Anaheim Ducks season preview: Ducks fly high this year
Plus: The Anaheim Ducks have an incredible amount of depth at virtually every position. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry will once again find themselves among the league’s top scorers. Jakob Silfverberg, Ryan Kesler and new arrival Carl Hagelin will provide the second-line scoring. Anaheim has several different players that can fit on virtually any of the four forward lines. The Ducks’ defense unit is filled with puck movers who can help facilitate the offense, and new addition Kevin Bieksa should fit right in. The Ducks have three goaltenders with NHL experience.
Minus: While the defense is full of potential, the group is fairly inexperienced, and lacks a true No. 1. The majority of the defensemen are under the age of 25. Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen will be thrust into the top pairing, but is the 21-year-old Lindholm ready to step into that role?
X-Factor: Rickard Rakell
With Matt Beleskey signing with the Boston Bruins, the Ducks lost a bottom-six player who scored 22 goals. Who steps into that role? There’s a couple of options, but Rickard Rakell will definitely help find that 20-goal scorer. The 22-year-old is entering his second full year with the Ducks. He’s coming off of a nine goal, 31-point campaign in the 2014-15 season. Can he set up either Jiri Sekac or Stewart for a career year?
Prediction: The Ducks will win the Pacific Division and will be a force to be reckoned with in the playoffs. No team in the Western Conference can match with the Ducks’ forward depth, and while the defensemen are young, all are capable of playing both sides of the puck. The Ducks will need one of their young goaltenders to take command of the crease. The Ducks are a Stanley Cup-caliber team.