The Ducks have cornerstones Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf locked up for several years. Veterans Saku Koivu and Dustin Penner bring loads of experience to mix with the youthful exuberance of newcomer Jakob Silfverberg and incumbents Kyle Palmieri and Emerson Etem. Throw Andrew Cogliano into the mix and what you're left with is a crafty, fast paced scoring attack. Depth could be a little bit of a concern, but this group will find their way.
After putting up 45 points in 62 AHL games with Norfolk, is Sami Vatanen ready to make the jump? The Ducks had better hope so because their defensive core is limping into the new season. Francois Beauchemin and Sheldon Souray are likely to be on the shelf to start the season and 35 games from Toni Lydman are out the door due to his pending retirement. That leaves up and coming Cam Fowler along with Luca Sbisa, Bryan Allen and Ben Lovejoy. If Hampus Lindholm can continue to show consistency at the pro level, he just might be worth a look. Otherwise, this group doesn't scare anyone. Except for maybe Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth.
Goaltending was rarely a problem for last year's squad as Hiller and Fasth played almost an identical amount with Hiller seeing just 70 more minutes of game action. They tied in wins at 15 and Fasth ended the year with the lower goals against average and the higher save percentage. Anaheim management showed where their trust lies in the playoffs, though, when Hiller saw every minute of the Ducks' seven game series loss to the Red Wings. Hiller is in a contract year so it will be important for him to keep his strong play rolling.
A little talked about plus to the Bobby Ryan trade is the flexibility it gives Anaheim. That deal cleared his salary which sat at just over $5 million per year and added a 1st round pick which can go a long way in being turned into a key piece to their future. The Ducks are close to the cap as of right now, but at the end of the year they have Selanne, Penner, Koivu, Cogliano, Daniel Winnik and Jonas Hiller all marked for unrestricted free agency and making over $1 million per year this year. That's a potential for nearly $16 million off the payroll at season's end, which means that heading into next year, this team could be ready to re-tool and do so quickly. Some key veteran free agents could be had for cheap; players like Dany Heatley and Ryan Miller, the latter of which has been rumored to want to move out west to be closer to his wife. Miller could be a solid one-to-two year fill-in if Frederik Andersen isn't quite ready yet. It would make sense that Anaheim will focus on defense at this point and going forward, though. All-in-all, I think Anaheim is going to be a playoff team yet again, but they won't be without their bumps this year. What it will all come back to is to do it for Teemu. Here's to you, Teemu, and best of luck this season!