The Anaheim Ducks are coming off another dominant regular season in 2016/17. They won their fifth straight Pacific Division title and were the second best team in the Western Conference with 46 wins and 105 points.
Despite the regular season success, the Ducks disappointedly fell short in the playoffs once again. They lost to the Nashville Predators in a tight six-game series in the third round and were two games shy of making the Stanley Cup Finals.
Overall, the Ducks had a very quiet off-season, making very few moves to change the outlook of the team. It seems like general manager Bob Murray believes the team he has is good enough to compete for the Stanley Cup again in 2017/18.
Ryan Miller (G)
Ryan Miller was probably the biggest signing by the Ducks this summer. After spending the past three seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, the 37-year-old signed a two-year, $4 million deal with Anaheim on July 1st.
Despite being a number one goalie for his past 13 NHL seasons, Miller will likely play a backup role to starter John Gibson in Anaheim this coming season. Nevertheless, Miller still looks like he can play at the NHL level and will give the Ducks a solid backup option in net.
Dennis Rasmussen (C)
The Anaheim Ducks signed Dennis Rasmussen to a one-year, deal worth $725,000. With such a deep roster on offense, this is clearly a depth signing for Anaheim and it is uncertain how much playing time Rasmussen will get.
The former Chicago center/left wing will come into training camp with a chance to compete for a spot on the team’s bottom-six forward group.
Francois Beauchemin (D)
On August 21, 2017, the Anaheim Ducks brought back Francois Beauchemin on a one-year, $1 million deal.
This is Beauchemin’s third-go spell at the Pond, as he played for them from 2005-2009, and 2010-2015. The 37-year-old is at the tail end of his NHL career, and with the defensive depth already in place, Beauchemin might not see a lot of playing time in Anaheim next season.
Shea Theodore (D)
Shea Theodore was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights at the NHL expansion draft on June 21st. Essentially, the trade was an incentive given to the Golden Knights, to ensure that neither Sami Vatanen nor Josh Manson would be selected.
Theodore played 53 NHL games for the Ducks over the past two seasons and looks ready to become a full-time NHL defenseman next year. He is coming off an impressive playoff run, scoring eight points in 14 games, and should see a bigger role on the Golden Knights’ defense next year.
Clayton Stoner (D)
Clayton Stoner was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights at the NHL expansion draft in June. In honor of the deal, the Vegas Golden Knights also received Shea Theodore as a complimentary piece. In essence, this was not a bad deal for the Vegas Golden Knights to get two NHL caliber defenseman for doing almost nothing.
The Vegas Golden Knights currently have ten NHL caliber defenseman on their depth chart including Stoner. As a result, there is a chance an older player like him will be moved for assets and to clear up roster space before the season starts.
Nate Thompson (C)
After playing the past three seasons with the Anaheim Ducks, Nate Thompson signed a two-year, $3.3 million contract with the Ottawa Senators on July 1st.
The 32-year-old will help the Senators with their center depth and will provide quality veteran leadership for the team this coming season.
Jonathan Bernier (G)
Jonathan Bernier played last season as John Gibson’s backup in Anaheim. He appeared in 38 games posting a decent .915 save percentage.
On July 1st, the Ducks decided to part ways with Bernier as they brought in Ryan Miller from the Vancouver Canucks instead.
Meanwhile, Bernier found a new home, as he went on to sign a one-year, $2.75 million deal with the Colorado Avalanche.
Moving on up
Brandon Montour (D)
Brandon Montour made the jump to the NHL last year, playing parts of the 2016/17 season with the Anaheim Ducks and also 17 games in the postseason as well.
Montour looks ready to solidify a roster spot on the Anaheim’s top-six defense this coming season. In the process, he may push an older player like Kevin Bieksa or Francois Beauchemin out of the lineup on many nights.
Ondrej Kase (LW)
Ondrej Kase played 53 games for the Ducks in his rookie season last year, scoring five goals and 15 points. During the playoffs, he dressed for nine games and was a noticeable player for the Southern Caifornia franchise.
At only 21-years-old, Kase has plenty of potential to be a key player for the Ducks going forward. Don’t be surprised to see Kase climb up Anaheim’s depth chart and see playing time with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry next year.
Jacob Larsson (D)
Jacob Larsson was a first-round pick of the Ducks back in the 2015 draft. Since then the 20-year-old has seen time in the NHL, AHL, and mostly with Frolunda HC in Sweden.
With Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen likely starting the season on injured-reserved, the Swede has a good chance to crack the Ducks’ roster out of training camp and stick in the NHL for a while in 2017/18.
What can the Anaheim Ducks achieve this season?
Anaheim should have another dominant regular season in 2017/18 and finish as one of the premier teams in the Western Conference.
They are one of the NHL teams with a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup next year. This team is built to win now and they can’t wait much longer.
With teams like the Edmonton Oilers, Nashville Predators and even the Calgary Flames quickly emerging, the Anaheim Ducks’ window of opportunity to win a Stanley Cup is now.
Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Ryan Kesler are all due to be over the age of 32 next year, Anaheim will need to do everything in their power to capitalize on the trio’s remaining prime years.
Don’t be surprised to see general manager Bob Murray make some bold moves next year to give his team an extra push to put them over the top in the postseason.
In 2017/18 the Anaheim Ducks might be in danger of not finishing first in the Pacific Division. It looks like it’s the year where the Edmonton Oilers will take over as the number one team in the division.
Therefore, Anaheim looks like a second place team in the Pacific finishing just ahead of the Calgary Flames and the San Jose Sharks.
Regardless of what happens, the Ducks should be a playoff team again, and for any sort of success to happen they will have to go through some tough teams in the West.
However, this shouldn’t cause too much concern as they have one of the deepest teams in the NHL.
Up front aside from the big three in Getzlaf, Perry, and Kesler, they have several very decent complimentary scorers including Jakob Silfverberg, Rickard Rakell, Patrick Eaves, Andrew Cogliano and Nick Ritchie
On the blueline, they have one of the best defensive cores and are arguably seven to eight players deep. Right now their top defenders include Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, Josh Manson, Kevin Bieksa, Brandon Montour and Francois Beauchemin.
With that said, the 2017/18 season should be a “Stanley Cup or bust” type of year for Anaheim.
Given the history of their past playoff performances, it is hard to see this team finally get over the hump in 2018. Therefore, another disappointing third-round playoff exit should be a more reasonable expectation.
Do you agree with this analysis? What do you think the Ducks can achieve in the 2017/18 NHL season? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to vote in the poll.
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