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Who Improved and Impressed This Past Season
By Logan Orsini
With the official announcement from Commissioner Gary Bettman that the NHL regular season has been deemed to be complete, this sadly means that the Anaheim Ducks 2019-2020 campaign has come to an unexpected end. A lot of uncertainty lies ahead with questions as to where the Ducks will fall in the draft and what will next season look like, but there is one certain thing that can be looked at and that is the play of this now past regular season.
The Ducks had their struggles this year and there were plenty of them. Their lack of goal scoring and barrage of injuries hurt them the most, and John Gibson and Ryan Miller‘s heroic acts can only do so much. But that doesn’t mean there weren’t any good and improved performances from players. Today I will be looking at players who I think impressed the most and upped their game from last season.
Henrique became quite the goal scorer for the Ducks this year, especially in the latter half. He put up 43 points including an impressive 26 goals in 71 games this year. Last season, he put up 42 points and only 18 goals in 82 games, so it is safe to say that if this season continued, Henrique would’ve netted a few more points to hit the 50 point mark.
Ever since the Ducks acquired Henrique from New Jersey, he has impressed every year and has seemed to improve and this year was no exception.
Henrique is usually considered to be the number two center behind Getzlaf, but when injuries came upon the Ducks this year, Henrique stepped up and played very well as a first-line center.
He is a player that all coaches love to have as he does everything. He is an ideal two-way center that can play efficiently and effectively, as he gets the job done on both ends of the ice. He can be trusted in big moments as well such as a crucial defensive zone times and when pushing for a late goal. He is one of two players that dressed in every game this season, the other being Carter Rowney.
He is 30 years old, but I expect fan-favorite Uncle Rico’s game to continue to rise and impress next season as well. He is on contract with the Ducks through the 2023-2024 season and I doubt many Ducks fans are complaining about that.
Rowney is everything you want a 4th line player to be. The Ducks signed him back in 2018 to add some grit and speed to their bottom-six forwards, and Rowney has been outstanding in his role in his time with the Ducks.
He put up 19 points in 71 games this year, almost tying his career-high of 20 points that he netted last season. With 11 games left to play, there was a very good chance he could’ve set a career-high for points in a season.
Watching games this year, whenever Rowney was on the ice he made his presence known. He can skate with any player on the ice. At 31 years of age, he can still fly out on the ice and he uses that to his advantage. He forechecks hard and uses his body well constantly bringing a physical presence. Dallas Eakins even felt comfortable putting him on the ice in crucial situations in a game. He was a great penalty killer and had a solid face-off percentage of 45.63%.
His stats may not show it, but he is a player that everyone loves to have on their team.
Silfverberg netted 21 goals including 18 assist for 39 points in 66 games this season for the Ducks. He missed some time due to injury but it seemed that every game he was dressed he came to play. He continues to use that booming shot of his to create chances all over the ice especially on the powerplay.
He finally got an All-Star Game nod from the NHL for the first time in his career. Ducks fans were proud of their Swede as every season he has always come to play and this year was no exception. He did not end up participating due to the birth of his first child.
It was most entertaining this year to watch him play alongside longtime teammate and fellow Swede Rickard Rakell. They were paired on the same line for a majority of the year and watching those two bounce off each other was fun to watch. They both possess great offensive skills and Silfverberg uses his strong and accurate shot to net passes from Rakell.
Silfverberg brings his steady two-way game to the ice every night. He is as solid defensively as he is offensively. He is one year into his five-year contract extension, and he has proven his worth so far.
It’s safe to say it was a tough year for the Ducks. Lack of scoring and being unable to remain healthy still plagues them the most.
A big hope for this season was to see the youth core of Troy Terry, Sam Steel, Max Jones, and Maxime Comtois step up their games to bring some offense and goal scoring to the team. That did not pan out. They are all still 22 years of age or younger, so there is plenty of time for them to continue to grow. Steel took some steps in the right direction by solidifying himself into the lineup and Jones stayed stagnant as a third or fourth-line winger. Terry and Comtois have been lighting it up in San Diego and I expect them to get more looks up in the NHL next season.
Henrique, Rowney, and Silfverberg are the players who I think upped their game the most from last season. Not to take away from the efforts of Ryan Getzlaf or Rickard Rakell, but their point production and overall play remained good but stagnant. If Rakell can find that scoring tough again, he will be even more of a force on the ice.
As for the defensive core, it was tough sledding all year. Fowler and Lindholm were great when healthy, but sadly this year they were both plagued by injuries. Manson came back after some time off due to injury and played his usual strong defensive game, but seemed limited still due to injury.
And as for the newcomers of Christian Djoos, Sonny Milano, Danton Heinen, and Matt Irwin, it is tough to analyze their games as they only played a handful of games for the Ducks before the season stopped. But it is safe to say that Milano and Heinen impressed the most in their short debut for the Ducks.
Any players I missed that you think impressed out on the ice this season? We would love to hear from you!
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June 10th, 2020