NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, three questions facing the Anaheim Ducks.
The Anaheim Ducks have fewer questions than most teams after largely keeping intact the roster that won the Pacific Division and advanced to the Western Conference Final last season. Anaheim returns nearly every player who made an impact, except for backup goalie Jonathan Bernier, who was 21-7-4 in 39 games. Bernier, an unrestricted free agent, signed with the Colorado Avalanche.
1. Can forward Corey Perry return to form as an elite NHL goal-scorer?
Perry had scored at least 33 goals in each full NHL season since 2010-11, when he led the League with 50 and won the Hart Trophy, before he had 19 last season and found himself playing on the third line for large stretches of the second half. The Ducks need to figure out if Perry, 32, simply had a down season or if he's reached the twilight of his NHL career. Perry slipped from a Ducks-high 12 power-play goals in 2015-16, Bruce Boudreau's final season as coach, to five last season under Randy Carlyle, who used center Ryan Kesler as a net-front presence instead of Perry on the man-advantage.
Video: 31 in 31: Anaheim Ducks 2017-18 season preview
[DUCKS 31 IN 31: Season preview | Top prospects | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the numbers]
2. Can goalie John Gibson stay healthy?
Gibson played an NHL career-high 52 games (49 starts) last season, and his .924 save percentage put him in elite company. Among goalies who played more than 2,500 minutes last season, only Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky (.931) of the Columbus Blue Jackets and finalist Braden Holtby (.925) of the Washington Capitals had a higher save percentage. The Ducks solidified the backup goalie position by signing free agent Ryan Miller, who won the Vezina in 2010 with the Buffalo Sabres. Miller, 37, played 3,212 minutes last season for the Vancouver Canucks, who scored the second-fewest goals (178) in the NHL. He could benefit from a reduced workload but has the pedigree to step into a role as starter and play consecutive games if needed.
Video: NSH@ANA, Gm5: Gibson lays out to rob Neal down low
3. Can captain Ryan Getzlaf get them over the Stanley Cup Playoff hump?
Anaheim has won the Pacific Division five consecutive seasons and advanced to the conference final twice in that span. Getzlaf was in his second NHL season when the Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007. Since then, the center has become a reliable point-producer and exceptional leader. He had 10 points (five goals, five assists) in seven games to lift Anaheim past the Edmonton Oilers in seven games in the second round last season. Getzlaf is 32, so his window to compete for a championship has started closing. He was third in the NHL in assists (58) last season, behind center Connor McDavid of the Oilers (70) and center Nicklas Backstrom of the Capitals (63), and averaged 21:04 of ice time per game, his most in the past three seasons.