Another summer is upon us, which means another round of player reviews. AnaheimDucks.com is featuring a different Ducks player throughout the summer (in numerical order), highlighting key stats while also keeping an eye on next season. We continue with Ducks forward Rickard Rakell.
Under the afternoon lights in Los Angeles, Rakell gave everyone a preview of his season to come.
Facing the rival Los Angeles Kings, he opened the scoring late in the first period, then chipped in two assists in a 4-0 rout. It was a debut well worth the wait.
Video: ANA@LAK: Rakell goes five-hole to open scoring
Rakell's season began late due to a prolonged contract holdout and recovery from surgery. The talented Swedish winger put pen to paper on a six-year contract extension on October 14, a deal delayed by his recovery from surgery to remove scar tissue.
When the medical information checked out, and the ink dried on the contract, Ducks Executive Vice President and General Manager Bob Murray was glad to have him in the fold on a long-term deal.
"With the injury and not getting any information on what it was, with two operations in a short period of time, I was more concerned on how Ricky was," he said after the deal was announced. "He's a valuable part of our group and he's a good hockey player. I'm feeling very confident about the discussions with the doctor and my talks with Ricky. We're very comfortable we're going to move forward quickly with getting him back on the ice."
Back on the ice, Rakell broke out offensively, becoming a consistent scoring threat each time he touched the puck. Moving up and down the lineup, he posted a career-high 33 goals and 51 points in 71 games. He was the fourth-youngest Duck to eclipse 30 goals in a season, following Paul Kariya (21 years, 3 months), Bobby Ryan (23 years) and Corey Perry (23 years, 10 months).
He finished the regular season as the league leader with 10 game-winning goals, becoming the first player under the age of 24 with 10 game-winners since Steven Stamkos (age 22) in 2011-12. Rakell was just the fifth player under the age of 24 since 1993-94 with 10 game-winning goals, joining Stamkos, Alexander Ovechkin, Kariya and Jaromir Jagr.
Video: TBL@ANA: Rakell dances through traffic for OT winner
Rakell also finished the season ranked fifth in even-strength goals (28) and 10th in goals per game (0.46, min. 40 games played).
Digging into advanced statistics, it's not hard to see how Rakell generated those impressive offensive totals. Coaches demand players go to the net, and he did just that, generating several of his even-strength shot totals from 10 feet and in. Many of his teammates saw similar success, generating an excess of almost half a shot per hour from these dangerous scoring areas. He also generated 18 rebounds this year - a career-high - while posting half of his assists at even strength.
Rakell didn't miss a beat in the playoffs.
He helped Anaheim extinguish the Calgary Flames with two goals and five points in the four-game sweep.
Video: CGY@ANA, Gm1: Rakell finishes a rebound in front
After a slow start to the Second Round against the Edmonton Oilers, Rakell scored three times against the Edmonton Oilers, including the game-tying goal in the incredible Comeback on Katella.
Video: EDM@ANA, Gm5: Rakell ties the game late in the 3rd
It seemed he was primed for success in the Western Conference Final, where he recorded three points in four games against the Nashville Predators. A hit in overtime from James Neal, however, would end Rakell's postseason run.
He finished with postseason career highs in several categories, including goals (7), assists (6) and points (13).
Last year represented yet another step forward in Rakell's growth. While many will point to his 18.6% shooting percentage, there's reason to believe he can develop into a consistent 25-30 goal scorer in the league. With the potential for an increased role in the offense moving forward - including more power-play time - Rakell seems primed to become the next great Ducks scorer