Ducks Will Look Largely Same in 2017-18 for Another Stanley Cup Push

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, August 1, 2017 5:29 PM UTC

Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017 5:29 PM UTC

The Anaheim Ducks didn’t add anyone of note in free agency this offseason but also didn’t lose any of their top players. So the Ducks should again contend for a Stanley Cup, although it’s an aging club in places.

The Anaheim Ducks have been the picture of consistency since the 2012-13 season in winning their division each year – but they haven’t been able to get out of the Western Conference in that span. Anaheim has reached the Stanley Cup Finals twice in franchise history and won it in 2007 over the Ottawa Senators.

The Ducks probably should have won the West in 2015 but blew a 3-2 series lead in the conference finals to the Chicago Blackhawks, dropping Game 7 at home. Last season, under first-year coach Randy Carlyle, Anaheim was tied 2-2 with Nashville in the West Finals but lost the final two games by multiple goals each.

Anaheim largely stood pat this offseason but won’t be favored to win the Pacific Division again as rising powerhouse Edmonton is the +450 favorite at Sports Interaction to win the Western Conference (division odds not out yet) with the Ducks at +700. The Oilers lost in seven games to Anaheim in the West semifinals.

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One big loss for Carlyle’s team was top defenseman prospect Shea Theodore to Vegas in the expansion draft, but the Ducks made a deal with the Golden Knights to take Theodore so Anaheim could keep Sami Vatanen and Josh Manson, who were also left unprotected. Theodore had five points in the first round of the playoffs against Calgary when injuries kept No. 1 defenseman Cam Fowler out of the lineup.

The team also re-signed forward Patrick Eaves to a three-year extension at likely less than market value to keep him out of free agency. Eaves was acquired during last season from Dallas for a conditional draft pick that became a 2017 first-rounder, and Eagles thrived at right wing on the Ducks’ top line. Overall, Eaves scored a career-high 32 goals with Dallas and the Ducks (11 with them) and was sixth in the NHL with 13 power-play goals. He was lost to injury during the second round against Edmonton and didn’t play in the West Finals.

There’s no question that John Gibson is the No. 1 netminder after playing a career-high 52 games in 2016-17 and his .924 save percentage was third in the NHL among goalies who played more than 2,500 minutes. Only Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky (.931) of the Blue Jackets and finalist Braden Holtby (.925) of the Capitals had a higher save percentage. To back up Gibson, Anaheim signed Canucks free agent Ryan Miller.  He was 18-29-6 on a bad Vancouver team with a 2.80 GAA and .914 save percentage.

This should be a good team again, although the window of contention could be closing. Leading scorer Ryan Getzlaf (15 G, 58 A) is 32. No. 2 Ryan Kesler (22 G, 36 A) will be 33 by the time the season begins and had offseason hip surgery. Corey Perry, who slumped to 19 goals last year after five straight seasons with at least 33 goals, is 32. Eaves is 33.

The likes of 24-year-old Rickard Rickell (33 G, 18 A) and 26-year-old Jakob Silfverberg (23 G, 26 A) are ready to take the scoring mantle. Any team would kill to have the 25-year-old blueliner Fowler.

The Ducks are +1400 to win the Stanley Cup at SBR's top-rated sportsbooks. I believe this team finishes at best second in the Pacific Division and won’t get past the conference semifinals. Anaheim opens the season Oct. 5 vs. Arizona. 

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