The Anaheim Ducks have struggled with injuries all season and it doesn’t sound like the odds are good for two of their veteran forwards to return this season. GM and interim head coach Bob Murray issued a statement today offering an update on the status of both Ryan Kesler and Patrick Eaves and did so without much optimism. Kesler has missed the Ducks’ past seven games with a hip injury and will meet with team doctors soon to evaluate his recovery. Murray states that Kesler, 34, needs to consider his long-term overall health and that discussions have been ongoing between the team, player, and agent about the best course of action. Murray’s best guess is that “I doubt strongly you’ll see him again this year.” As for Eaves, also 34, the prognosis is similar. Eaves continues to struggle with the effects of a condition similar to Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which cost him all but two games last year and seven games this year. Murray revealed that Eaves has “has a setback” and is “struggling”. He states that Eaves’ focus is simply getting back to a normal life before focusing on a return to hockey. Eaves was hardly expected to return to the Anaheim lineup this season, but Murray’s comments all but assure that his year is over.
- Rather than sign 2015 sixth-round pick Steven Ruggiero to an entry-level contract, the Ducks have opted to sign him to an amateur tryout offer with the AHL’s San Diego Gulls. Ruggiero struggled to make much of an impact at the college level in two years with Providence College and one year at Lake Superior State University before finally enjoying a strong senior season with the Lakers. A U.S. National Team Develop Program product, Ruggiero has ability, but has not shown consistent offense for much of his hockey career. The 6’3″, 216-lb. defender plays a heavy game and could potentially be a a good stay-at-home option at the next level, but the Ducks will first take a look to see how he plays in the AHL down the stretch. A strong performance will likely lead to an ELC, while a disappointing debut will likely lead to Ruggiero becoming a free agent later this summer.
- The AHL’s Stockton Heat, the affiliate of the Calgary Flames, have signed Western Michigan University captain Corey Schueneman to a contract for the 2019-20 season. The two-way defenseman will join the team on an amateur tryout for the rest of the season in the meantime. Schueneman, a standout in the USHL prior to his college years, has always been a capable contributor on the blue line but can also hold his own defensively. A well-rounded prospect, the Flames will no doubt keep an eye on Schueneman’s development next season.
- The Vancouver Canucks have gone the opposite way of their divisional rivals today, informing a prospect that he will not be signed. Sportsnet’s Rick Dhaliwal reports that the team has informed OHL defenseman Matt Brassard that they will not offer him an entry-level contract prior to the deadline to do so on June 1st. Per the CBA, a team must tender a contract offer to a junior player within two years after they are drafted or that player may re-enter the NHL Draft. Brassard, a 2017 seventh-round pick, will thus try his hand at another go-round in the draft this June. The Canucks’ decision is somewhat surprising; Brassard has been a point-per-game player for the Niagara Ice Dogs since coming over from the Oshawa Generals earlier in the season. Altogether, he has 56 points in 65 games – his second straight season of 50+ points – to go along with a 6’3″ frame and decent defensive ability. Admittedly, Brassard’s game is not without flaws and he has been sheltered by the immense talent in Niagara this season, but the 20-year-old blue liner still seems like a player worth taking a shot on with an entry-level deal.