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Poll: What is the biggest concern for the Ducks?

Aug 5, 2014, 2:32 PM EDT

Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry Getty Images

On paper, the Anaheim Ducks sure do look like a threat in the Western Conference. General manager Bob Murray went out and added a huge piece down the middle in Ryan Kesler, they have promise in goal with budding prospect John Gibson, and veterans such as Dany Heatley will add depth to the forward group.

However, some of those previously mentioned positives could just as easily turn into glaring concerns for the Ducks, who were ousted by the L.A. Kings in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs in May. Anaheim hasn’t been past the second round of the playoffs since it won the Cup in 2007.

What happens if Kesler, who has not played a full season since 2010-11, continues to have injury troubles? Since almost single-handedly willing the Vancouver Canucks past the Nashville Predators during the second round of the 2011 playoffs, Kesler has suffered a torn labrum, a shoulder injury, a wrist injury and a broken foot. He has not come near the career-high of 41 goals he set during the aforementioned 2010-11 season either.

In goal, Gibson showed signs this past season that he could be a NHL starter, but lets face it, the sample size is extremely small. Gibson appeared in three regular season games in April, winning all three starts and then made four playoff appearances while going 2-2. With the departure of Jonas Hiller, Murray appears to be content going young in goal; however, it could easily backfire. What happens if the young tandem of Gibson and 24-year-old Frederik Andersen doesn’t pan out? Anaheim is left with 34-year-old veteran Jason Labarbera to be the savior? Labarbera is with his fourth different team in four years.

On the blue line, the Ducks certainly have pieces in the likes of Cam Fowler and Francois Beauchemin, but where is that stud defenseman? Where is their Duncan Keith or Zdeno Chara? It’s a question even Murray asked recently: “You watch the Kings, for example, and you watch how Drew Doughty has emerged as a superstar. Do we have a defenseman who can be that way? When we won the Stanley Cup, we had Scotty (Niedermayer) and Chris (Pronger). That’s in the back of my mind all the time.”

Behind the bench, Bruce Boudreau is fast earning the distinction of not being able to get it done when it matters most. He took the Washington Capitals to the playoffs in each of his first four seasons as head coach before being fired during the 2011-12 season. In Anaheim, after missing the playoffs in 2012, the Ducks have made them in back-to-back seasons; however, with a roster like theirs, simply making them is not good enough. Does Boudreau have what it takes to get this lineup to the conference final and beyond? It’s something he’s never done at the NHL level.

So, Ducks fans, what’s your biggest concern heading into the 2014-15 season?

Related: Looking to make the leap: John Gibson

  1. 19to77 - Aug 5, 2014 at 3:18 PM

    Overall somewhat thin defense compared to recent winners. Adding that elite #1 defender would go miles to making them a top contender. Considering Gibson kept it together and played calm and well being dropped headfirst into the pressure-cooker of playoff hockey, I’m not worried about how he’ll handle a full season in the NHL. He’s ready. Andersen’s already shown so too. Boudreau needs to learn to show confidence and patience in one or the other, though. He has to get over his urge to yank goalies at the first sign of trouble. He’s made that mistake with both NHL teams he’s coached now. Guy’s gonna need to be sure who’s The Man in net before the playoffs start this time around.

  2. dannymac17 - Aug 5, 2014 at 4:40 PM

    The LA Kings I would assume.

  3. areaman714 - Aug 5, 2014 at 4:45 PM

    They have soon-to-be stud defensemen. Unfortunately, they are all 22 and under. Stoner should help to keep the skaters from being pushed around.

  4. vbcaps - Aug 5, 2014 at 5:16 PM

    Goaltending and/or defense. Having seen Gibson in the ahl locally, he looks like the real deal franchise goaltender

  5. phtjoey - Aug 5, 2014 at 5:28 PM

    How can a team that doesn’t have a) a stud d man b) proven experienced goalie c) a coach that can win it all, have a chance to win the SC? And a 2c who is injury prone…. doesn’t look good for the Ducks.

  6. jolink653 - Aug 5, 2014 at 8:36 PM

    Ducks just ran into the buzz saw that was the Kings in the playoffs, and might have even won that series if they defend better and Gaborik doesn’t tie Game 1 at the last second. They played well last year and haven’t lost much in the offseason.

    I think Gibson will go through the normal growing pains as a rookie goaltender but will ultimately be the franchise goalie. The defense is a bit suspect, but hopefully some of the younger guys continue to develop and can cover for that. I love the Kesler trade, and if he can stay healthy he can change the dynamic of this team depending on how Boudreau wants to set his lines. I’ll definitely miss Selanne; I just felt better when he was on the ice, but I think they’ll be able to replace his production. I think they’ll be in contention for the top spot in the West

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