Ducks center Nick Bonino could be poised for a breakout season with the team. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
In a debate over which Ducks player has the greatest upside this season, the answer is not a given.
Center Nick Bonino could be the guy after a fluke in-season injury shortened a strong start last year. Maybe it's Long Beach's Emerson Etem, who scored three playoff goals at age 21, or new acquisition, wing Jakob Silfverberg, even though both start the season with nagging injuries.
Right wing Kyle Palmieri might be the safest choice, given his breakaway speed that contributed to a 10-goal, 11-assist performance in 42 games last season.
"I don't want to put a whammy on any one guy saying he's ready for a breakout year," Coach Bruce Boudreau said after a two-hour practice Thursday.
The Ducks conclude their preseason schedule Saturday night at Honda Center against the San Jose Sharks and open the regular season Wednesday at the Colorado Avalanche.
Palmieri rotated throughout lines last season and expects to do the same this time.
"I know I'm not really looked to for penalty killing or my defensive zone play, but I hope this year to settle into being more responsible, a more complete player," Palmieri said.
"I've come into camp working my hardest, to put myself into a position to start well. Coming from the success I had puts me in a good spot to continue that this year."
Defenseman Luca Sbisa conceded Thursday it "might be a stretch" for him to play Wednesday. Sbisa, wearing a boot over his sprained left ankle, worked out without the boot for the first time since his injury.
He said he'll try to skate Sunday, something imperative for him to do to play in the opener.
"It's still possible, but if it's not Colorado, I still have three days" to play in the second game, versus Minnesota on Oct. 5.
Boudreau said he expects Silfverberg (lower body injury) to skate Saturday and added that the injured Etem (lower left leg) probably will not play Wednesday.