Patrick Eaves

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Big centers back: Getzlaf in for Ducks, Panthers regain Barkov

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The Anaheim Ducks would probably qualify as unlucky so far in 2017-18 even beyond an extremely unfortunate bounce of a puck fracturing Ryan Getzlaf‘s cheekbone.

That loss was especially severe with Ryan Kesler already recovering, as Getzlaf missed 19 games, last appearing in a contest on that painful night of Oct. 29. The Ducks get quite the treat, then, as both Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg are slated to return as they host the Carolina Hurricanes.

Check out how much better everything fits together with the returns of Getzlaf and Silfverberg, not to mention the recent addition of Adam Henrique (line combos via the Ducks website):

Rakell-Getzlaf-Perry
Cogliano-Henrique-Silfverberg
Blandisi-Vermette-Kase
Wagner-Grant-Shaw

The Ducks are still without Kesler, and Patrick Eaves is fighting a serious physical battle that puts hockey on the backburner, so there’s still some mystery to how the Ducks might look if they can get anywhere near full-strength this season.

As is, they look a whole lot better going into Monday’s game, something the Florida Panthers could relate to.

While Anaheim’s dealt with bad luck, you could chalk up Florida’s troubles to a mix of unforced errors (jettisoning depth, particularly to Vegas) and tough breaks of their own (Roberto Luongo‘s injury issues). Either way, management will look infinitely smarter when Aleksander Barkov is in the lineup than when he’s not, so the Panthers must be happy to welcome him back tonight.

Interestingly, Left Wing Lock lists Barkov along with Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad, rather than Denis Malgin taking Bjugstad’s spot (Malgin received looks, at least, once Evgenii Dadonov suffered an injury).

That would be quite the top-heavy approach for Florida, even if Malgin can mesh well with Vincent Trocheck.

While the Panthers have floundered at times, the Ducks seemed like they were finally starting to crater under the pressure of all those injury losses, as Anaheim only boasts two wins (2-4-4) in its last 10 games.

It’s true that the return of Barkov and Getzlaf would be important in just about any context for their teams, but each team likely feels especially relieved on Monday, as they can use all the help they can get.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Fantasy hockey impact of the Henrique – Vatanen trade

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Keep this good stuff up, NHL GMs.

Ears perked up on Thursday, as the Anaheim Ducks landed Adam Henrique (and other stuff) from the New Jersey Devils for Sami Vatanen (plus some nicknacks) in another intriguing trade. One can only hope this means that we’ll see more interesting moves sprinkled throughout 2017-18, rather than having to beg for trimmings during the trade deadline alone.

With that in mind, let’s dive into the fantasy hockey implications of this move. Apologies to Joseph Blandisi for a lack of attention here, but honestly, his fantasy impact will most likely be … well, the first five letters of his last name.

Sami Vatanen – As much as I love how the Devils are redesigning their team, I’m not so sure what to make about Vatanen from a W-L record standpoint. In other words, the “reality” part is tougher.

It seems like I’m not alone in having some mild doubts about this, but for more on the real-world implications of the move, check out Sean Leahy’s analysis of the trade.

From a fantasy perspective, this is a slam-dunk for the Devils and Vatanen’s value, though. It will be intriguing to see how Vatanen’s arrival impacts the value of Will Butcher, who has been averaging three minutes per night on the Devils’ power play. Will New Jersey opt for a three-forward, two-defensemen setup or go with league trends and lean 4F-1D?

Either way, the Devils suddenly have more balance, and continue to nudge themselves up the ranks of the NHL’s most entertaining teams (because their strengths and weaknesses lineup so blissfully). Vatanen’s had some struggles in the past couple seasons, but he’s a two-time 30+ point scorer despite never playing more than 71 games in a single regular season.

I’ll leave the add/drop analysis to PHT’s Joey Alfieri, as far as where Vatanen might fit in your lineup. There’s little doubt in my mind that Vatanen is more valuable today than he was as a member of the Ducks, even though he was given reasonable opportunities to succeed in Anaheim.

At the absolute minimum, the Devils get that much more fun to watch.

Adam Henrique – This wasn’t one of those Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson-type steals for Devils GM Ray Shero, or even a more Ducks-centric deal where New Jersey nabs Kyle Palmieri for a bargain rate.

Instead, this was a very sensible move where two teams gave up surplus pieces to fit glaring needs.

In the case of Henrique, the Ducks get a sorely needed center – probably their top center for quite some time, as Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf both deal with serious issues – who’s also cheap at $4M. For a budget-conscious contender, this makes a lot of sense.

So, what kind of player is Henrique? That might be a question many are asking, considering that he’s been part of a Devils team that’s been under the radar for some time.

Henrique brings some impressive mid-level goal-scoring to the table. While he’s been weak in that area this season (just four goals on 49 SOG for an unusually low 8.2 shooting percentage), his career shooting percentage is a lofty 15. He’s hit 30 goals once and also had 25 and 20-goal seasons.

Eventually, you’d expect the returns of Kesler and Getzlaf to push him down the lineup, but it’s worth noting that Henrique can probably move to the wing when that happens.

It’s not as if a fantasy owner wants long-term results if they’re adding Henrique; you’re not really slotting a keeper league spot for him, right? This would be about short-term returns in most instances, and the bigger question is just “How depleted is this Ducks offense?” Along with Kesler and Getzlaf having serious issues, the Ducks also have Ondrej Kase, Jakob Silfverberg, and Rickard Rakell on the shelf. Let’s not forget Patrick Eaves‘ frightening health issues, either.

That opens the door for Henrique opportunities, but it’s worth mentioning that he probably won’t be carried by red-hot wingers. The results could be modest for would-be fantasy owners.

Who gains from Vatanen’s departure?

It will be interesting to see which Ducks defensemen get a boost from Vatanen being traded away, too.

So far in 2017-18, Cam Fowler was the only Anaheim blueliner who averaged more PP time per game than Vatanen. That said, Brandon Montour (2:41 per night) wasn’t far behind Vatanen’s average of 2:48 per game, and Hampus Lindholm got his fair share of reps, too, at 2:16 per evening.

Between power-play time and even-strength minutes – Vatanen averaged 21:06 minutes of total ice time per game, third among Ducks skaters and defensemen – there are some nice opportunities for Lindholm, Montour, and Josh Manson to take bigger roles.

The Ducks are transitioning from such a deep defense that people have to fight for ice time to something a little more stable, what with Vatanen and Shea Theodore out of the mix. Personally, I’m especially intrigued by what this might mean for Lindholm and Manson, two of the Ducks’ most interesting blueliners.

Again, it’s wise to check in on Alfieri’s add/drops post for more immediate advice on Monday, though.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Ducks facing tough road trip as injuries continue to pile up

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The Anaheim Ducks begin a five-game road trip tonight that could end with a big increase in the separation between where they currently reside in the Western Conference standings and a playoff spot.

Currently two points out of a wild card spot and three points behind the Calgary Flames for the third seed in the Pacific Division, the Ducks will face the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville Predators and Vegas Golden Knights before returning home to Honda Center next Wednesday. They’ll do so with a lineup that’s battered and missing Patrick Eaves, Ryan Getzlaf, Ondrej Kase, Ryan Kesler and now Rickard Rakell, who combined for over 80 goals last season.

How dinged up have the Ducks been? They’re by far the NHL leaders in the man-games lost category, as ManGamesLost.com shows:

ManGamesLost.com

The already offensively-challenged Ducks will see Derek Grant and Chris Wagner as their top two centermen as the roster heals.  The pair have 17 career goals. That will put some added pressure on a blue line that’s provided 15 of their 62 goals this season.

“We know we’ve stressed our lineup to our bare bones here,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said over the weekend via the LA Times. “The compete level and the structure and our work ethic and our track, our forecheck, all those were positives for our hockey club. And now we have to find a way to maintain that as we play more games on this road trip.”

Carlyle isn’t using injuries as an excuse for his team’s sluggish start — all teams miss key players at points during an 82-game schedule. But certainly the specific personnel missing from the Ducks’ lineup explains how the first 23 games have gone. John Gibson (.936 even strength save percentage in November) and Ryan Miller (.953 ESSV in November) have done their part in helping Anaheim take points from 7 of their 12 games this month and they’ll need to continue to be backbones for this team to survive a road trip against teams currently sitting in playoff spots.

Points collected now will be huge once the Ducks return to full health.

“It’s tight right now, as you can see, really tight,” said defenseman Kevin Bieksa. “You keep dropping, you’re right at the very bottom. A few points and a win or two and you’re right at the top. So you want to be in the thick of things. You don’t want to be swaying too far down. It’s important to get points.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Ryan Getzlaf out two months after surgery to repair fractured cheekbone

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The Anaheim Ducks have been crushed by injuries so far this season and the news did not get much better for them on Tuesday.

General manager Bob Murray announced that center Ryan Getzlaf underwent surgery to repair a fractured cheek bone that could sideline him for two months. Getzlaf has only appeared in six games this season for the Ducks.

Along with him their list of injured players this season has included (and in some cases still does) Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Ryan Kesler, Sami Vatanen and Patrick Eaves, who is currently sidelined after he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome.

Getzlaf was injured back on Oct. 29 when he was hit in the face by a puck in a game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

When healthy this season Getzlaf has been his usual productive self for the Ducks with seven points (one goal, six assists) in the six games.

That list of injuries has obviously had a negative impact on the Ducks season and is a big reason they are sitting at 6-6-2 through their first 14 games and has them in sixth place in the Pacific Division.

Along with the update on Getzlaf, Murray also updated the status of Fowler and Kesler.

Fowler, who has been sidelined since October 20 with a knee injury, is still on his original six week timeframe while Kesler (sidelined since offseason hip surgery) is still expected to return sometime around Christmas.

With Getzlaf and Kesler injured the Ducks’ center depth is obviously depleted at the moment.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Puck to face lands Getzlaf on IR as Ducks’ bad luck continues

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The Anaheim Ducks have already been dealing with injury issues this season, and now an errant puck to the face lands Ryan Getzlaf on injured reserve.

He’ll be reevaluated on Monday, according to the team, which means that Getzlaf will miss at least the next three games for the Ducks. They host the Maple Leafs on Wednesday, the Predators on Friday, and then face the Sharks in San Jose on Saturday. After that, they’ll begin a five-game homestand on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Here’s that unfortunate moment from the Ducks’ eventual 4-3 shootout win against the Carolina Hurricanes:

Give the Ducks credit; they won that game, and head coach Randy Carlyle is taking a matter-of-fact approach:

True, but it’s understandable if the Ducks are a little frustrated.

They finally got Ryan Miller into the mix on Sunday. Sami Vatanen is back to some extent, as he played on the weekend but didn’t suit up for back-to-back games. Cam Fowler‘s knee injury looks foreboding, and it remains to be seen when Ryan Kesler can return (and how long it will take the hard-working two-way center to approach full health). Kevin Bieksa is banged-up, while Patrick Eaves deals with a legitimately frightening ailment.

Speaking of frightening aliments, John Gibson seemed to avoid anything, um, too severe:

Despite these injuries, the Ducks have won four of their last five games to improve to 6-4-1. That’s resilient work, yet you wonder if they’ll cave under the pressure with their captain sidelined for at least the next three contests.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.