 games and he played for USA at the PyeongChang Olympics. This 20-year old seems to have a lot of the tools needed for play in the NHL, so it will definitely be interesting to see where he fits in.
First Round Picks
The initial round of projections did seat any Ducks in the 80+ point range for the designation of a possible opening round pick this year, but that isn't to say that the run of goaltending, which usually occurs early at the draft won't see a guy like John Gibson go that early. I do have him right on the cusp of the role, but with a good backup behind him, there's no use in really over-extending the number one guy, if they don't have to.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
The current count of pool worthy forwards for the Ducks is eight, but there is still some tinkering to be done there, where we could probably see that go a little bit higher. It's much of the usual suspects, led by Ryan Getzlaf, Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry, asked to lead this group through another long grind of a season. Adam Henrique, Jakob Silfverberg, Ryan Kesler, Andre Gogliano and the rookie Troy Terry round out my worthy forwards on the list, as this squad should be pretty deep, when it comes to scoring again this year.
Other Pool Worthy Defensemen
I think the Ducks' blueline is still somewhat underrated today, as it continues to develop and produce at the top level. Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm have been mainstays for a few seasons now for the Ducks and we all know them quite well, but both Brandon Montour and Josh Manson are emerging as very reliable hockey pool options as well. All four of these guys really could add some pop to your pool team this year.
Ryan Miller is set to be the backup for a second straight season in Anaheim, as the 38-year old winds down his NHL career in California. I think he'll definitely be a worthy keeper and if all goes according to plan, the split should be much of the same as last season, where he pulled 28 appearances, winning 12. He'll be among the worthy backups this year.
Team to Pick From Late?
If you've missed out on the pool worthy players early on in the draft and you're just looking for a reputable team to pick from late on in the draft, looking for that last forward or last defenseman, you might want to look past the Ducks, as the depth beyond is very questionable. There could be a sleeper rookie in Sam Steel, if he can make the club on a regular basis, but that's certainly up in the air today. You might be better suited elsewhere.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
The Ducks are still short on pool worthy restricted free agent and another fringe player, in Ondrej Kase and Nick Ritchie, both unsigned at the time of writing this post. Neither should be looking for too big of contract this summer, but they just need to get a deal done. My current projected 23-man roster does come in with $5.5 million in cap space to spare, so both should fit in there, no problem, but it will be a matter of what kind of deal do either of them expect.
There were some reports out there in May, that Ryan Kesler and his wonky hip could be close to being done in the NHL, but some recent tweets from the agitating centre seem to suggest that he should be ready to go at training camp. I would lean towards the player in this case and I'll keep my projection where it is for him, until he says otherwise. Patrick Eaves is another player on the health bubble, after undergoing shoulder surgery before the end of the regular season. His status remains unclear in the middle of the summer, but there does appear to be a chance that he'll arrive to the Ducks' lineup after the season gets started.