NHL.com will provide in-depth roster, prospect and fantasy analysis for each of its 32 teams from August 8 through September. 8. Today the Anaheim Ducks.
The Anaheim Ducks had a busy outdoor season and believe they are ready to compete for a Stanley Cup Playoff berth after failing to qualify in the past four seasons.
On the first day of free agency, the Ducks signed ahead Ryan Strome and Frank Vatrano to play in their top six.
“I think Ryan will be a good addition from a number of different angles,” general manager Pat Verbeek told the Ducks website on July 18. “From a leadership point of view it will be very, very important. Obviously he is a very good playmaker. and also had a good year with goals this year. So I think it was very important for our club to have someone who is offensively very productive and someone who will provide really good culture and really good leadership.”
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Strome had an NHL career-high 21 goals with the New York Rangers last season; Vatrano had 32 points (18 goals, 14 assists) in 71 games for the Rangers and Florida Panthers.
“I think we just want to try and win some hockey games,” Strome said. “We’ve got some good older guys and hopefully we’ll get in here and keep growing as a team. That seems to be the direction everything is going. A little turnover [in the past few seasons] losing some guys who have been here for decades (Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Hampus Lindholm). That’s not necessarily easy to replace, but I think we’re trying to do that.”
Getzlaf retired after 17 seasons, the last 12 of which as captain.
“Ryan was an incredible captain and an incredible player and an even better person,” said coach Dallas Eakins. “So it does leave a hole, but Adam Henrique is a great leader. Troy Terry grows into a very good leader. Pat added Strome and Vatrano. Jakob Silvverberg. Derek Grant is a silent leader. Cam Fowlerincredible leader. Kevin Shattenkirkgreat leader. John Gibson. We have a lot of good people. These guys are good people and that’s usually where leadership starts, and I think they’re the only ones who can fill the void as a group.”
In addition to Strome and Vatrano, the Ducks signed defender John Klingberg on a one-year contract on July 29.
“Well, of course, if you look at their team, I think they have some really interesting young players,” Klingberg said. “I think they took a step last year. Looking at their team, I think they had a lot of injuries and COVID issues last year and still got a lot of points. I’m just excited to be able to get there and try team to get better next season.”
Add those three players to a core of attackers Trevor Zegras and Terry, and it’s not hard to see why it’s an exciting time in Anaheim. Zegras had 61 points and was a finalist for the Calder Trophy last season as rookie of the year. Terry led the Ducks with 37 goals and 67 points; it was the first time since 2017-18 that Anaheim had a scorer of 30 goals and 60 points.
“Clear [Zegras and Terry] both had very productive seasons in terms of points. I think Troy Terry’s (19.3 percent) shooting rate was incredible,” Eakins said. “So for him to match his numbers or Trevor to match his numbers, I think it will be challenging, but both young knowing men the way I do, that will be a low bar for them. They look to complement what they achieved last year.
“…We hope Jakob Silfverberg (blood clot) is back and fully recovered, hoping Max Jones (torn pectoral muscle) can be repaired — he only played two games last year — and we’re looking forward to a huge recovery year of Max Comtois (16 points in 52 games).”
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Anaheim finished seventh in the Pacific Division last season, 21 points behind the Nashville Predators for the second wild card in the Western Conference playoffs. The Ducks were 24th in scoring (2.78 goals per game) after finishing last in 2020-21 (2.21), 29th in 2019-20 (2.56) and last in 2018-19 (2.39) . But the additions of Strome, Vatrano and Klingberg should help.
“I think you can see all the pieces are there,” Vatrano told the Ducks website on July 14. “There are great veterans on the team, guys who have been around for a long time, and then you have younger guys who have already proven themselves at such a young age. When you have a good mix of experienced leadership and young players who play the game being able to push is a sign of a great team. … The future is very bright in Anaheim.”