Up front, Anaheim has a solid core of combat-tested young players who seem poised to take the next step forward in their development. Guys like Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry were key players in the Cup run and stand to be even better this season.
Last season, the 22-year old Getzlaf scored 25 goals and 58 points centering the Ducks’ second line and was their leading scorer in the playoffs with 17 points. Perry is also 22 and is coming off a 44-point season, and also figures to add to that production this season. In the playoffs, the two youngsters added an element of skill and physical play (Perry was second on the Ducks with 15 points) that made matching up against the Anaheim impossible throughout the tournament.
In addition to Getzlaf and Perry, the Ducks will also deploy hard-hitting forwards like Travis Moen, who was indispensable in the playoffs, Todd Marchant, a veteran who fits perfectly into Anaheim’s in-your-face system, and the speedy Andy McDonald, a diamond in the rough who was signed as an un-drafted free agent.
The Anaheim checking line, powered by veteran shutdown guys like Rob Niedermayer and Sammy Pahlsson, is among the best defensive lines in the NHL. Chris Kunitz is another un-drafted player who is crucial to the Ducks’ success, while Bertuzzi, if he can stay healthy, is capable of scoring 30 goals in a full season. Bertuzzi will be counted on to replace some of the goals Penner (and Selanne) scored a year ago.
Andy McDonald truly emerged as a superstar in the League during the playoffs last spring, the two-goal game he posted in Game 4 of the Finals is the stuff of legend already in Anaheim. But his real lethality came on the power play, where the speedy McDonald potted five extra-man goals, second among all playoff scorers. The Ducks’ top-line center should be a huge contributor on the power play again this season.
With Teemu Selanne still mulling his possible retirement in early September, McDonald is one of the many Ducks who would be counted on to replace some of “The Finnish Flash’s” goals if he doesn’t come back.
Up and Coming
Bobby Ryan -- The No. 2 overall pick from 2005, and the player selected immediately after Sidney Crosby, will be given every chance to contribute this season. Last year, the New Jersey native scored nine points in eight AHL games after the conclusion of his junior career with Owen Sound.
Drew Miller -- A former sixth-round pick in 2003, the 23-year-old played all of last season with AHL Portland, where he potted 16 goals and finished tied for second on the team with 36 points in 79 games.
Ryan Carter -- An undrafted free agent like McDonald and Kunitz were, the 24-year-old got a taste of NHL action with a four-game cameo in the playoffs. In 76 games with Portland in the American League, he tied with Miller for second on the team with 36 points, also in his rookie professional season.
Todd Bertuzzi -- It’s easy to put Selanne here for the same reason that Niedermayer was the X Factor on defense, but the true unknown up front for Anaheim is just how much Bertuzzi still has left in the tank. He didn’t play a lot last season, and when he did “Bert” was still trying to get his legs back under him. With an entire off-season and a year removed from his back problems, he might more resemble the power forward he was when he and Burke were in Vancouver together. But then again, he might not. With Dustin Penner gone to the Oilers, there’s a need for a force up front and in the paint. If healthy, Bertuzzi would be the perfect replacement.