The Anaheim Ducks are entering the 2021-22 season with the goal of developing their young players. Over the last few seasons, Anaheim has been committed to developing their younger core at the cost of their win-loss record. However, last season showed that their plan is working. The Ducks’ youth showed flashes of brilliance and it was mainly led by one player, Max Comtois.
During the 2020-21 season, the Ducks were hard-pressed to find any offense. Multiple injuries to key players hindered both their power play and 5-on-5 performances. This lead to Anaheim having the lowest amount of goals for last season. However, despite the overall lack of scoring, Comtois found a way to be a consistent threat in the Ducks’ lineup.
Over the course of the 2020-21 season, Comtois proved he was one of the best players in the Ducks lineup. The 22-year-old winger had an impressive season where he produced 33 points in 55 games. This saw the young winger lead his team in both goals and points. He achieved this by playing aggressively around the front of the net and not being afraid to shoot the puck.
His style of play is what Anaheim needs more of moving forward. Their roster is filled with exceptional puck movers such as Ryan Getzlaf, Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry. By driving the net, it allows these players a better chance of producing points. With consistent pressure around the goalie, it can create chaos and allow the offense a better chance to put the puck in the net.
Taking the Next Step Is Paramount for Anaheim’s Success
Comtois has seemed to have already surpassed some expectations as a second-round draft pick at this point in his career. He has become an everyday player for the Ducks and is an offensive weapon. However, there is still room for the young winger to grow, but the Ducks need to expand his role for this to happen.
By allowing Comtois to take the next step in his development, the Ducks would greatly improve. His ability to score should be enough of a reason to give him more ice time. During the 2020-21 season, he averaged 15:28 TOI per game. Although it was still one of the tops amongst the Ducks’ forwards, he could benefit with more minutes as those above him averaged nearly a full minute more per game. An easy way to do this would be to put him on the top powerplay unit.
In recent years, Anaheim’s power play has struggled tremendously. By putting Comtois on the first unit, it would be a way for him to have the opportunity to collect more points and see more ice time. Being one of the bigger players on the team, his size, strength and scoring ability would be showcased on the power play as he will be able to create and finish chances in front of the net. In fact, most of the goals he scored during the season were within proximity to the crease. Expanding his role to the top unit will not only give him more confidence but could also help fix Anaheim’s power play struggles.
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Another way the continued development of Comtois will benefit the Ducks is in regards to his shot. Throughout the course of his NHL career, he has proven that he can beat goalies from anywhere on the ice. However, his minutes greatly impact the number of shots he can take per game and throughout the season. This should be addressed as he has a career shooting percentage of 17%. To put this into perspective, it is around the same rate as Auston Matthews and Mikko Rantanen.
However, these two players shoot the puck more frequently than Comtois. In the 2020-21 season, he only took 94 shots on goal. This number should at least double during the 2021-22 season as the NHL returns to a normal season. So, if Comtois were to produce 200 shots and keep his current scoring rate, he would be responsible for 34 goals, putting him in elite company. This would also greatly benefit Anaheim as they have not had a 30+ goal scorer since Rickard Rakell scored 34 g in 2017-18.
Overall, Comtois has been a blessing for Anaheim. His dynamic play style has provided Ducks and their fans with hope for the future. His continued development, along with the arrival of Zegras and Jamie Drysdale, is enough to bring Anaheim back to the playoffs sooner rather than later. For Anaheim, the 2021-22 season is an important step in the continual development of the reigning leading scorer.
I am a former Jr. A hockey player that is currently attending school at San Diego State University. At SDSU, I study Journalism and Public Relations while also playing on the school’s rugby team. Hockey has been a big part of my life, as I have been playing since I was three years old. Other than hockey, I enjoy watching and playing all kinds of sports.