Yeah yeah, I know what you’re thinking. “But it’s NFL Week 1! No one is thinking about hockey!” And while I’m just as excited as the next guy for the start of football, I still have a job to do. So let’s just get it over with.
Anaheim Ducks forward, Troy Terry (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
The Anaheim Ducks had quite a productive offseason. After getting off to a hot start in 2021-22, only to ultimately end up missing the playoffs for the fourth straight year, the Ducks looked toward free agency in order to compliment and build around their elite young core.
Anaheim added forwards Frank Vatrano and Ryan Strome, and defenseman John Klingberg this offseason, with both Strome and Vatrano making a deep playoff run with the New York Rangers last year, and Klingberg with his extensive playoff experience over his 12 year career in the Dallas Stars organization. Bringing in three veteran players who have experience in playoff hockey was a smart move for a team who’s looking to sneak into the postseason this year.
While Strome has yet to replicate his overall numbers that he put up in the 2020-21 season, he still posted a career high 21 goals last year with the Rangers. Strome received a 5-year, $25 million contract, while Vatrano signed for 3-years, $10.95 million.
To me, Klingberg was the real prize acquisition this offseason for Anaheim. Klingberg has been one of the most effective and consistent defenseman in the NHL over the last decade, and the fact that they got him on a one-year, $7 million contract is an absolute steal.
Adding these three solid veterans to the aforementioned elite young core of American hockey sensation Trevor Zegras, Troy Terry, and Jamie Drysdale makes Anaheim a sneaky good team in the West this year. I’d start placing my bets now on the Ducks to make the playoffs.
Anaheim lost longtime Captain, Ryan Getzlaf, to retirement this offseason, and traded away Hampus Lindholm to the Boston Bruins at the trade deadline.
The Ducks finished 21 points out of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference last year. But with these smart offseason additions, mixed with the talent that they’re building around, and you have a recipe for a very exciting season in Southern California.
I see no reason as to why the Ducks can’t sneak into a wild card spot this season. They’re only a few years away from being true Stanley Cup contenders.