As part of the AnaheimDucks.com annual Player Reviews, we have been featuring a different Ducks player throughout the summer. Each review will include key stats, a highlight from last season and an outlook for 2016-17.
By AJ Manderichio and Kyle Shohara
Jonathan Bernier didn’t have California on his mind heading into the offseason.
The former Maple Leafs goalie seemed to cement his status in Toronto, finishing the season with five wins in his final eight appearances. He seemed primed to compete with Garret Sparks for the net next season.
After acquiring Frederik Andersen, Toronto sent Bernier to Anaheim in exchange for a conditional draft choice. Bernier couldn’t be happier to return to the West Coast.
“I’m definitely very happy to come to the Ducks,” he told reporters soon after the trade. “It seems like a great organization and they have a great team as well. I think it’s a great fit for me and obviously a new chapter.”
Bernier is no stranger to the Pacific Division. In four seasons with Los Angeles, he posted a 29-20-6 record with a 2.36 goals-against average and .912 save percentage. In his third season with Toronto, Bernier posted a career-tying three shutouts, including one against Anaheim at Honda Center.
Bernier’s arrival was just part of the change in net for the Ducks this offseason. John Gibson, one half of the tandem that won the William M. Jennings Trophy last season, figures to get the first crack at locking down the starting goaltender job.
Instead of looking at the competition, Bernier is focused on taking care of his own play.
“At the end of the day, if you play well and win games, things usually work out,” he said. “I just want to make sure I’m giving my 100 percent in practice and games, and give my team a chance to win. You can’t think about how many games you’re going to play or whether Gibson is playing more games than me or not. I’ve been working hard this summer, and I’m ready to go for the upcoming season.”
A reunion with Randy Carlyle, who Bernier played under in 2013-14, has Bernier excited for his season in Anaheim.
“It’s a coach and player relationship that we had. I had to gain his confidence when I got traded to Toronto, but we always got along well. He’s a very detailed coach, and he demands a lot. That’s what you want from your coach.”
A lifelong Columbus Blue Jacket, Jared Boll never expected to enter free agency.
Columbus placed Boll on waivers and bought out the remaining year of his contract right before July 1, a difficult decision for the nine-year veteran.
He didn’t have to wait long to find another team. The Ducks were one of the first teams to contact Boll, ultimately reaching a two-year agreement on July 5.
“I can’t explain it. I feel like I’ve talked about it all summer,” he said earlier this month. “At the end of the season and the beginning of the summer, I wasn’t expecting this. It was a total change for me, a surprise. When I let it all sink in, I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this organization and finally get out there.”
Boll remains one of the last “tough guys” in the league, a throwback to the physical, punishing wingers that aren’t afraid to drop the gloves. He’s fought 154 times in his career, compiling a Blue Jackets franchise record 1,195 penalty minutes.
Boll, however, feels he brings more than flying fists to the lineup.
“I try to finish every hit, make it hard on the opposing team,” he said when describing his game. “Get pucks deep and make [the opposing defenseman] not want to go back and get pucks. Whatever way they want me to help the team win, I’ll do.”
He also prides himself on being a good teammate, an opinion backed by Columbus forward Cam Atkinson.
“Boller was the greatest teammate,” Atkinson told the Columbus Dispatch. “Everyone looked up to him. He knew his role and was the best at it. He never complained or was negative when he was playing. He just wanted to win.”
Once a longtime linemate of Ryan Kesler during their time in Vancouver, Mason Raymond followed his former teammate to Anaheim after signing a one-year contract on July 5. The contract is of the two-way variety, which means the 30-year-old can be shuttled between here and San Diego of the American Hockey League, where he spent time last season with the Stockton Heat (affiliate of Calgary).
Raymond split his 10th professional season with Calgary and Stockton in 2015-16. A native of Cochrane, Alberta, Raymond earned five points (4g/1a) with eight penalty minutes in 29 games with the Flames along with 15 points (6g/9a) and two penalty minutes in 15 contests for the Heat. Raymond was placed on waivers by the Flames on Feb. 2, 2016, and cleared.
Originally selected by Vancouver in the second round (51st overall) of the 2005 NHL Draft, Raymond's most productive season came in 2009-10, when, on a line with Kesler, he established career highs in goals (25), assists (28), points (53), power-play goals (8), power-play points (18) and shots on net (217). He also scored a career-best five game-winning goals with Vancouver the following season, helping lead the club to Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final with eight points (2g/6a) in 24 playoff games.
Though he had a resurgence in 2013-14 with the Maple Leafs, recording 45 points (19g/26a) in 82 games under current Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle, Raymond went on to earn 23 points (12g/11a) in 57 games with the Flames the following year.
Perhaps a change of scenery and a few familiar faces (Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa was also on the Canucks during Raymond’s time), will re-ignite the one-time 25-goal scorer. At the least, he brings 63 games of playoff experience to a team that’s looking to erase the demons of previous postseasons.
Like his new teammate Raymond, Antoine Vermette brings a wealth of experience to the Ducks. Having gone to the Stanley Cup Final twice and coming out on top in 2015 with the Chicago Blackhawks, Vermette is a proven winner who still has juice left in the tank at the age of 34.
Though his offensive totals have decreased over the years, Vermette still potted 17 goals and 38 points in 76 games last season with the Arizona Coyotes. But his true value lies in his proficiency in the dot.
Since making his NHL debut with Ottawa in 2003-04, Vermette ranks second among all active NHL players in faceoff win percentage at 55.8% (min. 13,000 FO) and fifth in faceoff wins (7,595). He’s posted a faceoff win percentage of 50.0% or higher in 11 consecutive seasons and ranked in the NHL’s top 10 for faceoff leaders in each of the last four seasons.
Vermette finished the 2015-16 season with a 55.8 faceoff win percentage, which included a 54.3 success rate on the penalty kill. He led the Coyotes in faceoff wins (754) and paced team forwards in blocked shots (57). Over the course of his 12-year career, Vermette has amassed 471 points (211g/260a) with 546 penalty minutes in 910 career NHL games with the Senators, Columbus Blue Jackets, Blackhawks and Coyotes.
Having played against the Ducks throughout his career, which included an epic seven-game Western Conference Final two years ago (a series that featured his double-OT winner in Game 4), Vermette says having the opportunity to join one of the top teams in the league played a big role in his decision to sign here.
“I’ve always portrayed [the Ducks] as Cup contenders,” Vermette said earlier this week. “That’s a big thing for me. I had the chance to win it not too long ago, and now later in my career, I believe in this team and organization.
“This is always a tough team,” he said. “When you play the Ducks, you know you’re in for a big game. They’re big and skilled. They use those assets really well. I’m glad to be on their side. They have a lot of tools in the lineup that can hurt you, and there are a lot of good players. I’m very excited to jump on board and find the right chemistry to give us another championship.”