30 in 30: Anaheim Facing Decisions Regarding Top Six
The Anaheim Ducks returned to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2013, but their stay was cut short when the Detroit Red Wings rallied to win Games 6 and 7 in the opening round.
After signing Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry to long-term contract extensions during the 2012-13 season, the biggest move of this summer was trading Bobby Ryan to the Ottawa Senators for Jakob Silfverberg, prospect Stefan Noesen and a first-round pick. The second-biggest move, signing former Ducks forward Dustin Penner away from the rival Los Angeles Kings, could end up being a nice bit of insurance.
Teemu Selanne has yet to decide if he will play another season in the NHL. If Selanne does not return, the Ducks will look to Silfverberg, Penner and the development of a few top young prospects to fill the voids left by one-third of the team's top-six forwards missing from a division-winning team.
Another of the team's veteran Finnish players, defenseman Toni Lydman, also has not signed and remains a free agent. The Ducks have a couple of young defensemen who could push their way into the top six to replace him.
Here is the projected 2013-14 lineup for the Ducks:
NOTES: If Selanne decides to return and signs a new contract, Penner could drop to the third line in place of Winnik. Pairing him with Bonino and especially Etem would make one of the fastest lines in the League.
If Selanne doesn't return, the Ducks still might be all right on offense. Silfverberg could have a breakout season, and Penner almost certainly will not shoot such a poor percentage (3.3 percent) in 2013-14. Either of those wings could produce 20-25 goals, as could speedy Etem, who looked a like a future all-star against the Red Wings in the playoffs.
Anaheim's third line was also great against Detroit, and young players Noesen and Rickard Rakell could push for a lineup spot during training camp. Beleskey and Palmieri each saw time in the top six during the playoffs, and forward depth could finally be a strength in Anaheim after being a struggle at times in recent seasons.
Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm, a 2012 first-round pick who played in the American Hockey League during the lockout but missed the NHL season because of a concussion, each could earn a place in the top-six on defense.
Hiller and Fasth were a solid tandem in net, and the Ducks have one of the top goaltending prospects in the world, John Gibson, who will likely be the starter in the AHL and could make his NHL debut if Hiller or Fasth miss time with an injury.