Time to talk Duck. We asked Jen Neale from Anaheim Calling to come in and be our Ducks expert for the day. Well when we say 'come in' we mean we sent her seven fantasy questions related to the Ducks and she was nice enough to send us back some answers. Check them out below.
Make sure you pay AC a visit as well. They are running their own fantasy league so if you like your fantasy puck and you like the Ducks you should check it out.
If you're interested in FHS' breakout picks and fantasy take on the Ducks check out our draft kit which includes The Breakout Bible, the Fantasy Scouting Report (with SuperStats included) and our Fantasy Prospect Database.
BY JEN NEALE FROM ANAHEIM CALLING
Q1) Anaheim Ducks Breakout of the Year?
Cam Fowler had a great rookie season (if you ignore his abysmal +/- rating). Considering he had HUGE skates to fill by essentially taking over for Scott Neidermayer, I'd say he did pretty well. With that in mind, and a year under C4 Kid Dynamite's belt, he could post similar numbers to Lubomir Visnovsky last season (68 points, +18 rating). If you've never seen the kid skate in person, it's a thing of beauty. He really is the second coming of Scotty. So poised and rarely rattled. It still shocks me that the Draft Gods let him drop so far to us. I think we've used up our good-draft Karma for the next 10 years.
Q2) Darkhorse Breakout on Ducks?
With the top two lines being pretty much settled (assuming Selanne returns), you have to look deep into the roster to find someone that could break out. At first I was going to go with Andrew Cogliano seeing as he's playing with a far better team this season. Then I realized that he's going to have a revolving door of wingers on either side of him that makes stability very difficult. Of those revolving wingers, that is where you're going to find your darkhorse. Most people are going with Kyle Palmieri. Don't get me wrong, he's a fantastic prospect/AHL-er, but his size is going to be a problem with the big boys. He's listed at 5'10" and that must be in skates. I'm 5'8" and he is just about eye-level with me. After 10 games with the Ducks last season, he was ineffective. My pick is going to flabbergast most Ducks fans, but I'm going with Brandon McMillan. It takes a lot for a rookie to get on Randy Carlyle's radar. Most of the time he dresses the kids, lets them play a shift or two on the fourth line and then sits them for the rest of the game. As a rookie last season, McMuffin (as we call him) did everything - power plays, penalty kills, on the ice late in to tight games, etc. To put that into perspective, Bobby Ryan as a rookie was rarely allowed to do any of that. He's barely allowed to do it now with all of Carlyle's line juggling but he manages to score 30+ goals a year.
Q3) League-Wide Breakout of the Year?
Duck Hunter Loui Eriksson. He's been slowly making his climb to elite status, and has been destroying my team every step of the way. I always hope he comes down with the flu each time the Stars play the Ducks. Last season, he had at least a point in each game versus the Ducks. I knew the moment he was going to be a star shaped thorn (spur?) in my side when he easily scored his first career hat-trick against the Ducks years ago. He is so damn good. I hate him. Hate him with a passion, but dammit I respect him.
Q4) Player likely to Breakdown on Ducks?
I absolutely adore Lubomir Visnovsky. Next to Ilya Bryzgalov, he's one of the best post-game interviews in the world. He had a career season last year only to be hurt in the playoffs after running into teammate Francois Beauchamin and injuring his shoulder. He is extremely fragile. There were a few times last season he'd take a big hit, crumple to the ice, and miss 10-15 minutes back in the locker room. The good news is that he only missed one game during the season, but the bad news is that he's getting older. Now that he's shown how lethal he can be offensively, he's going to be targeted. Those big blue eyes and glistening smile can't protect him.
Q5) Best Fantasy Prospect on Ducks?
I really think California native (and 2010 feel-good draft story) Emerson Etem is going to be a star. I've seen him skate a few times and he is obscenely fast. Naturally, Etem's speed and pure scoring ability has anointed him the second coming of Teemu Selanne. After a rough pre-season last year, he was sent back to juniors where he exploded for 45 goals and 35 assists. Granted, it is the WHL, but I'll take my chances. He's been playing a lot over the summer with the USA national team. Keeping in "game shape" throughout the off-season helped Corey Perry win the Hart. I can only assume that Emerson doing the same will make him even better in camp, and seriously contend for a roster spot.
Q6) How do you see Ducks Goalie Situation playing out this year?
Next to Selanne's decision, the goalie story line is the only other topic to send me into therapy. All reports coming from the Ducks are that Jonas Hiller is back in Switzerland, vertigo-free, and has been skating for about a month. That's great news, but it doesn't mean that he's up to game speed. Who knows if we're ever going to see the same Jonas Hiller again. Our backup is Dan Ellis. People are much higher on Ellis than I am. The first goal scored on him as a Duck was dribbler through the five-hole when he was about 12 feet away from his crease. Makes me nauseous just thinking about it. I would feel more comfortable having Ray Emery back up Jonas, but he's waaay too expensive and has earned a job as a starter. If Jonas is truly over the vertigo, and can handle being the Ducks workhorse again, I like our chances. Otherwise, it's hope and pray that Ellis holds on and former Oiler Jeff Deslauriers is a sturdy backup to the backup.
Q7) Is Teemu Selanne playing this season? If not, who takes his spot on the 2nd line?
Well, right now, we don't know if Teemu is playing. Yet, I am very hopeful. He's back in So Cal, and from all accounts, skating regularly. He told the Orange County Register that if he can "skate normally" for five straight days (I'm assuming that means without pain) then we'll see him in the lineup come the opening of training camp on September 16th. The more this story plays out, the more I'm beginning to realize that the 2011-12 Ducks are living or dying based on Selanne's decision. GM Bob Murray has left about $5-ish million on the internal budget set by the owners and that's all pegged as Teemu money. This sounds dramatic, but sadly it's so true, if Teemu doesn't come back this season, the team implodes. The second line, traditionally Selanne-Koivu-Blake is left to find someone that has at least 1/2 the talent that Selanne does. Saku Koivu has shown that he can be plugged into the lineup with anyone, and make it work. Jason Blake, on the other hand, is just a crappy contract and not much else. $5M this late in the offseason isn't going to get you any quality free agent wingers because most have been signed. That would leave the Ducks with the only option - trading. Other GM's are going to see that Bob Murray is really in a bind and will want a TON of quality prospects/draft picks in return for anyone of marginal ability. As long as Selanne comes back for one more season (or at least half a season), that buys the Ducks some time to figure out how to fill the hole NEXT season when he's really, for sure, retired. As for who plays on the second line if he hangs it up this season (knock on wood)? It probably will be Bobby Ryan, Koivu and Jesus? Hell if I know.
Thanks to Jen. If you have any more questions about the Ducks fire them off in the comments and we (or maybe Jen) will give them a crack.