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2016-17 NHL Season Preview: Anaheim Ducks

2016-17 NHL Season Preview: Anaheim Ducks

It still feels like the season just ended, but with the draft and free agency already behind us, it's time to look forward to the 2016-17 season. We will preview every team in the NHL throughout August and take a look at what the new season may hold.

Team: Anaheim Ducks

How they did last season: 46-25-11 (103 points), 1st in the Pacific. Lost in seven games to the Nashville Predators in the first round.

Notable acquisitions: Jonathan Bernier, Randy Carlyle

Notable departures: Jamie McGinn, David Perron, Chris Stewart, Frederik Andersen, Bruce Boudreau

When they will play the Caps: Feb. 11 in Washington, March 12 in Anaheim

RELATED: DO THE CAPS HAVE A BACK-UP PLAN WITHOUT ORLOV?

Analysis: In the midst of a horrendous slump, Bruce Boudreau changed tactics midseason to a more defensive style that saw his team surge up the standings and win the division. The change ultimately did not work in the playoffs, however, and Boudreau saw his team ousted early in the postseason. Pop quiz, was this the 2015-16 Anaheim Ducks or the 2010-11 Washington Capitals?

Unfortunately for one of the NHL's most likeable coaches, his time in Anaheim played out in much the same way as it did in Washington and his lack of playoff success ultimately cost him his job. Now the Ducks will turn to the coach who led this team to their only Stanley Cup victory in franchise history, Randy Carlyle.

Besides declaring John Gibson the franchise goalie by trading away Frederik Andersen, the Ducks did little to bolster their roster this summer. Instead, general manager Bob Murray is relying almost solely on Carlyle's hire to bring this team back to championship contention.

The good news is that Carlyle will not be starting from scratch. Anaheim still boasts stars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. The Ducks also finished last season with the fewest goals allowed in the NHL and both the top power play and penalty kill.

Carlyle, however, is a coach that comes with question marks regarding his style of coaching.

While in Toronto it became painfully obvious that the modern NHL had passed Carlyle by. He was only able to lead the Maple Leafs to the postseason once in his tenure there and it happened in the lockout-shortened 2013 season.

Carlyle may have been able to win a Stanley Cup in Anaheim with Getzlaf and Perry in 2007, but he also had two Hall of Fame defensemen in Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger. For Murray to hope Anaheim can have the same success with the team's former coach seems shortsighted, especially when it's unclear just what kind of a coach Carlyle will be.

Has he changed from Toronto? How? What will he do differently in Anaheim?

The Ducks were an offensive-minded team that changed to a defensive one midseason and has now changed its coach. Anaheim is a team in need of an identity and they brought in a coach whose own identity now seems unclear. This does not sound like a recipe for success.

Season prediction: It seems far too simplistic to believe that because Carlyle was able to win a Stanley Cup with Getzlaf and Perry in 2007, he can do it again now. Those were different teams and Carlyle is a different coach. When comparing Carlyle to Boudreau, yes only one of those coaches has a Stanley Cup to his record, but which coach has enjoyed more success in the NHL since 2007?

Anaheim has decided to rely on 31-year-olds Getzlaf and Perry, a 23-year-old Gibson in net and Carlyle behind the bench. They made no upgrades to the roster and arguably downgraded at coach and somehow this team is supposed to be better? I don't buy it.

Anaheim's run atop the division will end this season. If the Ducks makes the playoffs, and that's a major if at this point, it will be as a wild card team. Even then, Carlyle will struggle to rekindle the magic of the 2007 postseason and Anaheim will be left to wonder whether their championship window has already closed.

MORE HOCKEY: WHERE DOES STANISLAV GALIEV FIT IN?

See other team previews:

Pacific Division
— Anaheim Ducks
— Arizona Coyotes
— Calgary Flames
— Edmonton Oilers
— Los Angeles Kings
— San Jose Sharks
— Vancouver Canucks

Central Division
— Chicago Blackhawks
— Colorado Avalanche
— Dallas Stars
— Minnesota Wild
— Nashville Predators
— St. Louis Blues
— Winnipeg Jets

Atlantic Division
— Boston Bruins
— Buffalo Sabres
— Detroit Red Wings
Florida Panthers 
Montreal Canadiens (coming Aug. 19)
Ottawa Senators (coming Aug. 20)
Tampa Bay Lightning (coming Aug. 21)
Toronto Maple Leafs (coming Aug. 22)

Metropolitan Division
Carolina Hurricanes (coming Aug. 23)
Columbus Blue Jackets (coming Aug. 24)
New Jersey Devils (coming Aug. 25)
New York Islanders (coming Aug. 26)
New York Rangers (coming Aug. 27)
Philadelphia Flyers (coming Aug. 28)
Pittsburgh Penguins (coming Aug. 29)
Washington Capitals (coming Aug. 30)

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The human side of the NHL's trade deadline

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USA TODAY Sports

The human side of the NHL's trade deadline

Congratulations! You just got a new job. There’s just one catch: it’s in a new city.

Oh, and by the way, you start tomorrow. Good luck.

That would be a pretty big shock for anyone, but it is the reality that hockey players constantly face and one that is exacerbated as the trade deadline approaches.

“I know fans and media get really excited about it, but they're not the ones that have to pick up and move their families,” Brooks Orpik said following Sunday’s practice. “I think players are looked at as kind of objects at times, just a number. People don't know there's a human side to trades.”

This season’s NHL trade deadline is 3 p.m. on Monday. Until then, every locker room faces a degree of uncertainty.

RELATED: KEMPNY GETS QUICK PROMOTION TO THE TOP-FOUR

Almost no player or prospect is untouchable. Even if there are no rumors surrounding a team or things seem set, the threat of a trade hangs over the heads of the players like the sword of Damocles until the deadline finally comes and goes.

Even for those players who know they won’t be moved or who can’t be moved because of various clauses in their contracts, it still remains a stressful time as they could still see friends shipped to another city.

“I think what happens on that day is all the players, as soon as they get off the ice at morning skate, they're all looking at their phones and trying to see what happens,” Barry Trotz said. “They want to see what happens around the league.”

Sure, a player can go from a last place team to a contender. On the surface, they should be happy. Behind the scenes, however, midseason trades always carry family implications.

“It's tough on guys,” Orpik said. “Guys have kids in schools or have roots in the community of the teams they play for. As fun as it is for some people, I think as players it can definitely be nerve-wracking for people.”

MORE CAPITALS: TRADE TO CAPS POTENTIALLY OFFERS JERABEK WHAT HE NEVER GOT IN MONTREAL

When those trades do happen, they obviously can throw a player’s life upside-down.

For those players who are not traded, the team has to adjust both to losing familiar faces and to embracing new ones into the locker room.

“When someone comes into a new group, it's not much changed except for obviously a new piece,” Jay Beagle said. “But it's definitely harder on them so you try to make it as easy as possible on them.”

Thus far, the Capitals have added defensemen Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek over the past week. While both trades were done in exchange for draft picks, Taylor Chorney was a casualty of the trades as he was placed on waivers to make room for the new additions and was claimed by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“It's tough losing guys, especially guys that are well-liked in our room,” Orpik said. “Taylor Chorney is a really well-liked guy so I think that impacted us a little bit.”

On Monday, fans, analysts, players and coaches alike will all be frantically checking their phones looking for the latest trade news, but while the deadline brings excitement for fans, it bears very different feelings for the players involved. Those players are people working a job and those trades mean uprooting their life in a matter of days. Regardless of whether a player is better off in terms of the team situation, there is still a human cost to doing business.

“It can affect certain guys because their names are obviously spread all over the place,” Trotz said. “They're human too. They pretend to not hear it, but they do.”

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Michal Kempny already promoted to top-four at Sunday's practice

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USA TODAY Sports

Michal Kempny already promoted to top-four at Sunday's practice

After two games, it looks like Michal Kempny is already moving up in the lineup.

At Sunday’s practice, Kempny played on the team's second defensive pairing, lining up on the left of John Carlson. Previously, the Czech defenseman had been playing on the right of Brooks Orpik. The move to the left allows him to play on his natural side as he is a left-handed shot.

Here are the pairs from Sunday’s practice:

Dmitry Orlov – Matt Niskanen
Michal Kempny – John Carlson
Brooks Orpik – Christian Djoos
Jakub Jerabek – Madison Bowey

Acquired on Monday from the Chicago Blackhawks, Kempny has played in two games for the Capitals and has received glowing reviews thus far.

“He's a really good pro, that's what sticks out,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “He takes care of himself, he works at his game off the ice and with the guys, he has fit in very well.”

RELATED: THE TRADE TO WASHINGTON OFFERS JERABEK THE CHANCE HE NEVER SEEMED TO GET IN MONTREAL

“I've gotten to play a little bit with [Kempny] the last couple games,” Brooks Orpik said. “I think he's a guy that, he moves pretty well and he moves the puck pretty well and likes to keep things pretty simple. He's very consistent and predictable so he's very easy to play with.”

When the Capitals first acquired Kempny, it seemed like the best fit for him would be alongside Carlson. It’s a natural fit with Kempny being a left-shot and Carlson a righty. It also bumps down Christian Djoos to a third-pair role which is preferable to having a rookie in the top-four come the playoffs.

Should Kempny play well with Carlson, that would likely solidify Washington’s top two pairs. The Orlov-Niskanen pair was not going to be changed and Carlson was going to be on the second pair. The only question was who would ultimately play with him in the postseason?

The third pair, however, remains a work in progress.

The Caps will have to wait at least another day for the debut of their second recent acquisition as Jakub Jerabek cannot yet play due to visa issues and will miss Monday's game, reports Isabelle Khurshudyan.

Considering the issues Washington has had on defense, they would not have brought in another defenseman just to be a healthy scratch. He will get his shot to earn a spot in the lineup.

With two new defensemen in tow, obviously the team will need to experiment over the next few days and weeks to find the right combinations.

“We're going to have to probably spend at least the next 10 to 12 games doing that and then we'll have to sort of settle in,” Trotz said. “With eight defenseman, you sort of want to see which guys you’re going to play and who to play as partners and sort of a little bit of ranking. If someone goes down, who's filling that extra role?”

MORE CAPITALS: WHY THERE'S NO REASON FOR CAPS FANS TO WORRY