If there is an NHL season, the Anaheim Ducks have more than a few vacant winger spots that will need to be filled by opening night. If there is to be another free agent signing from Anaheim, it would be unusually late and they don’t have much to pick from in the remaining free agent pool.
This means that at least one or two wingers from Anaheim’s talent rich farm system will get some significant playing time and a sizable chance to prove themselves this coming season. When you look at who they have to choose from, it might make sense they appear to be opting for homegrown talent as opposed to someone out of free agency. They’re certainly going to have some decent options, so we’ll look at a few of those options and see who might have the greatest impact and get the most playing time.
Etem is a pure goal scorer and, having racked up huge numbers at the junior level, he could have a real shot at making the team coming out of training camp. Considering Anaheim’s lack of depth at left wing, Etem–who shoots left–could be a regular on the Ducks roster this year, especially if he can migrate his scoring touch from the junior level to the NHL.
With the potential to be a solid depth player and possibly a top six forward, Rakell might be one of the safer choices for the Ducks if they want to bring up someone to bolster the wing positions on the third and fourth line. He probably wouldn’t be expected to turn out a lot of offense, so that might ultimately give him a wider window of success.
Holland at this point is Anaheim’s top prospect at the center position and is very likely to get a serious look this year with the inevitable retirement of Saku Koivu looming. At this point the Ducks have no real viable replacement for Koivu, so the hope is that Holland will eventually become that replacement. For that to happen, he’ll have to see some ice time. I would expect that out of all the Anaheim prospects, Holland will get the most attention and ice time.
Compared to the other three players on this list, Palmieri has had a lot of experience at the NHL level. Last year he appeared in 18 regular season games, tallying four goals and seven points. That’s pace for a 30 plus point season, and since Bruce Boudreau knows that Palmieri has NHL experience, he might get the edge over Rakell and Etem. I’d suspect as far as ice time goes, he’ll still take a back seat to Holland, simply due to the fact that Anaheim is in such dire need of center behind Ryan Getzlaf.