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2014-15 Preview: Key Additions

Brought in with much ballyhoo, the Ryan Kesler acquisition rightfully made headlines this summer for Anaheim. He's not the only potentially important piece the Ducks acquired.

Rich Lam

Ryan Kesler/Center

2014 Team: Vancouver Canucks

2014 Stats: 77GP | 25G | 18A | 81PIM | 9PPG | 21:49 ATOI | 52.3CF% | 52.4FF% | 54.7FOW%

What did we give up for him? Traded Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, and first and third round 2014 draft choices

Why was he brought in? The top prize of the offseason, Kesler was acquired to improve the Ducks skill at the center spot to compete with the other elite teams in the Western Conference. In Kesler, Anaheim has a two-way center with scoring touch that is a three time Selke finalist, winning the award in 2010-11, and has been on a Stanley Cup Finalist. Since his third full season in the league he's gotten the majority of his zone starts in the defensive zone each year, while being a positive shot attempt differential player in all but a shoulder and foot injury shortened 12-13 season during that span. Kesler will take some of the pressure defensive zone starts off Ryan Getzlaf, meaning more starts in the offensive zone and more opportunity to drive play for the captain. Whether or not he can approach his career year totals of 10-11, Kesler will have a major impact on the Ducks in all zones that will be felt up and down the lineup.

Nate Thompson/Center

2014 Team: Tampa Bay Lightning

2014 Stats: 81 GP | 9 G | 7 A | 27 PIM | 12:52 ATOI | 51.0 CF% | 52.4 FF% | 50.9 FOW%

What did we give up for him? Traded fourth and seventh round 2015 draft choices

Why was he brought in? With the retirement of Saku Koivu, Anaheim needed a defensively responsible center to slot on the lower lines. In Thompson they've acquired a player that is the textbook definition of that, as over his seven year career he's averaged starting in the defensive zone 63.6% of the time. This past season was the first time in his career he finished as a positive shot differential player for a Tampa Bay team that finished 18th in average shots attempted and 13th in average shots allowed, while getting 55.6% of his zone starts in the the defensive zone.  Though it's tempting to wonder why the Ducks seemingly replaced the 18 goals and 25 assists of Mathieu Perreault with Thompson, keep in mind the roles are entirely different. What Thompson will be asked to do is more in line with what Samuel Pahlsson did for so many years- win face offs and defend well. This acquisition gives Anaheim more defined roles at center.

Clayton Stoner/Defenseman

2014 Team: Minnesota Wild

2014 Stats: 63 GP | 1 G | 4 A | 84 PIM | 13:20 ATOI | 47.6 CF% | 47.4 FF% | 65 BLK | 99 Hits

What did we give up for him? Signed four-year, $13mil free agent contract; annual cap hit of $3.25mil

Why was he brought in? Y'know, we tried to hash this out over the summer. On one hand Stoner is a 6'4", 215 pound defenseman that plays a physical, stay at home style. On the other, he's a slower player that for the entirety of his career has been on ice for a significant percentage more shot attempts against than taken while with the Minnesota Wild. Stoner has a career average of 58.5% of his zone starts coming in the defensive zone and (archaic stat alert!) been on ice for three more goals for than against in 227 games. With Bryan Allen having turned 34 this past summer and in the final year of his contract, it's likely management wanted a younger (Stoner turns 30 in February) comparable player that can serve as a bodyguard of sorts with own-zone focus to balance out a pair with Sami Vatanen as seen in training camp. Hey, he finished with a 53.7 CF% in 13 playoff games last year, so there's that too.

Dany Heatley/Wing

2014 Team: Minnesota Wild

2014 Stats: 76 GP | 12 G | 16 A | 18 PIM | 4 PPG | 14:49 ATOI | 44.2 CF% | 44.1 FF%

What did we give up for him? Signed one-year, $1mil free agent contract

Why was he brought in? Following the success of the Dustin Penner reclamation project last season, Heatley seems another attempt at finding "buy low" value by the Ducks. Though four years removed from his last 30-goal season, Heatley has topped the 20-goal mark nine times in his career (if you scale his lockout shortened 12-13 season numbers over an 82 game season he'd have scored 20, which would make ten) and last year was his first sub-20 goal season since 03-04 in Atlanta. Skating with Getzlaf and Corey Perry did wonders for Penner's production last year and the Ducks eventually dealt him for a fourth round pick from the Capitals, which was flipped to fill an actual need on the blueline. Heatley's NHL goal scoring pedigree is significantly better than Penner's with 372 career markers, so the question is: was last season a sign Heatley's end is nigh, or that his struggles were endemic of an offensively challenged team? It's a cheap bet with potentially significant rewards for Anaheim.

Jason LaBarbera/Goaltender

2014 Teams: Edmonton Oilers/Oklahoma City Barons/Rockford Ice Hogs

2014 Stats: NHL: 7 GP | 1-3-0 | .870 SV% | 3.28 GAA

AHL: 34 GP (2 OKC/32 RFD) | 15-16-3 | .906 SV% | 2.87 GAA

What did we give up for him? Signed one-year, $750,000 free agent contract

Why was he brought in? The last season LaBarbera saw the majority of an NHL team's starts was in 07-08 with Los Angeles, before being traded to Vancouver in 08-09. He signed with Phoenix the following year where he served as backup up until this past season. Though never able to capture the same sort of success at the NHL that he has had in the AHL (2 time Bastien Memorial Award winner as most outstanding goalie and 2004 Cunningham Award winner as MVP), he's an inexpensive veteran presence. Should either Frederik Andersen or John Gibson falter, or should Andersen earn the job LaBarbera can fill the backup role so Gibson can return to Norfolk to see regular action. He's also a noted Metallica and professional wrestling fan.

Louis Leblanc/Center

2014 Teams: Montreal Canadiens/Hamilton Bulldogs

2014 Stats: NHL: 8 GP | 0 G | 0 A | 4 PIM | 9:52 ATOI

AHL: 70 GP | 13 G | 15 A | 63 PIM | 1 PPG

What did we give up for him? Traded conditional 2015 fifth round draft pick

Why was he brought in? Leblanc is an interesting stab at potential, four seasons removed from better than point-per-game production as a 20 year old in the QMJHL in which he also put up a point-per-game World Junior Championship appearance with Canada. His only extended NHL time was in 11-12 where he had five goals and five assists in 42 games, and he hasn't particularly lit the AHL on fire playing on three division basement dwelling Hamilton Bulldogs teams. Still, his two way game will be valuable for Norfolk, and could blossom being surrounded by higher caliber teammates. Any time he sees with the Ducks this season will likely be brief, but expect him to play a role with the Admirals. At the very least, he's an answer to the trivia question "Name a hockey player who has appeared in both NCAA (Harvard in 09-10) and CHL?"


CF% = Corsi For % (% of shot attempts on ice for)

FF% = Fenwick For % (% of unblocked shot attempts on ice for)

All 'Advanced Stats' from