Despite some of the on-ice drama Trevor Zegras causes with his goals, there won’t be any off-ice drama this season regarding a contract extension. During media availability today, Anaheim Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek said that he’ll wait until after the 2022-23 season ends to work out a contract extension with the team’s budding no. 1 center.
With the team releasing their training camp roster today, the Anaheim Ducks released injury updates on forward Sam Carrick and defenseman John Moore. Carrick underwent previously unreported left hip surgery to repair a torn labrum back in May, and he won’t be expected to rejoin the team until November. The Ducks also confirmed that Moore remains injured following his acquisition from the Boston Bruins in February when Moore was on injured reserve dealing with a concussion.
Carrick signed a multi-year extension this offseason after the minor-league veteran put up a solid, impressive performance in a fourth-line role for Anaheim this season. He had 11 goals and 19 points last season in 64 games, marking his first time eclipsing the ten-goal mark at the NHL level. In his absence, the Ducks will likely try out younger players in NHL roles such as Benoit-Olivier Groulx and Jacob Perreault.
Moore, 31, is in the final year of a five-year, $2.75MM cap hit contract that’s spent a solid amount of time buried in the AHL over the past few seasons. In fact, he’s played just 36 NHL games over the last three seasons combined, largely due to a combination of injuries and poor play. With Anaheim having strong organizational depth at defense and acquiring players like Colton White and Olli Juolevi (and Nathan Beaulieu on a PTO), there isn’t much of a spot for Moore within the organization when healthy anyways.
After spending most of the 2021-22 season in the minor leagues, Rocco Grimaldi has agreed to a professional tryout with the Anaheim Ducks to try and show he can still compete in the NHL, according to CapFriendly.
The 29-year-old forward has suited up 203 times at the highest level, and was a lineup regular with the Nashville Predators as recently as 2019-20. That season in 66 games, the undersized forward scored ten goals and 31 points, despite playing fewer than 13 minutes a game. Last year in 44 games with the Milwaukee Admirals, he was a force of nature, scoring 26 goals and 52 points.
There’s a fine line between NHL regular and AHL superstar, and Grimaldi has found himself on the wrong side of it too many times in the past. His diminutive stature – he stands just 5’6″ – is likely the cause of that, despite relatively strong results whenever he has played. In Anaheim, where they are continuing the transition to a young, exciting lineup, perhaps there will be some extra ice time for a veteran like Grimaldi. He’ll have a chance to show off his skills at camp this week, and likely play in some preseason action.
- Typically, players aren’t activated off injured reserve in the days leading up to training camp but CapFriendly reports (Twitter link) that the Ducks activated winger Jakob Silfverberg from IR today. He was placed there back in early March with a blood clot in his leg which ended his season early but this activation suggests that he’ll be good to go for training camp. Silfverberg had a run of six straight seasons with a point total between 39 and 43 but has slowed down the last couple of years and is coming off a 21-point performance last season in 53 games.
When any NHL team names a captain, it’s big news — but even more so when it’s the most storied franchise in the history of the sport. That’s what happened today when the Montreal Canadiens named Nick Suzuki the 31st captain in team history, the first captain of Asian descent in team history (and only the second ever in the NHL after Paul Kariya), and the youngest Canadiens captain in quite some time at 23 years old.
11 months to the day after signing an eight-year extension to stay a Hab well into his prime, Suzuki adds his name to a storied list that’s worth taking a look at. While doing so would be a nearly academic-length exercise if done all the way back to the beginning of the franchise, taking a look back at the leaders of the Canadiens in recent memory still helps offer some context for the type of echelon Suzuki joined today.
Perhaps the most universally beloved Habs captain in recent memory is Saku Koivu. Serving from 1999 to 2009, his nine-year shift as captain is the longest for a Canadien since Jean Beliveau held the role from 1961 to 1971. Despite some great memories, though, Koivu’s era was not defined by playoff success. The team failed to make it out of the second round despite three appearances in that timeframe (2002, 2004, 2008). In the regular season, the Koivu-captained Canadiens had a 324-290-44-62 record, good enough for a .535 points percentage.
Ironically enough, the Canadiens finally made it to the Conference Final in 2009-10 after Koivu’s departure for the Anaheim Ducks. In their first season without a captain in their entire franchise existence, the Habs went on a memorable Cinderella run as the eighth seed, bowing out to the Philadelphia Flyers in five games in the Eastern Conference Final.
Next up at the helm was Brian Gionta, the first American to serve at least a full season as captain in franchise history. Gionta, a free agent signing prior to the 2009-10 season, was the captain for 2010-11 through 2013-14. In 242 games as captain, Gionta scored 69 goals and 127 points, a step back from his previous production in New Jersey and during his first season in Montreal. The Canadiens did make it back to the Eastern Conference Final in the last season of his tenure, though, this time losing to the New York Rangers with Carey Price injured during the final series.
After another vacant season in 2014-15, another American took the helm: Max Pacioretty. The team’s 2007 first-round pick had come off back-to-back 60-point seasons and was even named to the US Olympic team in 2014, cementing himself as one of the top players in the game at the time. He continued that production in his first two seasons as captain, rattling off 30-goal and 35-goal seasons, before taking a serious step back in 2017-18. His goal total dipped to just 17 in 64 games and he had just 37 points total on the year. The team also made just one playoff appearance with Pacioretty as captain, where he had just one assist in six games.
It turned out to be a captain-for-captain swap the following offseason, as a summer 2018 deal sent Pacioretty to the young Vegas Golden Knights in exchange for a package that included then-prospect Nick Suzuki. Four years later, Suzuki has cemented himself as the future of the franchise long-term with a captaincy and long-term extension in place.
In the bridge between Pacioretty and Suzuki, the now retired-due-to-injury Shea Weber served admirably in the meantime. His last act as captain will be remembered for years, leading the 16th-seeded Canadiens all the way through to the Stanley Cup Final in the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season before bowing out to career-ending injury.
Beaulieu, 29, arrives in Anaheim coming from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Beaulieu didn’t actually suit up in a game for Pittsburgh, but he was acquired by the team at the 2022 deadline.
Beaulieu played 24 games last season, all for the Winnipeg Jets, averaging a career-low 10:46 time-on-ice per game. Beaulieu has over 400 games of NHL experience, and has operated in a seventh-defenseman role for the past four seasons as a member of the Penguins, Jets, and Buffalo Sabres.
In Anaheim, Beaulieu will join the competition for one of the open spots on the Ducks’ blueline, a competition that is getting relatively expansive. John Klingberg, Cam Fowler, Kevin Shattenkirk, Dmitry Kulikov, and Jamie Drysdale are all locks to be in the NHL, which means Beaulieu will be competing with Josh Mahura, Urho Vaakanainen, Simon Benoit, Colton White, and Olli Juolevi for one of the final two spots on the Ducks’ blueline, should the team choose to carry seven defensemen on their roster.
Given the state of the Ducks as a rebuilding club, it’s more likely that the team would prefer to run younger defensemen with more upside in those open roles. But even as he faces that reality entering camp, Beaulieu can still earn a spot and showcase his value to the Ducks. Should Beaulieu play well in the preseason while some of the younger defenseman struggle, he could earn an NHL contract to serve as the team’s seventh defenseman, just as he has for other NHL teams these past few seasons.
- We recently covered how the San Jose Sharks would be hosting a tournament for prospects from six NHL teams. Today, each of those six teams (the Sharks, Kings, Ducks, Coyotes, Avalanche, and Golden Knights) announced their rosters for the camp. There are quite a few notable names to look forward to at that tournament, including first-round picks Quinton Byfield, Mason McTavish, William Eklund, Conor Geekie, Oskar Olausson, and Brendan Brisson, among others.
After being originally reported by Sportsnet’s Eric Engels last week, his colleague Elliotte Friedman confirmed the original report today on the 32 Thoughts podcast. Echoing the fact that the Canadiens and Dach are close to signing Dach to a four-year contract, he added that the team is likely working on other moves before making the deal official.
Cap implications aside, the team will likely need to trade a forward (or two) just to have space for Dach in the lineup. With the addition of Sean Monahan into the fold for next season, Dach will likely shift to wing. He has the most experience there out of Montreal’s five natural centers in their top 12 forwards. With Cole Caufield, Mike Hoffman, Josh Anderson, Jonathan Drouin, Evgenii Dadonov, and Brendan Gallagher all in the fold, there’s just not enough room in Montreal’s NHL lineup to have Dach play an appropriate role to continue developing. Cap implications are certainly a part of that, though, as a $3.5MM cap hit as surmised by Friedman and Engels would still put Montreal dangerously close to the salary cap even with Carey Price’s $10MM cap hit on long-term injured reserve.
- The San Jose Sharks are hosting this year’s 2022 Rookie Faceoff, a voluntary tournament for teams’ rookie camp rosters to get some game experience against each other. The Anaheim Ducks announced their participation today, noting that the Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, and Vegas Golden Knights will also participate. The tournament will feature nine games in total across four days from September 16 through September 19. Anaheim has not lost a rookie tournament game in regulation since 2016, going 11-0-2 in the process.
- The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro reports that American coverage of the 2023 Stadium Series game will be on ESPN after TNT/Turner Sports hosted coverage last season. ESPN will broadcast the Carolina Hurricanes’ first-ever outdoor game as they host the Washington Capitals at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh on February 18, 2023. Shapiro also adds that the full slate of American national TV games is expected to come out later this week as the regular season approaches.
The time of the tryout is upon us. Now that teams have pretty much filled out their rosters, players left without contracts will begin to accept professional tryouts with invitations to training camps. Just yesterday, Tyler Pitlick and James Neal were both added this way. CapFriendly has added a few more to that list, reporting that Brent Gates, Nikolas Brouillard, and Josh Healey have all signed PTOs with the Anaheim Ducks.
These are not players expected to challenge for NHL roster spots; instead, they will compete to try and secure two-way NHL deals, which would at least give them the chance of a call-up. None of the three have appeared at the highest level to this point, though all have varying degrees of success in the AHL.
Gates, 25, was a third-round pick of the Ducks in 2015 and has bounced back and forth between the AHL and ECHL ever since. This season, he saw 45 games with the San Diego Gulls and set a career-high with 12 goals and 23 points. Gates never did sign his entry-level contract, meaning his exclusive draft rights expired a number of years ago, but he has remained with the organization ever since.
Brouillard, 27, went undrafted out of the QMJHL and played one season in the ECHL before going to school, attending McGill University for three seasons. He has been with the Gulls since, and scored 39 points in 66 games last season–to go along with his 131 penalty minutes.
Healey, 28, was actually a pretty highly sought-after talent out of college a few years ago, and eventually signed with the Calgary Flames. His uber-physical game didn’t translate all that well to the professional ranks, however, and he never did make it to the NHL. The Flames left him unqualified, and after a one-year deal with the Nashville Predators, he played last season on an AHL deal. In 57 games for the Milwaukee Admirals, he scored eight points and racked up 89 penalty minutes.
Kulikov, a veteran of 13 NHL seasons and 805 NHL games, brings some much-needed veteran stability to the Anaheim defense corps. In 2021-22, Kulikov had his best season in quite some time, notching more than 20 points for the first time in 10 years and also staying healthy, playing in 80 games. Injuries have been a consistent issue for Kulikov throughout his time in the league.
Averaging 18:12 per game, Kulikov played a bottom-pair but still an important role for the Wild last season. Along with his health, he’s maintained his calling card as a quality defensive defenseman. With the Ducks having some serious question marks at left defense behind Cam Fowler, Kulikov immediately helps fortify a growing team and could provide a solid defensive partner for Jamie Drysdale.
It’s a good trade for the Wild, too, even though they’re losing him for nothing. Minnesota may have managed the salary cap better than most expected considering the massive Zach Parise/Ryan Suter buyout cap hits they face, but they still had a logjam on the blueline with multiple prospects getting closer to NHL readiness. With Calen Addison poised to make the jump to the NHL full-time next season, the Wild simply had one too many NHL defensemen. Considering Alex Goligoski just received an extension and Jonathon Merrill won’t be ready to start the season, Kulikov was the logical trade choice.