Yesterday, czhokej and I indulged a rare chance to hang out, share a salad, flirt with waitresses and chat Ducks hockey. The food was tasty, the waitresses good sports and the chat compelling. Here are some quick hits:
First up was the top line and all the events surrounding it. New contracts to Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. The Bobby Ryan trade. The signing of Dustin Penner. cz pointed out that Dustin Penner was the top scorer on the Kid Line during our Ducks Cup year. Pancake was brought in to stabilize the top line. If he’s successful much of the day-to-day roster and roles fall into place. If not, coach will continue to rotate guys off and on, in and out through a seemingly endless search for consistency.
A couple of minutes into the now annual is Teemu coming back, we realized we weren’t sure where he would play. As if to punctuate the moment a mushroom rolled off my fork. Saku’s role has changed and Teemu isn’t a checking line player. First line? For now Dustin Penner is penciled in alongside the Big Dogs. Second line? Does he have enough left to beat out the up and coming Emerson Etem? First unit PP? Teemu lost that job to Nick Bonino and Bobby Ryan last season. When he did get first unit PP line it came when Getzlaf was moved to the point.
If Penner fails, maybe Teemu is the solution on the top line. Much of Penner’s success or lack thereof actually depends on which Getzlaf hits the ice in October. Is it the dominating player we saw during the shortened season or do we get his evil twin, the perimeter playing Giveaway Getz who glides around the ice instead of skating? Eight million doesn’t seem to buy what it used to get you.
While I see Ducks Iron Man Andrew Cogliano as trade bait, we wondered if he would return to the checking line. Cogliano and Emerson Etem showed genuine chemistry on the PK. Could they continue to be a dangerous duo in ES situations?
Coach has said he expects bigger things from Matt Beleskey next season. Could Matt produce those “bigger things” alongside Koivu & Winick? Beleskey would be the shooter and adds a physical element to the checking line.
Nick Bonino will center a line. There’s plenty of competition among his potential linemates. Selanne, Etem are the leading candidates on RW. Palmieri, Silfverberg on LW.
cz notes that Cam Fowler was much improved defensively last season. I noted Scot Niedermayer’s influence as Cam seemed to be taking that rover-D role and trying to control the tempo when he has the puck.
We both hope for more offense from the back line. I see it coming from a luckier and less snake bit Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen. cz is keeping faith with Luca Sbisa. We think Sheldon Souray will take a few games off in back to back and 3 games in 4 nights situations. Though he and Beauchemin should be counted on for 5-6 goals.
The goaltending is solid to spectacular.
Replacing Bobby Ryan and possibly Teemu Selanne won’t be easy. Still, these Ducks could be a real offensive powerhouse next season. Consider, Perry 35-40, Getzlaf 25, Penner, Etem & Palmieri 20+, Bonino, Cogliano, Silfverberg 15+, Koivu, Beleskey 12, Fowler & Vatanen 10. That’s over 200 goals without anybody having a career year or exceeding expectations. Add a handful of goals each from Beauchemin, Souray, Sbisa and the fourth line. All of a sudden we’re enjoying a team that can score anywhere and anytime.
With excellent goaltending behind them the 2013-14 Ducks are a well-organized team primed for success.