Ducks season preview: Forward prospects expected to contribute to offense

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The 2020-21 NHL season is scheduled to begin Jan. 13. With training camps underway, NHL.com is taking a look at the three keys, the inside scoop on roster questions, and the projected lines for each of the 31 teams. Today, the Anaheim Ducks, who will play in the West Division.

 

Coach: Dallas Eakins (second season)

Last season: 29-33-9 (.472 points percentage); 13th place in Western Conference

 

3 KEYS

1. Kevin Shattenkirk‘s impact

Shattenkirk, who signed a three-year contract Oct. 9, scored 34 points (eight goals, 26 assists) in 70 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning last season and helped them win the Stanley Cup. In addition to providing experience, the defenseman should help the power play; he scored seven power-play points (one goal, six assists) last season but scored at least 25 in four straight seasons from 2013-14 to 2016-17. The Ducks were 30th in the NHL on the power play last season (14.7 percent). Forwards Adam Henrique, Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell tied for the Anaheim lead with nine power-play points each, the fewest by any team leader.

2. Contribution from prospects

After finishing 29th in the NHL in scoring last season (2.56 goals per game), the Ducks will be counting on more offense from their young players. That includes forwards Max Jones, 22; Troy Terry, 23; and Sam Steel, 22. Each played at least 47 games last season, though none scored more than 22 points. Trevor Zegras, a 19-year-old center who was the No. 9 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, and Isac Lundestrom, a 21-year-old forward who was a first-round pick (No. 23) in the 2018 NHL Draft, each could make an impact if on the roster.

3. Gibson’s workload

Gibson is one of five NHL goalies to play at least 50 games in each of the past four seasons (Frederik Andersen, Sergei Bobrovsky, Connor Hellebuyck, Andrei Vasilevskiy). With a shortened season, Gibson could be in line for a heavy workload again if he remains healthy. The Ducks signed veteran goalie Ryan Miller to a one-year contract Dec. 23. The 40-year-old was 9-6-4 with a 3.10 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage in 23 games (19 starts) last season and has played the past three seasons with Anaheim.

Video: 31 in 31: Anaheim Ducks 2020-21 season preview

 

ROSTER RUNDOWN

Making the cut

There will be several forward spots available, which Eakins said will be decided in training camp. Lundestrom had four assists in 15 games with the Ducks last season and had two assists in 15 games with them in 2018-19. He and Zegras, who has yet to make his NHL debut, could have the inside track.

Forward Max Comtois has scored 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in 39 games with the Ducks the past two seasons and likely will need a strong showing at camp to make the opening-night roster. Carter Rowney, who scored 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) and was one of two Ducks (Adam Henrique) to play all 71 games last season, could be the 13th forward.

Most intriguing addition

Zegras signed a three-year, entry-level contract March 27 after playing one season for Boston University. He tied for third among NCAA freshmen with 36 points (11 goals, 25 assists) in 34 games last season and was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team. Zegras (6-foot, 169 pounds) plays a 200-foot game and could bring speed and playmaking ability.

Biggest potential surprise

Sonny Milano scored five points (two goals, three assists) in nine games after he was acquired in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Feb. 24. The 24-year-old forward should be given every chance to excel on the top line and could challenge his NHL career highs in goals (14 in 2017-18) and points (23 last season).

Ready to break through

Steel could be the young Anaheim forward with the best chance of a breakout season. He scored 22 points (six goals, 16 assists) in 65 games last season, but in 2018-19 scored 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 22 games. He likely will be the center on the third or fourth line to start the season, but his role could grow if he can produce closer to his 2018-19 output.

Fantasy sleeper

Comtois (LW/RW; undrafted on average in fantasy) has been productive at the NHL level and scored 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in 31 games for San Diego of the American Hockey League last season. He could be part of the youth movement in their forward group with Zegras. Comtois is an underrated fantasy target in keeper and dynasty leagues. — Pete Jensen

Projected lineup

Sonny Milano — Ryan Getzlaf — Danton Heinen

Rickard Rakell — Adam Henrique — Jakob Silfverberg

Max Jones — Trevor Zegras — Troy Terry

Derek Grant — Sam Steel — David Backes

Hampus Lindholm — Kevin Shattenkirk

Cam FowlerJosh Manson

Jacob LarssonChristian Djoos

John Gibson

Ryan Miller

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