While they continue their rebuild, the Anaheim Ducks have seen their points percentage drop in each of the last five seasons, going from 64% during the 2016-2017 campaign, all the way down to 38.4% this past year.
Part of the issue was the lack of offense, with the Ducks finishing with a league worst 124 goals last season.
Anaheim didn’t do much to address the lack of scoring from the outside, instead they are hoping for some of their younger players to take that next step in their development as they look to be more competitive that last year.
Trevor Zegras is the obvious answer, as he is on most short-list for the Calder Trophy and one of the most dynamic young players in the game. Max Comtois, 22, led the team in scoring last season (16 G, 17 A) and looks to build upon that.
Looking at their initial roster build, another name sticks out and is one to watch this season as someone who can pitch in a well-rounded 200-foot game in his rookie season.
Drafted in the second round of the 2018 draft, Benoit-Olivier Groulx wrapped up an illustrious junior hockey career two years ago before playing last season with the San Diego Gulls of the American Hockey League.
Groulx played with the Halifax Mooseheads and Moncton Wildcats, where he scored 244 points (105 G, 139 A) in 250 games played.
After turning pro, the now 21-year-old center had a respectable point output in the AHL, recording another 29 points (10 G, 19 A) in 42 games with San Diego.
It wasn’t just his offensive ability that got positive reviews, as Gulls’ coach Kevin Dineen raved about Groulx’s well-rounded game and dependability in big situations. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, as Groulx was the 2020 recipient of the Guy Carbonneau Trophy, given to the top defensive forward in the QMJHL.
Groulx played in five preseason games this season, scoring twice on three shots and flexing some of that offensive flair in the process.
One of the goals came while shorthanded, as the 6’2” pivot played the second most minutes on the penalty kill during the Ducks’ preseason games.
A lot of focus is going to be on Zegras, both by the media and the opposing teams. While the Ducks aren’t quite at the competing stage, they would certainly like to improve upon a year ago. Part of that will be who can emerge with most of the eyes looking Zegras’ way.
Expect an adjustment period for Groulx as with most rookies, but he also has the all-around game to make an impact in more ways than the score sheet. The Ducks did also allow the seventh most goals in the league last year as well.Embed from Getty Images