The Anaheim Ducks entered training camp with some big question marks. Not only are the Ducks wondering whether or not Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne will continue their Hall of Fame bound careers but the Ducks opened and ended camp with injuries to starters J.S. Giguere, Sami Pahlsson and now Matthieu Schnieder.
The injuries and questions that surround the line-up along with the loss of Dustin Penner have allowed more than a few of the Ducks prospects to get a longer look and a better chance to crack the defending champs’ line-up.
The Ducks entered camp with 51 players on their training camp roster but needed to cut that number down in a hurry thanks to a condensed camp and pre-season schedule. The condensed camp has meant that players fighting for a roster spot had to impress coaches early.
But according to forward Bobby Ryan, this has been a big motivator.
“It’s been a good start. It’s tough to really get your best foot forward when your thrown in the mix like that and I’m sure everybody will tell you the same thing but at the same time it’s a much easier motivation knowing the time’s shorter, that’s for sure.”
The Ducks managed to slice their roster down to 33 players after a week of camp. Among the final cuts was Ducks prospect Petteri Wirtanen.
Wirtanen was one of the last cuts before the Ducks made their flight to London, England for their opener. Wirtanen led the team in points through their first four pre-season games. Wirtanen is a Sami Pahlsson type player. Ultimately, the Ducks didn’t feel Wirtanen was ready to make the jump to the NHL and sent him down after acquiring Mark Mowers from the Bruins.
Bobby Ryan, RW
For the prospects who may have the highest expectations placed upon them this season, look no further than Bobby Ryan. With the Ducks loss of big-bodied Dustin Penner, expectations for Ryan are not only to earn a roster spot but to come up big on the score sheet.
These expectations seem as though they have not fazed the big forward as of yet. Ryan arrived in Southern California a month before camp opened and began training on and off the ice with some of the Ducks veterans including Chris Pronger, Todd Marchant and Todd Bertuzzi.
Training with some the team’s big names have helped Ryan to transition nicely on and off the ice. Ryan’s approach to camp this season has been simple.
“I think they said it best when they said if you score, you score. If you bang, you bang. So I think I try and put up points every night and be a force down low and to feed guys who can put the puck in the net and be a presence in front.”
This approach has worked as Ryan played consistently throughout camp earning a goal and an assist through his first three games but the Cherry Hill, New Jersey native really showed fans and management what he was capable of when he was placed on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and Todd Bertuzzi. This line displayed a lot of chemistry most noticeably in the final preseason game which saw Getzlaf score two goals and Ryan assist on four goals.
Ryan for one is hoping this line sticks together.
Ryan Carter, C
After accompanying the team throughout their playoff run, Carter had a chance to not only be on the taxi squad but to participate in the Ducks championship.
“I mean I was definitely surprised,” said Carter, “I hadn’t played a regular season game all year you know but they call you up after [the regular season] you practice and they tell you to be ready because you never know what happens in the playoffs. So at the same time I was surprised but ready too.
“It was definitely nerve-racking the first game you know but I don’t know if I could have written it myself. I don’t know if I would’ve wanted it any other way debut in the Western Conference Finals but there’s no question the pressure made it a little more intense.”
Both he and former teammate Joe Motzko’s ability to jump into such a high pressure situation earned him the praise of his teammates.
“They have done unbelievable,” said future Hall of Fame player Teemu Selanne. “They have been here and have been so comfortable. I think this is quite an easy team to come to. Everybody is friendly and it’s good chemistry and we all like each other. So I think that’s made their job easier too but you know what they have done everything we have asked from them.”
The experience from playing in the Ducks playoff run gave Carter confidence and he entered camp looking to stick with the team.
“Ultimately I think the experience here will help me throughout the future,” he said. “If it ever happens where I get back in a situation like this, I’ll be that much more relaxed and know what to expect. Also, I think it’ll make the regular season and my NHL debut it’ll make that transition that much easier too.”
Throughout camp, Carter bounced around on different lines with a variety of different linemates but he is likely to stick on the fourth line at least for now with forward George Parros.
“I think my role is to kind of to be physical and wear the other team down and hit and throw some weight around and hopefully generate some energy to our team that year.”
The NHL allowed the Ducks to bring an extra goaltender with them on their trip to London, England. This extra bit of luck meant that Coleman was all but assured a spot on the trip.
However, with the signing of 25-year-old Jonas Hiller out of Switzerland, Coleman will probably spend the season in Portland.
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