The Anaheim Ducks were expected to be one of the top teams in the Western Conference in 2011-12, but a second consecutive slow start was not followed by a furious rally like it was in 2010-11. Coach Randy Carlyle was fired and replaced by Bruce Boudreau, and there was a second-half surge, but the deficit was too great to overcome.
General manager Bob Murray shored up the defense during the offseason, but any improvements up front are likely to come a few young, internal candidates. The Ducks will welcome back Teemu Selanne for another season, and the entire sport will be better off because of it.
2012-13 Ducks Fantasy Team Preview
Under-valued:Teemu Selanne – Led Ducks with 66 points and 28 PP points last season, and despite being 42, is showing no signs of slowing down. Draft him in the middle rounds and expect another 60-plus points.
Over-valued: Ryan Getzlaf – Posted 76 points in 67 games in 2010-11, but regressed to 11 goals and 57 points in 82 games last year. He’ll get you a healthy amount of assists and PIMs, but he doesn’t score or shoot much -- don’t waste too early of a pick on him.
Sleeper: Emerson Etem – Anaheim's first-round pick in 2010 has a chance to make the opening night roster in 2012. He totaled 61 goals and 107 points in the WHL last season and has 20-goal potential immedaitely in the NHL, especially if he cracks one of the team's top two lines.
Murray added Daniel Winnik up front and veterans Sheldon Souray and Bryan Allen on defense. Anaheim's depth at forward will depend on some young players stepping forward and earning roles. The Ducks have been a top-heavy team in recent years, but they've also had success. How much the younger guys can help will determine if Anaheim can return to Stanley Cup contention before Selanne and Saku Koivu retire at some point in the inevitable future.
NOTES: The big name missing here is Emerson Etem, who would become a favorite for a top-six forward spot if Ryan is traded. Etem might force his way into the opening-night lineup anyway -- he scored 68 goals in 72 Western Hockey League games last season (including the playoffs). Bruce Boudreau didn't hesitate to put Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin together (or to separate them) during their apex with the Washington Capitals, so expect him to shuffle back and forth with his "Big Three" in Anaheim if Ryan stays.
There is some uncertainty with other forward spots as well, but the opportunity for Holland, Bonino and Palmieri to lock down permanent spots is there. Holland or Bonino could push Koivu into more of a third-line role if they prove they're ready.
The defense corps looks pretty settled. Fowler had some growing pains last season, but he could become a bona fide No. 1 defenseman in his third NHL season. Pairing Souray's booming shot with Allen's responsible instincts could be an instant fit. Fasth will battle Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers for the backup spot behind Hiller.