Danton Heinen

Ducks’ offensive woes extend to rare 2-year playoff drought

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — The last time the Anaheim Ducks missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, they went all the way to their franchise’s first Stanley Cup Final just one year later.

Not many observers expect the current Ducks to duplicate the feats of those beloved 2002-03 Mighty Ducks after they complete another long offseason made even longer by the coronavirus pandemic.

These Ducks are still in full rebuilding mode after winning just 29 of their 71 games this season, including a Western Conference-worst 24 non-shootout victories. The Ducks were in sixth place in the Pacific Division standings primarily on the sturdy strength of goalies John Gibson and Ryan Miller, who bailed out their teammates all winter long.

Just three years after the Ducks reached the conference finals for the second time in three seasons, a long road back to Cup contention appears to loom in Orange County. Anaheim got largely disappointing performances from its collection of forwards – a star-free group outside captain Ryan Getzlaf – and the blue line was inconsistent while coach Dallas Eakins worked young talent into the lineup amid injuries and trade departures.

But during a second straight season without a playoff appearance – matching their total playoff-less seasons over the previous 13 years combined – Eakins and general manager Bob Murray saw signs of the team they want the Ducks to become. They’ll have an extra-long offseason to contemplate the next steps to get there.

”While we would have preferred to conclude our season normally and play 82 games, it became obvious over time that was not practical,” Murray said this week. ”We remain excited about our future and can’t wait for the 2020-21 season.”

SELDOM SCORING

Perhaps appropriately for a team with a long-standing reputation as an intimidating, defense-first organization, the Ducks’ biggest problems during their two-year playoff drought have been all about offense. Eakins was hired last summer to implement a speed-based system designed to produce more scoring opportunities, but it’s just not happening yet.

One season after Anaheim finished last in the NHL in goals, its minus-39 goal differential this season was the conference’s worst. Anaheim scored two or fewer regulation goals in a whopping 39 of its 71 games. Only Adam Henrique (26 goals) and Jakob Silfverberg (21) found the net with any frequency.

The Ducks’ problems ranged from Rickard Rakell‘s two-year regression to the disappointing numbers from youngsters who weren’t ready to produce at the highest level. Murray also curiously gave up on Ondrej Kase and Daniel Sprong in February, trading two young forwards with clear NHL-caliber scoring ability when they didn’t produce enough for his liking.

IN THE CREASE

Gibson and Miller didn’t post impressive statistics, but anybody who watched these Ducks knew their most valuable players were between the pipes. Gibson’s game has grown and matured even while his team has regressed, and the 39-year-old Miller still shows no drop-off in his abilities. If Miller decides to return for another NHL season, he’ll have the chance to pass Dominik Hasek on the NHL’s career victories list – and the Ducks won’t have to worry about this vital position for another year.

DROP THE BALLS

The Ducks have an 8.5% chance of getting the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL’s complicated draft lottery. Anaheim hasn’t had a top-five draft pick since 2005, when it snagged Bobby Ryan with the second overall choice. Murray and his scouting department have a long history of finding impressive talent outside the first round, but they’ll likely have the opportunity to choose a game-changing star this summer for the first time. The Ducks also have Boston’s first-round pick from their trade of Kase.

DARK BLUE LINE

Anaheim’s collection of defensemen appears to be thoroughly average, and none seems likely to get much better. Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson are solid pros, but they’re likely past the points in their development where they could become stars. The Ducks could use an injection of game-changing talent on the blue line.

GETTING BUCKETS

Linemates Henrique and Silfverberg bucked their team’s offensive struggles with a pair of impressive seasons, and they’ll be a foundation of the rebuilding effort. Henrique was particularly productive, leading the roster with 43 points. They’re both locked into long-term contracts.

GETZ BACK

The 35-year-old Getzlaf will head into the final season of his contract later this year when he begins his 16th season with Anaheim. The playmaker still racked up 29 assists this season despite finishing the year on a line with Danton Heinen and Sonny Milano, two 24-year-old recent additions with a combined 59 career NHL goals. It’s a long way down from his heyday with Corey Perry, but Getzlaf appears eager to keep working on the Ducks’ rebuilding project.

Looking at the 2019-20 Boston Bruins

With the 2019-20 NHL season on hold we are going to take a look at where each NHL team stands at this moment with a series of posts examining their season. Have they met expectations? Exceeded expectations? Who has been the surprise? All of that and more. Today we look at the Boston Bruins.

Boston Bruins

Record: 44-14-12 (70 games), first in the Atlantic Division, first in the Eastern Conference
Leading scorer: David Pastrnak — 95 points (48 goals and 47 assists)

In-Season Roster Moves:

• Acquired Ondrej Kase from the Anaheim Ducks for David Backes, Axel Andersson, 2020 first-round pick
• Traded Danton Heinen to the Anaheim Ducks for Nick Ritchie

Season Overview: 

There isn’t much to complain about this season if you’re a fan of the Bruins. Not only did they have the best record in the Atlantic Division, they were also the top team in the Eastern Conference and they were the only squad to hit the 100-point mark at the COVID-19 pause.

After losing in the Stanley Cup Final last year, it appeared as though they’d be back there in 2020. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, but this edition of the Bruins was impressive.

It’s easy to see why Boston was so good this year. Sure, most fans feel like they’re still missing a second-line forward to complete their team, but you know you’re in good shape when that’s all you’re really missing on your roster.

In goal, they arguably have the best one-two punch in the league with Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak. Is that a luxury they’ll be able to afford next year? Probably not. But they were both rock-solid throughout the season. Rask went into the pause with a 26-8-6 record, a 2.12 goals-against-average and a .929 save percentage. As for Halak, he had an 18-6-6 record, a 2.39 goals-against-average and a .919 save percentage. Impressive.

The defence is balanced. They have Torey Krug, Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk. Each one of those five has played at least 61 of the team’s 70 games this season. The group might not be together next year, as Krug is scheduled to become a free agent, but they were impressive heading into the pause.

And, of course, up front they had some of the elite offensive talent in the NHL. Pastrnak finds himself in third in league scoring with 95 points. He’s also tied for first in goals, with 48. He’s emerged as one of the premiere forwards in the NHL and he’s signed to a very reasonable contract of $6.6666 million per year for three more years.

Pastrnak was a big part of the Bruins’ success, but he had help. Brad Marchand has 87 points in 70 games at the pause and Patrice Bergeron is up to 31 goals and 56 points in 61 contests.

How far can the Bruins go? Maybe we’ll find out, maybe we won’t. But there’s no denying this was an elite team in 2019-20.

Highlight of the Season So Far:

There were many highlights for the Bruins this season, but putting up eight goals on your biggest rivals’ rink has to be right up there.

On Nov. 26, Boston beat Montreal, 8-1, at the Bell Center. Pastrnak had a hat trick, Marchand had three points and Bergeron didn’t even play.

MORE:
Bruins’ biggest surprises, disappointments
What is the Bruins’ long-term outlook?

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Looking at the 2019-20 Anaheim Ducks

Getty Images

With the 2019-20 NHL season on hold we are going to review where each NHL team stands at this moment until the season resumes. Here we take a look at the long-term outlook for the Anaheim Ducks.

Anaheim Ducks

Record: 29-33-9 (71 games), 6th place in Pacific Division; out of playoff spot
Leading scorer: Adam Henrique — 43 points (26 goals, 17 assists)

In-season roster moves

Season overview

Things looked somewhat promising at the beginning of the year when the Ducks won six out of their first eight games, but it quickly turned into another season of regression and disappointment after that.

At the time of the season suspension the Ducks were in sixth place in the Pacific Division and on track for their worst overall record since the 2003-04 season.

They rank among the bottom-five in goals scored, goals against, power play percentage, penalty kill percentage, and shots on goal per game. It is going to be their second straight season without the postseason and the third consecutive year with a decrease in total points. Ryan Getzlaf, Jakob Silfverberg, and Rickard Rakell proved to still be productive players, but none of them made a significant impact that could help carry the offense. Most concerning is that none of their young forwards took a meaningful step forward offensively.

Along with a lack of offense, they have also been hit hard by injuries, especially on defense. Not one of their defensemen has played in more than 60 games this season, while Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, and Josh Manson (their top-three blue-liners) combined to miss 49 man-games due to injury.

Put those two things together, along with a down year (by his standards) season from starting goalie John Gibson and it is the recipe for a long season.

Highlight of the season so far

This is an easy one. Nicolas Deslauriers recording a natural hat trick against the Ottawa Senators. Before this game he had just four goals in 58 games this season and only 28 goals in 375 career games.

MORE:
Ducks’ biggest surprises, disappointments so far
Ducks’ long-term outlook

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.

NHL on NBCSN: Bruins hope trade deadline additions get going vs. Stars

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Thursday’s matchup between the Dallas Stars and Boston Bruins. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Despite holding the NHL’s best record, the Bruins added some nice pieces at the trade deadline. They weren’t big-budget blockbusters, but Nick Ritchie and especially Ondrej Kase could serve as “sleeper hits.”

Now they just need to stop hitting the snooze button.

Ritchie faced some growing pains in first Bruins game after trade deadline

Ritchie (traded for Danton Heinen) and the Bruins didn’t exactly earn rave reviews from Bruce Cassidy as they fell 5-2 to the Flames on Tuesday.

“[It was] clearly not good enough. I thought some guys came to play and some guys didn’t. [Some guys] didn’t break a sweat, some of them it looked like,” Cassidy said following that loss, via NBC Sports Boston. “I’m sure there was effort [and that] they were trying. They were just in-between, couldn’t execute or whatever. At the end of the day, it wasn’t good enough.”

A challenging upcoming schedule won’t make it easier to acclimate, either.

The Bruins host the Stars in Boston on Thursday, but then things get bumpy. They play three in a row and five of their next six on the road. Actually, there’s almost a month of road-heavy play, with eight of 11 away from home from Feb. 29 through March 21.

Ritchie noted that everything’s new when you get traded to a new team, and that’s a fair point for any trade deadline addition.

Actually … that concept might be where the Bruins hold a leg up. After all, the Bruins got both Ritchie and Kase from the Ducks, so they have familiarity with each other. (Kase didn’t get to debut yet, but may play on Thursday.)

That familiarity could benefit Ritchie, in particular.

[COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET ON NBCSN]

Adding Kase to Bruins is a cause for excitement

If you’re a bit of a “fancy stats” nerd (raises hand), then you’ve looked at Kase as a hidden gem for quite some time. Pick your chart, and Kase will probably come out looking great.

With that in mind, a possible line of Kase, Ritchie, and David Krejci strikes as quite interesting. Especially in tandem with that buzzsaw Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronDavid Pastrnak line, and getting depth from the likes of Charlie Coyle.

Krejci provided some insight into playing with Kase a few days ago, noting that Kase is “fast and can score.”

“You kind of have to adjust your game a little bit, but you have to get a feel for each other,” Krejci said, via NBC Sports Boston’s Nick Goss. “You’ve got to be on the same page with the breakouts, neutral zone. He’s a right-handed shot, so — I’m not sure what’s going to happen (Tuesday vs. the Flames) — but it’s always nice to have a right-handed shot on your line.”

There might be some room for frustration, mind you. Ritchie may create some groans with an ill-timed penalty. Kase’s a player to get excited about, although he might not always get the bounces. The Ducks traded Kase as his shooting percentage was mired at a career-low 5.2 percent, and his career average is modest at 9.5.

But … overall, the possibilities are exciting. Maybe Jake DeBrusk will end up being a better option than Ritchie, but we’ll see.

If they can score against the stingy Stars, that would present one heck of a first (or for Ritchie, second) impression.

John Forslund, Pierre McGuire and analyst Mike Milbury will have the call from TD Garden. Thursday’s studio coverage will be hosted by Liam McHugh alongside analysts Keith Jones and Patrick Sharp.

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.

ProHockeyTalk’s 2020 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker

The Pro Hockey Talk 2020 NHL Trade Deadline Tracker is your one-stop shop for all completed deals. The 2020 NHL trade deadline is Monday, Feb. 24 at 3 p.m. ET.

NHL Trade Deadline candidates
Non-UFAs who could move
Teams that need to be most active at trade deadline
• Trade Deadline live blog

Feb. 24, 2020
San Jose Sharks: Brandon Davidson
Calgary Flames: Future consideration

Feb. 24, 2020
Anaheim Ducks: Joel Persson
Edmonton Oilers: 2022 conditional seventh-round pick, Angus Redmond

Feb. 24, 2020
Anaheim Ducks: Christian Djoos
Washington Capitals: Daniel Sprong

Feb. 24, 2020
Toronto Maple Leafs: Matt Lorito
New York Islanders: Jordan Schmaltz

Feb. 24, 2020
Philadelphia Flyers: Nathan Noel
Chicago Blackhawks: T.J. Brennan

Feb. 24, 2020
Columbus Blue Jackets: Conditional 2020 seventh-round pick ( If Hannikainen plays 10 games for Coyotes the rest of this season, Columbus will receive the pick.)
Arizona Coyotes: Markus Hannikainen

Feb. 24, 2020
Anaheim Ducks: Matt Irwin, 2022 sixth-round pick
Nashville Predators: Korbianian Holzer

Feb. 24, 2020
Vegas Golden Knights: Nick Cousins
Montreal Canadiens: 2021 fourth-round pick

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Carolina Hurricanes: Brady Skjei
New York Rangers: 2020 first-round pick

Feb. 24, 2020
San Jose Sharks: 2020 first-round pick, Anthony Greco
Tampa Bay Lightning: Barclay Goodrow, 2020 third-round pick

Feb. 24, 2020
Vancouver Canucks: Louis Domingue
New Jersey Devils: Zane McIntyre

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Vegas Golden Knights: Robin Lehner, Martins Dzierkals (Vegas retains 22% of Lehner’s salary)
Chicago Blackhawks: Malcolm Subban, Slava Demin
Toronto Maple Leafs: 2020 fifth-round pick (Maple Leafs retain 50% of Lehner’s salary)

Feb. 24, 2020
Anaheim Ducks: Sonny Milano
Columbus Blue Jackets: Devin Shore

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Carolina Hurricanes: Sami Vatanen
New Jersey Devils: Fredrik Claesson, Janne Kuokkanen, 2020 conditional fourth round pick

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Buffalo Sabres: Dominik Kahun
Pittsburgh Penguins: Evan Rodrigues, Conor Sheary

Feb. 24, 2020
Dallas Stars: 2020 sixth-round pick
Florida Panthers: Emil Djuse

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Calgary Flames: Erik Gustafsson
Chicago Blackhawks: 2020 conditional third-round pick (Chicago will receive the earlier of Calgary’s two third-round picks in 2020.)

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Edmonton Oilers: Tyler Ennis
Ottawa Senators: 2021 fifth-round pick

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Calgary Flames: Derek Forbort (Kings retain 25% of Forbort’s salary)
Los Angeles Kings: 2021 conditional fourth-round pick (If Flames make Western Conference Final and Forbort plays half the games or if they re-sign Forbort, it becomes a 2022 third rounder.)

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Detroit Red Wings: 2020 and 2021 second-round picks, Sam Gagner
Edmonton Oilers: Andreas Athanasiou, Ryan Kuffner (Oilers retain 10% of Gagner’s salary.)

Feb. 24, 2020
Montreal Canadiens: 2020 seventh-round pick, Aaron Luchuk
Ottawa Senators: Matthew Peca

Feb. 24, 2020
Anaheim Ducks: Danton Heinen
Boston Bruins: Nick Ritchie

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
New Jersey Devils: Conditional 2021 fifth-round pick (Turns into a fourth if Sabres make the playoffs and Simmonds plays 10 games)
Buffalo Sabres: Wayne Simmonds (Devils retain 50% of Simmonds’ salary.)

Feb. 24, 2020
Anaheim Ducks: Kyle Criscuolo, 2020 fourth-round pick
Philadelphia Flyers: Derek Grant

Feb. 24, 2020
Toronto Maple Leafs: Calle Rosen
Colorado Avalanche: Michael Hutchinson

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Pittsburgh Penguins: Patrick Marleau
San Jose Sharks: 2020 conditional third-round pick (Pick becomes a second if Penguins win the Cup.)

Feb. 24, 2020
Philadelphia Flyers: Nate Thompson
Montreal Canadiens: 2020 fifth-round pick

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Carolina Hurricanes: Vincent Trocheck
Florida Panthers: Erik Haula, Lucas Wallmark, Chase Priskie, Eetu Luostarinen

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Ottawa Senators: Conditional 2020 first-round pick, 2020 second-round pick, conditional 2022 third-round pick. (If the 2020 first-rounder is top three, it moves to 2021. Ottawa only receives the 2022 pick if the Islanders win the 2020 Stanley Cup.)
New York Islanders: Jean-Gabriel Pageau

Feb. 24, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Ottawa Senators: 2021 fourth-round pick
Colorado Avalanche: Vladislav Namestnikov

Feb. 23, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Edmonton Oilers: Mike Green (Red Wings retain 50% of Green’s salary)
Detroit Red Wings: Kyle Brodziak, 2020 or 2021 conditional pick (Detroit gets a fourth-round pick in 2020. It turns into a third-rounder in 2021 if Edmonton reaches Western Conference Final, and he plays in half of their games.)

Feb. 23, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Washington Capitals: Ilya Kovalchuk (Canadiens retain 50% of Kovalchuk’s salary)
Montreal Canadiens: 2020 third-round pick

Feb. 23, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Edmonton Oilers: Mike Green (Red Wings retain 50% of Kovalchuk’s salary)
Detroit Red Wings: 2020 or 2021 conditional fourth-round pick

Feb. 22, 2020
Nashville Predators: Ben Harpur
Toronto Maple Leafs: Miikka Salomaki

Feb. 21, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Winnipeg Jets: Cody Eakin
Vegas Golden Knights: Conditional 2021 fourth-round pick (becomes third-rounder if Eakin re-signs or Jets make playoffs)

Feb. 21, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Anaheim Ducks: Axel Andersson, David Backes (Bruins retain 25% of Backes’ salary)
Boston Bruins: Ondrej Kase, 2020 first-round pick

Feb. 20, 2020
Florida Panthers: Danick Martel
Tampa Bay Lightning: Anthony Greco

Feb. 20, 2020
Pittsburgh Penguins: Riley Barber, Phil Varone
Montreal Canadiens: Joseph Blandisi, Jake Lucchini

Feb. 19, 2020
Toronto Maple Leafs: Max Veronneau
Ottawa Senators: Aaron Luchuk, conditional 2021 sixth-round pick

Feb. 19, 2020
New York Rangers: Jean-Francois Berube
Philadelphia Flyers: future considerations

Feb. 19, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Los Angeles Kings: 2020 second-round pick, 2021 second-round pick
Vegas Golden Knights: Alec Martinez

Feb. 19, 2020
Toronto Maple Leafs: Denis Malgin
Florida Panthers: Mason Marchment

Feb. 18, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Washington Capitals: Brenden Dillon (Sharks retain 50% of Dillon’s salary)
San Jose Sharks: 2020 second-round pick, conditional 2021 third-round pick

Feb. 18, 2020
New York Rangers: Julien Gauthier
Carolina Hurricanes: Joey Keane

Feb. 18, 2020 (PHT analysis)
St. Louis Blues: Marco Scandella
Montreal Canadiens: 2020 second-round pick, conditional 2021 fourth-round pick

Feb. 18, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Winnipeg Jets: Dylan DeMelo
Ottawa Senators: 2020 third-round pick

Feb. 17, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Los Angeles Kings: Tim Schaller, Tyler Madden, 2020 second-round pick, 2022 conditional fourth-round pick (if Toffoli re-signs)
Vancouver Canucks: Tyler Toffoli

Feb. 16, 2020 (PHT analysis)
New Jersey Devils: 2020 first-round pick, Nolan Foote
Tampa Bay Lightning: Blake Coleman

Feb. 16, 2020 (PHT analysis)
New Jersey Devils: 2021 second-round pick, David Quenneville
New York Islanders: Andy Greene

Feb. 10, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Pittsburgh Penguins: Jason Zucker
Minnesota Wild: Alex Galchenyuk, Calen Addison, conditional 2020 or 2021 first-round pick

Feb. 5, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Toronto Maple Leafs
: Jack Campbell, Kyle Clifford
Los Angeles Kings: Trevor Moore, 2020 third-round pick, conditional third-round pick in 2021

Jan. 17, 2020
Dallas Stars:
Oula Palve
Pittsburgh Penguins: 
John Nyberg

Jan. 7, 2020
Nashville Predators: Michael McCarron
Montreal Canadiens: Laurent Dauphin

Jan. 2, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Buffalo Sabres: Michael Frolik
Calgary Flames: 2020 fourth-round pick (originally owned by San Jose)

Jan. 2, 2020 (PHT analysis)
Montreal Canadiens: Marco Scandella
Buffalo Sabres: 2020 fourth-round pick (originally owned by San Jose)

Jan. 2, 2020
Ottawa Senators: Mike Reilly
Montreal Canadiens: Andrew Sturtz, 2021 fifth-round pick