Jakob Silfverberg’s scoring touch will come


During the summer of 2013, the Anaheim Ducks sent shock waves through the NHL.

Following a disappointing quarterfinal loss to the Detroit Red Wings and knowing his cap hit would be too high, the Ducks sent Bobby Ryan to the Ottawa Senators. In exchange the Ducks received Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen, and the Senators first round pick in 2014 which became forward Nick Ritchie.

Silfverberg’s first year in Anaheim was up and down and injury plagued which resulted in only 10 goals. This was done while primarily playing on the third line with Saku Koivu and Andrew Cogliano. Chemistry was shown on that line especially with him and Cogliano. But Silfverberg played with a Koivu who had noticeably dropped off a little and I’m not sure Koivu was able to always keep up with his speedy wingers.

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Fast forward to this season and Cogliano is still on the other wing but now the pivot is Ryan Kesler. And through just 8 games that line seems to get better and better with each shift. And although to this point Silfverberg has only four assists it is leading me to my bold prediction. Jakob Silfverberg will score between 20-25 goals for the first time in his NHL career.

As mentioned above to this point Silfverberg has four assists through nine games played. But he has 18 shots and each one looking more and more dangerous. His release is one of the fastest I’ve seen and last game he would’ve had his first goal of the season if not for the fast glove save of Sergei Bobrovsky.

Silfverberg has looked much more effective as well in plays that don’t show up on the stats sheet. He is throwing his weight around, getting in on the fore-check and winning puck battles. He is taking the puck away from people and making good plays that lead to goals and scoring chances.

These were things I didn’t see from him last year and intangibles that are greatly improving his play. I don’t know if his new playing style is a product of settling in to the Ducks system, his new line mate, or a combination of the two.It’s no secret the Ducks are fast physical team that play their best when they get pucks deep, cycle, and out-work their opponent. So settling in to that could be contributing. However I firmly believe his new pivot is the main reason.

Make no mistake I am a Saku Koivu fan and I think he was a great player and person. But to say that Koivu is better than Ryan Kesler I think is wrong. Kesler is younger, bigger, and more skilled than Koivu. Kesler also likes to get pucks deep, cycle, and throw his weight around. And if his line mates aren’t doing that as well he isn’t going to be pleased. He is bringing out the nastier side of Silfverberg and the Ducks are 100 times better for it. These three should be a line with no changes because the plays they’re making are great and the chemistry continues to build every game. They are finding each other and giving each other scoring chances seemingly at will sometimes.

Kesler was brought to Anaheim for many reasons: face-offs, second line center behind Ryan Getzlaf, secondary scoring, etc. You may want to add elevate the play of Silfverberg to that list. Silfverberg is now getting second line minutes as opposed to third line, increased penalty kill time as well as power play time. Even though Bruce Boudreau rolls four lines Silfverberg being on Kesler’s line as opposed to William Karlsson’s line will give him more minutes and more scoring opportunities. Kesler will score just as much as he will pass and that should set Silfverberg up more and more. If he continues to play like this it is only a matter of time. Silfverberg can score in bunches and someone that can snipe at the ability he has will only be more dangerous once his confidence is built up more. Potting a few goals will get him to relax and goals will come much easier.

Silfverberg will benefit perhaps the most from bringing Kesler aboard and although he may not achieve the level that Ryan did he can come extremely close to it. And if the Ducks can get 20-25 goals from Silfverberg and have him running hot entering the post-season, they have yet another dimension that was absent from last year’s playoffs. One that may put them over the hump, and catapult them to the franchise’s second Stanley Cup.