Saturday, May 01, 2010

Pool Outlook for Anaheim

It was a bit of a disappointing season for the Anaheim Ducks in 2010, finishing outside of the playoffs, despite making a big push at the trade deadline for some extra talent.  The Ducks really had to tread through some cap issues at the beginning of the year, which had Chris Pronger dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers not long after the Outlook was published in 2009 and that changed the dynamics of the team in a big hurry.  The Ducks had to also get through some spells without their top forward, Ryan Getzlaf, who had some injury issues and could complete a good year in scoring.  Fortunately for the Ducks, they have a pretty bright future ahead of them and it could just as easily be a bounceback year in 2011.

While missing his partner in crime, Corey Perry did put together a pretty good year for the Ducks, picking up 76 points (27 goals & 49 assists) in all 82 games, but I could only imagine what his season would have been like if he had a healthy linemate for the entire season.  Nevertheless, Perry set a new high in the pool rankings, improving to 32nd in the league scoring in 2010, not to mention having a pretty good Olympic Tournament as well.  Perry is poising himself to be a pretty high pick in this coming year's Draft and for good reason too.

Ryan Getzlaf was having a pretty good year, but some ankle problems caused him to miss 16 games during the year, which could have easily ended with 100 points, especially if some of the games he was in he was at 100%.  Getzlaf finished with 69 points in 66 games, which is better than a point-per-game, which was on pace for 86 points, not to mention his health discount.  He'll still be a good pick in the Draft next season.  Bobby Ryan was a good compliment to the forward ranks again in 2010, bumping up his ranking from 97th to 60th, thanks to a 35-goal season.  He should be a hot commodity for the 2011 season.  Both Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne had fairly respectable seasons, despite suffering their share of injuries, picking up 52 & 48 points, respectively.  Jason Blake was the only other forward (Perry) to play in 82 games for Anaheim, which does give you an idea of how consistent their line-up was all year, a very likely contributor to their poor finish in the end.

The defense for Anaheim really changed it's shape during the year, which also likely didn't help things.  Scott Niedermayer's decision to stay for another year was welcomed by the Ducks, but his numbers (48 points in 80 games) and play were arguably sub-par for the year, but only by his enormous standards.  You may be able to attribute that to the lack of Chris Pronger, who helped shoulder the load in Anaheim.  Lubomir Visnovsky was an addition for the run and for the future for the Ducks, picking up 45 points in 73 games between Edmonton and Anaheim.  James Wisniewski battled through suspensions in an okay year for the Ducks, scoring 3 goals and 27 assists in 69 games.  Otherwise, it was a pretty interesting mix of young defenders and rental veterans on the blueline and it will have some remodeling done on it over the Summer, I'm sure.

In 2010, it was the year that Jonas Hiller officially became the number one guy in Anaheim.  Hiller earned himself a new contract extension and his crease teammate/rival, J-S Giguere, was dealt to Toronto, leaving him as the undsiputed guy for the Ducks. For the most part, I thought Hiller had a pretty good year, amassing a 30-23-4 record for the Ducks with 2 shutouts and 2 assists for 66 points.  That ranked Hiller 55th in league scoring, 15th among goalies this season.  That could put him even in the second round of the Draft, depending on how the Ducks add on to their team in the off-season.

2011 Season Outlook
Surprisingly the Ducks table at this time of the year is looking fairly similar to their table last year at the same time, but only a few of the names have changed.  The Ducks will have a definite number one goalie to rally with, a good group of talented young forwards, but the defense will remain somewhat of a question mark until some more names are added to the list.  They should be able to score and stop some pucks, but how many on either end of the ice is hard to predict right now.

Corey PerryLubomir VisnovskyJonas Hiller
Ryan GetzlafSteve EmingerCurtis McElhinney
Jason Blake
Todd Marchant
Dan Sexton
Joffrey Lupul
Ryan Carter
Mike Brown
George Parros

The Ducks are a team that likes to spend their money for good players and they'll stay up around the cap limit, whatever that may be when the league announces it, likely in June.  Right now, the Ducks have 13 regulars on my list and they come in at $34.6 million, which would be plenty of room compared to the 2010 cap number of $56.8 million and even more room under the rumoured number of $57.7 million.

The ol' pocketbook will have to open this Summer, with Bobby Ryan and Kyle Chipchura becoming restricted free agents on July 1st.  Both players will be looking for new deals, Ryan more so as a 35-goal scorer in 2010. I am expecting Ryan's deal to be in the $4 million cap hit neighbourhood, which would be very cost efficient, especially for the long-term.

The unrestricted free agent list is quite substantial going into the Summer and some of the decisions will have to revolve around some retirement questions that keep coming up.  There has been some indication that Teemu Selanne will call it a career this Summer, while Saku Koivu and Scott Niedermayer may also be asked, but they are only 35 & 36 years old, so they should still have a year or two left.  Also on the list, James Wisniewski, Andrew Ebbett and Aaron Ward.

The Ducks have been doing well in the Draft from year-to-year and they are building a very good group of young players.  There hasn't been too much in the way of absolute blue-chip prospects, but there are a number of names on the list that are expected to develop into some respectable pros.  Right now, the Ducks have a total of four 1st round picks between 2009 and 2008 in Luca Sbisa, Kyle Palmieri, Peter Holland and Jake Gardiner, so there is some good talent already stocked in the club.  I'm not sure I'm able to guess if any of these will be in the line-up straight-away for the Ducks, but you might be hearing their names a bit more in the Summer.

The Ducks have also secured another 1st round pick for this 2010 Draft as well, giving them the 12th pick overall and the pick from wherever the Flyers finish in the playoffs.  That should give them ample opportunity to add even more top end talent to their stables.  They could be a very dynamic team before too long.

What I said at this time last year: "If there was a good power combination to pick up in the pool next season, I would look to Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan, likely scooping both of them pretty early. The Ducks won't have the kind of trouble getting young Ryan into the line-up because of the cap this season (or any othr season), as he's earned his stripes to play with the big guys now. Corey Perry will prove to be a good pick again in 2010, but don't get too high on him at the moment, in case you know he'll be playing more top line hockey. Definitely play the wait-and-see game with Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne, as retirement is in the picture for both. Right now, this is about as far as we can go."

I guess now I can't really be so down on Corey Perry after a good season in 2010, but at least I had Getzlaf and Ryan pretty close to right.  Getzlaf did go pretty early in my Draft and I saw to it that Ryan did as well, although Ryan may have been over shot a bit.  If you were on board with the wait-and-see game with the two veterans, you probably wanted to scoop them up and probably did in your Draft. 

For 2011, I can see some of the normal numbers for Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan, possibly some new heights for Hiller and likely a few more points for Lubomir Visnovsky with a dynamic scoring team like the Ducks.  Hopefully Joffrey Lupul can return to the line-up with the same sort of scoring flair he's been known to have in the past as well.  I'll be expecting to see the Ducks in the fight between 6th and 9th in the West next season, unless they are going to make a blockbuster of a deal that puts them over the edge, but with the way they have been building, I would expect it to be 'steady as she goes.' 

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