After three straight division titles followed by three Game 7 losses, the Anaheim Ducks believe it’s Stanley Cup or bust this season.
COACH: Bruce Boudreau
2014-15 RECORD: 51-24-7, 109 points (first in Pacific, lost to Blackhawks, 4-3, in third round)
VITAL SIGNS: 2.78 goals-for per game (11th); 2.70 goals-against per game (20th); 15.7 power play pct. (28th); 81.0 penalty kill pct. (15th); PDO: 99.9 (18th); Corsi For pct.: 51.1 (14th); Fenwick For pct.: 51.6 (12th); face-off pct.: 51.6 (9th)
NOTABLE ARRIVALS: F Carl Hagelin, D Kevin Bieksa, F Chris Stewart, F Shawn Horcoff, F Mike Santorelli, G Anton Khudobin
NOTABLE DEPARTURES: D Francois Beauchemin, F Emerson Etem, F Kyle Palmieri, F Matt Beleskey
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART:
Patrick Maroon — Ryan Getzlaf — Corey Perry
Carl Hagelin— Ryan Kesler — Jakob Silfverberg
Andrew Cogliano — Rickard Rakell — Jiri Sekac
Mike Santorelli — Shawn Horcoff — Chris Stewart
Simone Despres — Cam Fowler
Kevin Bieksa — Hampus Lindholm
Clayton Stoner — Sami Vatanen
OUTLOOK: While plenty of teams would be happy with three consecutive division titles, impatience is descending upon Anaheim. The Ducks have lost three consecutive Game 7’s at home, most recently to eventual-Stanley Cup champion Chicago. After advancing one round further in those three seasons, Ducks star forward Corey Perry arrived at training camp with a shirt that said, “Close is not good enough,” summing up the feelings of plenty of people in the organization.
The Ducks enter the season with the talent to make another deep run. They made several off-season moves—most notably by adding the speed and experience of Carl Hagelin from the New York Rangers. Hagelin will join a top-six forward group that can match any in the league, and he should take some weight off the Ducks’ stars Perry and Ryan Getzlaf—something that proved successful last season when Ryan Kesler was brought in from Vancouver to add more scoring depth. On the backline, the versatile Cam Fowler will hope to continue his rise of the past several seasons, and he should be helped by Simone Despres, who was big for the Ducks during their postseason run last year. The addition of Kevin Bieksa from Vancouver will add an edgy physical presence to the blue line, something the Ducks lacked last season.
After his strong playoff run in 2014-15, Frederik Andersen will start in net, but he will be challenged by one of the league’s most promising young goalies, John Gibson, as well as journeyman backup Anton Khudobin, who the Ducks got in a trade with Carolina this offseason. Gibson, who recently signed a three-year extension worth $6.9 million, is clearly expected to be Anaheim’s goalie of the future, but he’ll likely start the season at the Ducks’ new AHL affiliate in San Diego in order to get regular work. With all of the Ducks’ star power this season, coach Bruce Boudreau is expected to guide this team to the Stanley Cup. As Andersen told reporters at training camp, “It’s Cup or bust this year, and that’s pretty fun.”
PLAYER TO WATCH: Carl Hagelin
The Ducks believe that Hagelin, one of the NHL’s fastest players, will add some experience to the team after they nabbed him from the Rangers in a trade for former first-rounder Emerson Etem. In addition to being a great penalty-killer, Hagelin was second on the Rangers last season with 16 even-strength goals, which should make for a great pairing with the Ducks’ second-line duo of Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg and add even more depth to Anaheim’s already high-powered offense.
PREDICTION: 114 points, first in Pacific