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Ducks seek fresh start under Boudreau

by Curtis Zupke /
What happened?


RW Teemu Selanne
GOALS: 26 | ASST: 40 | PTS: 66
SOG: 210 | +/-: -1
G Jonas Hiller
RECORD: 29-30-12
GAA: 2.57 | SVP: 0.910
RW Devante Smith-Pelly
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 13
SOG: 66 | +/-: -7
Teemu Selanne
Anaheim went 9-4-1 against San Jose, Vancouver and St. Louis.

Anaheim was again exposed as a team that is easy to contain when the top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan isn't producing. The Ducks' glaring lack of depth and size on their bottom-six forward unit was exploited in a disastrous start, and Hiller did not round into form until after Jan.1. Cam Fowler struggled in a top defensive pairing role and fell to minus-27 on April 1. Anaheim went on an inspired 17-3-4 run in January and February and general manager Bob Murray made no major moves at the trade deadline, only to see his team hit the wall.

How to fix it?

Murray can pursue size and skill on its bottom three lines through trades and free agency. Much will depend on whether Selanne retires and Saku Koivu decides to return. If the Ducks lose both, they will essentially have to replace their entire second line as Anaheim is not expected to re-sign Jason Blake and Niklas Hagman. Getzlaf, the team's captain, needs to bounce back from his lowest goals output since his rookie year.

Three reasons for hope:

1. Anaheim has intriguing pieces in its system with Emerson Etem, the Western Hockey League's first 60-goal scorer in a decade, Smith-Pelly, Nick Bonino, Kyle Palmieri and Peter Holland. It should at least make for a competitive training camp with so many open spots on the third and fourth lines.

2. The club is trying to sign top defenseman prospect Justin Schultz, who just completed his junior season at the University of Wisconsin and is regarded as NHL ready. Schultz, who made former Anaheim defenseman prospect Jake Gardiner expendable, is eligible to become a free agent July 1 because this is the fourth summer since he was drafted, in 2008. If he comes out, the Ducks would have an exclusive negotiation period with him.

3. Poor starts have doomed Anaheim since it won the Stanley Cup in 2007, and Selanne has always suggested that that's tied to the brutal training camps of former coach Randy Carlyle. Bruce Boudreau will embark on his first full season with Anaheim, and perhaps a new approach can finally get them off on the right foot.

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