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
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:
— 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)
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)