Old and New Must Fly as One
As Jan pointed out in D2, old Ducks and new Ducks must fly under one banner. The young guys on the team can’t all be superstars, but they will be relied upon to infuse new energy to a team whose fan base is starving for another Cup run deep into June. No matter when or where they struggle, the young guys’ roles have one common denominator: learn as much as they can and energize the team with their play, their passion, and their exuberance.
The prospects I’m most looking forward to are Sam Steel, Troy Terry, Max Jones, and Ondrej Kase. While the first three skaters I mentioned are in their first full-time year with the club, I added Kase to the mix due to his spark-plug attitude and the clutch plays he brings along with him.
What about the older guys though? How can they play their best role on the team? The answer is simple, teach the younger guys how to “fly”, as Hans said it best in the original Mighty Ducks movie. Hampus Lindholm, Cam Fowler, and Josh Manson have to lead the defense as co-captains in order for the rest of the defense to really flourish. Lindholm and Fowler bring the vision and finesse to the defense, but they need to step up their offense as well, particularly on the power-play. Meanwhile, Manson can be equated to one of the bash brothers of the veteran D core. He brings the brute strength and physicality to the equation. Together, those three defensemen must carry the freight while the younger guys find their different styles of play. If they can play like they did when they made it to the conference finals two years ago, these Ducks will be a force to be reckoned with in the west.
Meanwhile, on offense, you have the loss of Corey Perry who was traded to Dallas. Outside of his departure, the Ducks offensive core is still relatively strong with Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg, and Adam Henrique providing their veteran skill sets.
However, the leader on the team is still none other than a somewhat more distraught Ryan Getzlaf. Getzlaf regressed last year on the emotional side while maintaining decent numbers, and the passion to play to the best of his abilities left him last year. Then again, when everything snowballs out of control, things can go sideways. The lone original Duck from the ’07 cup team, Ryan has the knowledge of winning the Stanley Cup, but he has to return to being the cool and calm captain who can combine his physicality and passing ability with his wisdom on how to mentor the younger guys, as well as relying on his new line-mates to provide scoring chances.
All in all, the message is clear. If the old and new mesh well, this season won’t go without adversity and triumph. If this franchise has taught us anything, it’s that when in doubt, fly together and rise above the doubt. With a new head coach in charge behind the bench and expectations not as high, the Ducks may be able to fly under the radar. An underdog role that suits them just fine.