As the flurry of free agency moves and signings seems to have come to a halt, I thought I'd take the time to give some analysis of the Duck's newest acquisitions and unfilled needs as the team gets closer to starting.
Andrew Cogliano: I'll start with Cogs due to the fact that it was probably the biggest move the Ducks made this summer. Daniel already posted an article where most people have put in their opinions about the move, but I'm here to analyze the player and not the moves. First thing any Duck fan should know about this guy is that he is FAST. His speed is easily his greatest asset and he uses it well. He will quickly add to the team's speed and skill and always has the potential to blow by a defenseman. He's got decent hands, and seems comfortable on fast breaks, often scoring on one timers and tip ins by the crease. Not a sniper by any means, but he does seem to have some offensive potential. This last season he became a regular on the Oiler's PK and seemed to take on more of a checking role. Unless he improves, don't expect him to win many face offs, and due to his size he isn't a true shutdown presence. Expect at least 30 points for Andrew, although many think he has the potential to reach up to 50. Cogs is a notorious work horse and fierce competitor, he should help push his team mates to better there games as well as bring a young, but veteran presence to the bottom 6.
Potential Role: 2nd-3rd line winger or 3rd line center, offensive forward, PK abilities, defensively responsible
Kurtis Foster: My favorite off season acquisition so far because it means no more Sutton, and a potential exciting player in Foster. If you haven't gone over to NHL.com yet and seen Fosters goals I highly recommend it. This guy has a CANNON!!!! His addition to the teams blue line easily makes the Duck's PP unit that much more dangerous. His shot rivals Lubo's and Beauchemin's, and together with Fowler the four of them will solidify the teams Defensive PP contributors. He's got fairly good instincts offensively and for such a big frame he skates fairly well. Defensively he moves fairly well, and his big frame will make it easier for him to block shots. That being said he doesn't have the best instincts in his own end and doesn't impose physically despite his big frame. Fan's should expect around 30 points from Foster (and some huge shots from the point) but also some frustrating giveaways that could result to goals. Foster should help bring a veteran presence to the team's D corps as well, having been around the league with multiple teams, and should help further mentor Fowler and Sbisa.
Potential Role: 2nd or 3rd pairing defenseman, paired with Beauchemin or Fowler (maybe Sbisa), huge shot
Duck Comparison: Ryan Whitney (Big shot, Big Body, but not overly physical defenseman)
Jean-Francois Jacques: A bit of a wild card, JFJ fits a very familiar type of forward for Ducks fans. The keys from him are SIZE and GRIT. A young, big, physical winger, he could help bring back some of the grit lost with the departures of Winchester and Ruttu. JFJ enjoys a physical game to match his 6-4, 217 pound frame. He constantly crashes the net, and plays well along the boards and in corners. In his last two seasons he averaged over a PIM per game and will drop the gloves if challenged. In all 6 seasons with the Oilers, JFJ has never played a full season in the NHL. At this point its hard to tell what Ducks fans can expect from JFJ, due to the uncertainty of his playing time. When he does play expect a few big hits, maybe a fight, and some defensive responsibility. But other than that he offers little offensive potential, and can make mistakes in his own end.
Potential Role: 4th line winger, physical checker, enforcer
Jeff Deslauriers: The last of the former Oilers, after last season Deslauriers could very well being seeing time in a Ducks sweater sooner than expected. Granted it's not likely that the team goes through similar issues with goaltending as they did last season and therefore its probably another year before we see Jeff on the ice at Honda Center. JD is a big framed goaltender who relies mostly on positioning. He takes up a lot of the net and still manages to move well for someone of his size. He apparently is a great locker room guy and quality team mate. He works hard and is always trying to improve his game as well as his team mates. All of which are perfect qualities of a clear backup goalie. With Dan Ellis still on the books for another year, its expected that Jeff will play in Syracuse next season and then get a chance to back up Hiller the season after next. And even though his stats last year with Edmonton weren't stellar he did manage to have three shutouts last season with that shaky defense in front of him. He tends to have consistency issues and has trouble getting to rebounds.
Potential Role: Back up/depth goaltender
Duck Comparison: Igor Bobkov (Big goaltender....I got nothing else)
Matt Smaby: Like most people I know very little about Smaby so this one will have to be a bit shorter. He's had limited time in 4 seasons in the NHL, playing over 40 games once, and has never scored a goal in that time. He has a huge frame (6-4, 240) and plays a very physical game. He possesses good skating ability and instincts in his own zone, and tends to be responsible when it comes to taking penalties. Offensively though he constantly struggles and lacks any sort of scoring ability.
Potential Role: 6-7th defenseman, physically imposing defenseman, little offensive potential
Duck Comparison: Sheldon Brookbank (without the penalties and fights)
So there we have it. Even with the re-signings of Sexton, Bonino, and Maroon (and hopefully Selanne) it wasn't a terribly active offseason for Ducks fans. That being said what can fans expect in terms of moves from Bob Murray going forward?
4th line center: Murray has expressed his desire for a face off specialist even after acquiring Cogliano.
Jason Blake: Rumors have been around Blake for the last year about whether or not Murray will trade him to cap floor team and let younger players try to hang with Selanne and Koivu. Its probably unlikely he moves until after the season starts.
Finally, I personally am fairly happy with the players acquired this offseason. That doesn't mean I like the moves that were made to bring them here, but I am excited about the prospects of Foster and Cogs playing next season and the exciting offense that comes with them. It will be interesting to see if Smaby is given a chance if injuries or disappointing play from others occur, as he could fill a void that Sutton was supposed to fill. Also interesting is whether or not Carlyle and Murray decided to go with youngsters on the fourth line with Parros or chooses to give JFJ a chance at creating another heavy weight line like last season. Either way Im excited for hockey to start again and how these new pieces fit into the puzzle.