5 of the Anaheim Ducks' Most Underrated Players
Hockey is a game of inches, seconds and unsung heroes.
It's different than basketball, in which your star players spend most of the game on the court. If the Anaheim Ducks were a basketball team, they'd be tough to play against with one of the most talented group of top-six forwards in the league.
But hockey demands enough of the human body that teams must roll four distinct lines, giving several different types of players a chance to get on the ice, many of whom carry little (if any) star status.
Historically such players have played crucial roles for the Ducks. Think back to Steve Thomas' performance in Anaheim's run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2003, or Brad May and Sean O'Donnell with the 2007 championship squad.
Like many teams, Anaheim has relied on its depth players and unsung heroes.
These players are under-appreciated, overworked and yet handsomely compensated.
Here are five of the Ducks' most underrated players going into the 2014-2015 season.
5. Ben Lovejoy
Ben Lovejoy is a workhorse, stay-at-home blueliner for the Ducks who posted a glistening plus-minus rating of 21 last season.
He also placed second among the team's defenders in shots on goal and added two game-winning goals.
Though it doesn't show up on the stat sheet, his work in front of the net and in his own zone is grueling and often comes against opposing teams' top forwards. On any given night, he's capable of providing the Ducks a solid 20 minutes of hard-fought ice time.
4. Jakob Silfverberg
Along with the first-round draft pick that ended up being Nick Ritchie, Jakob Silfverberg was the centerpiece that helped complete the Bobby Ryan trade with the Ottawa Senators. And while he isn't thought of as a direct replacement for the offense that Ryan generated, he's a skilled player with tons of potential.
In fact, Silfverberg is a 40-point-caliber winger, having notched 10 goals and 23 points in an injury-plagued 2013-14 season that limited him to 52 games.
3. Andrew Cogliano
Anaheim's resident iron man, Andrew Cogliano, hasn't missed a single game in his seven-year NHL career.
He's also a noticeably hard skater, making him one of the Ducks' better two-way forwards. Cogliano can work the power play and kill penalties; he plays against opposing teams' top lines and has the speed to play on Anaheim's top scoring line if needed.
Even after the Ryan Kesler trade, Cogliano is still one of Anaheim's most valuable centers.
2. Hampus Lindholm
Though it's early in Hampus Lindholm's career, his rookie season was nothing short of remarkable, placing him in the Calder Trophy conversation for most of the year. Offensively, he was Anaheim's second-ranked defenseman behind Cam Fowler, tallying six goals and 30 points in 78 games.
That brings some much-needed relief to Fowler, who has been the primary offensive blueliner for the Ducks since he was drafted in 2010.
At only 20 years old, Lindholm is one of Anaheim's prime assets and has quickly become part of the Ducks' robust young group of core players.
1. Francois Beauchemin
Bear in mind that Francois Beauchemin was on pace for 40-plus points in the shortened 2012-13 season, had he been able to play a full 82-game schedule.
That would have been a career year for Beauchemin, who has never scored more than 34 points in a season.
But even if you don't get excited about his offense, Beauchemin is an integral part of Anaheim's blueline and one of its toughest defenders to play against. He brings a valuable veteran presence to complement the Ducks' young core of Fowler, Lindholm and Sami Vatanen—all of whom are under 23 years old.
At 34, Beauchemin has also quietly become the oldest active player on Anaheim's roster, if you don't count Sheldon Souray, who doesn't seem likely to play this year.
The retirement of Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu has left Beauchemin as one of the most-senior Ducks, and thus a valuable leadership presence.
He's not flashy, but he's a hard worker and easily one of Anaheim's most underrated players.