The Anaheim Ducks have now missed the postseason in two of the last three seasons. Head coach Randy Carlyle became a casualty of the team’s poor performance during the course of the 2011-12 season being replaced by Bruce Boudreau. Boudreau produced some pretty good results with the Ducks, but the team still finished quite a way adrift from the playoff places.
There are a lot of factors that are likely to influence the success or lack of success for Anaheim. Goaltender Jonas Hiller struggled for much of last season after vertigo symptoms kept him out at the end of the 2010-11 season and prevented proper preparation for 11-12.
The blue-line got a makeover during the offseason with Lubomir Visnovsky departing, while Sheldon Souray and Bryan Allen were both added. Young blue-liners Cam Fowler and Luca Sbisa are expected to continue developing, while the new recruits are supposed to make the defensive corps larger and more physical.
However, one factor that with unquestionable importance is the play of top forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. The development of this pair of 27-year olds was crucial to the success of this team in winning the Stanley Cup in 2007. Perry has now scored 205 goals and 429 points in 550 NHL games including a pair of 30-goal performances and a 50-goal campaign in 2010-11. Getzlaf has 472 points in 512 games with his best display coming in a 91-point season in 2008-09.
Together they have come to represent the real core of this team. Both make over $5 million per year and are in the final year of their current contracts. Their performances in 2011-12 didn’t really reflect that though. Perry potted 37 goals, but only managed 60 points, while Getzlaf really struggled scoring just 57 points in 82 games.
Getzlaf’s performance will be particularly under the microscope when the NHL returns. He is Anaheim’s captain and has no excuse for not putting up points when always having at least one of Perry, Bobby Ryan and Teemu Selanne on his line. He will want to be paid very well in his next season and 12-13 (assuming it happens) will be an important opportunity for him to prove himself.