The Anaheim Ducks have one of the most talented top lines in the NHL at the hands of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan. All three players were drafted in a span of three years, and have done their due diligence playing behind Teemu Selanne, Andy McDonald and even Doug Weight before getting to take the offensive reigns.
These players are now the core of Anaheim's club, and apart from the uncertain presence of Selanne and Saku Koivu, they are the only real offensive threats on the Ducks roster.
The line by line assessment of Anaheim's team is starting to look uncomfortably familiar to the Ducks teams of the late '90s; led by Paul Kariya, Steve Rucchin and a much younger Selanne. Those teams were fast and at times offensively capable, though severely one-dimensional.
For Anaheim to fall into that pattern as a franchise again would mean more than their share of finishing around 11th or 12th place in the Western Conference. In short, the Ducks need more than their top three scorers if they're going to compete, particularly in a stacked Western Conference.
These are five reasons why Anaheim's top line isn't enough.
You can now add Hampus Lindholm to the list of highly promising young Anaheim defenders. Though the Ducks defense has a very bright future, they're still not fully developed, and probably relying way too heavily on Cam Fowler, who averaged over 23 minutes per game last year.
To be certain, the Ducks defense has improved, but it's still not enough to make them a defensively dominant team. They still need to beat their opponents primarily with their offense and power play.
Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu, even if they both do return for another season, simply can't be counted on as adequate secondary scoring.
Though Selanne continues to defy his age by turning out 50 and 60 point seasons, the time is drawing very close for him to pass the baton, and right now there's nobody waiting to take it.
To be clear, this isn't a knock on Selanne's abilities. The guy can still play like crazy, but he just needs some help. If Koivu moves to the third line and takes on a Todd Marchant type role for Anaheim, the Ducks will need to supplement their second line, either with prospects or a late free agency pickup.
Bruce Boudreau on multiple occasions has made clear his intention to roll three scoring lines for the Ducks. The only problem is that after Selanne and Koivu the Ducks have Matt Beleskey, Andrew Cogliano and Kyle Palmieri, none of which are proven scorers.
The Ducks coaching staff might be better served to go with a more traditional two scoring lines, a checking line and then a fourth "development" line. There's always a possibility Boudreau has something up his sleeve, however there's no denying that he's limited in terms of the pieces he can make moves with.
To Ryan's credit, he's spent four seasons in the NHL and has scored 30 goals in each of those seasons. Doing so last year under the barrage of trade rumors is a testament to his skill and ability.
Yet if the Ducks struggle early in the coming season, expect trade rumors to fire up quickly, with or without good reason.
At this point, it would be a surprise if this didn't effect his play in an Anaheim jersey. Let's hope for his sake that the Ducks perform well, thus avoiding the ridiculous "shop Bobby Ryan" discussion.
Having three players shoulder even a sizable portion of the offensive load necessary for a professional hockey team to win games isn't an advisable game plan.
The Ducks have been discretely doing that for a few years now, and with the little relief they have in Selanne and Koivu likely gone, the pressure left on Anaheim's top three will just be too much.
The Ducks will not only need to replace Selanne and Koivu, but they'll also need to pull some additional depth onto their roster. Whether that depth comes in the form of free agents, prospects, or via trade is yet to be seen. The looming cancellation of the 2012-2013 NHL season will without question play a role in that process.
If the Ducks don't play until 2013-2014, we can expect a very different looking depth chart by the time the puck drops in Orange County.