The Anaheim Ducks’ back-to-back overtime losses this past weekend marked the end to a disastrous season for the team.
The Ducks finished with a 17-30-9 record, which put them last in the West Division and second last in the league overall. It marks the third season in a row in which Anaheim failed to reach the playoffs.
The season actually started okay for the Ducks, with the team going 3-2-2 in their first seven games of the year, even if John Gibson’s play was a huge factor in the solid start. After that though, things went downhill pretty quickly, with Anaheim winning just 14 of their next 49 games.
Scoring was a massive issue for the Ducks all year, with Anaheim finishing last in the league in goals per game. The Ducks just don’t have anywhere near enough key players at the top of their forward group and as a result, Anaheim really couldn’t afford to give up many goals, but that doesn’t work so well when the team also isn’t great defensively.
The Ducks suffered from injuries to key defenders like Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson, who each missed significant time. Then Kevin Shattenkirk, the team’s major free agency addition, did not work out with the Ducks. He was consistently a defensive liability and didn’t add anywhere near enough offense to make up for his defensive lapses.
With the Ducks clearly out of the playoff race, it seemed as though the writing was on the wall for key players to be moved at the deadline, in order to start stockpiling future assets. Yet the only notable move we saw from the team was trading Jani Hakanpaa for Haydn Fleury and while Fleury is a fine defenseman, it’s not a move that really changes much for the team.
There were some bright spots though, mostly in terms of Anaehim’s young talent. Jamie Drysdale and Trevor Zegras were both great from the time they were called up, while Max Comtois had a strong first full NHL season and Troy Terry elevated his game as the year progressed.
That said, it’s hard to look at this year and say the Ducks really took any significant steps. They may have developed the young players they already had but did little to add to their prospect pool, in a year where they were nowhere near contending for the playoffs. It seemed as though the team needed a rebuild last offseason, but this year confirmed it.
The quickest way for this team to contend again is to commit to building for the future, rather than desperately hanging onto the idea of putting together a winning team right now. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think Bob Murray is the right person to do it.
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