Justin Schultz

Justin Schultz appears to be headed for free agency


For a while now it’s looked like Justin Schultz was probably going to become an unrestricted free agent. At this point, it would be a shock if he decided to avoid the open market.

The Anaheim Ducks 2008 second-round draft pick has excelled with the University of Wisconsin and could make an immediate impact in the NHL.

Anaheim had an exclusive 30-day window to get something done, but as the Orange County Register points out, that period ends Sunday.

“I met quietly with their people [Thursday] night and it’s not going anywhere,” Ducks GM Bob Murray said. “Justin’s made up his mind on what he’s doing.”

All the same, Murray insisted that he would make one last attempt to get Schultz to agree to an entry-level contract.

If that doesn’t work, Schultz will be able to negotiate with any team on Monday, although he won’t be allowed to ink a contract until July 1.

The Hockey News is reporting that Schultz and his agent plan to meet on Tuesday to determine their next move.

“This one is going to be just as big as the (Zach) Parise and (Ryan) Suter,” an NHL executive said, “because of the economics of it.”

Schultz will be limited to signing an entry-level contract, so money isn’t expected to be a factor in his decision.

Ducks name Kesler alternate captain

Ryan Kesler
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For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”

On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.

With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.

“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”

As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.

It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.