Inside look at Anaheim Ducks

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NHL.com is providing in-depth roster, prospect and fantasy analysis for each of its 32 teams from Aug. 8-Sept. 8. Today, the Anaheim Ducks.

The Anaheim Ducks had a busy offseason and believe they are ready to compete for a Stanley Cup Playoff berth after not qualifying each of the past four seasons.

On the first day of free agency, the Ducks signed forwards Ryan Strome and Frank Vatrano to play in their top six.

“I think Ryan’s going to be a good addition from a couple different angles,” general manager Pat Verbeek told the Ducks website July 18. “From a leadership standpoint, it’s going to be very, very important. Obviously, he’s a really good playmaker and had a good year scoring goals this year as well. So, I think having someone that’s very productive offensively and someone that is going to provide really good culture and really good leadership in the locker room was very important for our club and we addressed that.”

 

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Strome had an NHL career-high 21 goals with the New York Rangers last season; Vatrano had 32 points (18 goals, 14 assists) in 71 games for the Rangers and Florida Panthers.

“I think we want to just try and win some hockey games,” Strome said. “We got some good older guys and hopefully we come in here and continue to grow as a team. That seems to be the direction everything is headed. A bit of some turnover [in the past few seasons] losing some guys who have been here for decades (Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Hampus Lindholm). That isn’t necessarily easy to replace, but I think we’re trying to do that.”

Getzlaf retired after 17 seasons, including the past 12 as captain.

“Ryan was an incredible captain and an incredible player and an even better person,” coach Dallas Eakins said. “So, it does leave a hole, but Adam Henrique is a great leader. Troy Terry is growing into a very good leader. Pat added Strome and Vatrano in there. Jakob Silfverberg. Derek Grant is a quiet leader. Cam Fowler, incredible leader. Kevin Shattenkirk, great leader. John Gibson. We’ve got lots of really good people. These guys are good human beings and that’s usually where the leadership starts, and they’re all I think going to be able to fill the void as a group.”

In addition to Strome and Vatrano, the Ducks signed defenseman John Klingberg to a one-year contract July 29.

“Well, obviously if you look at their team, I think they have some real interesting young players,” Klingberg said. “I think they took a step last year. Just looking at their team, I think they had a lot of injuries and COVID issues last year and still ended up getting a lot of points. I’m just excited to be able to come there and try to help the team get better next season.”

Adding those three players to a core that includes forwards Trevor Zegras and Terry, and it’s not hard to see why it’s an exciting time in Anaheim. Zegras had 61 points and was a finalist for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year last season. Terry led the Ducks with 37 goals and 67 points; it was the first time since 2017-18 that Anaheim had a 30-goal and 60-point scorer.

“Obviously [Zegras and Terry] both had very productive seasons points-wise. I think Troy Terry’s shooting percentage (19.3 percent) was incredible,” Eakins said. “So for him to match his numbers or Trevor to match his numbers, I think it will be a challenge, but knowing both of these young men like I do, that will be a low bar for them. They’ll be looking to add on to what they accomplished last year.

“… We’re hoping Jakob Silfverberg (blood clot) is back and fully recovered, hoping Max Jones (torn pectoral muscle) can be recovered — he only played two games last year — and we’re looking for a huge bounce-back year from Max Comtois (16 points in 52 games).”

Video: Top 10 Trevor Zegras Plays from the 2021-22 Season

Anaheim finished seventh in the Pacific Division last season, 21 points behind the Nashville Predators for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. The Ducks were 24th in scoring (2.78 goals per game) after ranking last in 2020-21 (2.21), 29th in 2019-20 (2.56) and last in 2018-19 (2.39). But the additions of Strome, Vatrano and Klingberg should help.

“I think you can see all the pieces are there,” Vatrano told the Ducks website July 14. “There are great veterans on the team, guys who have been around a long time, and then you have younger guys who have proven themselves already at such a young age. When you have a good mix of veteran leadership and young players who can push the play, that’s a sign of a great team. … The future is very bright in Anaheim.”

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