Ducks GM says Selanne, Koivu are only ‘untouchables’

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The Anaheim Ducks made a stunning run to a playoff spot last season, but in a way, that might have deceived management into thinking that the team is better than it actually is. The 2011-12 season has been a cruel reality check, but Randy Carlyle’s firing might not be the only big move.

Ducks GM Bob Murray spoke with The Los Angeles Times’ Helene Elliott, revealing that veteran forwards Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne are the only players who might be “untouchable” in trades. As much as that has to do with Selanne retiring with the Ducks, the biggest reason might be that Selanne and Koivu’s contracts have no-movement clauses. (In other words, Selanne could get his way if he asks for a trade.)

The biggest – and maybe most worrisome – takeaway is that Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan could be had at the right price. Murray said that he’s not looking to rebuild and give up on this season, but core players will decide if they stay by how they play.

Murray could be playing with fire

Look, there’s no denying that the Ducks’ big three of power forwards are coming up small. The problem is that Anaheim is a low-budget team that often competes largely based on Selanne + those three, who carry affordable cap hits. Here’s what those players are getting in terms of cap hits and their all-important yearly salaries via CapGeek.com:

Ryan Getzlaf: 2011-12 cap hit: $5.325 million; 2011-12 salary: $5.75 million
2012-13 cap hit: $5.325 million; 2012-13 salary: $6.125 million;

Corey Perry: 11-12 cap hit: $5.325 million; 11-12 salary: $5.375 million
12-13 cap hit: $5.235 million; 12-13 salary: $4.875 million

Bobby Ryan: 11-12 cap hit: $5.1 million; 11-12 salary: $5.263 million
12-13 cap hit: $5.1 million; 12-13 salary: $5.623 million
13-14 cap hit: $5.1 million; 13-14 salary: $5.623 million
14-15 cap hit: $5.1 million; 14-15 salary: $5.623 million

OK, so maybe that trio isn’t earning the $16 million-or-so that they’re receiving this season, but you’re not going to find much better value in a trio of scorers than that. This thought is especially true since their current struggles and Murray’s back-against-the-wall situation will only encourage rival GMs to exploit the situation with low-ball offers.

Deep down, Getzlaf-Perry-Ryan should be the Ducks’ only untouchables,* but we’ll just have to see if cooler heads prevail.

* – Yes, that means trading Selanne should be considered, especially if they can get some quality talent in exchange for what might be his final NHL season.

Report: Bruins avoid arbitration with Ryan Spooner

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Heading into today’s arbitration hearing, Ryan Spooner was reportedly looking for a $3.85 million dollar deal. On the other side of this equation, the Bruins were only willing to offer $2 million.

With that kind of gap, it seemed almost certain that this dispute would be settled by an arbitrator, but the two sides have reportedly met somewhere in the middle, per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Friedman is reporting that the two sides have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a deal worth $2.825 million.

Spooner finished last season with 11 goals and 39 points in 78 games. The 25-year-old scored two less goals and 10 less points in 2016-17 than he did the previous year.

There’s no doubt that he has plenty of offensively ability, but consistency in his own end has always been an issue (just ask former head coach Claude Julien).

If Spooner can put it all together this season, he’ll be able to earn a much bigger pay day next summer.

Brian MacLellan wants you to know that the Caps are still ‘a good team’

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The Washington Capitals will look pretty different when training camp opens.

Alex Ovechkin, Niklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, Braden Holtby and Evgeny Kuznetsov will all be back, but players like Justin Williams, Marcus Johansson, Kevin Shattenkirk, Nate Schmidt and Karl Alzner are starting new journeys somewhere else.

Some have suggested that the big number of departures will bring the Caps down a notch or two when it comes to regular season dominance. GM Brian MacLellan simply doesn’t see that happening.

“People make it sound like we’re a lottery team,” said MacLellan, per the Washington Post. “I’m shocked by that. We’ve got good players. I want people to know: We’ve got a good team.”

The Caps will have to rely on young veterans and/or rookies to fill the void left by all of those departures. Andrei Burakovsky and Tom Wilson may have to play bigger roles, while rookies like defensemen Lucas Johansen  and Christian Djoos may crack the lineup sooner than expected.

As of right now, the Caps have five defensemen on one-way contracts (Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, Dmitry Orlov, John Carlson and Taylor Chorney), so there’s plenty of room for those youngsters to leave their mark on the team.

“It’s a good team, I think,” MacLellan said. “We have good goaltending. We have skilled players. We’re going to have to see how Djoos plays, how Johansen plays. We might take a little while to get up to speed in that area. I guess there’s a little uncertainty. But I feel good.”

 McLellan’s team might take a bit of a dip because the supporting cast took a hit this offseason, but expecting them to fall off the map because of it is a little premature.

PHT Morning Skate: Terrell Owens owns Kris Letang during training session

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–Minnesota Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau is now the owner of a junior hockey team. “This may sound corny, but I feel I was put on this Earth to promote hockey. So the idea of being involved in a junior team that is the middle void between high school hockey and college was very exciting to me.” (Minneapolis StarTribune)

–The Chicago Blackhawks traded Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes this offseason. The ‘Hawks were the only team Hjalmarsson has ever played for, and changing teams has been emotional for him. He showed exactly how difficult it is for him to play in a different city in a heartfelt Instagram post. (CSN Chicago)

Phil Kessel conducted a “I Will & I Won’t” interview. Will he bring the Stanley Cup to Toronto for the second offseason in a row? Uhhhh not exactly. Also, he’ll be rooting for one of Mayweather or McGregor, but he just doesn’t know who yet. (BarDown)

–Despite the fact that the Rangers and Mika Zibanejad agreed to a long-term contract on Tuesday, The Score believes the Senators still won the trade that saw them ship Zibanejad to New York for Derick Brassard. (The Score)

–The Hockey News continues their “2020 Vision” series on each NHL team. Their most recent piece focuses on the Chicago Blackhawks and what the team will look like in three years. Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith will likely still be around, but youngsters like Nick Schmaltz and Alex Debrincat will take on bigger roles. (The Hockey News)

–Penguins defenseman Kris Letang was working out with former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens in Montreal. For a guy in his 40s, Owens can still move pretty well:

EA Sports rolls out NHL 18 closed beta, with a lot of 3-on-3 focus

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EA Sports released a closed beta for “NHL 18” today, which gives players on Xbox One and Playstation 4 the chance to test three modes out from July 25 – Aug. 1.*

It sure seems like the beta – if not the full game – will focus on 3-on-3 overtime, and extending that experience beyond the confines of normal NHL action.

For one thing, the established EA Sports Hockey League mode will apparently include 3-on-3 overtime in the beta, and maybe more interestingly, also through full games. EA Sports explains as much:

Bringing authentic NHL 3-on-3 overtime to EA SPORTS Hockey League, you can now choose to play 3-on-3 full matches, opening up more ice for you and your teammates to get creative, pull off big plays, and showcase brand new skill moves. With more space to attack – and to make mistakes – 3-on-3 EASHL is higher stakes with more competition and skills.

Fans of the ailing sub-genre of arcade-style sports video games should take note that “NHL 18” introduces “NHL Threes.” The format hearkens back to the 16-bit days by turning off offside and icing calls, while a penalty will give a player a chance at penalty shot. Interesting. EA provided a little more information about the mode here, and it sure sounds like it could be fully featured upon release. The beta at least provides a taste of that.

(It wouldn’t be surprising if “NHL Threes” apes the previous generations “3 on 3 NHL Arcade,” which became something of a cult classic for some hockey game fans.)

Along with EA Sports Hockey League (note: a mode where you control a single player rather than a full team) and “NHL Threes,” the beta also includes the more vanilla Online Versus Play mode.

While the beta appears to be closed, EA’s NHL account is tweeting out ways to get codes on Tuesday, so it might not be too late if you’re lucky.

Without taking the beta for a test run personally just yet, this sounds like a nice opportunity for people to give the near-complete “NHL 18” a trial before the full game comes out on Sept. 15.

* – Or, as Kotaku’s Jason Schreier recently noted, maybe for a longer period of time.