How Anaheim Ducks Identity Has Changed During the Offseason

Bobby Kittleberger@robertwilliam9Correspondent IAugust 13, 2014

Vancouver's Ryan Kesler moves the puck against Columbus during the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/ Mike Munden)
Mike Munden/Associated Press

The acquisition of Ryan Kesler during the Anaheim Ducks offseason has overshadowed what might have been a more significant shift in the team's roster.

Quietly, the Ducks have lost half of their entire offensive lineup from just one year ago.

After trading Dustin Penner and absorbing the retirement of Teemu Selanne, the Ducks declined to offer contracts to Saku Koivu, Mathieu Perreault and Daniel Winnik, effectively releasing them into free agency. Nick Bonino, who had a breakout year in 2014 scoring 22 goals and 49 points, was part of the package that brought Kesler to Anaheim.

That's a lot of movement for a team that played the best season of their existence, just one year ago.

Why is it that Anaheim seems to have so much turnover after great seasons?

We saw the steady dismantling of the 2006-2007 team, which some argued was one of the best ever assembled, and now we're seeing a team that was statistically better follow in the same path.

What does that imply for the 2014-2015 season?

It at least means that a significant change in the team's identity has taken place.

Goodbye to Three Scoring Lines?

Bruce Boudreau has made a habit and a reputation of rolling three scoring lines, allowing his fourth group of forwards to serve the checking role.

Unless you see a revitalized Dany Heatley (which is certainly possible) or the Ducks' young wingers take a big step forward, it's going to be tough for Andrew Cogliano and Matt Beleskey to create enough offense to warrant the three scoring line rotation.

It could happen, but what's more likely is that Boudreau will have to scale back to a more traditional first, second, checking and fourth line arrangement.

Even if he doesn't say that, the personnel that allowed three scoring lines in Anaheim are simply no longer available.

Trading Depth for Top-Heaviness

Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

Where the 2013-2014 Ducks were a well-toned, evenly proportioned body of lean muscle, they're now more like the top-heavy weightlifter who seems to completely ignore his lower body.

The addition of Kesler gives them a strong top six but with little upside on their third and fourth lines.

Whether or not that works for Anaheim is a question of how their top players handle that kind of responsibility. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf have proven themselves to be capable of carrying their team and putting up Hart Trophy-worth seasons. Yet both have had a history of being somewhat spotty and inconsistent with their offense.

The Ducks have essentially bet the farm on their top six. Fans had better hope those players are up to the task.

Buying Stock in Their Farm System

Anaheim has established a promising farm team, and this season is the moment of truth for three offensive products of that system.

Emerson Etem, Devante Smith-Pelly and Patrick Maroon have all gotten new numbers this year, suggesting they'll be mainstays in the Ducks lineup. That means each player is likely to play a significant role in the team's offense, which shows that general manager Bob Murray is putting a lot more faith in them this time around.

That's new territory for Anaheim, since they haven't relied on any of these three players outside of simply getting them experience at the NHL level.

Will Anaheim Make the Adjustment?

Despite coming off an incredibly successful regular season last year, the Ducks are going to have to make a lot of adjustments moving forward. The one-two punch of Getzlaf and Kesler is certainly going to be a positive change for Anaheim.

But the bigger question mark is whether the young guys can step up and be an effective supporting cast.

If that happens, Anaheim not only makes a smooth transition but also improves on last year's performance.

Bobby Kittleberger writes about Ducks hockey at The Anaheim Project. Keep up with him @robertwilliam9.


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