Anaheim Ducks 2013-14 Season Preview

Ducks Captain Ryan Getzlaf
Ducks Captain Ryan Getzlaf
March 20 2013 Anaheim CA USA Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf 15 during a stoppage in play against the Chicago Blackhawks during the third period at Honda Center Gary A Vasquez USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Bruce Boudreau needed just one full season to take the Anaheim Ducks from worst to first in the Pacific Division, and west coast puck-heads can’t wait to see his follow-up act. Boudreau righted the ship that Randy Carlyle had veered far off course, but a first round playoff exit leaves major questions for the Ducks.

Anaheim finished second only to the champion Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference standings, and only the Hawks scored more goals than their quacking competitors among Western clubs.

The Ducks offense was spurred by a renaissance from captain Ryan Getzlaf. Getzlaf’s 49 points marked his most productive season since 2010-11. If he can maintain his point-per-game pace, the Ducks will be in good shape moving forward.

Former-MVP Corey Perry also made a contribution, though he has yet to recapture his 2010-11 brilliance. The one-time 50-goal scorer tallied just 15 in the shortened season. More will be expected of him this year.

Perry will bear the brunt of the pressure to replace Bobby Ryan‘s vital offensive contribution. The four-time 30-goal scorer was dealt to Ottawa in the offseason in exchange for Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen and a first-round pick.

The 26-year-old Ryan was a model of consistency for the Ducks and his departure marks a major shift for the team. Silfberberg projects to fill Ryan’s role, but the 22-year-old  posted just 19 points as a rookie in 2013. The Swede has the potential of a future star, but he is certainly not ready to fill Ryan’s big shoes all on his own.

The 21-year-old Emerson Etem should be in line for an expanded role as well after a good rookie season. The California-native was drafted in the first round of the 2010 draft, and he could be preparing for a breakout season.

Etem’s ice-time will get a big boost if living-legend Teemu Selanne opts to retire. The Finnish Flash led the Ducks in points just a year ago, but at 43-years-old, retirement must be tempting. The Ducks’ career leader in practically every category still merits a third line spot, but his return remains in doubt.

While the offense transitions, the defense remains stable. The arrival of free agent Sheldon Souray and the further emergence of Cam Fowler helped drastically improve the Ducks’ defensive corps last season, and the team will return all three of its pairings from 2013.

The Ducks’ stingy defense was primarily a result of superb goaltending. That goaltending came, in many cases, from an unusual source. The 31-year-old rookie Viktor Fasth was a revelation in net after arriving from Sweden. Fasth’s spectacular play coupled with injuries to franchise netminder Jonas Hiller led to an even split in appearances for the tandem.

Both goalie’s won 15 games, with Fasth posting the superior numbers. With four shutouts compared to Hiller’s one, Fasth managed an elite .921 save-percentage and a strong 2.18 goals-against average.

Despite the stats, Hiller flew solo in the postseason, and he could take the blame for the seven-game first round loss to the Detroit Red Wings. As a result, the starts could swing further in Fasth’s favor this season.

Hiller was strong throughout the year, but Fasth simply deserves the opportunity. Whoever comes out on top, the goaltending battle in Anaheim will be on to watch. With top-goaltending prospect John Gibson waiting in the wings, Hiller could be trade-bait down the road.

The Ducks are set to welcome Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary into the Pacific Division this October. Of that trio, only the Canucks seem likely to compete for the division title. Anaheim should have far more trouble with their California neighbors.

The San Jose Sharks aren’t going away anytime soon, and the LA Kings have become perennial contenders. The Ducks and Kings appear to be the deepest and most talented teams in the division headed into the season, meaning a classic rivalry could be brewing in the City of Angels.

In recent years the Kings have proven to be built for the playoffs, while their division opponents have peaked in the regular season. If that form holds, the Ducks should have the edge at least until the postseason rolls around.

The Ducks will be a power in the West once again with a division title well within their reach. If their elite powerplay can survive the loss of Bobby Ryan, Anaheim will cruise into the postseason.

author avatar
Chris Blanchard
Chris Blanchard is a Boston, MA native and a student at Davidson College. He began writing about hockey as a Boston Bruins featured columnist for Bleacher Report in the fall of 2012. He has been covering the NHL for XN Sports since May of 2013. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+'://';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');