Born and raised in Regina, Getzlaf started skating at the age of four and grew up playing numerous sports with his older brother Chris, who is currently a slotback for the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League (CFL). While hockey was his main focus as a young athlete, Getzlaf also played organized volleyball, football and baseball. As a football player, Getzlaf played tailback. As a catcher playing baseball, he represented Saskatchewan at the 1998 peewee baseball nationals and earned several game MVP awards. He attended high school at Robert Usher Collegiate (since closed) in Regina, graduating in 2003.
Getzlaf was drafted into the Western Hockey League (WHL) by the Calgary Hitmen in the 3rd round, 54th overall, in the 2000 WHL Bantam Draft. After an 18-point rookie season with the Hitmen, he improved to 68 points in 2002–03. He was then drafted by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the 1st round, 19th overall, in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. After being drafted, Getzlaf returned to the Hitmen and played two more seasons with the team, including a junior career-high 75 points in just 49 games in 2003–04. In his final season with the Hitmen, he suffered a concussion after colliding with Red Deer Rebels defenceman Dion Phaneuf – the first major injury of his young hockey career – but returned to tally 54 points in 51 games.
After Getzlaf’s 2004–05 WHL season ended with the Hitmen, he was assigned to the Ducks’ minor league affiliate, the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks of the American Hockey League (AHL) for the 2005 Calder Cup Playoffs.
He made his NHL debut with the Ducks the following season, appearing in 57 games and scoring 39 points, including a two-month stint back in the AHL with the Portland Pirates. Getzlaf made it to the Western Conference Finals with the Ducks in his first year, but they were elimated in 5 games by the Edmonton Oilers.
In 2006–07, Getzlaf played all 82 regular season games and scored 58 points. Centering the second line with teammates Corey Perry and Dustin Penner, the trio was dubbed the “Kid Line” (Getzlaf and Perry were both 21, while Penner was 24) and combined for 147 points. Getzlaf helped the Ducks to the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals where they defeated the Ottawa Senators for the Ducks’ first Stanley Cup championship in team history. He led the Duck’s roster in scoring in the 2007 playoffs with 17 points in 21 games.
In November 2007, Getzlaf and the Ducks agreed on a five-year contract extension which will last through the 2012-13 season for a reported $26.625 million. (Incidentally, the Ducks would sign linemate Corey Perry, to the exact same contract the following summer.) Getzlaf responded with a career-high 82 points to lead the Ducks in team scoring. He was also named to his first NHL All-Star Game with teammates Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer and Corey Perry, scoring one goal. Going into the playoffs as defending Stanley Cup champions, however, they were defeated in the first round by the Dallas Stars.
Prior to the start of the 2008–09 season, Getzlaf was named an alternate captain along with Chris Pronger to captain Scott Niedermayer on October 7. Less than a month into the season, on October 29, Getzlaf tied a Ducks team record for most assists in a game with 5 in a 5-4 overtime victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Getzlaf was named as a starter to the 2009 NHL All-Star Game in Montreal along with teammates Scott Niedermayer and Jean-Sébastien Giguère, registering an assist in a 12–11 loss to the Eastern Conference. During the 2008–09 season, Getzlaf tied his career high in goals with 25, and scored a career high 91 points. He led the Ducks in points, and tied for sixth in the NHL in point scoring.
Getzlaf made his international debut with Canada West at the 2002 World U-17 Hockey Challenge in Manitoba, scoring 9 points in 6 games. The following year, he was named to the national under-18 team for the 2003 World U18 Championships. He helped Team Canada to its first U18 gold medal with 4 points in 7 games.
Upon being drafted into the NHL, he competed with Team Canada’s under-20 team at the 2004 and 2005 World Junior Championships. Playing on a highly talented Canadian team in 2005 that included Sidney Crosby, Dion Phaneuf and future Ducks teammate Corey Perry, Getzlaf helped lead Team Canada to a gold medal. Getzlaf scored a goal and two assists in the 6-1 championship game win against Russia and finished with 12 points in 6 games, second in tournament scoring to teammate Patrice Bergeron.
After completing his third season with the Anaheim Ducks, Getzlaf made his senior debut for Team Canada at the 2008 World Championships as the host country. He tallied 14 points in 9 games, as Canada finished with a silver medal, losing the gold medal game in overtime against Russia.
On December 30, 2009, Getzlaf was selected to play for Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics.  Getzlaf helped Team Canada beat Norway 8-0 in the first game of the 2010 Olympics by scoring one goal. He also scored the first goal against Russia in the Quarterfinals. In the gold medal game against the United States, he assisted on Canada’s second goal, scored by Corey Perry. Canada went on to win the gold medal in overtime.
- Awarded the Top Draft Prospect Award in 2003.
- Named to the East First All-Star Team in 2004.
- Named to the East Second All-Star Team in 2005.
- Won the Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.
- Played in the All-Star Game in 2008 and 2009 (starter).