Cam Tucker

OTTAWA, ON - FEBRUARY 6: Cody Ceci #5 of the Ottawa Senators skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Canadian Tire Centre on February 6, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
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Senators, Ceci agree to two-year, $5.6M contract

Ottawa Senators general manager Pierre Dorion predicted 11 days ago that a new contract with defenseman Cody Ceci would get done “within the next few weeks.”

His timeline proved to be quite accurate.

On Tuesday, the Senators announced they had re-signed the 22-year-old Ceci, a restricted free agent, to a two-year deal, worth a total value of $5.6 million.

The breakdown of the deal from the Senators states Ceci will receive $2.25 million in the first year of his new contract and $3.35 million in the second.

As per General Fanager, Ceci is slated to be a restricted free agent at the end of this deal, which means the Senators would have to match the salary Ceci made in the final season of the contract in their next qualifying offer to him two years from now.

It’s also a raise from the $1.369 million average annual value he was making with his entry-level contract. It was previously reported that the Senators offered Ceci both long and short-term deals.

The Senators put out a teaser of the news on Twitter, minutes before the announcement.

Ceci is from Ottawa, where he also played his junior hockey, and a first-round pick of the Senators in 2012.

In his second full season with the Senators, he posted a new single-season career high in goals with 10 and points with 26.

It’s Boston Bruins day at PHT

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 05:  Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins celebrates after scoring against the Washington Capitals during the first period at TD Garden on March 5, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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The offseason started early for the Boston Bruins, as they faltered down the stretch and ultimately failed to make the playoffs for a second consecutive year.

Despite once again missing the post-season, Claude Julien retained his job, with general manager Don Sweeney giving his head coach a vote of confidence in their end-of-season press conference.

Free agency is where the Bruins made headlines this summer.

They bid farewell to Loui Eriksson, the 31-year-old right winger who cashed in with the Vancouver Canucks after scoring 30 goals and 63 points last season. Boston did add former St. Louis Blues captain and center David Backes to a five-year deal worth a total of $30 million.

They also had plenty of interest in college free agent forward Jimmy Vesey, who is from North Reading, Mass., and played four years at Harvard. It could’ve been the perfect story — local Hobey Baker Award winner signs with the Bruins after opting to become a free agent following his college career — but instead Vesey decided to take his talents to the New York Rangers.

Now, where the Bruins wanted to improve their team this summer was on the blue line by bringing in a puck-moving defenseman. However, such an addition has yet to materialize.

There is still time before training camp gets underway, but so far the biggest moves on defense for Boston have come from buying out Dennis Seidenberg and re-signing Torey Krug to a four-year, $21 million contract and veteran John-Michael Liles, who was acquired at the trade deadline.

Bieksa willing to play ‘whatever role it takes’ to get Ducks back to the Stanley Cup Final

GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 03:  Kevin Bieksa #2 of the Anaheim Ducks sits in the penalty box during the first period of the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on March 3, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Ducks defeated the Coyotes 5-1.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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All day long, PHT has been discussing — and asking — whether the Anaheim Ducks, after another playoff disappointment and the hiring of coach Randy Carlyle, can transform from a strong regular season team into a Stanley Cup finalist.

Kevin Bieksa, at the age of 35, would sure like to see that come to fruition.

After coming one win shy of hoisting the Stanley Cup with the Vancouver Canucks in 2011, Bieksa has since moved to Anaheim in a trade and now enters his second season for a team that has a strong enough roster to make the playoffs. But the Ducks haven’t been able to take that next step since winning it all in 2007.

After an injury late in the regular season, Bieksa recently expressed to Steve Ewen of The Province newspaper a sense of optimism about how he feels, physically, at his age and with some hard miles — he’s never played an entire 82-game season — since entering the league in 2005.

Age and health may be the two biggest question marks when it comes to Bieksa, the oldest defender with the Ducks, a team that has a strong group of young defensemen, like Sami Vatanen and Cam Fowler.

So close in 2011, he doesn’t have many chances to get back.

“Who knows? If we had won a Stanley Cup back in 2011, maybe my perspective would have changed. I’m at the point in my career where I really want to win a Stanley Cup and I’ve wanted to win one for 30 years and I’ve dreamed about it for 30 years and I’ve been as close you can get,” Bieksa told The Province newspaper in Vancouver.

“I’m going to keep playing for that. I’ll take whatever role it takes to help my team get there.”

Last season, his first in Anaheim, Bieksa had decent puck possession numbers — 50.8 per cent Corsi For at even strength — while playing 21 minutes a night, including penalty kill and power play. But at five-on-five, he was on the ice for 2.31 goals-against per 60 minutes, compared to 1.75 goals-for per 60 minutes.

He struggled, particularly early in the season when the entire Ducks team was still working things out following a slow start.

His two-year contract extension, worth $4 million a season, kicks in for the 2016-17 campaign.

Decision to hire Randy Carlyle will reflect poorly on Bob Murray if Ducks regress

2015 NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7
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This is part of Anaheim Ducks day at PHT…

After firing coach Bruce Boudreau, general manager Bob Murray directed his ire of another Game 7 playoff disappointment toward the players, including the Ducks’ core group.

Following a first-round defeat to Nashville, the Ducks let go of a good coach that just so happened to be scooped up by the Minnesota Wild just eight days after his tenure in Anaheim was terminated.

“There’s definite concerns in that area, and I think the core has to be held responsible, and they have to be better. Maybe I haven’t been hard enough on them in the last few years, but they’re going to hear some different words this time,” said Murray at the time of Boudreau’s dismissal.

Corey Perry, with an eight-year deal worth an AAV of $8.625 million, had no goals, four assists and a minus-seven rating in seven games versus the Predators.

Following the news of Boudreau’s firing, Perry accepted the blame. As did players like Andrew Cogliano.

“We haven’t done the job at the right times, and when it really counts. I’m not sure what the factors are. This isn’t on Bruce,” said Cogliano, as per the Ducks website.

The Ducks’ 10-year anniversary of their Stanley Cup title is next year. Randy Carlyle was the coach back then and he’s the coach in Anaheim once again.

Perry and Ryan Getzlaf are both now 31 years old and supremely talented players. But outside of Olympic gold or world championships for Canada, it has been a while since they’ve won an NHL championship. Instead, losses in do-or-die Game 7s have recently become the norm.

Ryan Kesler, also 31 years old, was brought in via trade in June of 2014, giving the Ducks a player who used to be in the conversation as the best two-way center in hockey. He’s still a strong two-way center.

This is also a team with a group of talented young players (although restricted free agents Rickard Rakell and Hampus Lindholm remain unsigned for right now). The Pacific Division is still very much within this team’s grasp in the regular season and same goes for the Western Conference in the playoffs.

But regular season success from this group hasn’t been able to translate into the playoffs.

The core certainly heard about it at the beginning of this off-season, as Murray strongly suggested a tough-love approach was coming. Perhaps they deserved to be told. And if the Ducks do break through in the playoffs next year, it’s easy to see Murray’s comments evolving into a narrative — a pivotal moment, or course of action, in motivating his players.

As for Murray, locked into a contract through 2020, he has now resided over the firing of two coaches since becoming the GM in 2008.

Carlyle is certainly under pressure to deliver a winner. It’s believed veteran players in Anaheim endorsed Carlyle during the hiring process, so there is that to consider, as well. But it won’t reflect well on Murray if — and we stress ifthe Ducks regress under the same coach he fired and then re-hired five years later.

Scrivens: McLellan is moving Oilers ‘in the right direction’

Todd McLellan
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The Edmonton Oilers may have finished at the bottom of the Western Conference last season, missing out on the playoffs once again and getting another early first-round draft pick.

But former Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens, speaking in an interview on a wide range of topics, from U.S. politics to adjusting to life in the KHL, with Igor Erenko of Sport-Express and translated for Postmedia, seems to believe that organization is taking positive steps under veteran head coach Todd McLellan.

Scrivens, who turns 30 years old next month, played 78 games in goal for the Oilers before he was eventually traded to Montreal last December. He posted a .916 save percentage in 21 games for Edmonton in the 2013-14 campaign, but saw that number dip to .890 the following season.

Despite accumulating top draft picks — highly skilled forwards for the most part — the result of losing season after losing season, the Oilers have been unable to make any real progress toward becoming a contender in the West.

“We didn’t have a good enough team, it didn’t have sufficient structure, but that’s been getting better. And the last unsuccessful season notwithstanding, I think that Todd McLellan is moving in the right direction. In any case, I was happy to be a part of Edmonton, to be in my home town,” said Scrivens, who signed last month with Dinamo Minsk of the KHL.

“A lot of first picks overall helps only when they play for the team, and play well. That, obviously, wasn’t happening in Edmonton. That’s a coach’s job to force the team to be responsible. But management must show support, showing the players that they wouldn’t be picking him apart just so. When the players don’t play well, you can hardly change anything.”

He also praised maligned forward Nail Yakupov for how hard he works, but added Yakupov needs the “right coach” to help him develop his game.

McLellan wrapped up his first season with the Oilers, who posted a 31-43-8 record.

Further to what Scrivens said about structure, or a lack of, McLellan began demanding more of it last preseason after a loss to Vancouver that featured some particularly bad defensive breakdowns. The coach then cautioned everyone that the necessary improvements would take time.

Improvements to the roster were also necessary. The Oilers needed a defenseman. A good defenseman.

This summer, the Oilers and GM Peter Chiarelli decided to act, acquiring blue liner Adam Larsson from New Jersey in exchange for Taylor Hall, a dynamic offensive talent. That’s a hefty price, but one the Oilers coach believed his organization needed to pay.