Edmonton Oilers: Five Anaheim Ducks to keep an eye on

The Edmonton Oilers have gotten off to a great start in 2021-22 thanks to wins in their first two games against the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames. This doesn’t come as a major surprise given that they are expected to battle with the Vegas Golden Knights for the top spot in the Pacific Division this season but is still an exciting start nonetheless.

Next up for the Oilers is a game on Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks. For many seasons, a game on the Oilers’ schedule against the Ducks was a penciled loss, given that they were one of the most dominating teams in the NHL for a long stretch in the 2010’s. Thankfully, things have changed in a big way since, as the Oilers are much improved and the Ducks have really struggled in recent seasons, and could very well be a lottery team when the 2021-22 season is finished.

Despite their struggles however, they still have some dangerous players who are capable of lifting their team to victory on Tuesday night if the Oilers don’t come prepared. Here are the 5 to look out for on their roster.

Maxime Comtois

Though he doesn’t get discussed as much as a few of the other Ducks top young talents who are discussed below, Maxime Comtois has turned into a core piece for this team moving forward. The 22-year-old was the Ducks best player last year, leading the team with both 16 goals and 33 points.

Through three games this season, Comtois has yet to hit the scoresheet, but that shouldn’t last much longer. He is one of the more talented young players in the game today, and you can expect to hear his name more and more once the Ducks turn things around and start winning more games.

Mason McTavish

Mason McTavish was one of just two players born in 2003 to be included on an NHL opening day lineup, and has made the Ducks decision look wise so far as he was able to put up his first NHL goal and assist in his first game. It is worth noting that he left last night’s game versus the Calgary Flames and was not able to return, so his status is very much up in the air. Hopefully, for Oilers fans, they will be able to watch him play on Tuesday, as he is a treat to watch.

McTavish, 18, was selected third overall in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. The Swiss born forward played in the National League (NL) in his home country last season, putting up a very impressive nine goals and 11 points in 13 contests. He is still very early in his development right now, but the future appears to be very bright for him.

Trevor Zegras

The Ducks have one of the favorites to win the Calder Trophy in their lineup this season in Trevor Zegras. The 20-year-old, who was taken ninth overall in 2019, has become a very well known prospect thanks in large part to two dominating performances at the 2020 and 2021 World Junior Tournaments.

Last season, Zegras was able to suit up for 24 games with the Ducks, his first stint as an NHLer, and put up a very respectable three goals and 13 points. He also spent 17 games with the San Diego Gulls in the American Hockey League (AHL) and showed just how good he can be, with 11 goals and 21 points. Though he hasn’t been able to find the scoresheet through the first three games of the 2021-22 season, his talent level alone makes him worth the price of admission, and he could very well record his first point of the campaign on Tuesday night.

Jamie Drysdale

Another very exciting young player the Ducks have on their current roster is defenceman Jamie Drysdale, who was taken sixth overall in the 2020 draft. The 19-year-old is extremely talented offensively, and proved that in 14 AHL games with the Gulls last season, scoring four goals and 10 points. He was also able to get in 24 games at the NHL level, where he tallied three goals and eight points.

Through three games this season, Drysdale has an assist and also scored the overtime winner versus the Flames on Monday night. Generally, it takes defencemen longer to adjust to the NHL, but so far he appears extremely comfortable. He will be a fun player to keep an eye on not only Tuesday but the entirety of the season.

Ryan Getzlaf

This offseason, there were plenty of rumors that the Oilers were looking at signing Ryan Getzlaf to be their third line center. While he did choose to go to free agency, his time on the open market was very brief as he ended up re-signing with the Ducks on a one-year, $4.5 million deal that carries a cap hit of $3 million.

It will be interesting to see how he looks and whether or not he would have been able to help the Oilers out at this stage of his career. During his prime, he was one of the most complete centermen in the entire league, and while he has certainly slowed down in recent years, his hockey IQ is still off the charts. He will be a fun player to watch for the simple reason that it is very impressive he is still in the league, paired with the fact that we don’t know how many more times we will get to watch him play.

Game Prediction

If the Oilers want to be in the running for first in the Pacific by seasons end, games like these are ones that they have to win. Not only are they the much better team, but the Ducks are also on the back half of a back to back after playing the Flames last night.

However, as it is often said, there are no easy wins in the NHL, and to this point the Ducks have been competitive through their first two games of the season. The Oilers will have to come out hard and play like they did against both the Flames and Canucks. If they are able to do so, they should improve their record to 3-0-0.