Anaheim Ducks Capitalizing on Early Success: Recap and Outlook

Nov 4, 2014
Anaheim Ducks Capitalizing on Early Success: Recap and Outlook

It's not a bad time to be an Anaheim Ducks fan.

In almost every capacity, the Ducks have asserted themselves as continuing to be an elite Western Conference hockey club.

Not only do they currently own the best record in the NHL with 20 points through 13 games, but Corey Perry has been named the NHL's player of the month after tallying 11 goals (including two hat tricks) on his way to a 15 point month, good for third overall in scoring.

In fact, a quick look at the NHL's leaderboard (as of November 3rd) gives Anaheim fans a lot to like about their team.

Anaheim Ducks Capitalizing on Early Success: Recap and Outlook
Frederik Anderson and Perry make plenty of appearances.

Even Ryan Getzlaf shows up in the assists column (we'd expect nothing less).

What Anaheim Has Accomplished

Through 10 games Anaheim is four points above the next-best record in the Western Conference.

They've also won six out of eight roads games, giving them the best road win totals in the league.

During the month of October Anaheim ran a seven-game winning streak that allowed them to open up their season at 7-1, despite playing their first four games away from Honda Center. The stat sheet is filling in nicely as well.

While Perry leads Anaheim in points, Getzlaf is right behind him with 11 assists and 15 points overall.

Newcomer Ryan Kesler and Cam Fowler are both tied for third with eight.

That means the Ducks four best players are playing like their four best players, which isn't something we've seen from Anaheim in the early portions of the last few seasons. Particularly Getzlaf and Perry have been notoriously slow starters.

But not this time.

It seems as if everything has come together right out of the gate for the Ducks, with few weak spots and little for fans to complain about.

Gibson or Anderson?

If you ignore the game one debacle that John Gibson had in his hometown of Pittsburgh, he's had a tremendously solid start. In four games he's posted a 2.28 GAA and a .927 save pct. with one shutout.

Frederik Anderson, who has started eight games for Anaheim has been even better.

John Gibson and Frederik Anderson Stats



This is huge for Anaheim, since they haven't been able to really settle their goaltending situation since coming off the back end of J.S. Giguere's career.

But it seems as though both Gibson and Anderson are capable of being a No. 1 goaltender for the Ducks. At this point, who Bruce Boudreau designates as his No. 1 guy is neither here nor there, as both goalies are under contract through next season, after which they'll be restricted free agents.

So for the short term, Anaheim has both of them, and the long term should yield one or the other.

But for the sake of argument, Anderson has been the more consistent of the two, winning seven of the eight games he's played and maintaining a Vezina-caliber stat line.

Besides, he's got a new Reservoir Dogs-inspired mask.

He's the guy moving forward.

Defensive Outlook

If it weren't for Perry, Sami Vatanen would lead the team in powerplay goals.

He leads Anaheim defenders in goals (3) and is second in points (7) only to Fowler. Following them are Francois Beauchemin and Hampus Lindholm who have been quiet offensively, but continue to handle the first defensive pairing, according to the Daily Faceoff.

Ideally (as if it can get much more ideal) Linholm would have a bigger offensive impact. A goal and two assists isn't living up to expectations based on what he did last year.

But he'll get his chance. He is carrying a plus/minus of +8, second only to Perry (+11) on the team

It's not Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger, but it's good. Anaheim's defense is very good.

Reasonable Expectations

November will be an interesting month for the Ducks.

They've two games against the Los Angeles Kings, two against the Vancouver Canucks and one against the San Jose Sharks. How they do against those potential Western Conference playoff opponents will be telling about their chances in a potential postseason run.

If they get through that stretch and are still hovering at the top of the league, I'll be a little surprised and relieved. Because the Ducks need to get it done against Western Conference opponents.

Ever since losing to the Kings in seven games, there have been questions surrounding their ability to matchup physically against Chicago, L.A. and other more physical Western Conference teams.

If they're going to make another Stanley Cup run, they've got to show that they can handle these teams in the regular season.

Is it reasonable to expect that to happen?

If everyone stays healthy, I don't see why not.


Talk Ducks hockey with me over at Twitter, because blog comments are dumb.

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Anaheim Ducks Have Won 5 Straight: Reaction and Analysis

Oct 22, 2014

Anaheim Ducks Have Won 5 Straight: Reaction and Analysis

Here's a thought:

If Frederik Anderson starts the first game for the Anaheim Ducks are we sitting at 6-0 right now? After all, we did score four goals in the Pittsburgh game, which is statistically more than enough to win on most nights.

But I don't want to disparage John Gibson. He'll get his chance.

In the meantime, Ducks fans (myself included) should still be pretty happy with a 5-1 record to open the season, considering we've played four of those games on the road.

And we could have won the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Maybe Gibson was just nervous playing so close to his hometown.

Who knows.

One thing is clear: Anaheim is off to a fantastic start.

And our team's good fortune is likely due to the following three bright spots.

1. Frederik Anderson's Goaltending

Again, this is not to dog on Gibson, his play or his potential.

Things can go north or south for any goaltender in a relatively quick period of time, especially at the professional level. So at this point, I don't have sufficient cause to think "less" of Gibson.

That said, Anderson is undoubtedly the better goaltender as of late.

Last week I compared the stats of the two goaltenders in what had been their most recent three games at that point. Three games later, Anderson has only gotten better.

Frederik Anderson's 2014-2015 Stats


Those are Vezina, dare I say, MVP numbers folks.

You might say, "Yeah, but it's a small sample size, and how could such good stats be sustainable if he plays 50-60 games?"

I understand, because I think the same way. But is it really that far-fetched to think that Anderson is this good?

I don't think it is, simply because the Ducks haven't played unusual games. What I mean by that is while they've played well, there hasn't been any bizarre circumstances that have led to Anderson's great numbers.

He has one shutout and Anaheim's defense has allowed an average of just under 28 shots on goal per game during the five game stretch that Anderson has played in.

And out of the five games they've won, three of them have been by only one goal.

It has been your average, garden-variety five-game winning streak. And while there's plenty of credit to go around (Getzlaf, Perry, Karlsson, etc.), Anderson has been a breathe of fresh air and has brought some much-needed stability to our goaltending situation.

Jonas Hiller never did that. J.S. Giguere wasn't able to do that after the Stanley Cup run in 2007.

So maybe Anderson is our guy, and maybe he's good enough to go the distance.

Time will tell, but the performance thus far has been nearly perfect.

2. The Young Guys Have Come to Play

Has anyone noticed that Sami Vatanen leads Anaheim defenders in scoring?

His two goals have both come on the powerplay to go along with three assists, which are numbers that you'd have to consider a bonus when you look at preseason expectations for the young defender.

Vatanen has earned himself a spot on the team's first powerplay line, and is quickly becoming one of the most integral pieces of Anaheim's powerplay as a whole, who's 25 percent conversion rate ranks ninth in the NHL.

Another kid who is getting time on the first powerplay unit is William Karlsson, who has made his presence felt with a two-goal game in Buffalo, helping to boost Anaheim's 5-1 takedown of the Sabres.

He's been held scoreless outside of that game.

That said, his offensive upside still looks to be significant. If he makes a habit of showing up on the scoresheet (and he's got the shot to do it), that would make the Ducks lineup extremely well-stocked in the middle of the ice. We haven't even mentioned Andrew Cogliano and Rickard Rakell.

Also if you want to stretch the term "youngster" a bit, Matt Beleskey has contributed four goals already.

His career high is nine.

3. The Powerplay

It's tough to brag about your powerplay when the Penguins are converting nearly 50 percent of their chances.

But the Ducks have looked great with the man-advantage, cashing in on 25 percent of their opportunities. Though three of the team's six powerplay goals have come off the stick of Corey Perry, the Ducks have a lot of skill dispersed between their two powerplay lines. And that's without Dany Heatley or Patrick Maroon, who are both hurt.

Heatley had a rough go in Minnesota, but his return should still make Anaheim a better powerplay team. Who else (other than the Penguins and maybe the Dallas Stars) has that much talent to throw at teams who take penalties?

Look for Ryan Getzlaf to be moved to the point again (where he played on the powerplay already this year) while Heatley takes one of the wing spots.

A Look Forward

So far so good, right?

You couldn't ask for much more to go our way this early in the season. Even Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan Kesler are at the top of the stat sheet. All is well in the hockey world of Orange County.

But what are their chances of keeping it up?

Anaheim's goaltending situation looks to be solved for the meantime and as long as they're getting production from younger players to boost an already solid performance from their top two lines, they're a team that nobody wants to play.

If the Ducks finish strong in October, they've got nine of 13 games in November at home, giving them a real chance to solidify their spot at the top of the NHL as the season's sample size grows.

The future is bright folks.

Bring on Los Angeles, and keep starting Anderson.

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Matt Beleskey's Role in the Anaheim Ducks Offense: Has He Earned a Top Line Spot?

Oct 16, 2014
Matt Beleskey's Role in the Anaheim Ducks Offense: Has He Earned a Top Line Spot?

In case you didn't get the memo, Dany Heatley has not been in the Anaheim Ducks lineup since the second-to-last game of the team's preseason.

He's also not likely to return to the team until October 26th, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In his absence, winger Matt Beleskey has been skating with Anaheim's top line alongside Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, tallying three goals on 10 shots in the team's first four games, all of which have been on the road.

It's not the first time that Beleskey has skated with the Ducks two most prolific goal-scorers. It is, however, a remarkably productive start for Beleskey who has never scored more than 11 goals in a given season and no more than nine since 2009 (

It's predictable that he would be replacing Heatley on the left wing since they are two of the few forwards on Anaheim's roster that shoot left.

The question is, will he keep his spot when Heatley returns?

Beleskey's Style

Beleskey is not what you would consider a finesse guy or a playmaker. He's also not much of a speedster and is a little too small (6ft. 204 lbs.) to be a considered a true power forward. How the coaching staff views him seems to change, as he's played on each of the Ducks four lines since he began spending significant time at the NHL level in 2009.

So if you look at his style of play, he doesn't really strike you as a first line guy. In the past he's scored a few goals here and there, got into a few fights and benefited statistically from some time playing with Perry and Getzlaf.

But doesn't he seem like more of an enforcer than anything else?

I mean, take away the fighting and you've got, I dunno...a poor man's Joe Sacco.

Which is not to say that Beleskey is a bad player or that he's not "worthy" of first line playing time, but it's just not his M.O. It's not the role that he's cultivated or the player he's become over the years.

A Surge of Offense?

Remember Daniel Winnik's start to the shortened 2012-2013 season? If you look at his game log from that year, he scored five goals in the Ducks first four games.

Everyone loved him.

He would score one the rest of the year.

That's not to take anything away from Winnik, but he and Beleskey are comparable in terms of style and production. They're good for depth, but they're not what you would consider De Facto first line players.

Matt Beleskey's Role in the Anaheim Ducks Offense: Has He Earned a Top Line Spot?
Thus Winnik's situation should give us some perspective on Beleskey's productive start to the beginning of this season.

Yes, it's great to see him score. But it's likely not going to be sustained.

We can and should hope for that to happen, but at this point it's too early to assume we're looking at an offensive renaissance for Beleskey.

Heatley's Upside

Lastly, we've got to acknowledge that despite the fact Beleskey is making $350,000 more than Heatley this year (how the mighty have fallen), Heatley still has far more offensive upside. And after a decent preseason he should still be the sworn No. 1 left winger on the team until he falters.

In other words, it's Heatley's job to lose.

Unless Beleskey really starts to take off and put up some significant numbers, I'd expect Bruce Boudreau to give the top left wing spot back to Heatley when he returns on October 26th, especially since the Ducks will be playing one of his former teams, the San Jose Sharks.

Food for thought: Patrick Maroon also shoots left.

He's also injured.

Per Eric Stephens, he'll be out for four weeks.

Glad Ducks hockey is back folks. Hit me up over at Twitter if you want to talk about it.

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Anaheim Ducks Win Three of their First Four Games on the Road: Thoughts and Takeaways

Oct 15, 2014
Anaheim Ducks Win Three of their First Four on the Road: Thoughts and Takeaways

It looks like the Anaheim Ducks are picking up where they left off after a pitiable effort against the Los Angeles Kings in game seven of last season's Western Conference Semi-Finals.

Anaheim was and is a better team then that game would indicate.

They were a dominant team that won the Western Conference during the regular season and put up the best year in the team's short history.

They even topped the 2006-2007 Anaheim team, winning more games and posting a better regular season record.

No Chris Pronger or Scott Niedermayer.

Through the first four games of this season (all on the road) the Ducks look every bit as dominant as last year and again seem primed for a deep playoff run.

So what can we take away from the Ducks start to the season now that they're heading back to Anaheim for their home opener?

Here are a few things that stand out to me.

Frederik Anderson is our guy.

It might be hasty, but it's hard to ignore the way Frederik Anderson has played, combined with the two horrible games that John Gibson turned in, both in Pittsburgh at the beginning of this season and last season in game seven against the Kings.

While Gibson has had flashes of brilliance, and will likely continue to get chances this year, I think it's easy to see that Anderson is the guy we need to have in net at this point.

Anderson's 2014-2015 Stats


There's just not a large enough sample size from Gibson to have him in net on a regular basis.

Let him build experience as Anderson's formal backup and see if he develops into the kind of goaltender that can handle 60 games a year.

In the meantime Anderson looks solid, having posted three wins, a 1.95 GAA and .928 save percentage. Those numbers are impossible to ignore, especially when you look at how consistent and reliable Anderson was last year.

So let the guy play. He's earned it.

William Karlsson might be the real deal.

You probably noticed William Karlsson's two-goal game against the Buffalo Sabres and then his shootout game winner against the Philadelphia Flyers a couple days later.

That's got him on the map and undoubtedly on the good side of the Ducks coaching staff.

Also worth noting: Karlsson has been in the Ducks farm system since 2011 when he was drafted 53rd overall. That's a long time to develop and prepare for the NHL, which means he should be ripe for a bigger offensive role this year.

If the production from Karlsson keeps up, that's another element of offense that Bruce Boudreau can use, in addition to the tremendous skill that he's already deploying on his top two lines.

As of October 14th, Karlsson was centering the third line with Andrew Cogliano and Jakob Silfverberg (according to DailyFaceoff).

All three of those guys can score.

The Power Play looks solid.

Through three games Anaheim's powerplay ranks 12th in the league, converting at 23.5 percent.

Most of that success is due to Corey Perry, who has three of the team's four powerplay goals.

If you've watched Anaheim's powerplay this year, they just look to be incredibly well-synced, with good offensive possession, quick passing and lots of scoring chances.

That should all continue as the Ducks are set to get Dany Heatley back from injury. If the powerplay units develop more chemistry as the season wears on, it wouldn't be surprising to see Anaheim climb well into the league's top-ten in that category.


The Ducks have scored at least three goals in all of their first four games, all of which have been on the road.

That's a good sign for an offense that has had a lot of turnover since this time last year, and should indicate that the Ducks will continue to be offensively productive during the upcoming five-game home-stand that opens Friday night against the Minnesota Wild.

And while it's certainly sad to see Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu no longer in the NHL, it doesn't appear that Anaheim's offensive numbers will suffer as a result.

Time will tell, but so far so good.

Moving Forward

We knew going into the season that the Ducks success would be largely dependent on how their young players would be able to contribute and whether or not their top-two lines could keep pace with last year's league-leading 3.21 goals per game.

Will the team that was one point shy of the President's Trophy be able to make another run at the Western Conference and handle teams like Los Angeles and Chicago in the post season?

It's a small sample size, but if you're a Ducks fan, you've got to like what you've seen thus far.

Keep it up fellas.

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Francois Beauchemin's 2014-2015 Outlook and Projections

Oct 6, 2014
Francois Beauchemin's 2014-2015 Outlook and Projections

It's hard to say that the Anaheim Ducks "won" the trade that sent Joffrey Lupul and Jake Gardiner to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Francois Beauchemin, but it's also hard to say that I don't absolutely love having Beauchemin in a Duck's uniform.

Ever since coming over in the first trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets (the Sergei Fedorov deal) Beauchemin has become an incredibly important part of Anaheim's defensive system.

As he enters the 2014-2015 season at 34 years old, what can we expect from him?

Beauchemin's Role

Having been born in June of 1980 makes Beauchemin the oldest defenseman on the Ducks roster, by just a couple months, ahead of Bryan Allen and aside from Sheldon Souray, who is 38.

Since it's unclear when Souray will be able to play again, Beauchemin is not only the senior-most defender, but the senior-most player on Anaheim's roster. That gives him leadership responsibilities and will likely mean that he'll keep the alternate captain status that he's had during much of the preseason.

Expect Beauchemin to function as a mentor and stabilizing presence for young defenders Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen.

As of September 30th Beauchemin was paired with Lindholm on Anaheim's first defensive pairing.

If he continues to play there, expect him to get more involved in the team's offense and be a more productive scorer.

Shutdown Guy or Offensive Defenseman?

Historically, Beauchemin has been a tough, heavy-hitting, stay-at-home type of defender.

His best statistical season was 2005-2006 when he netted eight goals and 34 points. That said, he did manage six goals and 24 points in the 48-game 2012-2013 season. Prorating his totals that year gives him career-best numbers in both categories.

So while he's certainly known for defensive ability and physical play, we've seen flashes of offensive ability from Beauchemin, making him a bit of a mysterious hybrid between the two playing styles.

If he gets more time on the first defensive pairing and possibly the second power play unit, it's not unreasonable to expect those numbers to get closer to the 10-12 goal range and 30 to 40 points.

That might be what he needs to make a more realistic run at the Norris Trophy.

Norris Caliber?

Beauchemin's lack of statistical output is probably a large part of why he has been overlooked as a Norris candidate. At 34 years old, the window to win a Norris could be closing, unless we see him catch some interest as a more productive offensive defenseman.

Anaheim has a lot of power within their top two scoring lines, which is where Beauchemin will almost always be playing.

If that translates into more scoring, it makes sense to divide most of that production up between Cam Fowler, Lindholm and Beauchemin.

The specifics of the division is anyone's guess.

If Beauchemin makes a real bid at the Norris, he'll likely have to beat out both of his younger proteges and lead Ducks defenders in scoring.


So what do we expect from Beauchemin this year in numerical terms?

I wouldn't give him double digits in the goal-scoring department, but I think he will break the 40 point mark with so much talent around him, due largely to the Ducks powerplay.


If the powerplay doesn't do well, expect Beauchemin to digress in most statistical areas.

This group of defenders has had a couple years to get comfortable with one another, and with no offseason turnover should have a lot of congruency in the coming year.

Look for Beauchemin to cash in on that congruency and to benefit from the high scoring of Anaheim's top two lines..

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Dany Heatley Staying on the Anaheim Ducks Top Line?

Oct 1, 2014
Dany Heatley Staying on the Anaheim Ducks Top Line?

It's not exactly shocking to see Dany Heatley and Patrick Maroon atop the Anaheim Ducks depth chart at the left wing position. Because there aren't really a lot of guys on the team who shoot left. Heatley and Maroon are two of them that do.

Ever since Paul Kariya jumped ship, it never felt we've had a true left winger on the first line.

Sure, Chris Kunitz shot left, but was he ever an honest first-liner?

Maybe, maybe not.

On a serious note, Heatley at the top is something we saw coming, even before he turned out a decent preseason stat sheet with two goals and an assist.

Currently he's nursing a groin injury that will keep him out of the lineup at least one week.

In his absence, Maroon will carry the banner on the Ducks top line.

However, Heatley should be back for Anaheim's season opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins on October 9th.

The question is: Will Heatley keep his job on the top line?

Speed Issues

Heatley's speed was not good last season.

You might be able to blame it on the Minnesota Wild's system, but those who watched Heatley skate will tell you that he seemed like a shell of his former self. That might not be an issue on Anaheim's first line, since Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf aren't "speedsters" as much as finesse players.

An odd combination of power, physicality and finesse might be the best way to describe the Ducks first line. Heatley can make that work, but if he doesn't score and has trouble keeping up with his linemates, a demotion to a depth role wouldn't be surprising.

He'll likely need to do the most skating of that line since Getzlaf is a passer (the "quarterback" if you will) and Perry tends to make his living in front of the net.

In other words, Heatley's job will be to put the work into getting open.

Finishing and Scoring Touch

If he gets open, he'll be expected to score.

Remember, we're talking about him staying on the first line. Should he have difficulty scoring, Heatley loses value there as he's not considered to be a tremendously physical or defensive-minded forward.

Assuming that his production doesn't exceed what the team might believe Maroon is capable of, Heatley won't keep his top line role.

The Ducks might get to the point where they'd prefer the physicality and potential of Maroon to a washed up Heatley.

If indeed he appears to be washed up.

So he needs to score to earn his first line spot. If he doesn't do that, there's no compelling reason to keep him on the first line. He can't protect Getzlaf and Perry and he's not know for his defensive abilities.

Without a scoring touch, Heatley quickly becomes expendable.

Left-Handed Shots?

The degree to which Bruce Boudreau values having a left-handed shot at the left wing position could have a modest impact on Heatley's first line staying power.

According to the Daily Faceoff, Boudreau has Perry, Jakob Silfverberg, Maroon and Devante Smith-Pelly on the right wing. Maroon is the only left-handed shooting exception.

Heatley, Matt Beleskey, Andrew Cogliano and Kyle Palmieri are playing on the left wing.

On that side, Palmieri is the only left-handed outlier.

So it would seem that Boudreau is likely to lineup handedness with position, at least in part. Though it's also possible that Palmieri's position on the left side could be in anticipation of his eventual spot on the first line, possibly if Heatley needed to be replaced.

Palmieri has a lot of potential and is a player to keep an eye on if you're wondering how Boudrea feels about Heatley.

Thoughts on Heatley?

It's possible that Heatley could carry his success in the preseason over to the regular season. It's also not crazy to think that he could be replaced by one of Anaheim's younger wingers.

Which scenario do you think is the most likely?

Let me know over at Twitter.

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3 Things to Like About the Anaheim Ducks 2014 Preseason

Sep 29, 2014
3 Things to Like About the Anaheim Ducks 2014 Preseason

The Anaheim Ducks need three things to happen this year to be as successful as they were a season ago.

First, they need solid goaltending from either John Gibson or Frederik Anderson.

Second, they need to replace the exodus of last year's offensive players with solid contributions from Dany Heatley and their young forwards; namely, Emerson Etem.

In a small sample size, all three of those things have happened during Anaheim's 2014 preseason.

And yes, they also lost four out of the five games they played.

The little details are killin' us.

Let's focus on the positive for the time being.

It's not breathtakingly exciting, but the preseason has given us glimpses of good news and could reflect positive changes to the Ducks play during the regular season. Here are the highlights.

1. Frederik Anderson's Shutout

It's still not entirely certain whether Anaheim will routinely go with one of either Gibson or Anderson. Yet with more experience in the league, one could assume that Anderson is likely to get the first shot at the job in what will otherwise be a timeshare in net.

To see him play well against the Colorado Avalanche is great news for Ducks fans. He stopped 27 shots playing the full game and leading Anaheim to a 4-0 win.

Anderson didn't play again until September 28th, letting by four goals and losing to the Los Angeles Kings.

That was the Ducks final preseason game.

It's a small sample size, but we'll take a 2.00 GAA and one shutout for Anderson considering how often Anaheim was able to score last year.

2. Dany Heatley's Production

Heatley has been touted as a brilliant signing by the Ducks because of his contract low-risk contract (one year, $1 million) and his offensive upside.

What's more, it didn't take much ice time for Heatley to start showing shades of his former self.

48 seconds into the Ducks first preseason game, he scored on an assist from Ryan Getzlaf.

Dany Heatley's 2014 Preseason Stats


Heatley finishing with two goals in four games is excellent news for the Ducks as they're counting on him to come up with at least some offense, even if it's not a carbon copy of his years in Ottawa and San Jose.

In that regard, you've got to like his early production.

3. Emerson Etem's Production

Along with Heatley,  Etem is another player that is expected to put up numbers as he's likely to spend a lot of time at the NHL level this year in an increased role with the team.

Like Heatley, Etem has managed two goals in the Ducks four preseason games, making him a notable offensive presence.

Etem will get a chance to play, especially early in the year.

If he keeps this up, you've got to like his chances to stay in the lineup and be a contender for one of the Ducks top-six forward spots.

Your thoughts on the preseason?

How do you feel about Anaheim's preseason? Should we be concerned about four straight losses? It's not all bright and sunny for the Ducks, so let me know how you feel over at Twitter.

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