In this 31 part series, I will be working my way back from 31st to 1st in my projected 2019-2020 standings. First, some ongoing trends that are happening in the league: Goals scored per game went up for the fourth consecutive season (at 3.01 goals per game last year), shots against finally dipped last season to 31.3 per game after increasing for four consecutive seasons previously. It’s clear the league’s push towards offense is yielding its intended effect.
Second up are the Anaheim Ducks who are in their 26th year as a franchise. They missed the playoffs the last year after making it to the playoffs the previous six consecutive years.
2018 – 2019 NHL Stats
- NHL Standings: 24th
- Goals for Rank: 31st
- Goals against Rank: 18th
- PP Rank: 24th
- PK Rank: 19th
Projected 2019-2020 NHL Stats
- NHL Standings: 30th
- Western Conference Standings: 15th
- Pacific Division Standings: 8th
- Coach: Dallas Eakins (1st season in Anaheim)
On offense, the Anaheim Ducks are in rebuilding mode and they did not have many positives to take away from last year. They finished 24th in total NHL standings with the least goals for, least shots for and were sub average in goals against and shots against, an area where they had historically excelled. They signed Jakob Silfverberg to a five year extension locking down one of their top offensive talents on the team. From Ryan Getzlaf to Rickard Rakell to Jakob Silfverberg to Adam Henrique, they provide an ok offensive front but none of them exceeded 50 points last year (something 112 players did), none of them exceeded 25 goals (something 72 players did last year) and none of them exceeded 200 shots (something 77 players did last year). Quite simply offense continues to be the Achilles heel of this team and one can only hope that up and coming Sam Steel, Troy Terry Max Jones and Max Comtois can provide a sizeable infusion of offense. Anaheim had a rough hit from the injury bug as they were among the highest in man games lost to injury. The Ducks had only two players with over 74 games played (74 games would equal 90% of the annual regular season games).
The Anaheim defense is still among the best in the league with Hampus Lindholm, Cam Fowler and Josh Manson (none of whom played at least 80 games last year). The Anaheim team was a top three team in blocked shots from 2015 going into last season and some of that can take a toll on the defense men’s health season over season.
In net John Gibson had an interesting situation for Anaheim. He stood as a brick wall for the team from 2015-2018 with a GAA under 2.5 and a sv% .920 and up. This changed last year, fresh off a eight year, $51MM extension where he posted a career worst 2.84 GAA and .917 sv%. Those numbers are hardly bad but the team had little room for error with an offense that wasn’t producing at all. Things got worse when he suffered a neck injury in collision with teammate Jaycob Megna in February.
Behind the bench, Randy Carlyle had been the coach from 2005-2012 and then again from 2016-2017. His most recent tenure yielded a 111-74-35 record and a 10-11 playoff record. He was replaced by Bob Murray in February. Bob was replaced in the offseason by Dallas Eakins in mid-June. Dallas Eakins had previously coached Edmonton Oilers in 2013-2015 to a 36-63-14 record. Granted Dallas Eakins was not dealing with a fantastic squad around him but he still has much to be proven. Also, Eakins has always been a strong defender, so while I would expect the defense to improve, the offense remains a huge issue.
- Nicolas Deslauriers
- Michael Del Zotto
- Corey Perry
Prospects and Picks
Sam Steel: The 30th overall pick in the 2016 draft played well with the San Diego Gulls last year posting 41 points including 20 goals in 53 games. He had a brief stint up with the Ducks scoring 11 points in 22 games including six goals. There is potential here but it’s still very early.
Josh Mahura: The defensemen was taken 85th overall in the 2016 draft and put up a very respectable 19 points in 40 games with the AHL San Diego Gulls last year. He even put up 5 points in a brief stint with the NHL team. He should likely see some time soon or at very least if any defensemen go down again.
Sleeper Fantasy Asset
John Gibson: I am a bit nervous about the regressive numbers on the verge of an eight year contract. With that said, he’s 26 and his best years should be in front of him (or going on currently) and he has just about the longest track record of excellent numbers as any of the other elite goaltenders. The initial rankings I’ve seen show him outside the top 10 in goaltending and I think that’s a mistake, over the years we’ve seen each of the long standing elites have a down year and bounce back: Sergei Bobrovsky in 2015-2016; Carey Price in 2017-2018, Marc-Andre Fleury in 2016-2017, Tuukka Rask in 2010-2011, and Pekka Rinne in 2013-2014. Especially with his strong defense, I’m more inclined than not to see John Gibson bounce back, just don’t expect much help up front.
Cap Situation: (per CapFriendly)
$73MM Spent; $8.5M in Cap room; 23 players signed.