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Geese relying on proficient younger core to steer playoff flight


ANAHEIM, Calif. — A number of the most enjoyable younger gamers in hockey are carrying the Anaheim Geese’ sweater this winter.

Their followers are hoping they’ll even be carrying it nearer to the summer time whereas ending the Geese’ four-year playoff drought.

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Trevor Zegras, Troy Terry, Jamie Drysdale, Isac Lundeström, Mason McTavish and Olen Zellweger comprise an enviable younger core of expertise, and the Geese intend to construct their future on it. They nonetheless want all their younger stars to take a step ahead as they try to finish the longest postseason absence in franchise historical past.

Zegras and Drysdale made a splash as rookies final season, however it didn’t translate into group success whereas Anaheim completed seventh within the Pacific Division. However the Geese aren’t any peculiar non-playoff group with that elite base of younger stars within the making, and common supervisor Pat Verbeek expects the group to develop.

“We hope they take their sport to a different degree,” Verbeek mentioned. “We’re going to want them to take it to a different degree. The toughest factor coming into your second 12 months is groups begin to know who you’re. It’s not simpler, it’s more durable and I feel they perceive that. We’ll see. That’s the toughest factor.”

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The Geese will start this new period with out heart Ryan Getzlaf after the retirement of their longtime captain and a veteran of the franchise’s solely Stanley Cup championship group.

Getzlaf’s departure was solely the most important a part of a significant franchise overhaul in 2022. Longtime regulars Hampus Lindholm, Rickard Rakell and Josh Manson have been all shipped out finally 12 months’s commerce deadline, and Verbeek spent the offseason including veterans, together with forwards Ryan Strome and Frank Vatrano and defensemen John Klingberg and Dmitry Kulikov.

“He was a superb captain, and he was an enormous affect on all the things our gamers did,” coach Dallas Eakins mentioned of Getzlaf. “I’ve full consolation, I’ve no questions, about our management in that room. We’ve got guys who’ve been round who’re simply wonderful human beings who take into consideration their teammates. The very last thing on my record of worries proper now’s management.”

Verbeek mentioned the Geese received’t identify their subsequent captain instantly, as a substitute ready to see who steps as much as take Getzlaf’s “C.” Veteran defenseman Cam Fowler is the obvious alternative, however one of many younger stars may step into the function.

“We’re going to let the room type itself out, let leaders emerge,” Verbeek mentioned.

McTavish is among the many most talked-about younger gamers in hockey after his MVP efficiency for Canada on the World Junior Championships in August. The 19-year-old appears more likely to get an opportunity to stay with the Geese after excelling within the OHL final season, and the playmaking two-way heart may instantly take a significant function down the center, maybe even with Zegras on his wing.

The Geese spent final season in transition after the early firing of common supervisor Bob Murray and the midseason hiring of Verbeek. The brand new GM determined Eakins would get one other shot at cracking Anaheim’s issues this season, regardless that the coach has by no means had a successful file in his 5 seasons as an NHL head coach with the Oilers and Geese.

The Geese’ depth issues on the again finish have been apparent final season, in order that they signed Klingberg to a one-year, $7 million deal and purchased Kulikov in a commerce with Minnesota to affix Fowler, Drysdale and Kevin Shattenkirk.

Klingberg was typically thought-about the highest defenseman on the free-agent market, however he selected Anaheim after failing to land a long-term deal elsewhere at acceptable phrases. The Swede seems to be proud of the possibility to assist the Geese whereas taking part in his method into place for an extended contract — or to affix a contender down the stretch if the Geese falter.

“I see a very good combine, and a superb battle to get the ice time,” Klingberg mentioned. “That’s what you need.”

John Gibson remains to be with the Geese after a down season by his lofty requirements in purpose, and Anthony Stolarz once more can be his backup regardless of posting superior numbers. Anaheim additionally has a transparent NHL prospect in Lukáš Dostál down at its AHL affiliate in San Diego, so Gibson’s future can be standard subject of debate if the Geese aren’t successful — or even when they’re.

Extra AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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