Predlines has asked teams from the Western Conference a few questions to help Predators fans better understand their Western Conference rivals.
Answers courtesy of Sean McCaulley (Pucks Of A Feather)
Q: How was your draft?
A: I think it went pretty well. The Ducks prospect system was already one of the league’s best, so, there wasn’t too much of a need anywhere. They needed to add some depth to the blue line and they did with their 1st and 3rd rounders. The Ducks are one of the best drafting teams in the league and honestly, they kind of need to be since Anaheim may not be the most attractive spot for big name free agents.
Thoughts: There’s not a ton to add here. The Ducks should have little trouble making the Playoffs. As for the free agents; the Ducks do have the advantage of having a Stanley Cup banner hanging up in their rink. The Ducks top two picks were Shea Theodore (first round, 26th pick), D, Seattle (WHL) , and Nick Sorensen (second round, 45th), RW, Quebec (QMJHL).
Theodore has the ability to produce points from the blue line.
Sorensen has been plagued by injuries over the past two years
Q: Are you looking forward to playing every team this year?
A: Absolutely! Having each team visit each arena in the league at least once in a year is pretty awesome. Especially happy that Teemu Selanne will get one more chance to play in front of his first NHL home of Winnipeg.
Thoughts: This may be one of the smartest things the NHL has ever done. It’s the only “fair” way to truly fix the travel issues that have plagued Western Conference teams for so long.
Q: What “new” rivalries are you hoping to form?
A: Well, with the Detroit Red Wings leaving, that vacated a spot on our rivalry’s list. Well, with Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver entering the division, there certainly is potential. Maybe not with Calgary, though. However, the Ducks and Canucks have always had a bit of an edge to their matchups. A lot of Canucks fans travel down to SoCal for when the Canucks play here. As far as Edmonton is concerned, they are probably on the verge of being an elite NHL team. So, any time there is an elite team within your division, you begin a bit of a rivalry. It also helps having a player who decided to desert your franchise, i.e. Justin Schultz.
Thoughts: The rival factor is my favorite thing about the realignment. With the potential for expansion, the NHL needs to establish new rivalries, and rebuild old ones. It may be the only way to not water down the league.
Q: What needs to change for your team to improve on last year?
A: Well, the Ducks took a big step in the right direction last year. Scoring depth was the problem two years ago and they got plenty of it early on last year. However, as the season dwindled, so did the secondary scoring. If they can get consistent secondary scoring, which I think they can with some of their young players really starting to burst onto the scene, this team can certainly improve.
Thoughts: The Ducks ranked 8th in goals for last season with 134. If the secondary scoring had not dropped off Anaheim could have been a top 5 scoring team. First round pick Theodore should help add some much-needed back-end scoring.
Only time will tell, but I don’t see the Ducks falling off much from last year. They play the Nashville Predators on January 9th and April 4th.
We will take a look at the Chicago Blackhawks tomorrow.