Five Questions For The Anaheim Ducks
With training camp starting on Wednesday for Anaheim, there are some key question marks Coach Boudreau is looking to solve.
1) Who will skate on the first line with Getzlaf and Perry?
After trading Bobby Ryan to the Senators, the trio of stars was broken up and a void remains on the top line. With Selanne committing to one more year (via a humorous YouTube video), he seems to be the front-runner. He has proved he can score with almost anyone and the combination may be one of the fiercest in the league. It will be interesting to see whether the Ducks stagger their talent or load up with a stud line, but based off previous years, the clearest choice would be pairing Selanne with Getzlaf and Perry.
2) How will Jakob Silfverberg progress in reaching his second round potential?
When Anaheim dealt Ryan, one of the key pieces in return was forward Jakob Silfverberg. With only one season under his belt, and a shortened one at that, the 22- year-old is somewhat of a wild card coming into the season. The upside is clearly there, posting a plus nine along with 10 goals and nine assists in the full 48-game schedule last year. However, there is reason to doubt him, as he has only tasted a small sample of NHL action. After all Petr Prucha scored 30 times in his first season and has not played in the NHL since 2011. I would put money on him succeeding. After all, Boudreau is no stranger to young talent (Ovechkin anyone?).
3) What will the goaltending situation be like as the season progresses?
It’s not who is going to be playing, but rather how much. Jonas Hiller was very solid last year and quietly had the best season of his career. However, backup Viktor Fasth came out of the nowhere to equal Hiller in wins while trumping him in goals against and save percentage. It’s not a bad dilemma for Boudreau to have. Any coach in the NHL can agree a team needs two goalies to succeed. Come playoff time though, there needs to be a clear-cut number one for the team to rally behind. By March or even late February, it will be time to start giving more starts to whomever Boudreau decides as the number one.
4) Who will step up as the go-to faceoff man?
It might seem insignificant, but the Ducks were bottom five in the league in faceoff percentage last year. Saku Koivu, who is back on a one-year deal, was the only starting center above 50 percent. Come postseason, one draw can make a huge difference in a season. For as good as Ryan Getzlaf is, he needs to improve in the circle. Sidney Crosby began his career with faceoffs as one of his weaknesses and now he turned it into a strength. It’s not too much to ask to break even on faceoffs, because hurting your team as the face of the franchise is not an option.
5) Can Koivu and Selanne go out on top as Stanley Cup Champions?
It’s no secret the pieces are there. Fantastic goaltending, star forwards, and reliable defensemen: three things that a championship team needs and Anaheim has. The one thing against them is there schedule. The new look Pacific conference is loaded with teams that can compete at a high level. Los Angeles, San Jose, and Vancouver are no strangers as elite teams, and the Oilers are only getting better. It’s hard to picture the Ducks coming out as winners of their division, but it’s not impossible for them to win the cup. The Lightning sent off Dave Andreychuk with hardware. Marc Recchi called it quits after raising a banner. The great Ray Bourque played his last game when he lifted the hallowed trophy. History repeats itself. If the saying holds true, Koivu and Selanne may join that group and many others who leave the game while at its pinnacle.