The next team we’re looking at in the 2023 Fantasy Hockey Team Preview is the Anaheim Ducks. They didn’t have the best season in 2022-23 but are going to at least be a little bit better in certain areas. They finished last in the league but also dealt with injuries. Some decent free agents were added and some younger players will have larger roles.
The Ducks will still be a bottom-of-the-league team, but that doesn’t mean there will be zero players with any fantasy impact. The team will have young players that will get more opportunities throughout the season. They will also have some veterans who will be traded and get to play with better players on better teams. There is a lot to get out of drafting or adding Ducks players in fantasy hockey this season. Now let’s get into each position and the fantasy value you can expect from players in Anaheim this season.
Anaheim Ducks Fantasy Hockey Preview
Ducks Leading the Charge
The Ducks could very well have seven forwards record 45-plus points this season, which makes them fantasy-relevant in some capacity. The players who will have a larger impact include the team’s two leading scorers and top-line players from last season, Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry. Zegras is still without a contract and things don’t look great. It doesn’t make much sense for the Ducks to hold firm on what they are reportedly offering him through the season. I can still see him being signed on a bridge deal before the season starts. He tied for the team lead in goals (23) and tied for the team lead in points (65). For a last-place team with horrible offense, this is pretty impressive.
Terry broke out two seasons ago for 37 goals and 67 points. He took a step back in goals (23) and points (61) because the team was worse and he missed 12 games. Both he and Zegras will only continue to get better and have a major impact on the Ducks. They are both must-own in fantasy and it would ease any doubt if Zegras gets a contract very soon. He will definitely be playing for his next contract regardless.
Adam Henrique was a great linemate for the two young first-liners last season. He did miss some time (20 games), but 22 goals and 38 points is impressive nonetheless. There’s no reason to think that he won’t play beside them again to at least start this season. The chemistry is there and he is someone to keep an eye on if so. He is also a trade candidate by the trade deadline. Depending on what team he gets traded to (if he does) and what line he’s on, his value could go up or down.
Second Line Impact of the Ducks
Frank Vatrano is similar to Henrique in the way that he could be a trade candidate this season, scores more goals than assists, and will get around 40-50 points. I expect him to play on the second or third line. If he plays higher, he’ll have two of Mason McTavish, Ryan Strome, and Alex Killorn to line up with. Killorn, Vatrano, and McTavish could do some damage. I could see the Ducks trying to up Vatrano’s trade value by playing him higher in the lineup.
Killorn signed in free agency, signifying that the Ducks do want some help with the offense. He would have led the Ducks in goals (27) and finished second in points (64) last season, albeit for a strong Tampa Bay Lightning team. He’ll be in the top six all season, but he might find it a bit tough to match his totals from last season. Killorn will definitely boost McTavish though.
McTavish played his rookie season for the Ducks in 2022-23 and it was a good one. He finished seventh in Calder Trophy voting and looked like he’s going to be impactful for the Ducks moving forward. With 17 goals and 43 points in a second/third-line role last season, expect to see him exclusively in the top six. As I mentioned, Killorn and better players will help him along nicely. He’s definitely also a sleeper to watch out for.
The last name, Strome, could be moved up if Zegras doesn’t start the season, or even be moved down as far as the third line if he does. It might depend on if he or Vatrano show more value as a top-six player early in the season. Strome has recorded 50 points three times in his career and put up 49 points in 56 games another season. He had a down season because the Ducks weren’t good. The higher he plays, the more offensive and fantasy impact he’ll have.
The Ducks have just three defensemen who will be at all relevant in fantasy hockey this season. Cam Fowler has been a top dog in Anaheim for many years. Last season he was arguably the only impactful defenseman. Even when John Klingberg threatened to take top unit power play time away from him, Fowler kept producing. He will log the most minutes, play in all situations, and hold the back end together. Jamie Drysdale might see a fair bit of power-play time as well, but Fowler will get his reps and contribute to your fantasy team if he’s drafted.
Drysdale should be back if the Ducks weren’t also lowballing him in contract discussions as well. He’s probably more likely to sign before Zegras, and when he does, Drysdale will slot in on the top pairing with Fowler. Power-play opportunities will be available and Drysdale put up 32 points in his rookie season in 2021-22 before missing 74 games last season.
The other very relevant player on the Ducks’ blue line for fantasy hockey is Radko Gudas. As a third-pairing defenseman his entire career, he will be moving into a top-four role. Although this could mess with how he operates, more time will equate to more stats. With Gudas, physical play is everything. Only draft him if a combination of hits/penalty minutes/blocked shots matters. He will record over 300 hits and can also easily reach 100 penalty minutes and blocked shots. He’s a must-have for his hits alone.
The Ducks goaltending should be better this season. John Gibson has a point to prove, and that’s he’s worth the money he’s getting. He was an elite goalie for a number of years, but then the Ducks went downhill in a hurry. This really impacted his numbers, but he can also still steal wins. I still believe Gibson is elite, even if the obvious stats haven’t shown it in a few seasons. The team will be better in front of him and last season was his only below-.900 SV% season of his career. He’ll get a lot of starts (over 50) and maybe a bit more wins as the Ducks try to give him more help.
The Ducks might not be the strongest team, but they definitely have players that are worth taking chances on later in drafts. Somebody has to get points and stats for them, so some are worth targeting at the very least. Next up in the 2023 Fantasy Hockey Team Preview is the Calgary Flames.
Make sure to check out all of our Fantasy Hockey Team Previews as they roll out over the coming weeks!