Sam Steel

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What’s the long-term outlook for the Ducks?

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.

Pending free agents

The core

The face of the franchise at this point is still John Gibson, and while his numbers took a bit of a hit this season he is still one of the league’s elite goalies. As long as the Ducks have him as their foundation there is always the chance that he can give them a chance.

Is it unfair to put so much on one player to carry a team? Of course it is, but right now he is the reason for hope.

Beyond him, the Ducks have a handful of long-term contracts on their books.

Defenseman Cam Fowler is signed through the 2025-26 season. Forwards Adam Henrique and Jakob Silfverberg are signed through 2023-24, while Rickard Rakell, Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson are all signed through the 2021-22 season.

Ryan Getzlaf, one of the franchise icons, still has one more year after this one at $8.25 million.

Long-term needs

Offense, offense, and more offense.

Even when the Ducks were still a contender as recently as a couple of years ago they were still only a middle-of-the-pack team offensively. Over the past two years, though, they have plummeted to the bottom of the league.

Since the start of the 2018-19 season they are the second-lowest scoring team in the league (2.47 goals per game, ahead of only the Detroit Red Wings), second-worst in shots per game (again ahead of only Detroit) and third-worst on the power play (ahead of only Nashville and Detroit).

Rickard Rakell and Jakob Silfverberg are still good top-six options, and they do have some young players starting to break into the league (Sam Steel, Max Jones being at the top of the list) but they need to start taking big steps in the coming seasons.

For as promising as those young players may be, they still lack a young franchise player to serve as a long-term building block. Their best hope for acquiring that: Some draft lottery luck. The Ducks have two first-round picks this season (Bostons, plus their own pick which will be a lottery pick) and along with their own second-round pick will have three of the top-40 picks in the 2020 draft.

Long-term strength

For all of their current and long-term flaws, they still have an impact player at the one position that can make a meaningful difference — goaltender.

Even though Gibson had a down year this season he is still one among the league’s best and is capable of single-handedly changing their short-term outlook.

Since becoming Anaheim’s starter during the 2015-16 season his .919 save percentage ranks eighth in the NHL among 55 goalies that have appeared in at least 100 games.

They have him signed long-term at $6.4 million per season. Given how good Gibson has been, how dominant he can be when he is at at his best, and his age, that is a more than fair number for the Ducks to build around. The issue now is whether or not they have the players and resources to do that.

MORE:
Looking at the 2019-20 Anaheim Ducks
Ducks’ biggest surprises, disappointments so far

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.

Anaheim Ducks: This season’s biggest surprise, disappointment

Ducks
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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.

Biggest surprise so far

There are not many, but Adam Henrique would easily qualify.

He is not only the Ducks’ leading goal-scorer and point producer, he was also on track for a career year offensively with 26 goals and 43 points along with strong possession numbers in his 71 games. He has done most of that damage at even-strength while playing only around 16 minutes per game. By comparison, when he scored 30 goals during the 2015-16 season in New Jersey he did it while playing close to 20 minutes per game.

How efficient has his goal scoring been this season? Among the 334 forwards that have logged at least 500 minutes of 5-on-5 ice-time this season, Henrique ranks 27th in the league in goals per 60 minutes. That has him sandwiched directly between Connor McDavid and Artemi Panarin. In other words, at even-strength he has been one of the best goal-scorers in the league.

An impressive accomplishment in any context. Even more impressive while playing on an otherwise offensively starved hockey team.

Biggest disappointment so far

It is not any one particular player, but rather a collective group effort.

That group being all of their young forwards not really taking any sort of a meaningful step forward in their development. This isn’t to say that they should be written off, or that they still can’t become good NHL regulars, but the group of Sam Steel, Max Jones, Troy Terry, Max Comtois, and Sprong (before his trade to Washington) did not really make any sort of a meaningful impact this season offensively. That was going to be a must for the Ducks to be even remotely competitive.

Now, to be fair, all of them are age 22 or younger and have very brief NHL resumes. Not every rookie or young forward is going to step right into the NHL and succeed. But there had to be an expectation that somebody would make a big leap this season and take on a bigger role with the offense. It did not happen.

John Gibson still did not get much help

Entering this season Gibson had established himself as one of the league’s top goaltenders. A game-changer that could help elevate any team he plays on and give them a chance to win any given a game.

If there was a reason to believe this team as constructed could remain competitive, it would be the goaltending duo of him Gibson and Ryan Miller. It is an unfair expectation to put all of that expectation on just two players at one position, but it was the reality of the team’s situation right now. Unfortunately for the Ducks, they did not even really get that this season as Gibson went through the least productive seasons of his NHL career.

It is also hard to put a lot of the blame on him. The defense in front of him was mired by injuries all season and just didn’t perform at a level that was high enough to give their goaltenders any support. That in itself is a bit of a disappointment. That the Ducks have been blessed with one of the league’s most valuable assets (not only a franchise goalie, but an outstanding backup) and still were not able to be even remotely competitive.

MORE:
Looking at the 2019-20 Anaheim Ducks
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.

Rakell stuns Avalanche with late overtime goal

Rickard Rakell #67 of the Anaheim Ducks celebrates a game-winning overtime goal
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Rickard Rakell scored with 1.2 seconds remaining in overtime to lift the Anaheim Ducks to a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche.

Rakell snapped a 15-game goalless drought when his wrist shot sailed over the glove of Pavel Francouz shortly before the horn sounded.

Andrew Agozzino, Brendan Guhle and Sam Steel also scored for the Ducks as they broke a two-game losing streak.

Nathan MacKinnon scored his 34th of the season at 7:19 of the third period to even the score at 3-3, but the Avalanche seven-game winning streak came to an end.

Vladislav Namestnikov, Gabriel Landeskog also scored for Colorado and Francouz made 26 saves as the nine-game point streak lives on.

Avs need to fortify comeback trail

The Avalanche fell to 1-11-3 when trailing after the second period and need to improve if they plan on playing deep into the spring of 2020. MacKinnon, a Hart Trophy candidate, willed his team back into the game with an inspirational goal early in the third period, but the team was unable to finish the job.

Colorado will find themselves in a situation during the Stanley Cup Playoffs where they need to erase a third-period deficit. The journey to a Stanley Cup Final is filled with obstacles and drawing on a successful experience in the regular season would help their confidence when faced with adversity.

The Avalanche trail the Blues by two points for the top spot in the Central Division and Western Conference.

 


Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

NHL Fantasy Hockey: Post-trade deadline reactions to noteworthy deals

Every week I write an article where I recommend players I think are worth adding or dropping in fantasy leagues, but because of the recently passed NHL trade deadline, I’m going to do something different this week. Instead, I’ll be going over some of the most noteworthy players who were dealt at the deadline who I think will be positively or negatively impacted by the trades they were involved in.

I’ll evaluate noteworthy players from the most recent trades first and work my way backwards.

NHL Trade Deadline tracker
PHT Trade Deadline Live Blog

Louis Domingue: Devils to Canucks – Domingue has left plenty to be desired this season with a 3.79 GAA and .882 save percentage in 16 games. Those numbers are terrible under any circumstances, but it obviously didn’t help that the Devils squad in front of him has been bad. He was put on waivers on Feb. 20th and sent to the minors upon clearing, but Vancouver ended up acquiring him because Jacob Markstrom is expected to miss the next three-to-four weeks due to a lower-body injury. Thatcher Demko is the de facto starter during Markstrom’s absence, but Demko isn’t having a great season, so Domingue should get an opportunity to start in some games with Vancouver. Domingue doesn’t have much fantasy value, but this trade certainly helped him.

Barclay Goodrow: Sharks to Lightning – Goodrow was the most surprising player to fetch a first-round pick. He has eight goals, 24 points, and 80 penalty minutes in 62 games this season while averaging a career-high 16:23 minutes. I don’t see him playing as big of a role with the Lightning as he did with San Jose, which is probably going to hurt his already limited offensive production. He’s currently minus-eight though and the move to San Jose should help him there. Overall, I see this trade as a wash or a slight negative for Goodrow from a fantasy perspective.

Robin Lehner: Blackhawks to Golden Knights – Lehner has a 16-10-5 record, 3.01 GAA, and .918 save percentage in 33 contests this season, but that’s with a pretty bad team in front of him. The move to Vegas should be a significant boost for him – when he plays. Which begs the question: How often will he play in Vegas? Marc-Andre Fleury isn’t having a particularly good season so there’s a good opportunity here for Lehner to grab the starting gig and run with it. If you’re hurting for goaltending help, then Lehner isn’t a bad one to take a chance on. He’s far from a safe bet to start regularly, but there is a chance of him having a really strong finish to the campaign thanks to this trade.

Andreas Athanasiou: Red Wings to Oilers – Athanasiou is having a rough season with 10 goals and 24 points in 46 games, but the move to Edmonton could be a huge boost for him. The speedy winger could be a great fit for Connor McDavid and if that proves to be the case, then he’ll do much better offensively. At the very least his plus/minus, which sits at a hideous minus-45, should be far better in Edmonton. Athanasiou is among those who benefited the most from the trade deadline and I’d take a chance on picking him up if he’s available in your league.

Patrick Marleau: Sharks to Pittsburgh Penguins – Marleau doesn’t have much fantasy value to begin with at this point, but this trade doesn’t do him any favors in that regard. He has 10 goals and 20 points in 58 games while averaging 15:36 minutes. With Pittsburgh he’s likely going to play a reduced role as part of a crowded bottom-six. It wouldn’t be surprising if Marleau ends up playing primarily on the fourth line.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau: Senators to Islanders – I’m fairly pessimistic when it comes to Pageau. He was probably playing over his head to begin with – as evidenced by his career-high 17.8 shooting percentage – and this trade stacks the odds against him further. Keep in mind with Ottawa he was leaned on heavily, averaging 19:18 minutes per game, but he won’t get that level of responsibility with the Islanders. On the plus side, he has far more to work with in New York than he did with Ottawa, but I still think this trade will result in him taking a moderate hit from a fantasy perspective.

Ilya Kovalchuk: Canadiens to Capitals – This one is perhaps the biggest roll of the dice just because of how inconsistent Kovalchuk has been. He had an incredible six goals and 12 points in his first 15 games with Montreal and followed it up with just an assist in his next seven contests. He was similarly inconsistent with the Kings before that. The move to the Capitals will put Kovalchuk on a contender and unite him with Alex Ovechkin, which should be a boost to his spirits, but Kovalchuk will be asked to be more of a role player with the Capitals than he was with Montreal, which gave him an average of 18:54 minutes. I’d lean towards saying that this trade will diminish Kovalchuk’s fantasy value, but I certainly think his situation will be worth monitoring over the next couple games.

Ondrej Kase: Ducks to Bruins – I think there’s potential here for Kase to do better with Boston than he did in Anaheim. Kase practiced alongside David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk in his first practice with Boston, which is a significant upgrade over his recent Ducks linemates of Sam Steel and Max Jones. Kase had seven goals and 23 points in 49 games with the Ducks and he has the potential to finish the campaign on a high note after this trade.

If you’re looking for fantasy hockey information, Rotoworld is a great resource. You can check the player news for the latest information on any player and insight into their fantasy outlook.

Every week Michael Finewax looks ahead at the schedule and offers team-by-team notes in The Week Ahead. I have a weekly Fantasy Nuggets column where I basically talk about whatever’s captured my attention that week. Gus Katsaros does an Analytics columns if you want to get into detailed statistical analysis. If you’re interested in rookies and prospects, there’s a weekly column on that written by McKeen’s Hockey.

The Buzzer: Cirelli, Lightning cruise past Jets; Crosby tallies OT winner

Anthony Cirelli #71 of the Tampa Bay Lightning
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Three Stars

1) Anthony Cirelli, Tampa Bay Lightning

Cirelli recorded his first NHL hat trick as the Lightning steamrolled the Winnipeg Jets Friday evening. The 22-year-old scored twice in the opening period as the Bolts jumped out to a 3-0 lead and never looked back. Cirelli hammered a feed from Ondrej Palat 9:27 into the game and then converted a nifty forehand-backhand maneuver to close out the first 20 minutes. Cirelli would complete the hat trick midway through the third period.

2) Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins

Malkin recorded two power-play assists to set up Pittsburgh’s two goals in its 2-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings. Sidney Crosby has received a lot of attention since returning from a 28-game absence earlier this week and added the game-winning goal Friday. However, it was Malkin who looked off the defender and delivered a perfect pass to set up the Penguins captain. Malkin has recorded 10 points in the previous six games.

3) Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning

The 26-year-old winger scored twice in Tampa Bay’s 7-1 win. Cirelli and Kucherov alternated goals as Tampa Bay jumped out to a 4-0 lead, including three in the opening period. Kucherov buried two tap-in opportunities to record goals 21 and 22 on the season. The Russian winger has five goals in his previous three games and the Lightning improved to 12-2-0 in the previous 14 games.

Highlights of the Night

Crosby extended his goal-scoring streak to three games when he buried a pretty feed from Malkin to propel the Penguins in overtime.

Sam Steel fired the OT winner after Andrei Svechnikov‘s costly turnover.

Stats of the Night

Scores

Pittsburgh Penguins 2, Detroit Red Wings 1 (OT)

Anaheim Ducks 2, Carolina Hurricanes 1 (OT)

Tampa Bay Lightning 7, Winnipeg Jets 1

NHL ALL-STAR GAME COVERAGE:
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• Pass or Fail: 2020 All-Star Game jerseys
• Alex Ovechkin will not play in 2020 All-Star Game
• NHL Skills Competition to feature women’s 3-on-3, pucks shot from stands

Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.