With the season closing in on the playoffs all signs point to the Anaheim Ducks reign over the Pacific division coming to an end. With a slow start to the season due to the injuries, the team found themselves unable to find their footing for the remainder of the season. Let’s take a look at what the future holds for the Ducks.
Anaheim Ducks Future: Change is Already Underway
The Ducks have a solid core built around veteran all-stars Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ryan Kesler as well as young gun forwards Rickard Rakell and Ondrej Kase. They also have a very talented defensive core with veteran leadership in Cam Fowler Josh Manson and Hampus Lindholm. Brandon Montour made a name for himself last year and Josh Peterson has had a good start in the NHL this year.
Saying that Getzlaf, Perry, and Kesler are not effective players in the NHL would be a lie. But they aren’t the same players they once were. Most notably Perry has declined from his career highs. In the 2015-16 season, he scored 34 goals. In the 2016-17 season that declined to just 19. That said, he is a very effective assist man. That is nothing to shy away from but he isn’t the goal-scoring forward he once was. That could be part of the plan to move the younger players up into the spotlight and help their development. Or it could just be years of punishment in the NHL catching up to him.
Getzlaf is not a goal scorer. His best goal scoring season came in 2013-14 with 31 goals. he has broken the 20 and 30 goal plateaus, but he has always been the man that can put the puck on tape from anywhere on the ice. The team plays much better with him on the ice than without him. It is the confidence in having him on the ice. He holds the Ducks together when he is on the ice.
Kesler is an agitator. He is also a good hockey player. Kesler has also broken the 20 goal plateau 8 times and even hit the 40 goal mark once. He is consistently one of the best faceoff men in the NHL. This year he had to come back from an injury that left him sidelined for most of the early season. Since his return, he has made a mark. He isn’t skating as well as he once was. However, he continues to battle back from his injury.
Those three men aren’t going to go up again. All on the wrong side of 30. However, they can still be effective in Anaheim. But the future cannot be built around them
Rickard Rakell is without a doubt the next franchise player for the Ducks. In the last three seasons, he broke the 20 goal mark and then the 30 goal mark twice. Raks was the lone representative for the Ducks in the 2017 All-Star game. He made the team proud scoring two goals in the championship game. Just beginning to climb towards his peak. He certainly has the ability to become a great goal scorer.
Ondrej Kase is having a breakout season. He has scored a career-high 17 goals and 15 assists. This is his first full season in the league, but he definitely turned heads in the NHL. He still has a lot of development to become an elite player. He is well on his way and has a bright future with the Ducks.
The Ducks have a defensive core that is the envy of many teams in the league. Even with the departure of Shea Theodore in the expansion draft and Sami Vatanen being traded to the New Jersey Devils in November the team has a solid core. Cam Fowler has been steadily developing since his entrance into the NHL in 2010. He has been working hard to become a team leader. He is the third alternate for the Ducks behind Kesler and Perry.
The youngest of the group is Brandon Montour. Like Kase, he broke into the NHL last season and has become a full-time roster member for the Ducks. He is a defenseman that loves to join the rush. Montour is a very talented shutdown player. Spending most of his time with Fowler and that duo they been playing well together.
The Ducks Next Generation
The Ducks definitely have no need to rebuild. They should have a smooth transition between the old and new. Getzlaf, Perry, and Kesler aren’t going anywhere soon. The Ducks leadership has committed to developing the Ducks for the next generation.
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