Welcome to the “NHL Stanley Cup window” series, that focuses on the current Stanley Cup window of teams around the NHL.
Each article provides an overview of a team’s current window of opportunity to win a Stanley Cup. We will also discuss improvements the team needs to make, to be considered a serious Stanley Cup contender.
Finally, we will give a realistic prediction and forecast of a team’s likelihood to win a championship in the near future.
This time around, we head out to “Disneyland” and take a look at the Anaheim Ducks.
Anaheim Ducks’ current Cup window
Anaheim is one of those rare teams in the NHL, which has the ability to build for the present and the future simultaneously. Ever since winning the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 2007, the Ducks have consistently been one of the powerhouse teams in the Western Conference.
Much of that credit goes to their scouting staff, development coaches, and General Manager Bob Murray. They have transitioned nicely from the Brian Burke, Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne era to the Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry one.
From that time on, they have put together some very dominant regular season teams, but always seem to fall short in the playoffs. In fact, it has been somewhat disappointing that the Ducks haven’t been able to get back to the Stanley Cup finals since 2007. Especially considering that they have elite players like Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry on their team in their best prime years.
However, this doesn’t mean their window of opportunity to the win the Cup has closed. In truth, they are still considered one top team to come out of the West next season. They have won the Pacific Division for five straight seasons and looks to be as strong as ever.
With a core that still consists Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Ryan Kesler playing at a high level, along with one of the best top-four defensive corps in the NHL, a Stanley Cup is always a possibility.
In fact, their top defenders in Hampus Lindholm, Cam Fowler, Josh Manson, and Sami Vatanen are all 26-years old or younger. On top of that, they have other promising young talent like Brandon Montour and Jacob Larsson who both look to be in their plans for the future.
What the Anaheim Ducks need to do to possibly win a Stanley Cup
One of the areas that possibly cost the Ducks a trip to the Stanley Cup finals last season was their inability to find well-balanced scoring in the playoffs. This was evident during the Western Conference finals loss to the Nashville Predators.
They were unable to outscore an injury-filled Nashville Predators team, that was missing their top-two centers in Ryan Johansen and Mike Fisher. Nashville’s scoring depth proved to be the difference at the end. They had unlikely heroes such as Austin Watson, Colton Sissons, and Pontus Aberg score big goals at opportune times to clinch the series.
As said in my previous article, maintaining a strong defensive core has been one of Anaheim’s main priorities over the last several years, but simply put it hasn’t gotten them any results. Perhaps it is now time for a change, one that entails sacrificing some of their defensive depth to increase their scoring balance up front. With that, they should consider trying to acquire that top-line scoring winger they have been missing for so long.
Another one of the team’s major issues in the playoffs has been their goaltending. Although John Gibson is a very capable starting goaltender in the regular season, his postseason play has been a different story. He has dealt with some bad luck with injuries or simply just wasn’t good enough when his team needed him the most in the playoffs.
On top of that, when Gibson was struggling, the Ducks never seemed to have the goalie depth to help keep them in the series. Their lack of goaltending depth has been a problem that cost them a few playoff series in the past several years.
General Manager Bob Murray has perhaps addressed his goaltending issues this summer, by the signing veteran goalie Ryan Miller, to a two-year, $4 million contract.
Although Miller has a lot of mileage on him, he still managed to put up some respectable numbers on a horrible Vancouver Canucks team last year. Should Gibson have another mediocre playoff performances, Miller might be the guy who can come in and give the Ducks a chance to win a series next year.
Theoretically speaking, these things are things that are not impossible to fix, but if the Ducks are serious about winning another Stanley Cup, these issues must be addressed.
Anaheim Ducks Stanley Cup predictions
Overall, the Anaheim Ducks’ window of opportunity to win a Cup is still wide open. They should still be considered a strong Stanley Cup contender for the next few seasons, and fall in the same category as a team like the Chicago Blackhawks.
Their clock is ticking and the next few years might be their only chance to win it all, as teams like Edmonton and Nashville are making a strong case to dominate the west, for the foreseeable future.
Even though, some may argue that the Anaheim Ducks shouldn’t be too worried about the future. They look to have a decent young core in place, which includes the likes of John Gibson, Hampus Lindholm, Cam Fowler, Rickard Rakell, and Josh Manson to name a few.
In a sense, their main priority right now should be to win a Stanley Cup with Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Ryan Kesler. Truthfully speaking, it would be somewhat disappointing if this current group does not get back into the Stanley Cup Finals at least once in the next few years.
With Getzlaf, Perry, and Kesler all due to be over the age of 32 next year, Anaheim should be in “win-now” mode, and try to capitalize on the opportunity to win a Stanley Cup before it’s too late.
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