The Anaheim Ducks made a flurry of moves leading up to Monday’s trade deadline that has left them a vastly improved hockey club. How head coach Bruce Boudreau utilizes his new players though, will be very interesting for all observers. Here’s a look at what a fully healthy Ducks squad could hypothetically look like:
Kyle Palmieri-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Anaheim’s top line has remained relatively unchanged throughout the course of the season. Boudreau has tried a variety of options on the left wing, but it seems that Kyle Palmieri has settled into that slot.
Getzlaf and Perry are perhaps the best two thirds of a top line in the entire NHL, so whoever plays on the left with them needs to bring something of worth to the table. Palmieri offers speed, tenacity, and a hard, accurate shot. Until Matt Beleskey returns, it looks like this will be the Ducks’ first line.
Matt Beleskey-Ryan Kesler-Jakob Silfverberg
It’s been reported that Tomas Fleischmann will start on the Kesler line for the time being. While Fleischmann is a definite upgrade over guys like Rene Bourque or Devante Smith-Pelly who have spent time there, it’s almost without a doubt that Beleskey will take this spot once he returns from injury.
Kesler has been a dominant two-way force for the Ducks for much of the year, while Silfverberg provides a unique blend of size, shooting, and creativity. Add Beleskey’s speed and puck retrieval ability, and you have a very potent second line that can dominate along the boards.
Jiri Sekac-Rickard Rakell-Emerson Etem
The average age on this line is only 21 years of age, so we might as well start calling them the “Kid Line”. In a weird twist of fate, Etem and Sekac are born only six days apart, and now they find themselves playing on the same line at hockey’s highest level.
Rakell and Sekac are both highly creative players who can deliver tough passes going through the neutral zone and off of the half-wall. Etem, on the other hand, brings speed and puck retrieval, making for a trio that can give weaker competition fits. They’ve already looked good together, so expect that to continue.
Tomas Fleischmann-Nate Thompson-Andrew Cogliano
This line hasn’t actually happened yet, but here’s to hoping it will. Tim Jackman will be out for the foreseeable future, opening up that fourth line right wing. Patrick Maroon has been somewhat of a letdown this year, consistently blowing opportunities when placed with quality linemates.
With the arrival of an old Boudreau minion in Fleischmann, it’s reasonable to assume that Boudreau will try to get him in the lineup as much as possible. That wouldn’t be a bad idea though, as Fleischmann has an offensive touch that Maroon has proven to lack. Why not have four lines that can score goals?
Hampus Lindholm-James Wisniewski
Defense is where things get interesting for the Ducks’ coaching staff. The arrivals of Wisiewski and Simon Despres give them two solid NHL defensemen that could very easily squeeze out both Clayton Stoner and Josh Manson from the lineup.
Lindholm has been the Ducks’ best possession player on defense this year, so pairing him with another offensive mind in Wisniewski (who is a right-handed shot) could make for a pairing that can both control the game possession-wise and strike at any moment offensively.
Cam Fowler-Simon Despres
Fowler has been another one of the Ducks’ best possession players throughout the course of the season, and that’s in spite of the fact that he’s logged quite a few minutes with the likes of possession black hole Clayton Stoner.
He’s shown that he can carry players of inferior ability, so getting paired up with a guy like Despres would be a dream come true. Despres is a smooth skater with a good vision of the ice when breaking the puck out. To boot, he’s 6′ 4″, 214 pounds, more than making up for the smaller Fowler.
Francois Beauchemin-Sami Vatanen
Beauchemin has looked a tad slower than he has in the past, yet his offensive touch and physical nature remain intact. With an incredibly young blueline, there’s no way that Boudreau would, or should, leave out his veteran presence in favor of Josh Manson or Stoner.
Once Sami Vatanen returns from injury towards the end of the season, he’ll need to be with a reliable partner that he won’t have to absolutely carry a la Stoner. Beauchemin may be slowing down, but he’s still serviceable. The left shot-right shot combination is also too good to pass up.