Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell making his NHL goals count

Swedish forward Rickard Rakell is sure making his NHL goals count for something as 27 per cent of the young man’s career tallies have been game-winners, including three in overtime. We could also mention that 33 per cent of his career playoff goals have also been game-winners, but that would be pushing it a bit since he’s scored just three times in the postseason so far. The Ducks drafted the 23-year-old, 6-foot-2-inch, 200 lb. player with the 30th overall pick in the first round back in 2011 and he’s proven to be a worthy selection.

Rakell played his junior hockey with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League and showed he was a consistent scorer with 151 points in 149 games on 69 goals and 82 assists. He also won a silver and gold medal with his homeland at a pair of World Junior Championships as a youngster and registered 14 points in 17 tournament games. Rakell signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Ducks a year after being drafted and got his feet wet in the NHL that season by playing in four games before heading back to Junior.

He appeared in 18 games with Anaheim the next season as well as four in the postseason with a goal and assist in the playoff games and four assists in his regular-season stint. Rakell spent most of that season with Norfolk of the AHL where he racked up 37 points in 46 games and added a pair of points in four playoff outings. His performance at the AHL level and the next season’s training camp earned the well-rounded forward a spot on the Ducks’ roster in 2014/15. He showed the coaching staff he was a strong player who could was blessed with plenty of offensive creativity and overall hockey sense.

As the season went along Rakell took on a larger role for the team and finished the year with a respectable nine goals and 22 assists for 31 points in 71 contests and was a plus-six. This wasn’t bad for a player who averaged 12 minutes and 34 seconds of ice time a game. Rakell cooled off a little in the playoffs with just one goal in 16 playoff games. He made it count though as it was the overtime winner in a 5-4 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Rakell gained confidence from his first full year in the NHL and managed to score 43 points on 20 goals and 20 assists last season. He also scored goals that count as a team-leading seven of them, or 35 percent, were game-winners. Rakell also showed he was adept at hitting and blocking shots and was becoming a valuable player for the Ducks.

If we fast forward to this season, we find Rakell’s name at the top of Anaheim’s goalscoring list with a team-leading 19 after 38 games along with nine assists. He’s still scoring important goals as five, or 26.3 per cent of them, were game winners. He was also making his chances count as Rakell was scoring on 21.3 per cent of his shots with his ice time now boosted up to an average of 17 minutes and 40 seconds per game. He was top-10 in the league in several categories as his shooting percentage, 19 goals, and game-winning goals were ranked sixth-best in the league, his 14 even-strength goals were 10th and his .50 goals per game was third best.

It’s no wonder Anaheim signed Rakell to a six-year contract extension worth$22.8 million last year as he’s blossoming and improving at an exceptional rate. His numbers would be even better this season if he didn’t miss World Cup of Hockey and the first nine games of the campaign due to injury. He can play all three of the forward positions and his knack for scoring timely goals can’t be ignored. Rakell is an important player in the NHL’s youth movement and it appears anything’s possible with him in the future. The Ducks are obviously happy with his development and fans should expect to see Rakell soon take over from the team’s old guard of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.