Anaheim Ducks: Possible Line Combinations If Bobby Ryan Stays
In an interview with csnwashington.com, Bruce Boudreau spoke pretty plainly about how he would use Bobby Ryan this season, adding further to the growing sentiment that the Ducks opportunity to trade Ryan might have come and gone.
It's possible that the desire to trade him was never there to begin with, but rather that they were just casually listening to offers, which certainly happens more typically than we all realize.
Either way, trade talks regarding Ryan have all but completely been silenced, and assuming the NHL season starts on schedule, the attention is beginning to turn to training camp and the preseason.
With Ryan still on a Ducks roster that is largely unchanged from one playoff-less year ago, Boudreau will have some interesting options as he sets out to develop Anaheim's game plan and come up with lines.
We'll take a look at a few of those options, and speculate as to what lines we could see from the Ducks this coming season.
Two things are fairly certain when it comes to Anaheim's top line. You'll see a lot of Corey Perry, and a lot of Ryan Getzlaf. Getzlaf will center the first line with Perry on his right wing.
The question mark lies to Getzlaf's left.
Traditionally, Ryan has taken that left wing spot, despite being listed as a right wing. However, last year Boudreau moved Ryan around a lot, as he ended up spending most of his time on the second and third line. Boudreau has stated in an interview that the Ducks might still seek to add one more winger, and if they do, he'll of course be a possible candidate for that left wing spot.
Devante Smith-Pelly and Matt Beleskey have both filled that role at various times last season. If Boudreau seeks to re-create last year's lines, he might put either of them in that role again. If not, he'll either go back to Ryan and reunite the "RPG line", or he'll use the unknown added winger.
Free Agent/Trade Acquisition-Getzlaf-Perry
Selanne and Koivu are both back for another season, but Boudreau has gone on record with CSN Washington saying that Koivu will center the third line which indicates two things. First off, it means that Boudreau will again employ a strategy that rotates three scoring lines. It also means that Selanne will likely play on the third lines as Koivu's line mate.
That leaves the second line pretty wide open.
The Ducks have two very capable young centers in Peter Holland and Rickard Rakell. It's possible that either of these players could step in and fill the role at center. The only other notable possibility at center is Andrew Cogliano, who though capable of 40-point seasons, spent most of last season on the third and fourth lines.
It's possible that Boudreau could further utilize his younger players and bring in Emerson Etem and Kyle Palmieri to play the wings on the second line. Both players have seen tremendous success at the junior and AHL levels and are thought to be NHL ready.
We also need to keep in mind that if Ryan isn't playing on the first line, he'll likely be put on the second, which would in effect make the second line "his" line.
I mentioned before that Boudreau is going to play Koivu on the third line. That means that Selanne will likely be slotted for the right wing position on the third line as well.
So we already have two-thirds of the equation solved.
That left wing position remains a mystery, though it'll probably be a trade-off between Beleskey and Smith-Pelly, as both players have been regulars on Anaheim's third and fourth lines.
The Ducks have a few solid options as they'll seek to rebuild their checking line after losing George Parros and Niklas Hagman in free agency.
Newly signed Daniel Winnik and Brad Staubitz bring toughness and experience to Anaheim's roster and are the most likely to take spots on the fourth line, which will become Anaheim's default "checking" line.
The only question mark here could be how much time Nick Bonino sees on this fourth line, as he's another youngster in the Ducks system slated to see more ice time at the NHL level. We'll probably get a reliable mixture of the three.