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Season 5 Preview - Anaheim Ducks Written by habsfan93 - November 30th, -0001

In Season 3, Anaheim had a terrific year. They finished 2nd in the West, and went all the way to the Conference Finals, where they blew a 3 game lead and lost in 7 games to Columbus. It was a tough year to top, but GM quackquack knows where there's a will, there's a way, and so he led the Ducks to a first place finish in the West on his way to winning the President's Trophy as best regular season team. So what should the playoffs bring, but none other than a conference finals matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Once again, the enemy prevailed, and the Ducks were sent packing, only to watch the Jackets fall once again to the East. The Ducks have regrouped, and this time they are out for the kill. There is only one goal this year - make the Cup Finals and win.

Offence

As with every team in the CMHL, the makeup of the team has changed, but several key figures remain. Up front among them, is last year's Hart Trophy finalist, Marian Hossa. Hossa scored 49 goals for the Ducks, 15 of them on power play, and was their leader both on and off the ice. What one doesn't notice immediately is that last season was actually Hossa's worst offensive season on record as he contributed significantly less assists than usual. Look for Hossa to rebound this year and once again challenge the 100-point barrier. Knowing his team is in the race to win the Cup now, the Ducks traded some future assets for impending retiree Peter Forsberg, a second 50-goal threat. Enough about wingers, what about centers. Well folks, this team has one of the more likely potential rookies of the year in Ryan Getzlaf. Getzlaf has been waiting in the wings for a number of years now, and impressed last year with 11 points in 19 games, but this year he has been handed the reins of this club as #1 center, and he'll look to turn that into big numbers at the end of the year. These three figures would make for a hell of a line as Getzlaf is an expert passer, feeding pucks to two of the best natural goal scorers in the CMHL.

Supporting these three is one of the deepest forward groups in the league. There's a reason why Anaheim is a consistent winner - Cory Stillman, Shawn Horcoff and Jason Pominville make up what could be a 1st line on any team, but here in Anaheim, they control the 2nd line. Stillman put up a career year last year, and both Horcoff and Pominville are being given a chance to explode. All three of these guys could be point-per-gamers. Oh and wait, what about the 3rd line, can they score? Hell ya! Jochen Hecht, Alex Yashin, and Petr Sykora would be a 2nd line on almost any other team, but they're the 3rd line in Anaheim. There's only one downside to having an explosively offensive team like this - lack of appropriate ice time for everyone. The guys on the 3rd line are probably not going to do as well offensively as they could on another team, but hey, they're here to win the cup, regardless of how much they play. And last, but certainly not least, Anaheim possesses one of the best shutdown lines in the league in Kirk Maltby, Curtis Brown and Mike Grier.

Defence

We know the offence is good, but what about the defence...yup, its pretty damn skippy too! Dan Hamhuis emerged last season as a Norris-caliber defenceman and he's back to patrol the blueline. Joining him will be Brian Campbell, who finally! gets the call up to the big leagues. He was last year's ICHF defenceman of the year, and he'll be looking to prove why at the high level of play. Then you have a great mix of old and young - Chris Chelios and Shae Weber. Chris Phillips garnered a huge raise as a UFA in the offseason after a great year in Buffalo and he'll be joined by David Hale and Darryl Sydor who will fight for the 6 spot.

Goaltending

Last year, the Ducks succesfully managed a goaltending platoon - giving Niklas Backstrom and Cristobal Huet pretty equal playing time. It worked out really well for them. Both played like superstars and the only thing that kept both from Vezina nominations was a lack of games played. This year, look for one of them to take the #1 spot for good and in the early going it looks like its going to be Niklas Backstrom. Backstrom has started all but one game so far this year - it seems he's been giving the reins from GM quackquack, who is apparently dangling Cristobal Huet on the trade market.

Prospects

Great teams have great farm systems, and Anaheim is a perfect example of this. Ryan Getzlaf was promoted this year, and he's looking to be followed by a number of prospects. First among them is Peter Mueller. Mueller is just itching for a chance to play as he is big time ready now. But looks like GM quackquack is going to wait a year for Yashin to retire before handing over a spot on the roster. Other guys ready for the show include Kris Versteeg, Nikolai Kulemin, Lee Stempniak, Jarret Stoll, Jack Skille and Matt Niskanen. Some of these guys aren't even really prospects anymore but they can't crack the Anaheim roster! That's how scary deep this team is.

Playoffs

Anaheim will make the playoffs. They are the closest thing to a sure bet that exists in the CMHL. The real question is: just how good will they be?

Quick Hits

Best Bargain: The goalies - Both Backstrom and Huet are making a paltry $500,000. Both are UFA's within the next 2 years. Expect big raises for these two when the time comes.
Most Overpaid: Curtis Brown - At over $2 million, there are much better players that could be on this roster than Brown. Jarret Stoll is one of them. Brown gets cred for having good defensive skill, but not worth the price tag.
Breakout Player: Brian Campbell - Expect a big year from this defencemen who should have been up years ago.
Overrated: None - Goes to show just how well this team is managed, I wouldn't describe anyone on this team as overrated.

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