Throughout the course of his 17-year career, Ryan Getzlaf has meant more to the Anaheim Ducks organization than perhaps even he realizes. Even on the night where he became the all-time leading scorer in franchise history, he was effusive in his praise towards longtime-teammate Teemu Selanne, the previous record holder for the Ducks.
“Teemu was a mentor to me for me when I came in,” Getzlaf remarked following his record-breaking night. He and Selanne would play together for nine seasons, combining for 114 goals and winning the Stanley Cup in 2007. Selanne, though he was only named captain during a brief stint in 1998, served as an alternate captain for eight seasons, including the first four seasons of Getzlaf’s captaincy.
With less than 30 seasons as an organization, the Ducks are on the younger end of NHL franchises. Regardless, those deemed worthy to don the ‘C’ have been a who’s who of Ducks legends. Since the 1996-97 season, the list of Ducks captains includes Paul Kariya, Selanne, Steve Rucchin, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, and Getzlaf, who has held the role for the past 12 seasons.
While Getzlaf is experiencing a renaissance season with 20 points in 22 games played, the reality is that his recent accomplishments (not only did Getzlaf become the all-time leading scorer in franchise history, but he became the first Ducks player to eclipse 1,000 points on Nov. 16 against the Washington Capitals) serve as a reminder that his tenure is nearing its conclusion. Even though his number 15 will eventually hang in the Honda Center rafters in perpetuity, the team playing beneath its shadow will need a captain. Let’s take a look at some of these potential candidates.
The Older Core: Jakob Silfverberg & Cam Fowler
Jakob Silfverberg has been a fan-favorite since his acquisition from the Ottowa Senators in the Bobby Ryan trade in 2013. In the past, he was one-third of the team’s “shutdown” line, featuring Ryan Kesler and Andrew Cogliano, while the Ducks were Stanley Cup contenders in the mid-2010s. He’s also proven to be a capable scorer, with several 20-goal seasons as well as 41 points in 57 playoff appearances. More recently, Silfverberg has served as an alternate captain for the last three seasons.
When Cam Fowler signed his 8-year contract at the end of the 2016-17 season, the then-25-year-old seemed to have an inside track to eventually becoming the captain himself. At the time, the Ducks had just lost in the Western Conference Final to the Nashville Predators. But between the mismanagement of the 2017 Expansion Draft and general attrition, the Ducks plummeted to the bottom of the standings. And as Fowler approaches his 30th birthday, there remains no torch to pass nor mantle to assume where there might have been one had the Ducks remained competitive.
What Fowler does have working for him is a level of consistency and tenure that is hard to match. As the 12th overall pick in 2010, he’s one of the few Ducks draft picks to become immediate NHL-regulars. Because of this, he has already logged over 750 NHL games and owns all of the franchise records for defensemen. Fowler even spent his rookie season living with Scott Niedermayer, who had spent four of the previous five seasons captaining the Ducks before retiring earlier that summer.
The Younger Core: Troy Terry & Max Comtois
In regards to how Getzlaf looks to Selanne, Troy Terry said, “It was wild for me to listen to him talking about someone meaning that much to him, because that’s exactly what he is to me.” Terry has been thriving on Getzlaf’s line this season, scoring 23 points through 21 games, including a 16-game point streak. While the breakout at the NHL level may not have been immediate, he’s proven himself at nearly every level. In college, he helped the University of Denver win a national title in 2017, was the shootout hero of the 2017 World Junior Championship (WJC), and was one of the few amateurs to play in the Olympics in 2018.
Max Comtois was one of the few bright spots last season for the Ducks. With 33 points last season, the hope was that he continues to develop into a regular scoring threat. His past experience as the captain for Team Canada at the 2019 WJC is also a great indicator of his potential leadership skills. But the start of this season has been a disaster for Comtois, who only has one point in 13 games played, and is expected to be out for another five weeks after undergoing surgery on his right hand. He’s still only 22 years old, but the Ducks will want to see more from Comtois if he is to become a leader on the team.
The Youngest Core: Trevor Zegras
If the Ducks were to name one of the more veteran players as captain in the coming years, it can be expected that they are more of a placeholder until one of the young stars is ready. The future of the franchise relies on the likes of Trevor Zegras, Jamie Drysdale, and Mason McTavish becoming the stars that they were drafted to be, but there shouldn’t be any rush to place these players on any sort of leadership mantle while they are still learning the day-to-day life of a professional hockey player.
Zegras has been as advertised when the Ducks selected him 9th overall in the 2019 Entry Draft. Even at 20 years old, he’s beginning to display some of his elite playmaking attributes against proper NHL competition. He’s the most highly-anticipated prospect that the organization has seen since Kariya, who was named captain as a 22-year-old prior to the 1996-97 season. Perhaps by the time that Getzlaf is ready to retire, Zegras will find himself in a similar situation to Kariya.
Troy Terry Should Be The Next Captain
As it stands, the Ducks look to be ahead of schedule in regards to their current rebuild. While a return to the playoffs remains unlikely this season, it’s clear that they can be competitive on a nightly basis. In fact, the prospect pool that Anaheim has developed has a reasonable chance to deliver success in the very near future. And this perfectly lines up with Terry’s ascension into a reliable NHL scorer. He’s taking advantage of playing on Getzlaf’s line and his influence is undoubtedly sticking. Terry has already shown success at every level he’s played, and this season is a big step towards proving it at the highest levels of the sport. Assuming his trajectory continues upward, Terry will prove himself to be a worthy successor to Getzlaf as captain.
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I was born and raised in Mission Viejo, California, and currently live in Visalia, California. Graduated from CSUF in 2016 with a B.A. in Cinema and Television Arts. I’ve been a sports fan for my entire life, rooting for the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Rams and Miami Heat. In my free time, I enjoy playing video games, trying to pour a perfect cup of coffee, and testing out a local craft beer.