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Ducks Announce Opening Night Roster
By Thomas Harrington
On Tuesday the Anaheim Ducks announced their roster for opening night. The players who made the roster are: Ryan Getzlaf, Cam Fowler, John Gibson, Adam Henrique, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Ryan Miller, Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg, Carter Rowney, Ondrej Kase, Nick Ritchie, Devin Shore, Troy Terry, Jacob Larsson, Nicolas Deslauriers, Derek Grant, Max Jones, Michael Del Zotto, Korbinian Holzer, and rookies Brendan Guhle, Sam Steel, Max Comtois, and Isac Lundestrom. Keep in mind since Kase and Steel have been placed on the IR, the active roster is technically 22 players. Coach Eakins did say that they could be available for the home opener.
In order to finalize the roster, Simon Benoit, Kevin Boyle, Sam Carrick, Chase De Leo, Jani Hakanpaa, Josh Mahura, Andreas Martinsen, Andrew Poturalski, Kiefer Sherwood, and Daniel Sprong were all assigned to San Diego and Benoit-Olivier Groulx was sent to Halifax of the QMJHL. Sprong and Carrick were put on waivers yesterday and neither were claimed. It’s exciting to see four rookies make Anaheim’s roster, as well as several other young players like Terry, Jones, and Larsson. The youth movement should definitely be in full swing this season.
Of course, the Ducks will also have a new face behind the bench, Dallas Eakins. He’s spent the last several years coaching the Gulls and knows a lot of these players quite well. While his first NHL job in Edmonton didn’t go well, hopefully, the time and effort that he’s put in with San Diego and his overall knowledge of Anaheim’s players will lead to a better result this time around.
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For the past two years, Anaheim has opened the season with a large number of players on IR. This year, both Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves will miss the entire season. While both will be missed, the good news is that the Ducks only have two other players injured: Kase and Steel. Hopefully, neither are long term and they will return to the ice soon.
Unlike last year, there weren’t any huge surprises on which rookies and young players made Anaheim’s opening night roster. The biggest one is probably Lundestrom making it, but he had a great camp and earned his spot. For now, he’ll probably center Anaheim’s second or third line. Also, once Steel is ready to go, I think that Lundestrom will be the one assigned to San Diego to bring the roster back down to 23. If not for his preseason injury, Steel would be on the ice between Rakell and Silfverberg on opening night. Terry has been lining up with Getzlaf for much of the preseason and will hopefully become a fixture there.
The question really comes down to what lines Jones and Comtois will play on. Guhle has looked great in the preseason and has been playing with Fowler. Larsson had a strong camp and really locked down the fifth defensive spot on Anaheim’s blueline. If any of these players struggle, they could all conceivably get some time with San Diego this season, and it wouldn’t surprise me if some of them do. The goal for all should be to play as little in the AHL as possible, and as much in the NHL as possible.
The biggest surprise was probably Sprong being waived and then ultimately sent to the AHL. He’s one of the best shooters on the team but doesn’t bring a ton more than that, similar to Pontus Aberg. Hopefully, he can round out his game with the Gulls and return to the NHL later this season. As for the other players assigned to San Diego, I’m confident that we’ll see both Sherwood and Mahura later this season. Sherwood has looked especially good, but it’s a numbers game and he just didn’t quite fit. I also think that it’s likely we’ll see Carrick, De Leo, and Hakanpaa at various points this season. And as I’ve been thinking for much of this summer, I do think that Benoit will make his NHL debut this year. His strong training camp and preseason have only added to that belief.
While there are some holes in the lineup, I’m excited about Anaheim’s season. It was great watching so many rookies get a taste of the NHL last season; now we’ll get to see what they can do over the course of a full campaign.
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October 1st, 2019