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Team Resets

Team Reset

Ducks achieve goal, maintain roster continuity

Retaining Vatanen, Manson, re-signing Eaves should keep Anaheim in Stanley Cup contention

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / NHL.com Staff Writer

After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is taking a look at where each team stands. Today, the Anaheim Ducks:

The Anaheim Ducks have been a Stanley Cup contender the past five seasons, and their offseason moves largely have been designed to keep them in the running this season. 

Heading into the NHL Expansion Draft, many believed the Ducks would lose a core member of their deep and talented collection of defensemen because they'd left Sami Vatanen and Josh Manson unprotected.

 

[RELATED: Complete Team Reset coverage]

 

Instead, the Ducks struck a deal with the Vegas Golden Knights that sent talented defenseman prospect Shea Theodore to Las Vegas, enabling them to keep their top four defensemen intact and retain forward Patrick Eaves, who was acquired in a trade from the Dallas Stars on Feb. 24, seemingly as a rental player. It turned out Eaves had chemistry with Ryan Getzlaf, and the 33-year-old was an important player down the stretch and into the Stanley Cup Playoffs until a foot injury ended his season.

Rather than exploring unrestricted free agency after setting NHL career highs in goals (32) and points (51), Eaves signed a three-year contract reportedly worth $3.15 million per season to stay with the Ducks on June 23. He is expected to play a top-six role at even strength and help the power play as a net-front presence.

Anaheim's offseason was defined more by tweaks than seismic shifts, all of which were designed to keep the difference-makers intact so the Ducks can make a run at the Stanley Cup in 2018 after advancing to the Western Conference Final in 2017.

Here is what the Ducks look like today:

 

Key arrivals

Ryan Miller, G: Miller, 36, signed a two-year contract as an unrestricted free agent July 1 to be John Gibson's backup. The 2010 Vezina Trophy winner and two-time U.S. Olympian is 358-262-73 with one tie, a 2.61 goals-against average, a .915 save percentage and 39 shutouts in 709 NHL games. He was 18-29-6 with a 2.80 GAA and .914 save percentage with the Vancouver Canucks last season. Given Gibson's injury history, Miller is a valuable insurance policy, someone who can give the Ducks quality starts. After years as a No. 1 goaltender, Miller is aware that his role will change in Anaheim, and he is fine with that, noting that the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup last season with a veteran goaltender (Marc-Andre Fleury) helping to supplement the work of a young up-and-comer (Matt Murray). ... Dennis Rasmussen, F: The 27-year-old signed a one-year contract on July 7. He has 17 points and a plus-5 rating in 112 NHL games, all with the Chicago Blackhawks. ... Steve Oleksy, D: The 31-year-old signed a two-year contract on July 2. He adds depth at the position following the departures of Theodore, Clayton Stoner (to Vegas) and Simon Despres (buyout). Oleksy has played 73 games with the Penguins and Washington Capitals since making his NHL debut March 5, 2013. ... Derek Grant, C: The 27-year-old signed a one-year contract on July 2 and has a chance to compete for a role as a bottom-six forward. He has seven assists in 86 games with the Buffalo Sabres, Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators.

Video: EDM@VAN: Miller swallows up McDavid's backhander

 

Key departures

Shea Theodore, D: Theodore had two goals and three assists in the first round of the playoffs against the Flames, when injuries kept No. 1 defenseman Cam Fowler out of the lineup, but he was the price the Ducks had to pay to keep Manson and Vatanen. … Nate Thompson, C: Thompson had a limited role in the 2016-17 regular season because of injuries, but he had six points and a plus-6 rating in 17 playoff games. He signed a two-year contract with the Senators on July 1. ... Clayton Stoner , D: A favorite of coach Randy Carlyle when he was healthy, Stoner was selected by Vegas in the expansion draft as a condition of the Theodore trade. His departure helped free up money to sign Fowler to an eight-year contract extension on July 1.

Video: ANA@CGY, Gm3: Theodore ties it with his second goal

 
On the cusp

Brandon Montour, D: The 23-year-old played 27 games in the regular season and 17 in the playoffs after making his NHL debut Dec. 29, and is slotted for a full-time, top-six role. Montour has an offensive upside the Ducks hope to mine on the power play. ... Nic Kerdiles, LW: After making his NHL debut Feb. 22, Kerdiles, 23, played four playoff games for Anaheim and had an assist . He had a strong season for San Diego of the American Hockey League (seven goals, eight assists in 27 games) and will get a chance to contend for regular duty.

Video: ANA@VAN: Montour rips a slapper through traffic

 

What they still need

Help on the third line. Carlyle's decision to split longtime linemates Getzlaf and Corey Perry made the Ducks a nightmare matchup for some teams, so presumably that will continue. Assuming Nick Ritchie starts the season playing with Getzlaf and Eaves, there will be competition for who gets to play with Rickard Rakell and Perry. Ondrej Kase, who played 53 games last season and occasionally got a look on that line, has the playmaking skill to be on a line with those two finishers. He likely will get the first chance to earn that spot.

The Ducks' depth will be tested early as Vatanen (shoulder), center Ryan Kesler  (hip) and defenseman Hampus Lindholm (shoulder) each recover from offseason surgery, giving a few players on the fringe of the roster NHL minutes at the start of the season.

 

Pete Jensen's fantasy focus

The Ducks will have plenty of competition for the first power-play unit this season. Fowler, Getzlaf, Perry and Kesler have proven they belong. Can Stanley Cup Playoff standouts Rakell or Jakob Silfverberg earn that coveted fifth spot? Rakell (No. 97 in NHL.com's fantasy rankings) and Silfverberg (No. 129) each is a candidate for a full-fledged fantasy breakout if he can lock down time on the first power play.

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm2: Silfverberg slides home Rakell's dish

 

Projected lineup

Nick Ritchie -- Ryan Getzlaf -- Patrick Eaves

Andrew Cogliano -- Ryan Kesler -- Jakob Silfverberg

Ondrej Kase -- Rickard Rakell -- Corey Perry

Logan Shaw -- Antoine Vermette -- Chris Wagner

Cam Fowler -- Sami Vatanen

Hampus Lindholm -- Josh Manson

Kevin Bieksa -- Brandon Montour

John Gibson

Ryan Miller

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