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Ducks Season Grades: Defense

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With the Ducks having problems with scoring, most of the time they end up relying on the defense during games.

There was a lot of unnecessary pressure on the defensive group this season. Unfortunately, they crumbled under that pressure. The Ducks defense took a big dip in performance this past season. 

Cam Fowler

Even with a struggling defensive core Cam Fowler managed to have himself a great season.

Cam Fowler to represent Ducks in NHL Player Gaming Challenge
Photo by Debora Robinson

Fowler was by far the Ducks’ best defender this past season. The 28-year-old defenceman put up 9 goals and 20 assists for 29 points in 59 games in this shortened season. Cam led all Ducks defensemen in goals, points, and shots. He was able to get up in the offense while also being pretty solid defensively. Fowler had a rough season defensively in 2018-19 but he was able to pick it back up this past season.

At times during the season, Fowler was considered the best player on the ice for the Ducks.

Erik Gudbranson

Early in the season, the Ducks acquired Erik Gudbranson to help bolster their blue line.

Gudbranson is not a superstar but he was able to fill into a top 4 defensive role really well. He brought grit to the blue line with his physical presence. Gudbranson was second on the team in penalty minutes, only one minute behind Nicolas Deslauriers. He was also able to chip in 4 goals and 5 assists for a total of 9 points in 44 games with the Ducks. 

Gudbranson may not have been the Ducks best defenceman but he was still pretty solid.

Josh Manson

Josh Manson was heavily relied on by Anaheim during the shortened season.

Ducks' Josh Manson might never be satisfied, which is key to his ...
Photo: Paul Sancya

He was third on the team in minutes played per game averaging 20:38 per night. However, the heavy workload didn’t seem to help Manson. He had a very disappointing season, to say the least. Josh was not able to produce like he has been in the past. He also had a hard time on defense.

Looking deeper into Manson’s stats shows his struggles on defense this past season. Manson’s corsi% was below 50% which means that the other team controls the puck more often than the Ducks when Manson is on the ice. Hopefully, Manson is able to turn things around for next season.

Unlike with the forward group, Bob Murray really did not do much to shake up the blue line at the trade deadline. The Ducks acquired Christian Djoos and Matt Irwin at the deadline. Both Irwin and Djoos were solid for the Ducks.

Irwin may not return next season but Djoos has already signed an extension with the Ducks for next season. Murray’s deals may not have been flashy and impressive but they will definitely help the Ducks in the near future. 

Anaheim’s defense was not very impressive this past season but there were still a few diamonds in the rough.

With young prospects in the system like Axel Andersson and Henry Thrun, the Ducks might be able to turn things around defensively in the near future. As for right now there are still are a lot of problems that they need to address. 

Overall Grade for the Season: C-

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