There were two versions of the Anaheim Ducks last season. The first half of the season saw a team that was flat out horrible and just looked disorganized under Randy Carlyle. The second produced the real Anaheim Ducks under new boss, and former Capitals coach, Bruce Boudreau. Sadly, neither version was able to qualify for the playoffs, although the second one came close.
One thing is for sure and that is the second half bounce back does provide hope going into this season with some of the best top line talent in the league. The Ducks could be right back into the thick of things come March and April if everything goes as planned.
While a lot of things changed, one thing that remains is that the age-less Teemu Selanne will return to the OC for at least one more season. With improved health, Jonas Hiller will be itching to get the puck dropped. If Hiller can play healthy and Selanne still adds that spark like he always does then the Ducks could be a tough team to play on many nights.
Sheldon Souray will instantly improve the team on the power play as his puck moving abilities are second to none plus add a booming shot, it should create space and time for their offense to work their magic on the PP.
Devante Smith Pelly already has 49 games under his NHL experience belt and should find himself not just on the roster but in the mix to play on the third line. Although he broke his foot while playing for Canada at the 2012 World Juniors, he eventually returned to the Ducks line up to finish the season. A punishing power forward, the Scarborough native is looking to make an instant impact as soon as the season gets underway.
Kyle Palmieri also saw time with the Ducks last season and is another player who is looking to make a huge impact as he’s expected to start on the second line beside veterans Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne. Although having problems adjusting to the NHL speed, Palmieri should fit in well with this second line teammates.
The Ducks also saw John Gibson, their 2011 second rounder lead the way at the 2013 World Juniors with Team USA winning MVP and the Gold Medal.
If Jonas Hiller can play at full health which he should be when entering this season, he could be easily the best goaltender to hit the ice once January 19th comes. Hiller will need to bring a high intensity and have an above average performance night in and night out for the Ducks to rebound from their rather disappointing season last year.
Outside of their top end firepower, the Ducks have a lot of young and unproven parts in their system. Young players for the most part can tend to be inconsistent players and only show hot flashes, and if the top end talent can’t rebound to their expected level, there are going to be many long nights for the Ducks.