Anaheim Ducks: 3 Burning Questions Ahead of the 2020-21 Seasonby Dom Lunardo December 19, 2020 0 comments
With the impending start of a brand new NHL season, the Anaheim Ducks are one of hockey’s most fascinating teams. Long gone are good, old days, as the club is right smack in the middle of a roster overhaul. As we look ahead to 2020-21, here are three burning questions facing the Ducks franchise.
Question # 1: Can John Gibson continue his strong play in goal?
Although the Ducks are far from a finished product as a competitive franchise, one thing they do possess is a bonafide stud goaltender in the form of the now 27-year-old, John Gibson. Although the past few seasons have been rocky out West as Anaheim navigates through a rebuild, Gibson has been solid between the pipes. At 6’2, 210 pounds, he certainly provides the Ducks with a large and trusted presence in goal and has firmly established himself as the go-to leader in the locker room for this young Anaheim team.
Set to enter his seventh NHL season, Gibson has posted an impressive 139-103-33 record to go along with a career 2.53 goals-against-average and .918 save percentage, with 19 shutouts. He’s consistent, reliable, and a fierce competitor for head coach Dallas Eakins which will bode well for the up-and-coming Ducks youngsters that include the likes of Jamie Drysdale, Trevor Zegras, and Sam Steel, among others.
Although not much is expected of the Ducks in 2020-21 as the club is still a year (or two) away from being a perennial playoff contender, they’ll need Gibson to be rock solid (once again) if they are to have any hope of being a competitive team this year. I’d take my chances any day of the week with a goalie as talented as “Gibby”. Look for the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native to continue his strong play in the Ducks crease.
Question # 2: Does Ryan Getzlaf finish the season in Orange County?
When you think of the Ducks, a few names and things come to mind: The Mighty Ducks series, Paul Kariya, Teemu Selanne, and of course, team captain Ryan Getzlaf. Set to become an unrestricted free agent (UFA) next year, “Getz” will be a hot commodity throughout the season. At 35 years of age, the Regina, Saskatchewan native has had a tremendous NHL career which includes a Stanley Cup triumph in 2007, and six-70+ point seasons, all with Anaheim. The only question is, will he still be a Duck after this year?
Few in today’s National Hockey League have been as devoted, loyal, and community-oriented as that of Getzlaf. This is a player who’s given his entire life to the city of Anaheim, and truly embodies what it means to be a Duck. He’s a great player, a true leader, and a person that many of the team’s youngsters can certainly look up to. Although several teams will likely come calling at the 2021 trade deadline in search of Getzlaf’s services, my hunch is that he stays in Orange County beyond this year. As the season unfolds, the narrative surrounding Getzlaf is one that will truly gain a lot of steam. We’ll just have to wait and see how it all plays out.
Question # 3: Just how good are Anaheim’s youngsters?
In and around the Ducks franchise, we keep hearing that better days are on their way. Although there’s no disputing the level of high-caliber talent that general manager Bob Murray has accumulated, we have to ask ourselves just how good can these youngsters be? The answer to this aforementioned question will take time and patience as these players become acclimated to everyday life in the NHL while plying their trades in Europe, at the collegiate level, in Canadian junior hockey, and at the National Hockey League level. In the meantime, let’s meet some of these youngsters.
Selected in the first round, sixth overall during the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, Jamie Drysdale is the crown jewel on defense in Anaheim. Although he may not make the team out of camp this season, Drysdale is a shoo-in to crack the Ducks’ top-six next year alongside the likes of Josh Manson, Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, and newcomer Kevin Shattenkirk. As a player, Drysdale is dynamic, quick, intelligent, and versatile, who can change the outcome of a game at any given moment. He’s confident, great with the puck, and loves to turn defense into offense in the blink of an eye. Man, oh, man do the Ducks ever have a talent on their hands in Drysdale.
The Ducks have a wealth of riches at the forward position who should all be on the everyday roster as early as next season (if they haven’t done so already). These players include: Zegras, Steel, Isac Lundestrom, Troy Terry, Max Comtois, and Max Jones. When you factor in the likes of Gibson in goal, and the talent up-front spearheaded by Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell, it won’t be long before the Ducks return to hockey prominence. It’s taking some time, but I certainly like what I see from Murray and his front office staff as he attempts to solidify some real solid (and game-changing) pieces in Anaheim. The future is definitely bright in Orange County with the likes of Zegras, Steel, and Terry streaming down the pipeline.
With the 2020-21 NHL season set to begin on January 13, 2021 (pending approval and ratification from the NHL’s Board of Governors) look for the Ducks to be one of the most exciting and up-and-coming teams in the league.
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