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Ducklings create optimism- year in review


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PRESEASON OUTLOOK Bleak- to put it mildly. They finished dead last in the West in 2021, and then in the offseason added nobody of substance. Longtime GM Bob Murray was gone, Pat Verbeek took over and instead of going in with a bang kept the last place team nearly intact.


FINAL RECORD 31-37-14 76 points, 7th in the Pacific.


HIGH POINT OF THE YEAR tHEY STARTED SLOW (2-4-3) as expected then  inexplicably Troy Terry caught fire and carried them on a eight game winning streak. At that point nearing the quarter turn they were in first place in their Division and through 17 games had already scored as many power play goals as they had in the entire season the year before in 56 games.


LOW POINT OF THE YEAR Entering March they were still in the conversation, after beating the Sharks March 6th on an overtime winner by Adam Henrique they were 27-22-9 and very much alive. Then the wheels fell off. They went on an 11 game losing streak being outscored in the stretch 49-21. From there they lost more than they won and finished a very distant 7th.


WHAT WENT RIGHT Zegras started slow then caught fire in the Calder conversation with 61 points including 17 on the power play. Troy Terry came from absolute nowhere to have a career year, leading the team with 37 goals and 67 points. Adam Henrique is the West Coast version of Craig smith, nothing fancy but like punching a clock the glue of the middle six as he plays any forward position on the second or third line. Fowler and Shattenkirk had their moments on the back end, really both had good years.  Stolarz had a very good year as a backup. Jamie Drysdale teamed with Zegras to give the Ducks the best rookie duo this side of Detroit. Sam Carrick came from nowhere to score 11 goals. Reclamation project Milano had some nice moments. Isaac Lundestrom had some nice stretches and provides a lot of promise. Mason McTavish got his nine game trial and didnt look out of place. Derek Grant and Vinnie Letteiri provided quality veteran leadership on the fourth line. Ryan Getzlaf went out his way as a class act. They traded Lindholm/Manson/Deslauriers/Rackell for futures.


WHAT WENT WRONG Gibson was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  The first half of the year he was a Smythe candidate, the second half he was among the worst starters in the game. Silferberg has lost a step. Sam Steel and Max Comtois are looking like bombs and might be out of chances. Max Jones was supposed to be a solid second liner for years and is a flat out bust. 

  Can I be honest? There arent a ton of things I list in the what went wrong category other than Gibson  falling off a cliff. For a 7th place team they performed well top to bottom and added futures for four guys who they werent going to be able to retain anyway. 


FREE AGENTS Kesler's LTIR deal is finally off the books. Letteri who provided grit and secondary scoring has shown interest in returning. Dominik Simon and Zach Austin-Reese will likely not return but wont be missed.


TOP PROSPECTS Start with Mason McTavish who is a super prospect will stick and must be considered a frontrunner for the Calder. I absolutely LOVE Lukas Dostal as one of the best goalie prospects in the game he may help grease the skids for a Gibson trade. Brayden Tracey and Jacob Perreault will ride the NHL/AHL shuttle next year and both have goal scoring abilities. This is a deep team that has two firsts and two seconds about to be added to the stable.


STRANGE STAT OF THE YEAR Man I hate picking on gibson, I get him early every year in every fantasy hockey league that I can and then dump him like a hot potato at or near midseason.

  He was the best goalie in the game early or if not would do until someone else came along, going 9-2-2 with a 2.11 goals against. Stories were written about how he might lead the Ducks to a playoff spot. THEN THE MR. HYDE kicked in down the stretch, he game up three or more goals 21 consecutive games. to repeat, FOR A QUARTER OF THE SEASON Gibby gave up 3 goals. Every single game. During that stretch he went 3-15-3.


OFFSEASON OUTLOOK With kids like Terry, Zegras, Drysdale, Lundestrom, McTavish and Dostal they have a very nice base of above average young talent. Getzlaf retired, they will be looking to bring a top six veteran center. They also will probably want to add a veteran defenseman to replace the departed Lindholm/Manson.


  This team is on the right track but are probably a year away from being taken serious. Trading Gibson is something they would like to do if possible but he has a 6.4 million per cap hit for another six years so creativity is going to be needed to make it happen.

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