Hello all. My name is Aarif Deen. I am currently a Junior studying at University of Michigan. My major is Broadcast Journalism and I'm minoring in Print Journalism. My main focus is hockey. My life long dream is to stand in front of a camera and talk hockey for living. Analyzing the great sport we all grew to love. My first step in reaching the dream is to get my name out in public. Aarif Deen once again is my name. I urge you to follow me on twitter @AarifDeenReport. Being a life long hockey fan who has a special gift in writing, my starting point will be to focus on blogging my way to partial fame. With hopes of increasing my amount of followers on twitter by a great number, I am going to blog here on hockeybuzz.com daily throughout the 2011-12 season until this goal is reached. This will begin with a 2012 season preview. Over the next 30 days I will be previewing every NHL team. I'll start by focusing on their recently concluded 2011 season, followed by analyzing their new acquisitions before breaking down the team and predicting where they will fall this upcoming season. I hope you enjoy my readings. Any comments will be greatly appreciated.
Getting started in alphabetical order, Anaheim Ducks fall first in line.
After faltering in 2010, and losing Scott Neidermayer to retirement a year after Pronger was traded away, the Ducks did not have much to look forward to entering the 2011 NHL season. The defense was rebuilt and being lead by youngster Fowler and veteran Lydman. It wasn’t the same as the Stanley Cup winning defense the Ducks boasted in 2007 that was built from top to bottom. All that aside, the Ducks still had a great top line as well as depth to go down the forward lines.
With Jonas Hiller in net, the Ducks were given some sort of breathing room knowing they won’t have to heavily rely on the defense with Hiller in net. As the season went on, the Ducks showed why their offense is one of the best, however their season was never the same after Hiller went down with an injury that was just not healing as expected. While newly acquired Ray Emery and Dan Ellis were able to handle the workload in the regular season, they were not enough for the ever boring Predators offense that was able to score at a 4 goal pace during their 6 game series. The Ducks were eliminated in round 1 of the playoffs with question marks regarding Selanne and Hiller heading into the off-season.
Major Players Added:
The Ducks did not make as much changes as many thought, but they were able to make the right moves to give fans that bit of excitement leading into the season. Which as we all know is the most important part of all sports organizations: the fans.
Kurtis Foster: The Anaheim Ducks pulled off a deal on the 1st of July acquiring Kurtis Foster from the lowly Oilers for veteran Andy Sutton. Sutton played a limited role in Anaheim and will be used more in Edmonton. Foster on the other hand is an interesting case. while he didn’t exactly have a great season last year, Ducks fans have every reason to be excited about Kurtis after that great season he had with the Lightning in 2010 after returning from the horrible injury that almost ended his career. He and Visnovsky will work wonders on the back end on the man advantage.
Andrew Cogliano: In a separate trade with the Edmonton Oilers, the Ducks acquired Cogliano from Edmonton for a 2nd round pick in two years from now. Cogliano has not been able to live up to his potential since his rookie season, however, Ducks fans should be really excited for this upcoming talented centerman that has potential to be great in California. Ducks management showed they have a lot running on him after giving Andrew a 3 year deal for over 2 million dollars a season. With hopes of Cogliano taking the 2nd line center role after Koivu retires, expect Andrew to stay in Anaheim for a long time.
The others: Ducks also signed the towering Jeff Deslauriers from Edmonton to help give them goalie depth. Emerson Etem has a lot riding on this upcoming training camp after being signed to a 3-year entry-level deal
The Ducks own possibly the best top line in the National Hockey League centered by Ryan Getzlaf with Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan on the wings. The Ducks are a high potent offensive team that rushes the zone from all angles giving 29 teams’ defense a headache throughout the 82 game season. Bob Murray has done a great job of building this rugged ruff and tough Ducks team handling the helm since 2008 when Burke fled for Toronto. Ducks fans have many reasons to be excited heading into the 2012 season. They hold a great amount of up-and-coming prospects lead by Etem and Smith-Pelley who don’t need to be rushed into the league because of the great amount of depth the Ducks hold. Only Anaheim can have someone as talented as Selanne playing a 2nd line role and still hitting the 80-point plateau. joining Teemu are veterans Jason Blake and Saku Koivu as well as a well built bottom six.
The Ducks defense, while last year wasn’t very exciting, has gotten a lot better this year. With the emergence of Lubomir Visnovsky, who is easily one of the most underrated players in the league (snubbed of his Norris nominee) Anaheim once again has a #1 defenseman. Joining Visnovsky are youngsters Sbisa and Fowler as well as veterans Lydman, Beauchemin, and Foster. A well rounded six-man defense line that is surely gonna have a a lot of work cut out for them in the Pacific division once again.
Maybe the only question mark bigger than Jonas Hiller’s health heading into 2012 is the health of Sidney Crosby. Jonas showed last year that he is one of the best in the league and was able to play up to his potential. However, the man behind the gold rimmed all-black mask had his season shortened due to vertigo-like symptoms. Hiller’s health will play a huge role in where the Ducks will end in the standings.
Deen’s Projected Lineup:
Corey Perry - Ryan Getzlaf - Bobby Ryan
Jason Blake - Saku Koivu - Selanne/Etem
Matt Beleskey - Andrew Cogliano - Dan Sexton
Andrew Gordon - Brandon MacMillan - George Parros
Lubomir Visnovsky - Cam Fowler
Toni Lydman - Luca Sbisa
Kurtis Foster - Francois Beauchemin
After finishing 5th in the Western Conference in the 2012 season, the Anaheim Ducks will be matched up against the 4th seeded San Jose Sharks. They will take out the Joe Thornton lead Sharks in 6 games before being ousted in 6 games in the 2nd round against the 3rd seeded St Louis Blues. Expect Perry to remain atop the goals list once again.
(it’s a longshot, but let’s see what happens)