Entering last season the Ducks were a popular upstart pick to do some serious damage. They finished 11th, and were perhaps the biggest disappointment in the league. There were a lot of things that could be pointed to as a cause of the problems, but the biggest was the loss of Chris Pronger on defense. When the Ducks won the Cup in 2007 it was their defense that did all the heavy lifting. This year not only is Pronger gone, but now Scott Niedermayer is gone as well. Those two losses are absolutely massive and a whole lot to overcome. No team has had a bigger offseason loss than the Ducks with Niedermayer. It remains to be seen if this team is tough enough to overcome that setback.
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Anaheim Ducks Offseason Moves
Niedermayer has retired, but two other key veterans - Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu - have chosen to return to the team. The summer was filled with trades that saw Mike Brown, Steve Eminger, and James Wisniewski leave the squad. Andy Sutton and Toni Lydman were signed to try to fill the impossibly big skates of Niedermayer on the blue line. The biggest move of the season, though, was a new contract for a player already on the team - Bobby Ryan agreed to a long-term deal, and will be a well paid member of the Ducks for five years.
Anaheim Ducks Predictions: Outlook
I have concerns about this team on defense and in goal. I have real worries about the leadership void that the departure of Niedermayer will create as well. I also don’t love the coaching situation - Randy Carlyle was good enough to win the Cup in Anaheim, but he’s a very tough coach and it seems like his methods could be getting old in the dressing room. I don’t like the penalty killing, either - it was lousy last year, and I don’t see how it is going to be significantly better. That’s a lot of strikes against this team.
What I do like about them, though, is their offensive potential. Ryan Getzlaf is as good as it gets when it comes to power forwards, and Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan are elite as well. Ryan will be an interesting player to watch this season - he’s making a move from the wing to center, and that’s an experiment that doesn’t always work out. This team will score, but I’m not convinced that they will be able to score enough to overcome their other deficiencies. One player I will be watching very closely is Luca Sbisa. The 20-year-old defenseman was the key piece of the Pronger trade, and is a potential star. It would be very nice to see him move forward this year - the Ducks are very short of star defensemen.
Anaheim Ducks Futures Odds (from Bodog)
The Ducks are at 35/1 to win the Cup - a price that puts them right in the middle of the pack. At 18/1 to win the conference they are again in the middle of the pack - seventh out of the 15 teams. They are listed as the fourth of five teams to win the Pacific division at 9/1.
Anaheim Ducks Schedule
We’ll know by just after Christmas if this team is for real. They go on a brutal seven-game road trip starting Dec. 15 - a time when no player wants to be away form their families. If they can come through that in good shape then it might be worth believing in them.
Anaheim Ducks Predictions
This team is going nowhere. They play in the toughest division in the league, and they just aren’t good enough to compete. Their core is strong, but their defense isn’t, and their goaltending is a long way from consistent. Their battle isn’t to win anything, but rather just to make the playoffs. They will be in the very tough fight for the last couple of playoff spots in the conference, and I’m not betting that they will make it. If they don’t make it then Carlyle will be looking for a new employer - something he will have no trouble finding.
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