May 12, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks right wing Emerson Etem (65) and Anaheim Ducks right wing Corey Perry (10) react after losing game seven against the Detroit Red Wings of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Honda Center. The Detroit Red Wings defeated the Anaheim Ducks 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

NHL.com's 30-for-30: Anaheim Ducks

Every summer, NHL.com begins a series called, “30-for-30,” as they analyze every franchise in the NHL. Today is Day 1 of that series and they began with our Anaheim Ducks. Here’s the link to the main article and I’ll post links to their other articles on the subject as I bring them up. Their main article is titled, “Anaheim Ducks’ Youth Movement Pays Dividends.” They first brought up the Ducks’ hot start this past year, winning 13 of their first 16, compared to last year’s 6-13-4 start. Also, General Manager Bob Murray brought up the importance of being healthy early on which was not the case two years ago when they got off to that atrocious start. The play of Ryan Getzlaf was also a huge difference between the two seasons as well. Getzlaf came back after the worst season of his career with a very good season that looked like the Getzlaf of old.

May 4, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf (15) is congratulated by teammate Anaheim Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin (23) in the third period against the Detroit Red Wings in game three of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Then, after noting that the Ducks will have their first real training camp to work with Bruce Boudreau‘s up-tempo offensive style, they finally get to the title of the article. We all know about the great crop of young players the Ducks have. They mentioned Kyle Palmieri, Emerson Etem, newcomer Jakob Silfverberg, Peter Holland and Rickard Rakell as all young players to keep an eye on. Palmieri is now established in the lineup and it looks like Etem certainly will be established this season as well. Silfverberg will look to make a good impression on his new team. Then, both Holland and Rakell are going to compete for a spot on the lineup in training camp. Afterwards, they bring up Dustin Penner when they begin to talk about how the Ducks will have to compensate for the loss of Bobby Ryan to the Ottawa Senators. But also state the importance of Teemu Selanne‘s decision to return or to retire in compensating for the loss of Ryan.

Then, they get to talking about the Ducks’ goaltending situation. Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth were both fantastic last season. Hiller came back with a vengeance after the struggles last season to post a record of 15-6-4 while having a 2.36 GAA and a .931 SV%. Meanwhile, Fasth bursted onto the NHL scene by winning his first eight starts and finishing the season with a record of 15-6-2 while having a 2.18 GAA and a .921 SV%. Each guy had his turn as the “number one” and it will once again be up in the air as to who will get the majority of the starts between the pipes. Then, John Gibson. Yeah, John Gibson’s closer to the NHL. However, I hope that the Ducks don’t rush Gibson to the NHL. Fasth signed a two-year contract extension last season and Hiller is now in a contract year. So, trade Hiller at the trade deadline, finish out Fasth’s contract and then Gibson is the starter. They pretty much finished with one sentence talking about the defense, mentioning the solid mix of veterans with Francois Beauchemin and Sheldon Souray and young guys with Cam Fowler and Luca Sbisa, followed by Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm.

April 27, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks goalie Viktor Fasth (30) defends the goal against the Phoenix Coyotes during the third period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Next, NHL.com posed six questions that were going to determine the degree of success for this Ducks team, they are:

  1. Who plays on the top line?
  2. Will Teemu Selanne return?
  3. Who’s in net?
  4. Will the kids step up?
  5. Is Ryan Getzlaf back to himself?
  6. Will there be a playoff hangover?

Can’t really say too much about this because these are certainly the questions the Ducks fans are asking and wondering. I’d like to see Silfverberg take Ryan’s spot on the top line. They also list Palmieri, Penner, Etem and Matt Beleskey as possible replacements for Ryan. As for Selanne’s return, Murray had this to say to NHL.com:

“If he’s sure he wants it bad, then we’ll make it work. Whatever I have to do. I don’t care when he tells me. We’ll find a way. We’ve got lots of cap space [and] we have enough contract [room].”

So, it’s pretty clear, if Teemu wants to play, he’s going to play. I continue my belief that I think Teemu is done. We’ve already mentioned the goaltending competition, the importance of the youth movement and Getzlaf being Getzlaf. Now, when it comes to a possible playoff hangover, it is key to remember how tough that loss was and how many young guys this team has and it will be interesting to see how they react.

Now, with every team in this 30-for-30 series, NHL.com name’s an x-factor for each individual team. Now, in the Ducks case, I could think of a couple guys who could go down as their x-factor, but I agree with their decision that Palmieri is this team’s x-factor. I’ve stated before that this past year was Palmieri’s “coming out party” of sorts. Palmieri played very well for this team and earned chances to skate with Getzlaf and Corey Perry. He didn’t look uncomfortable in any way playing with this two guys either. Again, with Ryan gone, the spot on the first line is open for grabs and Palmieri has definitely got to be the early favorite to snag that spot for opening night. There’s still training camp to go and the spot on the top line is going to be fought over by plenty of guys.

Mar. 16, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; Ottawa Senators left wing Jakob Silfverberg (33) skates up ice with the puck against the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

After naming Palmieri as the x-factor, NHL.com got to work on the Ducks prospect system. They listed out their version of the Ducks’ top 10 prospects. That list goes as follows:

  1. John Gibson
  2. Hampus Lindholm
  3. Peter Holland
  4. Rickard Rakell
  5. Sami Vatanen
  6. William Karlsson
  7. Nicolas Kerdiles
  8. Shea Theodore
  9. Nick Sorensen
  10. Kevin Roy

That list is noticeably different than the list I presented to you guys over the past two months from Hockey’sFuture.com. Here is the top 10 list according to Hockey’s Future:

  1. Emerson Etem
  2. John Gibson
  3. Rickard Rakell
  4. Peter Holland
  5. Hampus Lindholm
  6. Sami Vatanen
  7. Nicolas Kerdiles
  8. William Karlsson
  9. Devante Smith-Pelly
  10. Antoine Laganiere

Now, what you consider a prospect can vary from person to person and there are certainly some differences here. Is it big? Not really. Does it matter? Not really. In other news regarding prospects, both Kerdiles and recent draft pick Keaton Thompson will be attending a USA Junior Camp that involves practices and scrimmages as well as games against Canada, Finland and Sweden.

Finally, to cap off their 30-for-30 analysis, NHL.com predicts a lineup for each individual team. Here’s their projected lineup for the 2013-2014 Ducks:

April 3, 2013; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks right wing Kyle Palmieri (51) reacts after scoring a goal against the Dallas Stars during the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Jakob Silfverberg – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry

Emerson Etem – Nick Bonino – Dustin Penner

Andrew CoglianoSaku KoivuDaniel Winnik

Matt Beleskey – Peter Holland – Kyle Palmieri

Sheldon Souray – Francois Beauchemin

Cam Fowler – Ben Lovejoy

Bryan Allen – Luca Sbisa

Jonas Hiller

Viktor Fasth

Scratches: Brad Staubitz, Patrick Maroon, Sami Vatanen

Seems reasonable, right? However, it is August 1st. Who knows? Maybe this is going to be the Ducks’ opening night lineup. This could also drastically change, though. Suppose Teemu does comeback. Certainly he would return to the second line. So, that would result in some more shuffling. Penner then goes to the third line and Winnik the goes to the fourth line. Also, what if Hampus Lindholm absolutely sparkles during training camp and they want him in the opening night lineup? You send down Vatanen. But, then who do you scratch? It’s certainly going to be interesting as always. However, you just get that feeling that this will be a very special training camp and that some guys are going to surprise and make the opening night roster. We’ll have to wait and see.

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Tags: Anaheim Ducks Andrew Cogliano Antoine Laganiere Ben Lovejoy Bob Murray Bobby Ryan Brad Staubitz Bruce Boudreau Bryan Allen Cam Fowler Daniel Winnik Devante Smith-Pelly Dustin Penner Emerson Etem Francois Beauchemin Hampus Lindholm Jakob Silfverberg John Gibson Jonas Hiller Keaton Thompson Kevin Roy Kyle Palmieri Luca Sbisa NHL NHL.com's 30-for-30 Nic Kerdiles Nick Bonino Nick Sorensen Ottawa Senators Patrick Maroon Peter Holland Rickard Rakell Ryan Getzlaf Saku Koivu Sami Vatanen Shea Theodore Sheldon Souray Teemu Selanne Viktor Fasth William Karlsson

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