NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, three important questions facing the Anaheim Ducks.
[Ducks 31 IN 31: Season preview | Top prospects | Fantasy breakdown | Behind the Numbers]
1. How will the team transition under coach Dallas Eakins?
Dallas Eakins was hired as coach June 17 after coaching Anaheim's affiliate in the American Hockey League for four seasons (San Diego). He was 36-63-14 as coach of the Edmonton Oilers from 2013-15.
"I think through being very competitive with each other and being organized, we'll be able to accomplish what I believe the game is, and that's hard, and that's fast," Eakins said at his introductory press conference in June.
Eakins will try to get the Ducks back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after missing them for the first time in six seasons. He is comfortable with the organization, having known management and many of the young players who could make the roster this season.
"We have a number of players in this organization that already understand what I value," Eakins said. "I know what they value. ... For me, it just really speeds up the process. ... Obviously, being familiar with some of our prospects that will maybe have a chance to make our team. That certainly sets up things well."
Video: 31 in 31: Anaheim Ducks 2019-20 season preview
2. Where will the scoring come from?
Anaheim ranked last in the NHL in goals last season (196), averaging 2.39 per game. They were shut out nine times and scored two or fewer goals in 45 of 82 games. Ryan Getzlaf led the Ducks with 48 points (14 goals, 34 assists), second fewest among the 31 NHL team leaders, and Jakob Silfverberg's Anaheim-leading 24 goals were third fewest. Rickard Rakell and Adam Henrique (18 goals each) were the other Ducks with more than 15 goals.
Anaheim did not acquire any forwards in free agency who will be in the lineup, so Anaheim will look to young forwards Sam Steel, 21, Troy Terry, 21, Max Comtois, 20, and Isac Lundestrom, 19, who have a combined 81 games of NHL experience.
"Some people think we're just going to put all those young players in the lineup," Eakins said. "But those players who were in San Diego, they're certainly going to have to earn their spots, and hopefully those spots are going to be very hard to earn because we're a competitive team."
3. Is there enough depth at defenseman?
Anaheim lost three defensemen as free agents (Andy Welinski, Philadelphia Flyers; Jaycob Megna, Vegas Golden Knights; Jake Dotchin, St. Louis Blues) and has six signed to its NHL roster (Michael Del Zotto, Cam Fowler, Brendan Guhle, Korbinian Holzer, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson).
Jacob Larson (49 games) and Josh Mahura (17 games) each played for the Ducks last season, and unrestricted free agent Chris Wideman signed a one-year contract July 16, but Anaheim could be in a tough spot if it begins the season with a bottom pair that's largely inexperienced.
"I like our group right now. Hampus and Josh and Cam have been there and they're real established, and Del Zotto and Holzer have played in the League for a long time," Eakins said. "I think we are real comfortable with our back end, and it's going to have to be one that gets things done by committee."
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