Making the Cut: Who Will Make the Opening Day Roster?


Sep 25, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks left wing Patrick Maroon (19) looks for the puck in the second period of the game against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Anaheim Ducks began training camp with 53 players on its roster. As of now, they have 28, and need to get down to 23 before the season begins this Thursday, against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Of the 28 players on the roster today, 15 of them are forwards, 10 are defensemen, and 3 are goaltenders.

Who will make the opening day roster, and who will be sent down the AHL? Here’s our best guess.


Roster: Matt Beleskey, Andrew Cogliano, Emerson Etem, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Patrick Maroon, Kyle Palmieri, Corey Perry, Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg, Devante Smith-Pelly, Nate Thompson

Cut: William Karlsson, Tim Jackman

The Ducks are loaded at forward. All 15 of these guys are NHL caliber players. However, if the Ducks want to carry 8 defensemen like they did most of last year, they will only be able to keep 13 forwards at the NHL level.

This creates a very tricky decision for Bob Murray, Bruce Bourdreau, and the rest of the Ducks’ staff.

The Ducks need to make sure that they’re managing their assets properly, in addition to icing the best club they possibly can. For this reason, I think that Tim Jackman may be the odd man out.

Jackman is a good hockey player. He isn’t afraid to throw his weight around on the forecheck, and is responsible in his own end. He has decent hands, but he’s not afraid to bloody them in a scrap either.

That’s all well and good, and the team could use a player like him. The problem is, the Ducks already have a player who fits that fourth-line grinder role even better: Matt Beleskey.

Jackman is not waiver exempt, so sending him down to the AHL is somewhat risky—other teams would have the opportunity to claim him off of waivers.

Sep 28, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks center William Karlsson (front) attempts to move the puck defended by Los Angeles Kings defender Slava Voynov (back) during the third period at Honda Center. The Los Angeles Kings defeated the Anaheim Ducks with a final score of 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

But what other alternative do the Ducks have?

Jackman is the Ducks least valuable, least attractive forward from a waivers perspective. He’s far less likely to be snagged on the waiver wire than say, Matt Beleskey, or Kyle Palmieri, or Devante Smith-Pelly, or Jakob Silfverberg.

Of the 15 forwards, only Rakell, Karlsson, and Etem are waiver-exempt.

We’ll discuss Rakell and Karlsson—who are fighting for the opportunity to center the Ducks’ third line in just a moment.

Of those, the only winger is Emerson Etem. Etem has showed flashes of brilliance in his short time with the Anaheim Ducks organization, but also inconsistency.

It’s time for Etem to leave the nest, or die trying. If he can’t perform in a full season as an NHL player, he should be traded while his value is still high. Playing yet another season in the AHL doesn’t do anything to help Etem or the Ducks.

William Karlsson and Rickard Rakell have found themselves in the midst of a heated battle for the third line center position all preseason. Both forwards have shown flashes of brilliance, and have promising careers in front of them. At this point, however it appears that Rakell may have won the battle for now.

Rakell’s comparative size and defensively responsible style of play lends itself well to Anaheim’s new-look depth down the middle.

Karlsson provides more of an offensive punch, but he may benefit more from a year on North American ice in the AHL than Rakell would.

If last night’s preseason finale against San Jose is any indication, Rakell will make the team on opening day, and Karlsson will not. That’s not to say that something couldn’t change; both players are waiver exempt. We may see extended looks from both centers throughout the year if either has trouble finding their groove.


Roster: Bryan Allen, Francoi s Beauchemin, Mark Fistric, Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Ben Lovejoy, Sheldon Souray, Clayton Stoner, Shea Theodore, Sami Vatanen

Cut: Shea Theodore, Sheldon Souray (LTIR)

This one’s a bit of a no-brainer. The Ducks have ten defensemen on the roster right now, including Sheldon Souray who will be placed on long term injured reserve once the season begins.

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  • Of the nine remaining defensemen, Hampus Lindholm and Shea Theodore are waiver-exempt.

    While Theodore is a great prospect with a lot of promise, many believe that his game is not quite mature enough for the NHL level.

    In addition to concerns about his NHL-readiness, Theodore sat out all of the preseason (excluding a pair of future’s games between the Sharks and Ducks) with an elbow injury.

    Lindholm was one of the Ducks’ best defenders in his rookie campaign last year, and he has continued his excellent form so far this preseason.

    If one of those two has to be cut, it won’t be Lindholm.

    The Ducks spent most of last season with eight defensemen, and I see no reason why they won’t do the same this season—unless they try to move one of their spare defensemen like Bryan Allen or Mark Fistric for other assets.


    Roster: Frederik Andersen, John Gibson

    Cut: Jason LaBarbera

    This is fairly simple as well. LaBarbera was signed this offseason to serve as an insurance policy in case starting a tandem of young goaltenders doesn’t work out. Assuming nothing drastic happens (fingers crossed, right?), he will probably spend most of his time in Norfolk alongside Igor Bobkov.

    Even if Gibson and/or Andersen collapse midway through the year, I wouldn’t exactly sleep well at night knowing that LaBarbera is our next best hope. Let’s hope the Ducks develop a better contingency plan before then. In the meantime, there’s no way LaBarbera makes the squad.