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Questions for the Ducks

Jonas Hiller Teemu Selanne #8 and goaltender Jona Hiller #1 of the Anaheim Ducks celebrate their win over the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wachovia Center on October 10, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Ducks defeated the Flyers 3-2 in the shoot out. This offseason for the Anaheim Ducks has been, like a few previous offseasons, full of questions.  It seems like the themes continue to repeat.  Retirement?  Goaltending?  Depth?  Defense?  As other teams continue to build and remodel their squads, the Ducks have had to do a bit of tinkering themselves.  Here are some of the question marks that have presented themselves throughout this past offseason, some of which still remain as we get closer to the start of training camp.
  Will Selanne come back...again?  Yes, this one.  While to some it might be starting to get old, no one should be complaining that we are still asking ourselves this, simply because it means that 'yes' is still a possible answer.  This season, he has postponed any decision making until closer to training camp as he waits to see how his left knee will react after having surgery on it.  While Carlyle and Murray have assured fans that they have a Plan B in place should Selanne call it quits, us fans should be crossing our fingers that we never have to find out what that Plan B is.  So far, the signs bode well for those of us that want to see the Finnish Flash back in action, as Teemu has reported that he continues rehabbing his knee in the hopes of playing another year.  I would also like to petition for the chant 'one more year' to be changed to 'five more years.'  Who's to say he cannot do it?

        Will Hiller be healthy?  This is another biggie.  Hiller is, without question, the Ducks best option in the crease.  While Emery and Ellis held down the fort at the end of last season, it will be important for Hiller to reclaim his number one job.  So far, reports have been positive.  Hiller has been training with a Swiss team back home and has said he is feeling good.  While this is all incredible news, I still hold reservations until seeing him in training camp.  While this has to be taken one step at a time, it's difficult to ignore the long-term question:  will whatever unknown cause of Hiller's vertigo flare up again down the road?

        What will the bottom six look like?  It seems like this has been a question ever since the Ducks lost the phenomenal shutdown line of Pahlsson, Niedermayer, and Moen.  There has been quite a rotation of players  through the third line openings, many of whom are no longer with the team.  Anaheim is a top heavy team; there is no question that the top talent is dangerous.  The third line, however, has been questionable at times. With the loss of veteran center, Todd Marchant, to retirement, it seems like there are quite a few holes to fill. 
         This offseason saw the Ducks acquire Andrew Cogliano, who will hopefully fill one of those holes nicely.  Beyond that, I look forward to seeing training camp, where some of the Ducks' youngsters could serve as a pleasant surprise ( Smith-Pelley, Etem, Holland...I'm looking at you).  Of course, the Ducks won't want to rush any of their prospects, but it will still be fun to keep an eye on them.

        How will the youngsters look?  The Ducks were incredibly fortunate to see Cam Fowler fall to twelve in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.  He made the jump straight to the NHL and served as a bright spot on a shaky defensive corps.  While his minus-25 is definitely something to improve upon, he exhibited good poise, beautiful skating, and a certain polish that you would not expect a teenage rookie to have.  Other youngsters to keep an eye on include defenseman Luca Sbisa and forward Brandon McMillan.  Last year, we saw Sbisa's physical game improve and McMillan earn a spot with the big club after some solid play, including his play on the penalty kill.  If these young guns manage to improve in the upcoming season, there should be some exciting hockey to watch.

        So, just as with many previous offseasons, there are some significant questions surrounding the team.  If the Ducks have the Ageless Wonder, Teemu Selanne, back, a healthy Hiller, and the team's depth proves to be solid, Anaheim could probably do a bit of damage come playoffs.  Even with these uncertainties, the Ducks should most certainly be a team to watch this season.

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