Teemu Selanne has knee surgery, future plans temporarily on hold

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Knee surgery is always a scary proposition. It’s even scarier when it’s the soon-to-be 41-year-old who has been contemplating retirement that is having surgery. Such is the case for the Teemu Selanne and the Anaheim Ducks. Selanne went back to Finland after the season with his family and underwent arthroscopic surgery for his surgically repaired left knee. The Finnish face of the franchise wanted to have his knee looked at before he made a final decision for next season.

Anaheim Ducks GM Bob Murray was quick to point out that any speculation about the surgery at this point would be exactly that–speculation. Still, with Selanne delaying his decision until after free agency opens, Murray will be forced to build his team for next season without knowing the superstar’s intentions.

Eric Stephens of the OC Register spoke to Ducks GM Bob Murray last week:

“Ducks GM Bob Murray intimated that the procedure might have been more exploratory in nature but quickly cautioned that “until we know more, we shouldn’t speculate.”

“I think Teemu wants to play and I think he’s trying to make sure that before he decides to play that everything’s going to be OK,” Murray said. ”I think he’s taking all the steps to make sure everything is OK. He has every right to do that, by the way.”

Before looking at his options this summer, let’s take a look at what Selanne did this season. He netted 31 goals while primarily playing on the Ducks’ second line and power play unit. His 80 points this season was good for 8th in the NHL—all while playing as an injured 40-year-old. What would he be able to do if he had two good legs to skate on?

As has seemingly been his annual tradition since the lockout, Selanne will weigh his options before committing to another season with the Ducks. Last season he proved that he still has plenty left in the tank—at this point it’s a personal decision. If he still has the fire to play, the Ducks would welcome him back with open arms.

If he decides to hang ‘em up then things will get interesting. The Ducks’ pipeline is stocked full of offensive prospects waiting to get a chance at the NHL level. Kyle Palmieri was knocking on the door last season after an impressive season in Syracuse. Brandon McMillian proved that he deserved more quality ice time while playing with the big club last season. During Thursday’s prospect camp, both Emerson Etem and Devante Smith-Pelly stated they’re aiming to make the NHL team in September (and both were impressive during the scrimmage as well). All four would be nice additions to the Ducks next season—but none are ready to step into Selanne’s skates at this point in their career. That’s not a knock on the youngers; it would be difficult for anyone to replace the future Hall of Famer in the Ducks lineup.

On the free agent market, they could be interested in someone like Tyler Kennedy or the like simply as an insurance policy if Selanne were to retire. No matter what the Ducks decide to do moving forward, Selanne probably won’t announce his intentions until later this summer. But if the surgery goes well and he decides he’s up for another 82-game grind, the Ducks could use the high-end help if they want to make it back to the playoffs.

Blue Jackets sign Schroeder after trading for him

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Not long after acquiring him in a minor trade from the Minnesota Wild, the Columbus Blue Jackets signed Jordan Schroeder to a two-year contract.

The team confirms that it is a two-way deal for 2017-18 and then becomes one-way in 2018-19.

Schroeder is guaranteed $350K for the first year of that contract and then $650K in 2018-19, according to the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline.

The 22nd pick of the 2009 NHL Draft receives a fitting contract: he’s been a “tweener,” bouncing around the NHL and AHL. He hasn’t been able to make much of an impact, Schroeder at least provides some organizational depth.

That could come in handy, as Portzline indicates that Sam Gagner – not so surprisingly – is expected to garner a lot more attention this time around in free agency. Perhaps Schroeder could serve as insurance for Gagner?

NCAA star Spencer Foo chooses the Flames

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NCAA standout forward Spencer Foo decided to sign with the Calgary Flames, as The Sports Corporation and team confirmed. The signing might not be official until free agency kicks off on Saturday, July 1, but he apparently made his decision.

After managing 25 points in each of his first two seasons with Union College, Foo exploded in 2016-17, racking up 26 goals and 62 points. You can see some of his highlights in the video above.

He didn’t go drafted, so this could be a case of another scorer blossoming late.

Foo is an Edmonton native, so playing close to home in Calgary likely factored into his decision. He was connected to the Edmonton Oilers in earlier rumors while MLive.com’s Ansar Khan indicates that his final choice came down to the Flames or the Detroit Red Wings.

Calgary is already classifying him as a RW. Perhaps he’ll be that long-desired fit for Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan? There’s another positive aspect for the Flames, as this might help to soften the blow of giving up a bundle of assets in the Travis Hamonic deal.

The Sports Corporation tweeted out a photo of Foo, 23, in a Flames jersey:

Which NHL teams face toughest, easiest schedules in 2017-18?

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For NHL schedule nerds, Tuesday felt a bit like Christmas.*

On the Forecheck’s Dirk Hoag is mostly retired from hockey blogging, but he still puts out his beloved “super schedule,” and he combined with Alex Daugherty to do a 2017-18 version, which you should absolutely check out here.

Hoag and Daughtery listed all 31 teams’ total miles traveled and also their number of back-to-back games for next season.

Here are the top five teams for most miles:

1. Avalanche – 48,639
2. Flames – 47,931
3. Blackhawks – 47,926
4. Coyotes – 46,856
5. Oilers – 46,815

Note: the Panthers are the sixth-ranked team and face easily the most travel among East teams with 44,395, up from 41,891.

Now, here are the bottom five for travel time:

31: Penguins – 34,041
30: Devils – 34,052
29. Sabres – 34,175
28. Red Wings – 34,759
27. Maple Leafs – 35,689

The Los Angeles Kings tend to be frequent flyers, but not here; they face the least travel of any West team with 39,915.

That’s not the entire picture, however. These teams face the most back-to-back sets:

1 (tied) – Penguins and Senators with 19
3. Hurricanes – 18
4 (tied) Blackhawks, Blue Jackets – 17
6 (tied) Blues, Islanders, Sabres, and Devils – 16

While these teams face the fewest.

1. Jets – 9 (Winnipeg faces 43,296 miles of travel.)
2. Canucks – 10
3 (tied) – Avalanche, Oilers, Predators, Ducks, and Rangers – 11

Oh, and in their inaugural season, the Vegas Golden Knights travel 42,128 miles and must endure 12 back-to-back sets, so they deal with a pretty middle-of-the-road haul.

***

As you can see, plenty of teams see their low travel rates balanced out by high back-to-back game totals. The Penguins are a good example of that.

Then again, some teams just suffer tough draws. As much as conspiracy theorists love to harp on the Blackhawks, they face the third-most travel miles and deal with 17 back-to-back sets.

On The Forecheck’s full list can be seen here, yet they are not the only outlet to do some interesting schedule analysis. Hockey Viz’s Micah Blake McCurdy put together a list of rested/tired games for each team:

Though he also narrowed it down in a way that might make the biggest difference: a rested home team facing a tired road opponent.

Long story short, it’s difficult to really boil down who has the toughest schedule based on one metric. It’s a subjective matter, as you can weigh these “rest/tired” factors, go broad with sheer back-to-back sets, and even lean on jet lag more than anything else.

Still, if you’re the type to wear a tin foil hat, the lists above could really help you cook up some theories about the bad hand your team allegedly drew.

(Opinion: it does seem like Chicago faces more than just salary cap challenges next season, however.)

* – Or whatever holiday resonates. So, Festivus?

Report: Panthers want Jagr back (just for less money)

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Jaromir Jagr made $4 million with the Florida Panthers last season. The team wants him back in 2017-18, but at least a mild discount, according to the Miami Herald’s George Richards.

Ultimately, the Panthers may remain the best fit for the 45-year-old, although it would be awfully interesting to see what kind of interest Jagr would draw if he truly put “feelers” out there.

Jagr saw a reduction in production last season, generating 16 goals and 46 points after a spellbinding 27-goal, 66-point campaign in 2015-16.

(He actually seemed to rotate such years, as he had 47 points in 2014-15 after generating 67 in 2013-14).

Of course, beyond the production, Jagr brings name recognition. He also continues to chase history; Jagr currently ranks third all-time in goals (765), with at least an outside chance to be the third NHL player to cross the 800-goal mark. Jagr may also want to boost his second all-time points mark of 1,914 to 2,000.

For a team struggling for relevance (not to mention a clear direction), having a box office draw isn’t the worst thing in the world.

Sorting out Jagr’s situation isn’t the only key decision for (reinstated?) Panthers GM Dale Tallon, who gets to assert his viewpoint on a team with about $20 million in cap space. Then again, for the Panthers, there’s always the battle between cap space and their actual budget.

Will Jagr be worth the money? Could he leave for greener pastures? It likely won’t be long before we get some answers.