With the start of the Ducks regular season just hours away, we here at Anaheim Calling thought we would give you our take on just what Anaheim could do this season. Here are our thoughts on the best, worst, and realistic scenarios for this year’s Ducks team:
Best: Ritchie makes the jump and becomes the winger the twins desperately need. Silfverberg breaks out and has a career year to carry the second line. Hot off their World Cup victory, Perry and Getzlaf stay healthy and carry a weak bottom six deep into the playoffs.
Worst: The swedes bolt for the KHL and the team is left to miss the last wild card spot on a tie breaker putting them out of the playoffs and nowhere near a lottery pick. Carlyle gets a pass because its his first season and Bob demands more grit. We go through another lateral summer without a rebuild, or any attempt to improve the team.
Realistic: When you look at the team (and coach) that produced a first round playoff exit last year compared to this year, you can't expect them to have a better outcome this time around. I predict the Ducks still make the playoffs due to an overall weak Pacific Division. Arizona and Calgary still need another year to figure things out, but the Ducks better have a plan for when they do.
Best: Make it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Gibby shows that he replaced his groin with actual muscles rather than paper and lives up to the hype as a #1.
Worst: Carlyle hasn’t changed at all and drives the Ducks down to a terrible possession team. Ducks miss the playoffs for the first time since 2012.
Realistic: Finish 2nd in the division but get knocked out by Nashville for the 2nd year in a row, this year in the 2nd round.
Best: Jakob Silfverberg pulls his best Bobby Ryan impersonation and scores thirty goals. If the Ducks want to offset the loss of the goal scoring they lost over the summer, Silfverberg will be pressured to set a career high. Extra power play time with the twins could help his cause.
Worst: Carlyle goes full Carlyle and the Ducks miss the playoffs. People will say Getzlaf doesn’t leadership hard enough and chaos will ensue. Who gets panic traded first?
Realistic: After a late season push, the Ducks make the playoffs as the third place team in the Pacific. This time they lose before a game seven.
Best: Ideally, we resign Rakell and Lindholm. Getzlaf and Perry step up and play like they haven’t eclipsed the age of 30 yet. Gibson shines as the true #1 goalie, Anaheim takes second in the division, and the Ducks beat LA in the first round. Then, who knows?
Worst: We don’t resign one or both of Rakell or Lindholm. Getzlaf and Perry show significant signs of decline. Gibson battles injuries throughout the year, Anaheim misses the playoffs by a few points, and Bob Murray continues to make head-scratching moves in free agency.
Realistic: Honestly, this team is good enough, and the rest of the Pacific is bad enough, that they shouldn’t have much trouble securing third in the division. Getzlaf and Perry will likely show some signs of age, but will continue to be driving forces on offense. I also think Fowler gets traded to make room for Rakell and Lindholm. Come playoff time, it’s a coin toss in my mind whether or not Anaheim’s best players show up. If they do, expect the Ducks to do some serious damage. If not, look for another first round exit, most likely at the hands of the Kings.
Best: Murray somehow manages to CTRL Z on Stoner and other dead weight contracts. Lindholm and Rakell are resigned for manageable term and money. Gibson goes on a crazy unstoppable Carey Price-esque streak after the Christmas break. Silfverberg emerges as a 40 goal scorer to pick up the offensive slack left by off season departures. Carlyle makes good on his promise that he has changed and encourages wide-open play. Ducks get the 5th seed - Carlyle keeps the team in control and they never blow a series lead getting to the finals.
Worst: Lindholm and Rakell hold out for the entire season and Murray makes some panic moves sending prospects away for guys like Nash and some other teams barely 2nd pairing defenceman. Gibson completely shits the bed and Bernier is forced into the number 1 spot for the entire season. Nobody gets hot and everybody gets injured within a month, causing a mass call-up from the Gulls who thus fall out of the playoffs. Carlyle tries his new methodology for two games max then panics after losing both and reverts back to his same old same old. Ducks finish 25th in the league and Murray doesn’t fire Carlyle citing it's the veterans fault.
Realistic: Murray has to trade Larsson along with Stoner in order to ditch his contract. Lindholm and Rakell hold out until December and are eventually signed for the numbers they are asking forcing a trade of aforementioned Larsson or another prospect we don’t want to lose. Gibson gets injured mid December and Bernier has to play the rest of the season. Getzlaf and Perry have to carry the bulk of the offense with the Kesler line chipping in the odd goal. Carlyle starts out attempting his new promised mantra but slowly eases back into the same style that got him fired the first time. Ducks miss the playoffs by five points.
Best: By some miracle, Stoner is picked up off waivers (didn’t happen, I’m sad), the Ducks are able to ink both Rakell and Lindholm to multi-year contracts, & Carlyle leads the Ducks back to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Worst: Stoner is not picked up (ugh) and instead finds himself back on the roster because Ducks couldn't sign Lindholm. The Ducks struggle to find offense, Gibby gets injured (or chronically sick), and Anaheim is on the outside looking in during the post-season.
Realistic: Stoner is not claimed off waivers (still sad), we do find a way to ink Rakell amd Lindholm, and Ducks make it into the playoffs. But, all hope for the resurgence of Carlyle's magic is snuffed out in the early rounds against a strong Central Division team.
Best: The salary cap situation is figured out without moving major pieces. Stoner is the main causality, but the Ducks start the season at full strength. A re-energized and focused team destroys the competition through the regular season as the Ducks repeat as Pacific Division champions. Carlyle's coaching has evolved and the team plays an up-tempo, responsible, but still tough game. They score, they fight and they play great defense.
Lindholm finishes top-3 in the Norris voting and really shows his worth with a Conn Smythe performance in the playoffs as the Ducks raise the Cup for the second time under Randy "The Man" Carlyle.
Worst: Lindholm holds out because Murray gave too much money to Stoner and Bieksa and doesn't feel like he's been given proper value. He decides he would rather miss this season so Murray panics and trades him and our lottery pick for another Canuck, Alexander Burrows and Vancouver's third. Murray then extends Burrows eight seasons at $7.25M per year because he scored 35 goals in 2009/10.
Carlyle shows why he was fired from Toronto and the team is unmotivated, lazy and constantly playing turtle defense. Career worsts for the squad and a major player is injured for the season.
Carlyle is fired. Murray is fired. Lindholm is gone. Getzlaf demands a trade. Disney decides to buy the team back and changes the name to The Anaheim Mighty Olaf's from Disney's Frozen Now on Blu-Ray and DVD of Los Angeles. Wild Wing catches on fire again. *(Fits of laughter at reading this. -JC)*
Realistic: The Ducks are able to sign the Swedes, but it costs them extra picks or prospects to move 2 of 3 contracts of Stoner/Fowler/Despres.
Their notorious slow start rears its head again because important pieces missed training camp. The Ducks play catch up all year and squeak in the playoffs as a wild card. They manage to knock off a higher seeded opponent raising the hopes of Ducks fans everywhere where they promptly get swept in the second round which feels worse than losing in 7 and they realize it wasn't Bruce's fault after all. It was Perry's.