Friday, 14 September 2007

An Off-Season Look at ... The Anaheim Ducks

by Jes

Being the Stanley Cup champs, the Anaheim Ducks were obviously in the spotlight a lot more than they are used to.

What should have been a quiet summer of celebration turned interesting with the whole Scott Niedermayer mess, the Dustin Penner fiasco, and the big ticket signings such as Todd Bertuzzi and Mathieu Schneider.

The Ducks are certainly big spenders, but Niedermayer's absence, combined with Selanne not showing up for camp, means that the Ducks are well under the salary cap, surprisingly.

Without a doubt, the Ducks aren't as good as they were a few months ago. Scheneider is an excellent Power Play defenseman, and a fine 2-way defender, but he's not quite Scott Niedermayer. That said, Schneider is generally underrated, and the downgrade is small. If Niedermayer comes back at all during the season (very likely), this D core will be the awesomest.

Few seem to know just how much of a positive contribution the renewed Teemu Selanne gave to the Ducks, and how much he pumped up line-mates Kunitz and McDonald. Those two players will not be nearly as effective as they were last season, and Bertuzzi won't give the Ducks anything but headaches and some 'decent' offensive production.

The Ducks will also face some trouble next summer, when Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf will have their contracts come up. Will we see some more free agent poachers?

Also, Kunitz will get a nice raise against the cap next season, and the Ducks won't have any big contracts coming off of the books until 2009.

That said, the Ducks are still a very powerful squad, and are certainly a favourite to take the West. I wonder just how much the Stanley Cup hangover will affect the squad, and I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't take the Conference crown. San Jose will provide stiff competition within their division, and Detroit will get a lot of easy wins over their divisional rivals. It's going to be an interesting 3-way race.

Ph33r the quack!

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