The Oilers are getting their first look at likely the worst team in the Pacific Division this season when they host the Anaheim Ducks for a Saturday matinee game in Edmonton.
1. It’s stunning to think that this time last year the Ducks were sitting comfortably in a playoff spot. They looked like the surprising breakout team in the Western Conference, similar to the Seattle Kraken right now. The Ducks woke up with a 17-9-5 record on December 17 of last year and then promptly went on a skid in which they dropped eight of eleven games.
Come trade deadline time, general manager Pat Verbeek leaned into a teardown approach. The Ducks traded Josh Manson to the Colorado Avalanche, Hampus Lindholm to the Boston Bruins, and Rickard Rakell to the Pittsburgh Penguins. An 11-game losing streak through March shoved the Ducks all the way down to 23rd in the league standings and they finished with a 31-37-14 record.
2. With Manson, Lindholm, and Rakell getting traded and Ryan Getzlaf retiring at the end of the season, there are only three players left on the Ducks who suited up against the Oilers during their playoff series back in 2017: Cam Fowler, Jakub Silfverberg, and John Gibson.
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The Oilers who are still around from that series are Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Darnell Nurse, and technically Oscar Klefbom (LTIR).
3. It’ll be interesting to see if Seattle can keep up their hot start. The Kraken currently have a 16-10-3 record and are tied with the Oilers with 35 points in the standings but Seattle has two games in hand. They’re also struggling through a stretch in which they’ve lost five of six games. Maybe they’re on their way to imploding like Anaheim last year. I’d say the Kraken have a stronger roster than the Ducks did, but their goaltending is atrocious.
4. After the trade deadline last year, the Ducks went 4-11-3. That’s pretty much the same pace they’re rolling at right now. Anaheim currently has an 8-20-3 record, which probably somehow paints a nicer picture than how bad they’ve actually been, as only two of those eight wins came in regulation.
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The Ducks are 31st in the league’s standings, ahead of only the Chicago Blackhawks, who are one point behind them with two games in hand. Even the Arizona Coyotes, who are putting in an all-time tanking effort, are three points clear of the Ducks with four games in hand.
5. The team that finishes dead last will have an 18.5 percent chance of selecting first overall. It’s an excellent year to tank with Connor Bedard, who has 64 points through 28 games in the WHL this season, at the top of the class, and Matvei Michkov and Adam Fantilli as potentially franchise-changing prospects.
6. The Oilers won all three of the meetings with the Ducks last season, winning 6-5 at home in October, 7-3 at home in February right at the start of the Jay Woodcroft era, and 6-1 on the road in April.
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The last time the Ducks beat the Oilers was back on February 25, 2020. Both Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Ennis made their Oilers debuts and both players scored a goal and picked up an assist but the Ducks won 4-3 in overtime. That feels like a lifetime ago.