The Anaheim Ducks have not made the playoffs two of the last three years, and their top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan vastly underperformed last year as the team finished fifth in the Pacific division. It’s a safe bet that each of these players will be available in your draft a fair bit lower than last year, providing a good opportunity for value if they can bounce back. I believe the Ducks’ woes last year were due to a combination of factors: a slow start (they went 7-13-4 through November before firing head coach Randy Carlyle) combined with a weird case of vertigo for Jonas Hiller, and just pure bad luck all mashed up for a disaster of a season. Unless your league is made up of Ducks homers, expect your owners to pay more attention to other teams in the Pacific division: the Stanley Cup champion Kings, the surprising Coyotes and their new super goalie Mike Smith, or the perennially-enticing San Jose Sharks. With more stability behind the bench and a chance to press the reset button on last year’s bad luck, I am willing to bet that the Ducks’ stars will return to form. I think Perry will still be drafted in first two rounds (people don’t forget a 50-goal scorer so quickly) and Ryan’s year wasn’t so bad last season, but I am looking for Ryan Getzlaf to fall the most in drafts and thus potentially return the most value.
The RPG line were all coming off great years in 2010-11, which certainly inflated their expectations going into 11-12. Corey Perry in particular had a phenomenal 2010 campaign, lighting the lamp a cool 50 times (32 coming at even strength) to go with 48 assists, putting him within spitting distance of the century mark with 98 points on the season. Despite suffering a really nasty facial laceration (fair warning) that put hin out of commission for 15 games, Getzlaf still managed to record (19+57=76,) good for better than a point-per-game. Bobby Ryan posted a career-high 270 shots on his way to a 34-goal, 71-point season. Then it all came crashing down in 2011-12, when Perry scored only 27 goals, though still managed a 76-point campaign, while Getzlaf posted only 9 points in his first 17 contests. Ryan, however, managed to net 35 goals on 258 shots, salvaging some value for his fantasy owners. What went wrong for the Ducks? It’s hard to say exactly–like all things their crappy season was multi causal so we can’t point to just one thing. However, a look at the advanced stats can help shed some light on the subject…
The first thing I want to point out is the RPG line’s on-ice shooting percentage, which measures the percent of shots by any teammate that turn into goals when a player is on the ice.
After two seasons of seeing on-ice Sh% in the double digits (10 to 12 is pretty standard for star-level players,) Getzlaf and Perry both tanked into the 7-8 range, which you would expect to see from the grinders on the team. Ryan’s on-ice Sh% did not drop as drastically–he was still in the upper-9 range in 2011, but a look at his TOI with Getzlaf & Perry shows that he only skated with those two around half the time, which explains part of that difference.
Another notable factor for the trio was their increased level of competition: all three players have seen steadily tougher competition over the years, as measured by CorsiRel Quality of Competition, where league average is about zero, plus-one represents very tough opponents, and negative-one is what we would lovingly classify as “Cupcake.”
In 2009, Bobby Ryan got the toughest minutes of the three with .501, representing middle of the pack competition, while Getzlaf saw .348 opposition and Perry a rather low .203–it’s safe to say he was not skating against the other teams’ stars. Then, in 2010-11 the linemates saw slightly tougher opposition, and in 2011-12 Perry was being matched by .905 competition and Getzlaf .843. You can imagine the opposing coaches saying to themselves, “Derp, there’s that guy that scored 50 last year, I better send out my shutdown line when he’s skating herp.” Bobby Ryan’s QualComp remained pretty stable, staying in about the .500 range. Special teams are not a factor, as the statistic only uses 5v5 data, and even with a coaching change, it’s notable to see that consistency.
Despite much stiffer competition, the RPG line was still driving play for the Ducks last year, with Getzlaf and Perry posting CorsiRels of 14.5 and 15.9 respectively, and moving play into the offensive zone (each had an OZ Start % of about 48 and OZ Finish % of just over 52. With Anaheim’s depth chart looking mostly the same as last year, we can expect their top line to keep getting the bulk of the tough minutes. If their younger players can step up, it would go a long way towards freeing the RPG line to focus on putting the biscuit in the basket.
A brief aside here to look at the difference between CorsiOn and CorsiRel. In 2010-11, the year the RPG line all had 70 point seasons, they all posted good CorsiRel numbers, 7.9 for Ryan, 12.5 for Getzlaf, and 14.2 for 50 Shades of Goals Corey Perry (sorry.) Recall that CorsiOn is simply the rate of the team’s combined S+MS+BS per 60 mins when a player is on ice, while CorsiRel looks at a players’ Corsi while on the ice compared to all other players cumulatively when the player was off the ice. Each player’s CorsiOn was negative in 10-11, meaning that although relative to the rest of the Ducks they were driving possession, they still saw more pucks directed at their own net than the opponent’s.
What this tells us is that Getzlaf, Perry and Ryan had to really capitalize on their opportunities that year, which they certainly did. Perry shot 17.2% after converting 10.0% the previous year, which to me hints that for all the bad luck in 11-12, their 10-11 numbers were the result of some favorable puck luck.
After seeing all negative CorsiOn values in 10-11, all three posted positive Corsi numbers in 11-12: 1.31 for Ryan, 6.82 for Getzlaf, and 7.6 for Perry. So while they were on their heels but scoring profusely one year, they were skating downhill the next year but not finding the twine. What this suggests to me is that going forward, it’s safe to think their production will wind up somewhere between those two years–with increased QualComp they may not achieve what they did two years ago but they aren’t as bad as they appeared last year.
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Teemu Selanne re-signed with the team for another year, and while he did lead the team in points last year with just 66, the guy just turned 42 years old. He wouldn’t have signed on for another campaign if he didn’t think he could produce, but let’s be really real right now, his days of scoring on an elite level are over. As I write this, the Lubomir Visnovski kerfuffle has not been completely sorted out, but it appears he is likely gone. But for the most part, the roster will remain mostly the same as last year.
Corey Perry will be drafted highest of the three, possibly still in the first round, but I think he could fall into the second or maybe even farther. Depending on how the early picks shake out, I’d take him as early as seventh overall (keep your eyes peeled for my preseason ranks in the next couple of weeks,) but in the unlikely scenario he was still available in the second or even third round I would snatch him up faster than a fat kid gets out in dodgeball. Bobby Ryan has scored in the mid-thirties for two years in a row now, while throwing a ton of rubber at the net. Owners will notice his consistent production, and stat-heads will notice that he is still facing middling competition. Ryan was drafted in the early rounds last year (ADP 22.1 ESPN, 12.4 Y!) but I could see him slipping a few rounds this year because people will likely not notice his consistency. I’ve seen him on as the 75th ranked *forward*, so he could be a fantastic value pick if he’s still on the board in the double digit rounds. I really want to get into some mock drafts to see where he starts going.
After Getzlaf’s free fall last season, he will very likely experience a similar fall down the draft board. Obviously the lower he goes, the more potential value he could return if he bounces back, so while I think somewhere in the seventh or eighth round would be alright, I will be inclined to pass him over and see just how far he goes. There is nothing wrong with a little gamesmanship on draft day, so I might loudly bring up just how bad he was last year and then scoop him up a few rounds later. He is being ranked in the same ballpark as guys like Jeff Carter and Jeff Skinner, both of whom I would rather have. My home league counts hits (not my call, don’t judge me) so he does have a little more appeal to me than in standard leagues.
All three of these guys are still in their mid-twenties, so I don’t take their bad performance last year as much indication that their skills are deteriorating. As I mentioned before, I think it was sort of a perfect storm for the Ducks, and between a slow start that led to a coaching change and Hiller getting messed up between the ears, the whole team just fell into a funk. I’m willing to bet that last year was just bad beats all around and this year will be better. As a man much wiser than myself once said, “Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear, well…he eats you.” <That some kind of Eastern thing?>
Having said that, I do think the Anaheim roster is thinning out (just like 15′s hair BOOM!) After the top line, they have Koivu and Selanne who are a combined 79(!) years old, and their bottom six is nothing to write home about. Expect opposing coaches to continue to focus their best shutdown players on the RPG line this year, but there is such a thing as positive regression to the mean, so I am willing to bet on a bounce back season. Getzlaf in particular could be a great value pick if his production doesn’t continue to…<sunglasses>…recede.