The Anaheim Ducks are just hours away from one of their biggest games so far this season, as they prepare to square off with the Central-leading Minnesota Wild. A win tonight in Minnesota will give the Ducks 63 points on the year, pulling them into a three-way tie atop the Western Conference with the Wild and Chicago Blackhawks. It would also extend their Pacific Division lead to five points over the rival San Jose Sharks and the upstart Edmonton Oilers. The team is so excited for the match-up, they’re even hosting a watch party for fans back at the Honda Center in Anaheim, featuring former greats Teemu Selanne and Scott Niedermayer.
However, when the puck drops on the big game tonight, one player fans won’t be watching is dynamic winger Jakob Silfverberg. The team announced yesterday that Silfverberg is considered day-to-day with an upper body injury was left behind in Anaheim, ruled out for the team’s two-game road trip to Minnesota and Winnipeg, where they’ll face the Jets on Monday night. This marks the first game that Silfverberg has missed in 2016-17. The durable winger played all 82 games for the Ducks last year and missed just one game the year before, so back-to-back absences are a rare occurrence in his young career. Silfverberg has 13 goals and 16 assists so far this season, which puts him on pace for his best year to date.
It will be difficult for the Ducks to replace the young scorer, but early-season acquisition Logan Shaw will be given the first try. Shaw will line up alongside Andrew Cogliano – yet another Anaheim iron man – and Ryan Kesler on the Ducks’ mighty second line. Although Shaw has just two points on the season, he is a big physical player who head coach Randy Carlyle likely hopes can crash the net and capitalize on some of the chances created by Cogliano, Kesler, and company.
- To fill the roster spot currently vacated by Silfverberg, the Ducks have also recalled winger Corey Tropp from the AHL’s San Diego Gulls. If Tropp makes an appearance for Anaheim, it will be his first in the NHL for almost two years. Tropp’s recent career has been somewhat of a wild ride; he carved out a role for himself as a reliable bottom-six winger for the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2013-14 and 2014-15, only to be traded away to the Chicago Blackhawks as part of the package for Brandon Saad in 2015. Chicago stashed Tropp in the minors and then traded him to the Ducks at the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline for veteran Tim Jackman. Although Tropp did not make an appearance in Anaheim last season, he chose to re-sign for two years with the team this summer. It seems he has finally earned his first Ducks call-up, as he is scoring at nearly a point-per-game pace in the AHL with 8 goals and 21 assists in 32 games. Whether or not Tropp sees any NHL action on this recall remains unknown, but he certainly seems like a player who deserves another shot at the big time.
- The Ducks promoted defenseman Shea Theodore from the Gulls as well. This has become a weekly/nearly daily ritual by Anaheim as they balance cap savings with exposing their young defensemen to as much NHL action as possible given their extreme depth on the blue line. Theodore may not have to put up with the balancing act much longer though, as many recent reports have indicated that teams are calling the Ducks about he and fellow young and under-utilized defenseman Brandon Montour. Anaheim has not been shy about their desire to add another impact forward before the Trade Deadline, and offering up an NHL-ready defenseman like Theodore may be their best bet at finding a team to deal with.