The Ducks are coming off a pretty good regular season. They earned home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, and Corey Perry won the Hart Trophy.
Unfortunately, that was all wasted when they didn’t prove to be much of a match for Nashville in the first round of the playoffs.
That result really sums up this team: There is a lot that they have done well over the years, but they just can’t seem to get it entirely right.
While they haven’t made dramatic changes over the offseason, I am confident that they should be at least as good as last year.
Unfortunately for them, the other top teams in their division—the Sharks and Kings—have aggressively improved. That means that the Ducks could be in for a tough fight in their pursuit of the second round of the playoffs and beyond.
On the plus side for fans, though, the Pacific is going to be a whole lot of fun to watch this year.
Anaheim Ducks: Offseason Moves
There are a bunch of new faces around, but not a whole lot of real substance has been added—certainly not the big-name moves that other teams made.
Most notably, they cleared up space on the blue line and dealt some defensive prospects. That all serves to cement youngsters Cam Fowler and Luca Sbisa, not only as the future on the blue line, but as the core right now.
The guys are both extremely good, so this is a move I really like.
The moves could have opened up an opportunity for one or two top offensive prospects as well.
Emerson Etem was explosive in the WHL last year, and Kyle Palmieri had a good season in the AHL and played 10 games in the NHL.
I think both guys are part of the future, starting now or soon.
2011-12 Anaheim Ducks: Outlook
It will be very interesting to see what happens to Corey Perry this year. He had an exceptional year last year, and though he had been good before, he really raised himself to a whole new level.
Now he won’t sneak up on anyone, though, so he will have a target on his back. Some guys thrive under that pressure, while others wilt.
It will also be interesting to see what impact a healthy Ryan Getzlaf has on Perry. Getzlaf has missed more than 15 games each of the last two seasons, and has been banged up even when he has been playing.
The third prong of power for this squad is Bobby Ryan.
He has scored 30 goals, three years in a row, but he has a lot more in him, and has the potential to break out like Perry did last year. He’ll benefit more than anyone else, as teams focus more on Perry.
The overall fate of this team relies largely on the ability of these three to put the puck in the net.
One guy to be excited about on this team is goalie Jonas Hiller.
He was forced to miss the last quarter of the season and the playoffs because of vertigo. He’s reportedly healthier, though, so hopefully that is in his past.
Before he was hurt, he was making great strides forward. The guy has immense talent, and given a full healthy season, could really break into the elite of the league’s keepers. He’s one of the biggest weapons the Ducks have in their arsenal.
2011-12 Anaheim Ducks Schedule
On Sept. 15th, the legendary Teemu Selanne, now 41, agreed to a one-year contract with the Ducks, despite reports that he was about to retire.
As soon as the ink dried on that deal, there was one game on the Ducks’ schedule that stood out above all others. On Dec. 17th, the Ducks play in Winnipeg.
Selanne was legendary in his time there, including an incredible 76-goal performance as a rookie. Jets fans will be crazy all year, but seeing Selanne again will take their insanity to a whole new level.
This game will be a major spectacle.
Anaheim Ducks: NHL Future Odds (from Bodog)
The Ducks are 25/1 to win the Stanley Cup.
That price puts them behind the elite teams in the league, and well behind the Sharks (11/1) and Kings (14/1).
The price seems fair, though I’m not sure that the Sharks are that dramatically better than the Ducks. They are the sixth choice to win the Western Conference, at 12/1.
Anaheim Ducks: Predictions
Last year, the Ducks finished with 99 points. I’d be comfortable betting that they make it into the triple-digits this year.
I don’t think Perry will be as good as he was last year, but Getzlaf and Ryan will make up for it.
The defense will be stronger with experience, and the goaltending isn’t a concern, if Hiller is healthy.
I don’t believe that the Ducks are going to win the conference, but they are going to be a factor, and they are going to be tough to beat.
Given the improvement of the Kings and the Sharks, though, there is a chance that they could wind up with more points, but finish lower in the standings. That’s just a sign of how tough the West is going to be this year.
Doc’s Sports is very excited for this upcoming NHL season. Visit our home page to access all team previews, as well as more sports articles, betting odds and full coverage on the 2011-12 NHL season.