It’s no secret that the success of the Anaheim Ducks in 2013 was a pretty big surprise to a lot of people. Look no further than their failures in 2011-2012 to provide a reason as to why. There are a few different reasons for their turnaround. Coaching, health, etc. But there were some new faces that stepped up for the Ducks this season as well.
One of those new faces was that of Daniel Winnik. The Ducks took a chance on the grinder on a two-year deal last summer, with a cap hit under $2 million. While it may not immediately show up on the stat sheet, it’s a move that worked out wonderfully for the Ducks over the course of the year.
Essentially, the Ducks knew exactly what they were getting when they brought Winnik aboard. They were getting a physical forward who could fill a depth role, but also provide some minutes on special teams. He accomplished pretty much everything the Ducks could have wanted him to.
Surprisingly, Winnik finished with 19 points on the year. It’s surprising because his career mark for points is only 26, which he accomplished twice, most recently in 2010-11. Had this been a full season, he could have easily reached a new career mark, having fallen only seven points shy in about 32 less games.
Winnik scored six goals on the year, one of which was a game-winner. He played the physical game when he had to as well. But the main reason he was brought in was to provide minutes up front on the penalty kill. Playing a man down has become something of a specialty of Winnik over the course of his career.
No other play, outside of Francois Beauchemin, logged more minutes on the penalty kill than Winnik. He led all forwards in ice time while a man down, playing about 2:32 shorthanded per game.
Daniel Winnik proved to be a terrific addition to the mix for the Ducks. Role players like him who can skate in the bottom six, play with some physicality, add some points, and provide special teams minutes are a key. He’s absolutely part of the reason they were able to reach the postseason as the no. 2 seed out of the Western Conference.