One thing that Ducks fans and the team itself is hoping won’t happen this September is the retirement of Teemu Selanne. While Selanne is going to make a decision in September one way or the other to play this season, the Ducks will find themselves in a tough position with their depth scoring abilities. While they’ve got one of the best first lines in the NHL with MVP Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Bobby Ryan the rest of the team will be hurting without Selanne.
One guy that could get a big shot in training camp if Selanne decides to hang it up is 2009 first round pick Kyle Palmieri. Palmieri got a brief look at what he could do in the NHL last season playing in 10 games for the Ducks and scoring just one goal. In the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch, however, Palmieri did very well in his first professional season. In 62 games with the Crunch, Palmieri had 29 goals and 22 assists and being another year older and a little wiser could give him the edge the former Team USA WJC champion would need to have success in the NHL.
NHL.com’s Lindsay Kramer reports that Palmieri will be gunning for a spot in Anaheim no matter what when training camp starts next month. Those that saw him closely in the AHL last season speak highly of him.
“There’s an opening for a right-handed forward up there,” Syracuse assistant general manager Bob Ferguson said in describing Palmieri. “I don’t think there’s any question he will play in the NHL someday and be a key member of Anaheim.”
Ferguson also adds that last season was a big change from what Palmieri was used to before the pros.
“For what he went through last season for a 19-year-old, you could easily say it would be overwhelming,” Ferguson said. “He experienced last year, in one season, things that some guys don’t experience in their entire career. I think what really happened was reality set in for him about being a pro hockey player. The last six weeks of the season, he was allowed to settle down more mentally than physically.”
Asking Palmieri to jump right into a major role in the NHL after just one season in professional hockey would be asking a lot, and for a kid (he’s just 20 years-old still) to become a second line right winger for a team that finished fourth in the Western Conference last season, that’s setting the bar a bit too high. That said, if Selanne doesn’t play this year the Ducks will have a lot of competition from within to fill that spot on the second line and they might have to wade through what’s left over in the free agent pool to make things work.
One thing’s for sure, if Selanne hangs it up the Ducks are in trouble having to replace his 80 points from last season and they’ll need their top line to play even better and get a lot of surprise support from elsewhere. Here’s to hoping Ducks GM Bob Murray is prepared.