Teemu Selanne Returning? What It Would Mean for the Anaheim Ducks
I'll start by reminding my readers (and myself) that the Orange County Register article citing Teemu Selanne's possible return for a 20th season is not official, and should be taken with a grain of salt. Yet regardless of how mature we choose to be about the rumor mill, it's always worth some speculation as to what a plausible outcome could mean for the team involved.
Selanne's possible return this year is particularly intriguing, as the Ducks have all the markings of a team starting down the path of a rebuild. Is it reasonable to think that Selanne for one more year could stave off a rebuild and make the Ducks a serious playoff contender? Maybe.
Selanne's return could mean a couple different things for Anaheim's management. First and foremost, it will give General Manager Bob Murray some more flexible options dealing with his second and third line. If Murray wants to setup the Ducks to play three scoring lines instead of just barely two like last year, he'll have the option of moving Saku Koivu and Selanne to the third line.
Andrew Cogliano is still under contract and is a capable two-way center. If Murray can add some fire power in free agency, or even drop Bobby Ryan down to one of Cogliano's wings, he'll have three fairly capable scoring lines. Murray also has the option of giving one of the youngsters like Kyle Palmieri or Emerson Etem a shot at second line minutes.
Without Selanne, the focus becomes solely on building a second line from scratch. Even if Selanne remains on the roster, the likely departure of Jason Blake, George Parros and Niklas Hagman will leave Anaheim's second and third lines severely gutted. However, Selanne's return gives a little more structure, since he'll almost certainly play on a line with Koivu.
In addition, Selanne will give Murray the freedom to worry a little less about dealing with the team's offensive needs and in turn focus on rebuilding the team's size up front. Another area he might look to focus on will be defense, where the Ducks also lack the intimidating presence that made them so successful in the years following the 2005 lockout.
In short, the Ducks could be getting their leading scorer from last season back for one more year. With a first line almost certain to improve on an underwhelming season, Selanne's offense might be just enough to give Murray one more chance to build a Stanley Cup team before the Finnish Flash calls it a career.
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