Yes, the Anaheim Ducks still have yet to win in regulation through 19 games, one away from tying the all-time record. Yes, their goal differential is a league-worst minus-32 and they have the worst point percentage in the league by a fair margin. But, there are still things that Ducks fans can be thankful for this Thanksgiving. Here are three of them.
Continued Excellence of Trevor Zegras & Troy Terry
The reason the Ducks have been able to keep themselves in games on many occasions has been due to the performances of two of their best players in Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry. Both players entered 2022-23 on the backs of breakout performances during the 2021-22 season.
Zegras scored 23 goals in his first full NHL season and was named a finalist for the Calder Trophy, finishing second to the Detroit Red Wings’ Moritz Seider. Meanwhile, Terry became the first Ducks player since Rickard Rakell in 2017-18 to score 30-plus goals, potting 37.
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The pair are the straw that stirs the drink when it comes to getting things going offensively for Anaheim, as they lead the team in goals, assists, and total points. Zegras paces the club with two power play goals and Terry has used his added bulk and strength to draw plenty of penalties. Without them, the seemingly anemic offense would be even worse off.
Ducks’ Future is Bright, Just Hold On a Little Longer
The Ducks have a young core in the works with Zegras and Terry leading the pack. Players like Mason McTavish are presumably part of that core and the forward has been able to get a better feel for the NHL this season after his nine-game audition last season.
He’s found himself shifted up and down the lineup, going from second-line winger to fourth-line center. It’s assumed that one day McTavish will be the No. 2 centerman behind Zegras. Whether that will come into full effect this season remains to be seen, although he has already centered the second line on several occasions with offseason addition Ryan Strome sliding over from his natural center position to the wing.
There’s no doubt that McTavish has the skills to be a mainstay in the top-six. He’s currently tied for third on the team in assists and his performance at the World Juniors this past summer also shows what he’s capable of.
Further down the pipeline are a pair of high-octane defenders in Pavel Mintyukov and Olen Zellweger. Mintyukov, who was drafted 10th overall in the 2022 NHL Draft, has been on a blazing scoring pace this season. He currently has 29 points in 21 games in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) for the Saginaw Spirit and looks on pace to pass his 62 points in 67 games from last season.
Zellweger was drafted 34th overall in the 2021 NHL Draft and is looking like a real gem to this point in his development. 78 points in 55 games last season in the Western Hockey League (WHL) for the Everett Silvertips was a performance good enough to earn him the WHL Player of the Year Award. This season, he has 21 points in 17 games and looks to be picking up right where he left off. His time in the preseason with the Ducks was short but he certainly left an impression, showcasing his offensive skills.
Don’t forget about Jamie Drysdale either, who was drafted sixth overall in 2020 and already has 113 NHL games under his belt. He figures to be a big part of the Ducks’ defense for years to come, but his development is currently on hold after he suffered a torn labrum last month against the Vegas Golden Knights. With his recovery from surgery expected to take four to six months, there’s a strong possibility that his 2022-23 season has already come to an end. Luckily, he is only 20 years old and has already shown he’s capable of playing big minutes. With a lack of NHL-ready right-handed defensemen in the organization, he’ll be counted on in all situations once he returns to the lineup.
Expiring Assets Will Bring In Resources at the Trade Deadline
This season has assuredly been frustrating for any Ducks fan to watch. The positives have been strongly overshadowed by poor defense, poor goaltending, and a lack of concentration during crucial moments of games.
The high-profile signing of John Klingberg this past offseason hasn’t quite reaped the benefits that some had hoped, while other offseason additions like Frank Vatrano may already be out the door via trade. The Toronto Maple Leafs have expressed interest in Vatrano, Klingberg, Adam Henrique, and Kevin Shattenkirk among others, according to The Fourth Period. The latter, like Klingberg, is an unrestricted free agent.
A team like the Leafs doesn’t have the cap space necessary to take on that kind of salary so the expectation would be that the Ducks will retain salary in any deal that gets brokered. Other players on expiring deals like Derek Grant, Dmitry Kulikov, and Anthony Stolarz could potentially be dealt closer to the deadline as well.
Things may seem bleak for the Ducks as it stands right now. They just went winless on their three-game road trip and have strung together consecutive wins just once this season. For all of their toils, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel, as finishing at the bottom of the league grants them a better chance at drafting top prospect Connor Bedard.
That’s not something they can be reliant on, due to the nature of the lottery odds, but it’s a glimmer of hope in what’s been an otherwise dark season thus far. It may not feel like there’s much to be thankful for as a Ducks fan, but rest assured, good things come to those who wait.
Derek Lee is a contributor for The Hockey Writers covering the Anaheim Ducks. Derek has spent nearly two decades immersed in the world of sports and has been writing about sports for five years. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Sports Communication in May 2020 from UCCS in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he also spent two and a half years on staff with their on-campus student newspaper–both as a sports reporter and editor. In his free time, he enjoys playing FIFA, curating his Spotify playlists and attending concerts & sporting events