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Anaheim’s Opening Night Roster Announced
By Thomas Harrington
Earlier today, the Anaheim Ducks announced their roster for opening night. The 23 players who made the roster are: Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Getzlaf, Cam Fowler, John Gibson, Adam Henrique, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Brandon Montour, Ryan Miller, Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg, Pontus Aberg, Brian Gibbons, Carter Rowney, Luke Schenn, Ben Street, Andrej Sustr, and rookies Marcus Pettersson, Troy Terry, Sam Steel, Maxime Comtois, Isac Lundestrom, and Kiefer Sherwood. In order to finalize the roster, the Ducks sent Joseph Blandisi and Jaycob Megna to San Diego. Both had cleared waivers over the past week. Regardless of healthy scratches, Anaheim will dress at least three rookies against San Jose in the season opener, if not six.
For the second year in a row, Anaheim will have several players start the season on IR: Patrick Eaves, Corey Perry, Ondrej Kase, Korbinian Holzer, and Ryan Kesler are all out, as are rookies Max Jones, Kevin Roy, and Kalle Kossila. Also, Nick Ritchie is still without a contract. As these players get healthy, hopefully soon after the season begins, some of the rookies will be sent down. Personally, I believe that Lundestrom, Comtois, and Sherwood will be the first three to be let go. Lundestrom will return to Sweden, Comtois will go back to juniors, and Sherwood will go back to San Diego, where he can be recalled from later if needed. For Comtois and Lundestrom, they’ll get a tryout in the NHL, and then be returned to their respective teams so their contracts don’t begin this season.
Steel, Pettersson, and Terry making the opening night roster wasn’t a huge surprise. Steel is Anaheim’s top prospect, Pettersson has the most NHL experience of Anaheim’s rookie defensemen, and Terry is their top right wing prospect. Even if Anaheim was fully healthy, these three would most likely still have the team out of camp, though there would have been some competition from Roy, Kossila, and Jones. Comtois and Lundestrom are definite surprises. I had both as my dark horse candidates to make their NHL debuts this season, but I thought only one of the two would make it, if either. Injuries have given both a chance, and they really took it, as both had excellent preseasons. The shock though is definitely Sherwood. He was a free agent signing at the end of last season and scored two goals in 11 games with the Gulls to close out the season. When I wrote the prospect profile about him over the summer, I said that I expected him to be among several rookies battling for playing time in San Diego. I didn’t think he’d have a shot at making Anaheim’s opening night roster, but maybe later in the season if he played great with the Gulls. But he had a great training camp and preseason and he earned his spot. I do think he’ll still spend most of the year with the Gulls, but he’s already proved me wrong once, and he could do so again.
Integrating these six rookies into the lineup and building four strong lines and three defensive pairs will be one of the biggest keys to Anaheim’s success early in the season. Right now, it looks like Terry will play on the top line next, while Steel will center one of the team’s top three lines, and Pettersson will be on the third pairing. Those three will likely get the most ice time of Anaheim’s rookies, and I think are the most likely to stick with Anaheim over the course of the entire season. Sherwood, Comtois, and Lundestrom will likely be used a little more sparingly, but all of them should make their NHL debuts within the first few games of the season.
Surprise To Make The Roster?
Of Anaheim’s veterans, there was really only one surprise to make the roster: Street. He’s played over 30 NHL games but has yet to score a goal, but does have 428 games of AHL experience. His signing seemed like a veteran addition for the Gulls. However, with centers Kesler and Kossila both out, he took advantage of his opportunity. He also cleared waivers recently, so if the Ducks choose to send him down to the Gulls early in the season, he’ll be able to without having to go back through waivers. Once Kesler is healthy, Street will likely be one of the players sent down to make room, but strong play early in the season could keep him in Anaheim, similar to what Derek Grant did last year.
Youth Movement In Anaheim
Despite the injuries, there’s a surprising amount of optimism among Anaheim fans this year, primarily because of the youth that will be on display on opening night. And while not all of the rookies will stick with the team through the entire year, those six will be important to Anaheim’s fortunes early in the season, as will other players who will be recalled from San Diego as the season progresses. At some point this season, I do expect most of Andy Welinski, Megna, Giovanni Fiore, Jacob Larsson, Blandisi, Kossila, Roy, and Jones to get some games with the Ducks. The youth movement was planned to really get underway this season, but not quite so fast. Injuries have forced these rookies into bigger roles sooner than anticipated. They played great in the preseason; now that play needs to carry over into the NHL regular season.
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October 2nd, 2018