If Teemu Selanne retires, can 2009 first round pick Kyle Palmieri help the Ducks offense?

One thing that Ducks fans and the team itself is hoping won’t happen this September is the retirement of Teemu Selanne. While Selanne is going to make a decision in September one way or the other to play this season, the Ducks will find themselves in a tough position with their depth scoring abilities. While they’ve got one of the best first lines in the NHL with MVP Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Bobby Ryan the rest of the team will be hurting without Selanne.

One guy that could get a big shot in training camp if Selanne decides to hang it up is 2009 first round pick Kyle Palmieri. Palmieri got a brief look at what he could do in the NHL last season playing in 10 games for the Ducks and scoring just one goal. In the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch, however, Palmieri did very well in his first professional season. In 62 games with the Crunch, Palmieri had 29 goals and 22 assists and being another year older and a little wiser could give him the edge the former Team USA WJC champion would need to have success in the NHL.

NHL.com’s Lindsay Kramer reports that Palmieri will be gunning for a spot in Anaheim no matter what when training camp starts next month. Those that saw him closely in the AHL last season speak highly of him.

“There’s an opening for a right-handed forward up there,” Syracuse assistant general manager Bob Ferguson said in describing Palmieri. “I don’t think there’s any question he will play in the NHL someday and be a key member of Anaheim.”

Ferguson also adds that last season was a big change from what Palmieri was used to before the pros.

“For what he went through last season for a 19-year-old, you could easily say it would be overwhelming,” Ferguson said. “He experienced last year, in one season, things that some guys don’t experience in their entire career. I think what really happened was reality set in for him about being a pro hockey player. The last six weeks of the season, he was allowed to settle down more mentally than physically.”

Asking Palmieri to jump right into a major role in the NHL after just one season in professional hockey would be asking a lot, and for a kid (he’s just 20 years-old still) to become a second line right winger for a team that finished fourth in the Western Conference last season, that’s setting the bar a bit too high. That said, if Selanne doesn’t play this year the Ducks will have a lot of competition from within to fill that spot on the second line and they might have to wade through what’s left over in the free agent pool to make things work.

One thing’s for sure, if Selanne hangs it up the Ducks are in trouble having to replace his 80 points from last season and they’ll need their top line to play even better and get a lot of surprise support from elsewhere. Here’s to hoping Ducks GM Bob Murray is prepared.

Oilers re-sign Pakarinen for one year

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The Edmonton Oilers have given winger Iiro Pakarinen a one-year contract extension.

From the release:

Pakarinen just finished his third season with the Oilers organization, appearing in 14 regular season games in 2016-17, posting four points (2 goals, 2 assists).  The 25 year old forward missed 53 games due to an injury suffered during the pre-season. He appeared in one playoff game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Oilers brought Pakarinen over from Finland in 2014. Since then, he’s split his North American career between the AHL and NHL while drawing praise for his versatility and hard-nosed style.

Per CapFriendly, Pakarinen’s cap hit will be $750,000 in 2017-18. It’s a one-way deal.

Market heating up for prized Czech d-man Rutta

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Coming off an impressive performance for the Czech Republic at the World Hockey Championship, Jan Rutta is now being courted by a number of NHL clubs.

Per The Athletic, the Blackhawks are in contention for securing Rutta’s services. That comes on the heels of earlier reports from TSN’s Darren Dreger, who said there are “multiple” offers for the 26-year-old, including ones from Edmonton and Calgary.

“He’s a steady defenseman with size, and he had a strong finish of the season,” an NHL scout told The Athletic. “He was very good in the playoffs and played his best at the Worlds.”

Rutta, who was never drafted by an NHL club, has spent his professional career with Czech League outfit Pirati Chomutov. He’s blossomed into a talented offensive defenseman — finishing second among Czech League d-men with 32 points in 46 games this year — and, as mentioned above, has good size at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds.

Last week, Rutta’s agent — longtime Octagon Hockey representative Allan Walsh — tweeted that his client would make a decision on NHL offers soon.

 

Sharks keep stockpiling European free agents, land Sandberg

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Doug Wilson is at it again.

On Thursday, the Sharks GM confirmed yesterday’s news — the signing of Czech d-man Radim Simek — and announced that Swedish forward Filip Sandberg had agreed to a two-year deal.

“Filip is a very creative player who sees the ice well and can create offense in limited space,” Wilson said in a release. “He plays a high-pressure, puck-pursuit game and his battle level is something we have been impressed with, especially against older players.

“We are excited for him to join our organization.”

Sandberg, 22, is fresh off a Swedish League title with HV71. The club announced Sandberg would be headed overseas last week, but didn’t divulge what team had signed him.

It wasn’t surprising NHL clubs had interest. Sandberg had a good offensive campaign in Sweden, scoring 25 points in 52 regular season games, then broke out for six goals and 14 points in 16 playoff contests.

Prior to this year, Sandberg twice represented Sweden at the World Juniors, including the 2013 tournament where the country won silver. He finished with two goals in six games playing alongside the likes of Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, Elias Lindholm and Victor Rask.

As for Simek, he inked a one-year deal.

“Radim is a quick transition defenseman who drives the play offensively and plays with a physical edge,” said Wilson. “We like his offensive instincts especially on special teams and think his game will translate well in North America.”

Simek just finished representing his native Czech Republic at the World Hockey Championship, where he had two points in eight games.

According to a report from Radio Praha, the Sharks beat out the Rangers to acquire Simek. Passed over in his draft year, the 24-year-old has spent his entire pro career with Liberec Bili Tygri.

As mentioned above, Wilson has done well finding European skaters in their early-to-mid-20s, ones that can contribute right away at the NHL level: Melker Karlsson, Joonas Donskoi and Marcus Sorensen, most specifically.

The hope now is that Simek and Sandberg will continue that trend.

Avs dismiss three from coaching staff, but Bednar remains

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Colorado GM Joe Sakic said there would be turnover this offseason, but that head coach Jared Bednar was safe.

On Tuesday, Sakic followed through.

The Avs have parted ways with two of Bednar’s assistants — Tim Army and Dave Farrish — and also relieved goalie coach Francois Allaire of his duties.

Army, 54, has been with the club for the last six years, having previously served as the head coach at Providence. He served under three different head coaches in Colorado — Bednar, Patrick Roy and Joe Sacco — and was largely tasked with running the team’s power play (which finished 30th in the NHL this year).

Farrish, 60, just wrapped his second year on the job with the Avs after coming over from Toronto. A veteran of nearly 30 years in coaching, Farrish was brought aboard by Roy, and brought “a wealth of experience and hockey knowledge to our organization.” A journeyman blueliner who playecd 430 games at the NHL level, Farrish ran the club’s defense last season.

Allaire, 57, has been coaching goalies at the NHL level for over 25 years, with previous stops in Montreal, Anaheim and Toronto. His ties to Roy ran deep — he mentored the former Avs coach with the Canadiens, and the pair won two Stanley Cups together (in 1986 and ’93). Allaire has been with the Avs for the last four years, on the heels of an acrimonious departure from Toronto.

Today’s shakeup is a significant one, but it didn’t come out of nowhere. Bednar was essentially forced into retaining all of Roy’s staff following the latter’s shock resignation last August, and probably wants to bring in some of his own guys.

Sakic, meanwhile, had to make some sort of changes after the worst regular season in franchise history — and today’s could just be the tip of the iceberg.

Related: Avs president gives Sakic vote of confidence