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POSITION PREVIEW: The Ducks’ Sinister Side (LW)

Is a big trade still on the horizon for Anaheim?

NHL: NHL Draft Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Ah, the left side. The ever-changing carousel of could be’s, what if’s and really’s? The Ducks quest for a top line, left-handed LW has been ongoing since Chris Kunitz was swapped for Ryan Whitney. I know, I know, terrible right? But you do have to remember Magic Murray did swap the sloth footed, oft injured Whitney for Lubomir Visnovsky who would pot 18 goals in the 2010-11 season. Hindsight works both ways, pal.

With a willingness to find and fit anybody who could pair well with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, the Ducks have seen righties Rickard Rakell, Pat Maroon, and Bobby Ryan occupy the left side of the top line over the years.

Murray said one of the goals of the offseason (besides signing the Swedish meatballs; Damn you, Murray) was to get a legitimate, top 6 left handed winger. With that goal in mind, most of the trade rumors surrounding the Ducks this offseason has been mostly (insert defensive player here) for (insert left handed, left winger here). But barring any significant trades, which I think we will have to see somebody move, here is a rundown of the left sided depth for the Ducks as it stands today.

Nick Ritchie

2015-2016 Ducks Stats: 33 GP, 2 G, 2 A, 37 PIM
2015-2016 Gulls Stats: 38 GP, 16 G, 14 A, 50 PIM

The 10th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, Ritchie has come into this year’s camp noticeably leaner and quicker. He is in no way guaranteed a top spot, but I think with his shot and ability to hit and cause disruption, he will be given a long look on the first or second line. He will have to continue getting to the dirty areas of the ice and use his frame to work to the front of the net. Although he has a strong shot, he often takes it while not moving very quickly forward and from too far out. Get to the front, big boy.

Rickard Rakell

2015-2016 Ducks Stats: 72 GP, 20 G, 23 A, 19 PIM

Rakell is another righty, but he showed good chemistry flanking Getz and Perry last season. New/old head coach Randy Carlyle made a comment about wanting to keep players in groups of two with the ability to switch out a third player when needed. It remains to be seen whether Rakell (if he is signed soon, which survey says, “Maybe?”) will slide back to his natural center position or not. In my opinion, the Ducks are stronger and more dangerous with Getzlaf, Rakell, Kesler and Vermette down the middle.

Andrew Cogliano

2015-2016 Ducks Stats: 82 GP, 9 G, 23 A, 28 PIM

(”Iron Man” by Black Sabbath starts playing.) The speedster Cogliano formed a potent shutdown/counter punching line with Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg last year. Carlyle mentioned this line “earned” the right to play together so look for this trio on opening night. Carlyle used to love rolling three lines with an occasional shift or two for the fourth. He has stated he has changed his thinking and tried to evolve his strategy, but you can guess that you will be seeing some healthy servings of the Cog / Kes / Silf gravy train.

Ryan Garbutt

2015-2016 NHL Stats: 43 GP, 2 G, 4 A, 27 PIM (Blackhawks)
2015-2016 NHL Stats: 37 GP, 5 G, 3 A, 21 PIM (Ducks)

Once one of the most hated non-Ducks (seriously, how much did it suck playing against him and Antoine Roussel?), Garbutt has endeared himself to most Duck fans with his up-tempo, forechecking style. and a surprisingly quick and accurate wrister. Garbutt is a nice utility player that can play on the first line (in limited capacity of course, definitely not a long term solution), but would most likely settle into a fourth line roll or possibly on a shutdown line if Kesler and Co. are used more as a true secondary scoring line.

Mason Raymond

2015-2016 NHL Stats: 29 GP, 4 G, 1 A, 8 PIM (Calgary Flames)
2015-2016 AHL Stats: 15 GP, 6 G, 9 A, 2 PIM (Stockton Heat)

Raymond is a budget veteran signing, but I have no idea where he will fit this year. I don’t think he will be effective enough to carve out Top 6 minutes, but more likely will slide up and down the roster as injuries, flu bugs and cold streaks take over the season. Raymond is on a two-way contract so if we see one of the young players solidify their roles or Murray trades for another left-winger, Raymond could be soaking up some sun in San Diego with the Gulls.

David Booth

2015-2016 KHL Stats: 23 GP, 6 G, 10 A, 30 PIM (Vladivostok Admiral)

Sean Bergenheim

2015-2016 NLA Stats: 21 GP, 5 G, 8 A, 49 PIM (SC Bern)

Both veteran players were on PTO’s, but Booth was released in the latest round of cuts. Not a huge surprise as the Ducks still have RFA’s to sign and are working on shedding salary. Bergenheim has been decent in the preseason and might be hanging on a little longer, but I expect the Ducks to let him seek employment elsewhere and let one of the younger players fight for a role.

Nicolas Kerdiles

2015-2016 Gulls Stats: 45 GP, 15 G, 12 A, 70 PIM

Of all the AHL forwards that could see the jump to the big club, Kerdiles is one of the top choices to punch his bus ticket from up north. I haven’t seen too much of him, but he seems similar to a Kyle Palmieri player with a quick shot and decent skating ability. He did suffer a concussion in the preseason so we will have to see how he bounces back. Even if he is healthy and there is room for him on the Ducks’ roster, I think he should talk with Shea Theodore about some good audio books for the numerous bus trips he will be taking this year.

Max Jones

2015-2016 OHL Stats: 63 GP, 28 G, 24 A, 106 PIM (London Knights)

Max Jones was cut before he could get his 9-game cup of coffee in the NHL. The 24th pick in this year’s draft has been nursing a shoulder injury, but looks to have healed up and will join his junior team and Corey Perry alma mater, the London Knights. Cam Fowler made the Ducks as an 18-year-old under Carlyle, and with the Ducks currently lack LW depth, I thought Jones would be given a little extra time to practice with the big club. The quick skating and hard hitting forward will have to wait until at least next year for his NHL debut.

Joseph Cramrossa

2015-2016 Gulls Stats: 61 GP, 11 G, 6 A, 68 PIM

One of the older prospects at 23, Cramrossa could see some time on the bottom of the Ducks’ lineup if Garbutt needs to move up or Raymond fails to solidify a role. He did increase his stats to careers highs last year with San Diego, but doesn’t look like he will get too much time in Anaheim.

Ondrej Kase

2015-2016 Gulls Stats: 25 GP, 8 G, 6 A, 6 PIM

Right handed winger, Kase has lined up on both sides of the center. Although he isn’t the biggest or most physical guy, he has shown great speed and playmaking ability. He did suffer a concussion last year, but is looking to stay healthy and show his skills with the Gulls this season. I think there are more NHL-ready prospects who will get the chance with the big club, but if there are injuries or Kase really impresses, he might see a game or two.

Kalle Kossila

2015-2016 Gulls Stats: 6 GP, 2 G, 2 A, 0 PIM
2015-2016 NCAA Stats: 38 GP, 14 G, 34 A, 14 PIM (St. Cloud State Huskies)

I’m still learning a little bit about Kossila from his six game stint with the Gulls last year, but he has shown playmaking ability at St. Cloud State where he played both center and wing. He will likely need more time in San Diego, but if he can excel there, he could make a bigger impact next year.

Kevin Roy

2015-2016 Gulls Stats: 2 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PIM
2015-2016 NCAA Stats: 29 GP, 10 G, 16 A, 10 PIM (Northeastern Huskies)

Roy was assigned to the Gulls in one of the camp cuts so he will try to transition his scoring ability from Northeastern University and the USHL to the AHL. Roy is not the biggest guy at 5’9, but uses his quickness and soft hands well. I don’t think he has the physical tools to make his way to the NHL this year, but Pat Kane isn’t the biggest guy either and we’ve seen how that’s worked out.

Jack Kopacka

2015-2016 OHL Stats: 67 GP, 20 G, 23 A, 12 PIM (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)

Kopacka has continued to add weight to his 6’2 frame. He doesn’t hit like a young Getzlaf, but has a similar ability to use his reach, nice hands and surprisingly smooth skating. He will be with Sault Ste. Marie for another year.

Kenton Helgesen

2015-2016 ECHL Stats: 31 GP, 2 G, 3 A, 41 PIM (Utah Grizzlies)

Helgesen was originally a physical, shutdown defender, but switched to forward when playing with the Calgary Hitmen. He maintained his tough, shutdown mentality and has been known to hand out some punishing checks and drop the gloves. He spent most of the previous season with the Utah Grizzlies, but he will hope to find a forward spot with the Gulls this time around.

Grant Besse

2015-2016 NCAA Stats: 35 GP, 11 G, 22 A, 10 PIM (Wisconsin Badgers)

A 2013 draft pick, Besse will continue his college career at Wisconsin. He is still a year or two from being considered for the Ducks, but we might see him in the AHL at the end of his college career (barring he doesn’t go all Schultz/Vesey on us).

Nick Tarnasky

2015-2016 AHL Stats: 59 GP, 15 G, 5 A, 77 PIM (Hartford Wolf Pack)

31-year-old Tarnasky will be with the Gulls this year on a one-year contract. He will be a depth player and most likely won’t see time with the Ducks.