Eliminated teams face big questions

Updated: May 13, 2013, 10:11 AM ET
By Craig Custance

ANAHEIM -- The mood during Teemu Selanne's post-Game 7 interview shifted from disappointment to hope. As always, after Anaheim's last game of the season, Selanne was asked about his future. Specifically, whether the Ducks' status as a competitive team with emerging young players would impact his retirement decision.

"The core we have here is unbelievable. Especially for the young guys," Selanne said. "The way they step it up and how they did their job this year is unbelievable. So proud of these guys. Whatever happens, this franchise is going to have a really bright future with those young guys."

Kyle Palmieri, Emerson Etem and Nick Bonino all tied Ryan Getzlaf for the playoff lead in goals with three. Palmieri led the team with a plus-5.

When the Ducks needed a goal, down 3-2, in the final 40 seconds of Game 7, Etem was on the ice for the whole stretch with the Ducks' veterans. From the fourth line, to the final shift.

It's a bright future for the Ducks but also an early summer for Anaheim -- at least, earlier than the Ducks had hoped after a strong start to the season.

Three other Western Conference playoff teams eliminated in the first round face the same summer questions now. Here's a detailed look at how their 2013 season played out and how they're positioned for the season ahead:

Anaheim Ducks

Did they meet expectations? At first blush, it doesn't look like it. They were the second-best team in the Western Conference but lost in the first round. That's not how it's supposed to work. But take a step back and consider that last season this team finished better than only Edmonton and Columbus in the West. Plus, the Ducks' goal differential was minus-27 last season, compared with plus-22 this season. The overall conclusion has to be that they exceeded expectations. This wasn't a team people were unanimously picking to make the playoffs, so a great regular season and seven-game first round isn't a complete loss.

Which way this team is tracking: Up. Its best players in this series were its young players, and Etem is a future star.