The 2021-22 NHL season starts Oct. 12. With training camps opening this week, NHL.com is taking a look at the three keys, the inside scoop on roster questions, and the projected lineup for each of the 32 teams. Today, the Anaheim Ducks.
Coach: Dallas Eakins (third season)
Last season: 17-30-9; eighth in Honda West Division, did not qualify for Stanley Cup Playoffs
1. Scoring concerns
The Ducks will rely on several young players to energize an offense that was last in the NHL last season (2.21 goals per game). Among the notable forwards 24 or younger are Trevor Zegras, 20; Isac Lundestrom, 21; Max Comtois, 22; Max Jones, 23; Sam Steel, 23; and Troy Terry, 24. Comtois (16 goals) and Adam Henrique (12) were the only players to score at least 10 goals last season, and Comtois’ 33 points were tied for 112th in the NHL but led the Ducks. Zegras, the No. 9 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, scored 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 24 games.
2. Getzlaf’s leadership
Ryan Getzlaf agreed to a one-year contract to stay with the Ducks on July 28 and the 36-year-old center, who has been Anaheim captain since Oct. 4, 2010, may shift to a second- or third-line role and play fewer minutes on the power play, but his presence will be invaluable to those young players in the lineup. He scored 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in 48 games last season.
3. Improved power play
The Ducks are hoping young players like defenseman Jamie Drysdale can boost a power play that was last in the NHL at 8.9 percent last season. Their 11 power-play goals were the fewest in the NHL. Drysdale, chosen No. 6 in the 2020 NHL Draft, scored eight points (three goals, five assists) in 24 games last season and could play a significant role on the man-advantage with his skating and ability on the transition. Comtois, Zegras and Terry could thrive on the top power-play unit.
Zegras could start the season as the No. 1 center with Comtois and Terry on the wings, a unit that played well down the stretch last season. Zegras scored six points (two goals, four assists) in his last six regular-season games, mostly playing left wing. It’ll be interesting to see how much Drysdale will be able to handle as a 20-year-old defenseman playing his first full season in the NHL.
Most intriguing addition
Alexander Volkov, a forward acquired in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 24, could generate needed secondary scoring. The 24-year-old right wing scored 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 37 games last season, including eight points (four goals, four assists) in 18 games after the trade. He won the Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2020.
Biggest potential surprise
Anthony Stolarz, who made 14 starts over four seasons, will get the opportunity to be the No. 2 goalie behind John Gibson. Since 2017-18, Gibson is fifth in the NHL with 204 games played, but having an adequate backup is imperative to help keep the 28-year-old fresh with the return to an 82-game schedule this season. Stolarz is 10-10-4 with a 2.78 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in 34 games (24 starts) with the Philadelphia Flyers, Edmonton Oilers and Ducks.
Ready to break through
Zegras could become the first 50-point scorer for the Ducks since Getzlaf (61 points) and Rickard Rakell (69 points) in 2017-18. Zegras scored 0.54 points per game last season, tying Rakell for second on Anaheim. His skill and determination was evident at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, which he led with 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in seven games and was voted the tournament’s most valuable player for the champion United States.
Comtois scored 33 points (16 goals, 17 assists) and was plus-3 in 55 games for the Ducks last season, when the forward skated briefly on the first line with Zegras and Terry. Comtois should see more time on the first power play, bringing potential exposure to Zegras, Getzlaf, Rakell and Drysdale. Comtois also covers hits (93 in 55 games last season) for the Ducks, a possible sleeper team in the Pacific Division. — Rob Reese
Max Comtois — Trevor Zegras — Troy Terry
Rickard Rakell — Ryan Getzlaf — Jakob Silfverberg
Adam Henrique — Sam Steel — Alexander Volkov
Nicolas Deslauiers — Isac Lundestrom — Max Jones
Hampus Lindholm — Josh Manson
Cam Fowler — Jamie Drysdale
Jacob Larsson — Kevin Shattenkirk