Five questions facing Anaheim Ducks

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NHL.com is examining where each team stands in preparation for the 2021-22 regular season, which starts Oct. 12. Today, five questions facing the Anaheim Ducks:

 
1. Where will the scoring come from?

The Ducks ranked last in the NHL in scoring last season (2.21 goals per game) after finishing 29th in 2019-20 (2.56) and last in 2018-19 (2.39). Forwards Max Comtois (16 goals) and Adam Henrique (12) were the only players to score at least 10 goals for Anaheim, and Comtois’ 33 points were tied for 112th in the NHL but led the Ducks.

Anaheim is counting on more production from young forwards Troy Terry, 23; Sam Steel, 23; Max Jones, 23; and Isac Lundestrom, 21. Each played at least 42 games last season, and none scored more than 20 points.

“I don’t quite have the answers to why some of our people’s production has gone down,” general manager Bob Murray said in May. “We’ve got to get them back on the right page. With the coaching staff, we have to come up with a few new ideas on how to do this, how to get to the tough areas to score goals.”

 

2. Will they improve the power play?

The Ducks power play was last in the NHL at 8.9 percent last season, and their 11 power-play goals were the fewest in the NHL. Forward Ryan Getzlaf led Anaheim with three power-play goals, and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk was first with five power-play points.

The Ducks took steps toward improving the power play with the hiring of assistant coaches Geoff Ward and Newell Brown, each of whom has experience coaching successful power plays in the NHL. Brown previously was a Ducks assistant from 1998-2000 and from 2005-10, helping Anaheim win the Stanley Cup in 2007.

 

3. How important is the return of Ryan Getzlaf?

Getzlaf agreed to a one-year contract to stay with the Ducks on July 28. The 36-year-old center, who has been Anaheim captain since Oct. 4, 2010, scored 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in 48 games last season.

“At this point in my career, being wanted is a great thing,” Getzlaf said. “That proves that someone still believes in you and is interested in you, and ultimately that’s what the Anaheim Ducks said to me at the end of the day.”

Getzlaf’s presence could help the transition of the younger players, including 20-year-old forward Trevor Zegras and 19-year-old defenseman Jamie Drysdale. Getzlaf is Anaheim’s leader in games (1,101) and assists (703), and his 982 points are second to Teemu Selanne (988). He also is the Ducks leader in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in goals (37), assists (83), points (120) and games (125).

Video: Ryan Getzlaf joins NHL Tonight for an Interview

 

4. Who will be the backup goalie?

Anthony Stolarz and Lukas Dostal each could have a shot to replace Ryan Miller as the backup to goalie John Gibson. Miller retired at the end of last season.

Stolarz was 4-3-0 with a 2.20 goal-against average, a .926 save percentage and one shutout in eight games (seven starts) last season. The 27-year-old is 10-10-4 with a 2.78 GAA and .914 save percentage in 34 games (24 starts) in four NHL seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers, Edmonton Oilers and Ducks.

Dostal was selected in the third round (No. 85) of the 2018 NHL Draft. The 21-year-old was 10-1-0 with a 1.64 GAA, a .941 save percentage and one shutout in 11 games last season for Ilves in Liiga, Finland’s top professional league, and 15-9-0 with a 2.87 GAA and .916 save percentage in 24 games with San Diego of the American Hockey League.

 

5. Which young players could have a major impact?

Zegras, the No. 9 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, scored six points (two goals, four assists) in his final six regular-season games to finish with 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 24 games last season. Drysdale, a right-shot defenseman chosen No. 6 in the 2020 NHL Draft, scored eight points (three goals, five assists) in 24 games last season.

“You saw the sample size of how Jamie and [Zegras] played,” Gibson said in May. “[Zegras], at the end of the year, you could see his confidence growing. So I think that’s obviously a bright sign, and hopefully these guys just keep getting better. Next year, hopefully having a full season in, they start out confident and it keeps growing as the season goes.”

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