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.
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.