After a busy offseason that saw more Ducks leaving than coming, there is a bit of uncertainty hanging over the team this upcoming season. The 2013- 14 bout was the best the Ducks have ever had, yet management decided to shed half of their offensive lineup from just one year ago. This fact is a bit puzzling and goes back to the old saying, if its not broke, don’t fix it.
The biggest addition to the squad is most definitely Ryan Kesler, but one must ask, will he be able to produce the numbers of the outgoing players? Arguably, the biggest loss the offseason was the departure of Nick Bonino, who was a part of the deal for Kesler.
Last year saw Bonino have a break out season with 22 goals and 49 points, as compared to Kesler’s 25 goals and 43 points. Yes, the numbers are comparable, but the Ryan Kesler we are receiving is not the Ryan Kesler of 2011. The Ducks are getting a player that is coming off multiple injuries and tribulations. Only time will tell if he can post better, or at least similar, numbers than Bonino. Certainly if its the Kesler of a few season ago than any doubt will swiftly be thrown out the window.
Also departing the offensive side of the team is Teemu Selanne, Saku Koviu, Mathieu Perreault and Daniel Winnick. Of course it is not all bad news. With the loss of these players comes opportunities for others, most notably Devante Smith- Pelly and Emerson Etem. Both of these young players posses the skills and drive to post big numbers, now they will have the chance to prove themselves with the increase in ice-time they will most likely see.
In goal comes a few prominent changes as well. Out goes the doubtful Jonas Hiller and the bumpy Victor Fasth in favor of a few greenhorns, greenhorns who have proven themselves in ways that the veterans failed to do so last postseason. John Gibson and Frederik Andersen are the new duo to fill the goal.
John Gibson, a rookie, looks to continue his dominant performances this coming regular season. Being the youngest player to post a postseason shutout, Gibson also played great throughout the rest of his playoff run, sans game 6 and 7 against the eventual champions, posting a .934 save percentage.
Frederik Andersen, coming into his sophomore year, did very well in the regular season on his initial call up, going 20-5 with a .923 save percentage. With the combo of the two rookies, rotating starts, the Ducks should have a powerful set of netminders at their disposal.
Not mentioning the lackluster preseason, where they went 3-4, the Ducks do have some uncertainties to work out, but the fact is they are still coming off their best season on record and they still have all-star talent coupled with young up-and-comers. The key to a good season for the Ducks is a strong early start that will give them the momentum to carry them through the dog days of the season, allowing the rookies to develop and earn their place within the team.