It’s Anaheim Ducks Day at PHT

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Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Anaheim Ducks.

It’s becoming an all too familiar story for fans of the Anaheim Ducks: solid regular season followed by disappointment in the playoffs.

For a third consecutive season, Anaheim finished the regular season as the top seed in the Pacific Division. And for a second consecutive year, the Ducks owned the best record in the Western Conference (51-24-7).

However, just like they did during the 2014 playoffs, the Ducks fell to the eventual Stanley Cup champions, losing in seven games to the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Ducks did make some strides – they hadn’t been to the conference final since winning the franchise’s only Stanley Cup in 2007.

Newcomer Ryan Kesler gave the Ducks a nice 1-2 punch down the middle. The 30-year-old finished third in team scoring behind Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry with 20 goals and 47 points in 81 games.

Anaheim also got career years out of forwards Jakob Silfverberg, Patrick Maroon and defenseman Sami Vatanen.

Matt Beleskey, who has since signed with the Boston Bruins, added a career-high 22 goals for a Ducks team, which finished 11th in the league in goals-for per-game (2.78).

In goal, Frederik Andersen shouldered the load going 35-12-5 with a 2.38 G.A.A and a .914 save percentage while making 54 appearances in his second NHL season. His 35 wins were good for eighth in the league.

John Gibson also made 23 appearances in the Ducks’ crease going 13-8-0 to go along with a 2.60 G.A.A. and a .914 save percentage. The 22-year-old struggled last season battling with injuries and inconsistencies.

Off-season recap

The Ducks are clearly in a win-now mode.

GM Bob Murray added a veteran presence on the team’s blue line by acquiring Kevin Bieksa from the Vancouver Canucks.

Up front, the Ducks acquired Carl Hagelin and signed free agents Shawn Horcoff and Chris Stewart.

In goal, Murray acquired Anton Khudobin in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes to challenge Andersen and Gibson.

With the likes of Jiri Sekac, Rickard Rakell and Chris Wagner up front, and Simon Despres, Hampus Lindholm and Vatanen on the blue line all due contract extensions after next season it’s unlikely Murray can keep his young nucleus together.

Both Andersen and Gibson will also require new deals as well while Khudobin is an unrestricted free agent after this season.

Anaheim’s time to win is now before Murray and his staff begins the process of creatively re-tooling the club next summer.

Siegenthaler signs entry-level contract with Caps

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The Washington Capitals announced that they have signed blueliner Jonas Siegenthaler to a three-year, entry-level contract.

Siegenthaler was selected by Washington with the 57th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. He’s got size at 6-foot-3, 220-pounds and spent the 2014-15 campaign playing against men with Zurich of the Swiss League.

The 18-year-old had three assists and 39 penalty minutes in 41 contests with Zurich last season. Washington plans to have him attend its rookie camp and then loan him back so that he can play in Switzerland again in 2015-16.

Internationally he had four assists in seven games with Switzerland in the 2015 Under-18 World Championship and earned an All-Star selection.

TSN’s Craig Button believes Siegenthaler has the potential to be a defensive defenseman at the NHL level and listed Simon Despres as his comparable.

How do Voracek, Giroux compare to the most expensive duos?

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How would you rate Philadelphia’s Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux compared to the other elite duos in the league?

Once Voracek’s new eight-year, $66 million extension begins in 2016-17, the Flyers top two forwards will cost a little over $16.5 million annually in cap space. There are just three duos that are currently more expensive: Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews ($21 million combined), Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby ($18.2 million), and Anaheim’s Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf ($16.9 million).

That’s some pretty tough company to be compared to. Toews and Kane have led Chicago to three Stanley Cup championships while Malkin and Crosby have also won the Cup and combined for three Hart Trophies. Perry and Getzlaf have their names on the Cup too and while that was back in 2007, Perry is also a Hart Trophy and Rocket Richard Trophy winner while Getzlaf has ranked fourth in total points over the last three seasons.

By comparison, over the four seasons since Voracek was acquired from Columbus, the Flyers have only won one playoff series and neither Voracek or Giroux have claimed a major award. The closest either came was when Giroux finished third in the Hart Trophy vote in 2014.

That being said, even if the top items of their resumes don’t measure up to some of the other elite duos, they certainly compare favorably in other ways. Over the last three season, Voracek and Giroux have combined for 396 points, putting them behind Malkin/Crosby (419), but ahead of Perry/Getzlaf (379), and Toews/Kane (370). On top of that, at 25 years old (26 in August), Voracek is the youngest player of those listed, so he’s had the least amount of time to work on his resume.

Finally, there’s the matter of the team built around each set of elite forwards. Philadelphia over the last few years has suffered under the weight of bloated contracts to older players. Part of that has come from a need to use band aid solutions defensively to compensate for a lack of desirable homegrown blueline options. With some promising defensemen now developing in the Flyers’ system, perhaps that will change.

Because at the end of the day, it won’t be about how many points Voracek or Giroux accumulate in the regular season. That’s certainly is relevant, but they will ultimately be judged on what happens in future playoff runs.

Shero: Buying out Zubrus creates flexibility to add forward

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While nothing is imminent, the New Jersey Devils’ decision to buy out Dainius Zubrus has set the table for them to make a trade or free agent signing.

“It really wasn’t about Dainius himself,” Devils GM Ray Shero told The Record. “It was more about the roster spot/flexibility moving forward. … If something comes along and we don’t have a roster spot – not so much the 23-man roster, but up front in terms of let’s say you’re carrying 13 forwards, 14 forwards and you don’t have any spots – then you can’t do anything.”

It certainly wasn’t about freeing up cap space given that Zubrus’ $3.1 million cap hit for 2015-16 will count fully against the team’s books even after the buyout because he was a 35-and-over signing. The Devils are still saving roughly $1 million of this way, but Shero insisted that this wasn’t a financial decision.

There are still teams that are looking to get into a better cap position, such as the Chicago Blackhawks, that Shero might have his eye towards as he clears some room on the team’s roster. There’s also some noteworthy free agent forwards left, including Stephen Weiss, Martin Erat, Tomas Fleischmann, and Jiri Tlusty.

Failing that it gives the Devils an opportunity to have one of their younger players on the roster as New Jersey looks to show signs of progress offensively after spending three straight seasons in the bottom-five in the NHL in terms of goals per game.

Here’s a chart that shows which teams have been good/bad at drafting

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Via TSN.ca’s Travis Yost, here’s a chart showing draft success (or lack thereof) for all 30 NHL teams:

source:

A team that’s done well at drafting will be in the top right. A team that hasn’t will be in the bottom left.

To be considered a “successful” draft pick, Yost determined that the player would have to play 100 games in the NHL. He adds that sorting by other metrics, like points or time on ice, yields “similar results.”

Yost was focusing on the New Jersey Devils’ lack of success in the draft; hence, the bold.

Now, obviously, a team like Columbus (which the chart shows has done well at drafting) is going to have an advantage in the first three rounds over a team like Vancouver (which hasn’t), since the Blue Jackets had much higher picks than the Canucks enjoyed from 2000-2012.

In fact, the Jackets had 11 top-10 picks over those 13 years, including Rick Nash going first overall, along with notable busts Gilbert Brule, Nikita Filatov, and Alexandre Picard. The Canucks, meanwhile, never drafted higher than 10th.

Of course, that doesn’t excuse Vancouver’s inability to find players in the later rounds. The last “successful” players the Canucks took after the third round were Mike Brown, who was a fifth-round pick back in 2004, and Jannik Hansen, who went in the ninth round that same year.

In contrast, the New York Rangers have been extremely successful in those later rounds, having identified the likes of Henrik Lundqvist, Marek Zidlicky, Ryan Callahan, and Carl Hagelin as worthwhile gambles.