Rickard Rakell’s Future with the Anaheim Ducks


Rickard Rakell is currently in his third season playing with the Anaheim Ducks, but the young Swede had only appeared in 22 regular season games in his first two seasons at the NHL level.  He has yet to score a goal in the NHL regular season (though he has one in the Stanley Cup Playoffs), but that should not detract from the player that Rakell currently is and, more importantly, the player that he will become.

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In the 21 games he has played this season, Rakell has shown tremendous improvement in all aspects of the game, and it is only a matter of time before he gets his first NHL goal.  He has three assists in his last four games, and part of that can be attributed to playing on a line that fits his playing style best. Andrew Cogliano and Jakob Silfverberg are both fast players that can get the puck deep and create chances. They are players who aren’t primary scorers, but both Cogliano and Silfverberg are very capable secondary or tertiary options for offense. Both players also make up for their lack of scoring by being strong defensive players, as they are key components of the Ducks’ penalty kill.

Rakell plays a similar game to Cogliano and Silfverberg, and this makes him a terrific option at center for those two. Rakell’s speed is a factor that went largely unnoticed before joining that third line, but matched with two of the faster skaters in Anaheim, he is able to display his skating abilities a lot more often. He goes hard after loose pucks and has made a dedicated effort to assert himself in the corners and dirty areas. Rakell is also more offensive inclined than Nate Thompson and better defensively than Devante Smith-Pelly, the other centermen the Ducks used on the bottom-six before Rakell’s most recent call-up. This frees up Smith-Pelly to move to his natural position of right-wing during the absence of star winger Corey Perry.

Rakell’s faceoff percentage only sits at 45.5% on the season, but with strong faceoff men like Ryan Kesler (55.6%, 14th among NHL centermen) and Ryan Getzlaf (54.2%, 23rd) on the team, the faceoff percentage isn’t too much of a concern. Rakell also plays an average of under 11 minutes per night and takes fewer than seven faceoffs per game, partially because of Kesler, Getzlaf, and Thompson being strong options in the faceoff circle. Possession wise, Rakell’s Corsi For % (CF%) is only at 49.6% so far this season at 5-on-5 play, but that number should increase if he gets a consistent spot in the lineup and plays with Silfverberg and Cogliano. Despite Rakell’s sub-50% CF%, he’s has a CF Relative % of 0.7%, meaning the team is slightly better at controlling shot attempts with him on the ice than without. If Rakell can establish himself as a player who warrants more ice time in a consistent role, that number should climb above 50%.

Rakell has been criticized for not being physical enough, but again, that is something he has made a concerted effort at improving. As with any young player, he needs time to develop, but once he does, I believe he will be a solid, reliable two-way forward for the Ducks. All in all, Rakell does not boast great career statistics, but a player’s value cannot be quantified just from a stat sheet. Rakell is still just 21 years old and has a mere 47 career games under his belt, including the playoffs. He has yet to hit his athletic prime, and he will continue to grow shift by shift, game by game, and season by season.