Would Paul Kariya be a good signing for Anaheim?

paulkariya1.jpgOn Friday, we told you about how Teemu Selanne told a Finnish magazine that he was looking forward to coming back to the NHL and the Anaheim Ducks for one more year. Part of that discussion was about how he was working on bringing back his old friend Paul Kariya with him to play in southern California to have, perhaps, one last go-round. We speculated that it would create some great buzz for the team for next year and give the Ducks a potentially very fun and nostalgic scoring line to work with.

Perhaps some of our excitement needs to be cut back a bit and Orange County Register sports columnist Randy Youngman was happy to provide the reasons why a Paul Kariya comeback in Anaheim might be a bit awkward.

It is not a slam-dunk by any means, though, because there were similar rumors in the summer of 2003, shortly after the Ducks’ improbable first run to the Stanley Cup Finals. Back then, all indications were that Selanne would leave San Jose as a free agent to return to Anaheim to rejoin Kariya, his former linemate and longtime friend.

Instead, the Ducks failed to make Kariya a qualifying offer that summer, upsetting their longtime captain and essentially making him an instant free agent. Then Kariya talked Selanne into jumping to the Colorado Avalanche as part of a package deal.

At the time, then-Ducks GM Bryan Murray said he felt misled, and Ducks fans felt so betrayed that they have booed Kariya ever since.

Time can heal all wounds of course and Bryan Murray has moved on to another job in Ottawa. Whether current Ducks GM Bob Murray feels that Kariya can help is another story entirely, one which Youngman also addresses briefly.

For that to happen, Kariya, who still maintains an offseason residence in Orange County, would have to settle for a low salary. And there is no guarantee current Ducks GM Bob Murray, whose offseason mission is to bolster the blue line, would be interested in Kariya at any cost. A week ago, Murray told me his priority was finding another veteran defenseman.

I’m guessing, however, that there is some mutual interest, because Selanne and Kariya — the top two leading scorers in Ducks franchise history, who played together from 1996-2001 — are both represented by agent Don Baizley. But first Selanne, 40, has to officially announce he’s coming back.

All right so let’s chalk things up here for Paul Kariya: Still lives in California, shares an agent with Selanne (who the Ducks are likely speaking with anyhow) and they’ve got a previous and great history together. The only thing working against them are what Bob Murray’s plans are for the team, a team budget and the extreme outside possibility that old ill feelings surrounding Kariya’s departure might still be floating around Anaheim. I’d say Ducks fans should prepare to fire up the way-back machine, dig out the old Mighty Ducks of Anaheim jerseys and let Wild Wing fly one more time next season.

There don’t appear to be many other teams showing interest in Paul Kariya, unless southern California’s other team might be looking to take a chance on him, and whether Kariya wants to play again or not seems to be the only question. His last couple of seasons with the Blues show that he’s still got some game but he’s clearly a shadow of the high-flying goal-scoring left wing of the past. He scored 18 goals last year in 75 games with the Blues but hasn’t scored 20 or more since his last season with the Nashville Predators in 2006-2007. If the Ducks are hesitant about going for a nostalgia piece, it’s understandable. Then again, if this is going to be Selanne’s last year and his “last request” is to have Kariya ride shotgun on the left wing of his line one more time, you’d have to think they’d like to make the guy happy.

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    Goalie nods: Andersen back for Leafs

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    Curtis McElhinney held up his end of the bargain.

    Now, it’s back to Frederik Andersen.

    After missing the last game (well, one-and-a-half games) to an upper-body injury, Andersen will resume his regular No. 1 duties when the Leafs take on the Preds in Nashville this evening.

    Andersen was initially hurt Saturday in Buffalo, then sat out Tuesday’s big win over Florida — one that McElhinney called the biggest start of his career, and responded to by stopping 25 of 27 shots.

    It’ll be interesting to see how Andersen fares in his first game back, and if he continue his strong month of March (6-1-2 in his last 10 games, with a .936 save percentage). The Preds have played well of late, winning seven of their last nine, and haven’t lost at Bridgestone since Mar. 4.

    For the Preds, Pekka Rinne starts in goal.

    Elsewhere…

    Thomas Greiss, who’s lost his last two starts, gets another shot as the desperate Isles take on the Flyers. Philly will counter with Steve Mason, who’s riding a personal three-game winning streak.

    Eddie Lack remains out with a neck injury, so Cam Ward starts when the ‘Canes host the Jackets. No word yet on a Columbus starter, but Sergei Bobrovsky has played three straight, including Tuesday’s win over Buffalo.

    — The B’s are desperate for wins, so no surprise they’re riding Tuukka Rask into tonight’s tilt against Dallas. The visiting Stars have yet to name a starter, but Antti Niemi is likely.

    James Reimer and Roberto Luongo are both out injured, so Reto Berra starts for the Panthers while newly recalled Adam Wilcox backs up. For the host Habs, it’ll be Carey Price.

    — Another team desperate for points? The Bolts, who will go with Andrei Vasilevskiy after he was hooked from — then returned to — Monday’s wild comeback victory against Chicago. Petr Mrazek goes for the visiting Red Wings.

    Alex Stalock, recalled yesterday, will bump Darcy Kuemper from the No. 2 gig in Minnesota, and make his regular season debut. He’ll be up against Craig Anderson in the Ottawa goal.

    — The Ducks just keep winning with Jonathan Bernier in goal, so why rush back John Gibson? That will continue to be the plan tonight, as Anaheim visits Winnipeg. Michael Hutchinson starts for the Jets.

    — It’s Martin Jones versus Cam Talbot when the Sharks take on the Oilers in Edmonton.

    Pre-game reading: On Matthew Tkachuk, the NHL’s newest villain

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    — Up top, Mike Milbury and Keith Jones were none too impressed with the Los Angeles Kings’ response to Matthew Tkachuk last night in Calgary. Milbury took aim at Drew Doughty for turning the other cheek, while Jones ripped Jake Muzzin for turning down a fight.

    — Tkachuk is the “villain we need right now,” according to Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News. After watching the 19-year-old’s busy night against the Kings, Kennedy writes: “The kid is mixing things up. He’s the perfect example of the guy you want on your team but hate when he’s on the other side. And he’s just getting started.” (The Hockey News)

    Brock Boeser has a bright future with the Vancouver Canucks, but his journey to the NHL hasn’t been all roses. In 2010, Boeser’s dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and in 2014, one of his good friends was killed in a car accident. “When you have experiences like that,” said his mom, “you can’t help but grow as you deal with them.” (National Post)

    — TSN’s Gary Lawless wants the NHL to crack down on slashing. And we bet Johnny Gaudreau agrees. Johnny Hockey got chopped on the hand again last night. This time, the referee called a penalty. But too often slashing goes unpunished, just like hooking and holding used to. (TSN)

    — A Q&A with Alex Radulov, who really wants to sign a contract extension with the Montreal Canadiens. “I would love to stay here. I like it here. I love the fans. I love this [training] facility. I come here even at night time; it’s all open doors. I can come and do whatever I need to. I really enjoy it, it’s really nice. You got everything here just to make yourself better.” All that said, contract talks are on hold for now. (Sportsnet)

    Braden Holtby, fashion icon? Apparently, one of the best goalies in the NHL is also quite the clotheshorse. “I’ve always had an appreciation for things that are well-made, be it art or houses or carpentry, woodworking, clothes, I find the details very impressive for people putting their work into their craft. They see visions and they see those things come out, and you can see when someone cares about what they’re making. I think fashion’s a bit along the lines of that.” (Washington Post)

    Enjoy the games!

    Jets’ Enstrom undergoes second knee surgery in 12 months

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    There’s not much left for Winnipeg to play for — just five regular-season games left, and no playoffs on the horizon — so today’s news that Tobias Enstrom has undergone season-ending knee surgery isn’t a crippling development.

    Can’t be good, though.

    Enstrom’s had a difficult year health-wise and, at the time of surgery, was dealing with a concussion suffered on a Tom Sestito hit back in early March. Prior to that, he missed time while attending to a family matter in his native Sweden and, prior to that, was shut down late last season to undergo knee surgery.

    It’s unclear if today’s procedure was related to the one Enstrom had last March.

    It is worth noting that, at the time of last year’s surgery, head coach Paul Maurice noted the 32-year-old had been dealing with the injury for months.

    “He’s been able to get through it because of blocks of days off. If he can get a two day block, he’d get a little better and it’s just getting worse,” Maurice said, per Global News. “It got to the point that he’s not recovering and he hasn’t been. He hasn’t been for almost a month now. He’s not recovering enough on his days off for the pain ever to subside.”

    All told, Enstrom appeared in 60 games this year, scoring 14 points while averaging just under 22 minutes per night. Next season will be the last of a five-year, $28.75 million deal that carries a $5.75 million cap hit.

    Lundqvist will start four of five remaining games

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    Henrik Lundqvist has had two tough starts since returning from injury.

    The 35-year-old allowed five goals in his first game back, a 6-3 loss to Anaheim Sunday, and five more in his second game, a 5-4 OT loss to San Jose Tuesday.

    But Lundqvist is still the No. 1 in New York, and for that reason he’s scheduled to start four of the Rangers’ five remaining regular-season games, with the hope he’ll be able to play his way back into form in time for the postseason.

    Lundqvist was not happy after Tuesday’s loss to the Sharks, even though the point the Rangers gained earned them a playoff berth.

    “I’m extremely disappointed right now,” he told reporters. “I’m glad we’re in, but I want to get the job done. I want the win. We found a way to lose this one at the end.”

    With the loss, Lundqvist’s save percentage fell to .911 on the season. If it finishes at that number, it would be the lowest save percentage of his NHL career.

    Antti Raanta‘s save percentage, meanwhile, sits at .922. In his last start, he shut out the Kings in Los Angeles.

    The Rangers host Pittsburgh tomorrow and Philadelphia Sunday. Next week, they’re in Washington Wednesday, Ottawa Saturday, and then they close out their schedule at home to Pittsburgh Sunday.

    Raanta will start one of the final two games.

    The Rangers are likely to face Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs.