In yesterday’s post, I made a lot of grammatical errors. I will probably do that again. Another thing I did was make some pretty giant assumptions about what would happen with Anaheim’s forward situation. I needed to do that in order to make a reasonable projection about the Ducks and Admirals in the fall. Free agency is still going on and activity will happen between now and the season (as well as when the puck drops). Let’s talk about what I’m going to call “Big Guesses”.
Big Guess #1: Teemu Selanne returns.
The biggest and most important prediction is that Anaheim’s face of the franchise will return for next season. While he is 43, Selanne doesn’t appear to be done with the game. He hasn’t made any hard decisions yet and gets the leisure to say if and when he’s back. #TeemuWatch will continue.
Big Guess #2: Selanne’s return creates a jam at the wing spots, especially for Pat Maroon (and Brad Staubitz)
If Selanne returns, this creates a bunch of bodies at the wing spots wanting to play. The two most likely to get shafted by this are Pat Maroon and Brad Staubitz. Maroon has been a proven power forward in the AHL, a guy who plays physically, can score, and will scrap if he’s asked. Staubitz is supposed to be the same guy, except he costs more and, well, Ducks fans aren’t the happiest with him. With Matt Beleskey signing a two-year extension stay with Anaheim, there really isn’t a need for three of those guys every night. Thus, there’s a scenario where both Staubitz and Maroon are healthy scratched 4 out of 5 nights. Given how much money Anaheim invested in Maroon, they may find him more valuable playing 1st line minutes in Norfolk.
Big Guess #3: Peter Holland wins the 4C spot.
One of the biggest wants from any team, outside of say Pittsburgh, is a reliable #2 center. It is rare to find one, like a hard-shooting right-handed D-man. Or something. Much has been made about Anaheim and a number of other teams searching to find a 2C, and possibly inquiring about the recently bought-out Mikhail “Grabo” Grabovski. Though he could land in Anaheim, I think he will eventually end up with the Caps. With Grabo on the Caps, the Ducks will look to Nick “Bones” Bonino as their 2C. Before he got injured, Bones was an impressive player with some speed. I think Bruce Boudreau would like to see him fully healthy and at that spot. Veteran Saku Koivu re-signed for a year, giving the Ducks a reasonable expectation for their 3C. Finally, there is the 4C spot. Anaheim’s 4C spot switched a lot of hands, before it ended up in the hand of trade acquisition David Steckel. He was a low-cost buy, brought in from Toronto for failed project Ryan Lasch and a draft pick. He wasn’t there to score, though. Anaheim now has Peter Holland, who has a bit of NHL experience and was drafted in the first round 4 years ago. By putting him on the fourth line, the Ducks might experience an uptick in scoring from that position.
Big Guess #3: Devante Smith-Pelly will be in Norfolk, and so will Rickard Rakell.
With a bunch of depth at the NHL level and a relatively young age, Devante Smith-Pelly should be headed back to Norfolk. DSP broke into the NHL at the age of 19–usually when sure-fire superstars hit. He found himself stuck in Norfolk most of the year, trying to get better as an all-around player. Thanks to just turning 21, DSP still has a lot of room to develop, and can continue to do so at the AHL level. He’ll be the top returning scorer, especially if Peter Holland and Pat Maroon make the Ducks.
Since I have Peter Holland making the Ducks, that has 2011 first-round pick Rickard Rakell coming to Norfolk. Rakell will probably have a chance at the 4C spot though I think Peter Holland wins out due to his NHL experience and continued development in the AHL.
I feel like I’ve properly explained the Big Guesses.
Small Guess #1: The RFAs get signed.
Anaheim has a small matter right now of signing their remaining RFAs. The most pressing need is former Ad Kyle Palmieri, who projects as a top-6 forward, playing on Ryan Getzlaf’s wing. With Matt Beleskey signed, there is a base for how much Plams is worth (more than Beleskey). Next up are D-men Mat Clark and Alex Grant, both of whom are AHLers. Expect them to sign some 2-way deals eventually. I think a lot of Anaheim stuff has been quiet this week thanks to the focus of prospect camp.