As they proudly proclaim in The Mighty Ducks trilogy: Quack, Quack, Quack. The Anaheim Ducks are one of a handful of National Hockey League teams currently in a rebuild. Out with the old, and in with the new seems to be the “name of the game” for Ducks general manager Bob Murray.
As this club continues to trek along, more and more high-flying youngsters have entered the fray. Names included are Sam Steel, Trevor Zegras, Max Comtois, Jamie Drysdale, Troy Terry, Isac Lundestrom, and others. How did the team from Orange County, California fare in 2020-21 and what’s their prognosis heading into next season? Let’s find out by recapping the season that was for one of the youngest teams in the NHL.
By the Numbers
Overall Record: 17-30-9 (43 points)
Power play: 8.9 percent (31st)
Penalty kill: 7.8 percent (16th)
Goals for: 126
Goals against: 179
22-year-old winger Comtois takes the honor as the Ducks’ best player in 2020-21. For a team like the Ducks that is clinging to “bluer skies”, Comtois had a great season under head coach Dallas Eakins. In 56 games played, he scored 16 goals and added 17 assists for 33 points to go along with a plus-three rating (all career-highs). He also led the team in scoring in just 15:28 worth of ice time. Quantify these numbers over a full 82-games schedule and the Ducks certainly feel as though this kid is a budding star power forward in the making.
As a player, Comtois possesses an extensive toolkit and high skill level. Standing at a whopping 6’2″, 215 pounds (and counting), the former second-round pick displays excellent range and speed for a “big man”. In addition, his skating has vastly improved along with his puck-handling skills and ability to finish off plays. His game also forms a close correlation with Ducks captain (and legend) Ryan Getzlaf. Born in Longueuil, Quebec, this is a kid who is only going to get better and better. That is sure to delight Ducks fans from coast-to-coast.
Although still a promising piece of the puzzle in Anaheim, defenseman Josh Manson had a disappointing 2020-21 campaign. You can pinpoint both injuries and a dip in performance as the telling factors for the 6’3″, 224-pound blue-liner.
Now 29 years of age, Manson’s game from an offensive standpoint has grown stagnant over the past couple of years. An injury-plagued campaign saw him skate in just 23 games for the Ducks this year, tallying just one goal and seven points. The subject of trade rumors over the past couple of seasons, Manson is still a very intriguing piece. However, his lack of offensive fortitude has certainly been a bit of a concern in the OC. All eyes will be on the Hinsdale, IL native as he looks to get back on track come October.
Behind the Bench
At 54 years of age, coach Eakins is well-known for being a “player’s coach” and an excellent communicator with young players. Mired in the midst of a rebuild over the past two seasons, Eakins has posted a 46-63-18 in 127 games in charge behind the Ducks bench. A sixth-place finish two seasons ago was followed up with a dead-last finish in 2020-21.
When it comes to Eakins, you have to keep in mind that brighter days (or so they hope) are certainly ahead in Anaheim. He deserves some credit for navigating through the treacherous waters that come with a massive rebuild. Under Eakins’ tutelage, the Ducks are going to have to show some significant growth and fight as early as next season. Another lowly year in Orange County may indeed spell the end of Eakins’ tenure in Anaheim.
Don’t expect much from the Anaheim Ducks this offseason, as the club continues to “stay the course” with their current rebuild. As we’ve seen in the past, rebuilds take time as young players acclimate themselves to life as everyday NHL players. Another year of experience should work wonders for the likes of the talented youngsters on the roster.
Looking back on the season that was in 2020-21, Ducks general manager Bob Murray made a rather savvy move prior to the deadline. His acquisition was talented blue-liner Haydn Fleury from the Carolina Hurricanes. Fleury adds size (6’3″, 208 pounds), skill, and youthful exuberance (age 24) to a Ducks team that continues to stockpile young (and hungry) talent. A nice addition for sure for the Ducks to build with.
NHL Draft & Prognosis for 2021-2022
The Ducks received some good news on June 2 when they were slated to select third overall at the upcoming 2021 NHL Entry Draft. It certainly appears as though another fine, elite talent is set to join the team in the foreseeable future.
Fans of the Anaheim Ducks have reason to be excited. Keep the “quacking” on cue, hockey fans—this team is coming.
Follow Dom Lunardo on Twitter @TapetoTape88
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