The Anaheim Ducks came into the 2021-2022 season hoping to take the next step in their rebuild. While the rest of the 81-game schedule may bring something different, their season opener was that step they hoped to take.
Facing the Winnipeg Jets in their home opener, the Ducks ran away with a 4-1 victory backed by a 33-save performance from goaltender John Gibson.
We knew by the makeup of their initial roster that Anaheim was going to be relying on their younger players to take the next step in their development, and in game one it was one of them that provided a spark offensively.
Drafted third overall just a few months ago, it didn’t take long for Mason McTavish to make an impact for the NHL team. The 6’2” sniping power forward scored a goal in his first career NHL, later adding an assist to give him a multi-point game.
Not bad for the second youngest player to ever make his NHL debut with the Ducks (Oleg Tverdovsky).
The young McTavish came exactly as advertised for the Anaheim team that drafted him, burying a loose puck in front of Jets’ goaltender Connor Hellebuyck to give the Ducks a 2-0 lead in the first period.
He was also a presence in front of the net during the power play, in which he played a total of 3:14 with the man advantage. McTavish also saw time shorthanded, playing a total of 1:43 while down a man and altogether on the night played just over 14 minutes (14:05).
Just two years ago McTavish scored 29 goals in 57 games for the Peterborough Petes in his first year in the OHL before spending last season with Olten EHC of the Swiss Hockey League. He added nine goals in 13 games during his time overseas.
Said of his time in Switzerland on SI.com “he really set a physical tone while playing against men” which was especially impressive considering his age while playing there.
The center was the second ranked skater in North America, according to NHL.com, and the ninth overall player on The Hockey News.
On a line with another former first round pick Isac Lundestrom and Jakob Silfverberg, the trio dominated the scoring opportunities during their seven plus minutes on ice together at 5v5.
While their shot attempt share was just under 50% (45.45%), the trio went 2-0 when it comes to on-ice goals and controlled the expected goal mark (76.97%) along with the high-danger and scoring chances (100 HDCF%, 71.43 SCF%).
It was a great debut for McTavish and an exciting game overall for the Ducks in taking down one of the better teams in the Western Conference. There will certainly be growing pains for an 18-year-old rookie, but McTavish plays the simplified game that should allow for a quick learning curve.
Who knows just how good the Ducks are going to be this season, but one thing for sure is that thanks to their willingness to let the youngsters play, it’s going to be an entertaining year in Anaheim.