Young Players Getting a Chance Amidst Anaheim Ducks Injuries


Oct 28, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Anaheim Ducks right wing Devante Smith-Pelly (12) clears the puck during the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center. Anaheim won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Every team has hardships through the season.  Often times teams have to deal with injuries to key players which leave their lineup much weaker than before.  This is why teams require depth in their system, so that when that key injury happens they can be replaced by a reliable player.

If the early goings are any indication, the Anaheim Ducks are one of the deepest teams in the NHL.  From the beginning, the Ducks had injuries to Dany Heatly, Kyle Palmieri, and Bryan Allen.  As the season went on, the injuries continued to stack up.  Patrick Maroon, Ben Lovejoy, Mark Fistric have all had to leave for an extended amount of time.

Instead of being a major drawback, these injuries have provided an opportunity for Anaheim’s young players and prospects to step into the lineup and get some NHL experience.  All the while, Anaheim remains a dangerous team when they stay focused and execute their game plan.

William Karlsson

Karlsson is a notable player that has been able to step into the lineup as a result of these injuries.  He was the last remaining Norfolk prospect in training camp, and, when Heatly went down with a groin injury, he was able to stay in the lineup.  After a bad game by Rikard Rakell, Karlsson got into the lineup.  In that time he scored two goals, one assist, and got a shootout game winning goal.

His production slowed down to a point where the coaches started going with Rakell again instead of Karlsson, but his play has surely left an impact on the Ducks management and will likely be seen in the lineup in the future.

Devante Smith-Pelly

Smith-Pelly isn’t some new prospect like the rest in this list, but key injuries have allowed him to move up in the lineup more quickly than he otherwise might have.  At the beginning of the season, it looked as if Heatly would slot in with Getzlaf and Perry on the top line.  Once Heatly was no longer an option, Patrick Maroon stepped in and produced solid minutes on the top line.  Patrick Maroon eventually went down with a sprained MCL allowing an open spot for Smith-Pelly to come in.

Smith-Pelly has played well while on the top line, getting in on the forecheck and allowing the twins to keep up the possession game that allows them to be so dangerous.

Sep 25, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks right wing Chris Wagner (62) takes the puck down ice in the first period of the game against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Wagner

Wagner played well during training camp and that hard work translated into a strong start to his season in Norfolk.  He was named AHL player of the week after he scored four goals including a hat trick against the Hershey Bears.  With injuries to Maroon, Heatly, and Palmieri, Wagner was called up to play with the Ducks.

Boudreau put him into the lineup right away against the Minnesota Wild.  Wagner only played four minutes of that game, but his speed and aggressiveness did force Kieth Ballard to take a tripping penalty against him in the second period.  Wagner didn’t play in any other games after that.

Wagner is back in Norfolk still producing strong minutes for the Admirals.  He got a goal and two assists in a game against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in their game on Friday.  He may still need some development to play in the NHL, but his hard work in the AHL has turned some heads in Anaheim.

Josh Manson

In some ways, Manson is just the player the Anaheim Ducks have been looking for.  A big, strong, physical defenseman with a right-handed shot.  With some key injuries to defensemen Lovejoy, Allen, and Fistric, Manson got a chance to play in Anaheim Friday night against a speedy Dallas team.  Aside from a couple bad penalties, Manson played solid defensively.  He was physical and battled hard for the puck all night.

Bruce Boudreau remarked on Manson saying that “he’s a mobile right-handed defenseman that can play physical like his dad” (Manson’s dad being long time NHL player Dave Manson).  Boudreau also remarked that “it didn’t seem to rattle him,” in reference to the delay of game penalty he took in the second period against Dallas. “That tells me that, in tough situations, he’s going to be fine,” says Boudreau.

Manson is expected to play again Sunday in Colorado.