Anaheim Ducks’ Preseason Around The Corner
Finally, September is here and with it, preseason hockey!! YES! It’s been a long off-season and a lot has happened within the Ducks camp. I was able to see Luca Sbisa play during a charity hockey game last weekend and I will tell you: I like what I saw. Being only 19, he will be a big factor down the road; I would, however, like to see him more this season.
Let’s see – I left off with Trade Day…. Murray has been quite the busy GM this off season.
After Free Agency started, we lost Francois Beauchemin to free agency when he signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. As I’ve said before, hockey is ultimately a business and Beauch needed to go where the money was. He’s got a family to support and all…… While I wish him the best, I don’t think the Ducks defense will suffer too much.
To fill in the defense, Murray has brought in Nick Boynton and Steve McCarthy, both veterans.
The Ducks also acquired right wing Evgeny Artyukhin from Tampa Bay in exchange for left wing Drew Miller and a third-round selection in the 2010 Draft. Murray felt, with changes being made, “…we lost a little bit of our size, sandpaper or grit. We have been trying to find a way to patch that for a little while.” Hence, the signing of Artyukhin. Murray went on to say that Tampa Bay wanted Miller and I hope he finds a good home there.
The one move that bothered me was the loss of Francois Allaire as goaltending consultant; he also went to the Maple Leafs. (I’m sensing a theme here!) As I am a goalie person, this move concerned me as the Ducks current goalies are Allaire boys. Both JS Giguere and Jonas Hiller trained under Allaire; Hiller in fact, came to Anaheim mostly because of Allaire. The controversy that is brewing between Hiller and Giguere will make training camp and the start of the season very interesting. Add in the move of Allaire to the Leafs and I have to wonder if that will make a difference to either net minder down the road. Murray has a potentially sticky situation with these two men. Later, it was announced that Pete Peeters was retained as goaltending consultant. I’ve read some good things about him, but the proof is in the pudding: we’ll have to see how it goes when Peeters puts on his gear to join the Allaire boys on the ice.
In an odd move, the Ducks acquired goaltender Justin Pogge from the Maple Leafs for a conditional selection in the 2011 draft. Pogge is considered the #3 goalie at this time; his addition, however, makes the grand total of 9 goaltenders in the Ducks system. 9? Nine??? From everything I’ve read he may not be ready for the #3 position. Tomorrow the German prospect Timo Pielmeier is slated to be at the prospect camp and I am anxious to see him. We have quite a number of prospects to watch, actually. http://ducks.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=487024
The Ducks scored a huge coup, IMHO, by signing Saku Koivu to a one year deal. I am greatly looking forward to seeing Koivu and Selanne on the line together. How the Canadiens let him go is beyond me; everything I’ve read and heard points to a solid player and leader. He’ll fit in really well with the Ducks.
In a nutshell: the Ducks signed Todd Marchant to a two-year deal. An absolute warrior, the Ducks fans were enormously relieved with that bit of news. We were also relieved that the Ducks were able to avoid arbitration with James Wisniewski and signed him to a one year deal. Another warrior, he showed his worth after being hit in the lung with a puck during the playoff series with the Red Wings. Mike Brown, another fan favorite, was signed to a two year extension. Brett Festerling was also signed to a two-year deal. Petteri Nokelainen signed a one year deal; Erik Christensen signed a one year extension. Troy Brodie has also signed a two year contract extension. I know I’m missing someone……
Just when we thought it was safe and Murray was done, today he was at it again! The Ducks signed defenseman Steve Eminger to a two-year deal, acquired left wing Shawn Weller from Ottawa for right wing Jason Bailey and signed left wing Kyle Calder to a pro tryout agreement.
In looking over the moves made this off-season, it seems Murray had an eye for this season, as well as the future. Preseason will be interesting as Ducks fans watch Randy Carlyle move his players around to find the best fit. I hope that fit is found quickly as we have the talent to make this a really exciting season.
On the radar: prospects camp, training camp and preseason games. Opening Day is October 3.
Is it October yet?