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Position Previews: Center, Finally a 2C!

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The Ducks lost three 3 centermen this summer and picked up a 2C and a 4C in return. Here's how it all shakes out.

Not Samson.
Not Samson.
Harry How

Ryan Getzlaf

Last season: 77 games, 31-56=87 (NHL)

Playoffs: 12 games, 4-11=15 (NHL)

Entering his fifth year as captain, Getzlaf is coming off arguably the best of his nine NHL seasons, one in which he finished second only to Sidney Crosby in both total points and Hart Trophy voting. The 29 year-old is in his prime, and there is no reason not to expect another superb season from one of the best players in the world. If Ryan Kesler can take away some defensive zone starts and penalty killing time from the top line, Getzlaf's production might even increase.

Ryan Kesler

Last season: 77 games, 25-18=43 (NHL)

The 30 year-old's production has dropped off since his back-to-back 70+ point seasons in 2009-10 and 2010-11, but the former Selke Trophy winner still has a strong two-way game and should be able to help out in all situations. Ducks fans are familiar with his ability to snipe on the power play, and his penalty-killing is up there with the best.

Nate Thompson

Last season: 81 games, 9-7=16 (NHL)

Playoffs: 4 games, 0-0=0 (NHL)

Thompson, who will turn 30 before the regular season starts, is your stereotypical bottom six center. He was third among Tampa Bay Lightning forwards in shorthanded ice time per game last season, and he has been killing penalties his entire career. 20 points would be a good year for him from an offensive standpoint, but that number could be higher or lower depending on who he plays with.

Rickard Rakell

Last season: 18 games, 0-4=4 (NHL); 46 games, 14-23=37 (AHL)

Playoffs: 4 games, 1-1=2 (NHL); 1 game, 0-1=1 (AHL)

The 21 year-old Swede may still be searching for his first regular season NHL goal, but that doesn't mean he hasn't been effective in his limited opportunities with the Ducks. His corsi numbers were outstanding, and he passed the eye test in terms of effective, responsible play. With the net loss of one NHL center this summer, Rakell will almost certainly begin the season in the Ducks' lineup, probably as the third line center. Fortunately, Getzlaf, Kesler, Thompson and Rakell all play a strong defensive game, so Bruce Boudreau will be able to shelter whichever lines he wants on a nightly basis.

William Karlsson

Last year: 9 games, 2-7=9 (AHL); 55 games, 15-22=37 (SHL)

Playoffs: 8 games, 1-2=3 (AHL); 8 games, 3-4=7 (SHL)

Karlsson (21 years old) led his Swedish Hockey League team in scoring last year. He has a solid all-around game that revolves around his speed and creativity with the puck, and if he can add some more muscle to his game, he could be in NHL shape as soon as someone goes down with an injury.  And just yesterday Boudreau compared his skill set (and possibly talent ceiling) to that of Nicklas Backstrom from the Washington Capitals, which would be really nice.

Louis Leblanc

Last year: 8 games, 0-0=0 (NHL); 70 games, 13-15=28 (AHL)

Montreal's first round pick (18th) in the 2009 entry draft didn't pan out as well as they were hoping, and as such Bob Murray was able to grab him for nothing more than a conditional fifth rounder in next year's draft. He has first-round talent, but has yet to completely round out his game. Depending on how training camp goes, either Leblanc or Karlsson should be the first center called up in the event of an injury.

Charles Sarault

Last year: 43 games, 6-8=14 (AHL); 8 games, 3-8=11 (ECHL)

Playoffs: 5 games, 2-2=4 (ECHL)

Sarault plays a well-rounded game and is notable for his slick passing (86 assists in 68 games during his final OHL season). His size (5'10" 180 lbs) could hold him back, but as we all know, small players can succeed in the NHL. Unlikely to be called up as early as this year.

Joseph Cramarossa

Last year: 47 games, 1-3=4 (AHL); 3 games, 0-2=2 (ECHL)

Playoffs: 2 games, 0-0=0

The Toronto native is physical player with some offensive upside. A quick Youtube search of his name reveals nothing but fights. Expect him to play a lot of AHL hockey this year.

Matt Bailey

Last year: 11 games, 2-1=3 (AHL), 38 games, 20-18=38 (WCHA)

Bailey was the University of Alaska Anchorage's leading scorer and the fifth-leading scorer in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association last year. Now that he's out of college, it will be interesting to see if he can elevate his game enough to get an NHL call-up in the next couple years.

Miro Aaltonen

Last year: 60 games, 13-16=29 (SM-Liiga)

Playoffs: 7 games, 3-4=7 (SM-Liiga)

Aaltonen is a talented playmaker who may need work on his defensive game. From what I can gather, he'll be playing in Finland again this year.

Kevin Roy

Last year: 37 games, 19-27=46 (Hockey East)

Roy is entering his third year at Northeastern University, coming off a sophomore season in which he led the Huskies in scoring. The Quebec native is 5'9" 174lbs, but he has some high-end skill.

PROFESSIONAL TRYOUT

David Steckel

Last year: 6 games, 0-0=0 (NHL); 65 games, 10-17=27 (AHL)

Playoffs: 10 games, 1-3=4 (AHL)

Steckel can win faceoffs. He can win faceoffs, and he has over 400 games of NHL experience. Beyond that, he doesn't have a ton going for him. Now that he's into his 30s, he's likely to spend the rest of his career as an infrequent call-up as long as he stays on a team with the Ducks' depth.