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Season Preview 2019-20: Anaheim Ducks

Out with the old, in with the new, but don't expect it to be a recipe for success as Anaheim starts anew with some longtime Ducks now out of the picture.

Can the young forwards carry the load?
It’s within the realm of possibility the Ducks start the season with as many as five or six forwards with fewer than 100 NHL games of experience apiece. Daniel Sprong and Troy Terry have mostly broken through already – during the second half of last season. Sam Steel, Max Comtois, Max Jones and Isac Lundestrom are all very close as well, each playing at least 10 games last season. Depending how they perform at camp, they may all make the grade. A few of these dandy half-dozen youngsters will get time on the top two lines and second power-play unit. So for that very reason, Anaheim’s fortunes will depend largely on how quickly the kids transition to the big league.

How much gas is left in Ryan Getzlaf’s tank?
With his buddies Corey Perry (buyout) and Ryan Kesler (career-jeopardizing injury) moving on in the off-season, Getzlaf is the lone musketeer remaining from Anaheim’s glory days past. At 34, he’s not that far removed from consistent point-per-game seasons, and he’s still an imposing figure in the dressing room, the faceoff circle and all three zones on the ice. The Ducks will want to keep their leader around to guide the next wave of Anaheim forwards, at least until his contract (paying a $8.25-million AAV) expires at the end of 2020-21. At that point, he’ll be 36 and perhaps open to the idea of discounted one-year deals. Then again, the market value of a proven playoff vet like Getzlaf will be high at the trade deadline.

What happened to one of the NHL’s best young bluelines?
Anaheim has a solid top three on ‘D’ with Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson, but after that there’s some uncertainly to say the least. In the past two years, Sami Vatanen, Shea Theodore, Kevin Bieksa, Francois Beauchemin, Brandon Montour and Marcus Pettersson have flown the coup, thinning the corps considerably. Now it’s up to promising Jacob Larsson, Brendan Guhle and Josh Mahura to deliver on their potential. And after them, the pipeline for prospect defensemen isn’t deep. Veteran UFA signees Michael Del Zotto and Chris Wideman are stopgaps. Goalie John Gibson will have to be up to the task more than ever.

Stanley Cup Odds: 69/1

Rookie Watch
Had Sam Steelplayed four more games last season, Max Comtois or Isac Lundestrom would fill this spot. Steel, a prolific scorer out of Regina, was poised and steady in 22 NHL games, scoring at a 40-point pace and holding his own in the faceoff circle. Steel will challenge for the Calder Trophy.

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