Mike Halford

Anton Khudobin, Joel Ward

Report: Ducks solve three-goalie problem by waiving Khudobin

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The crowded crease in Anaheim is no longer.

On Monday, TSN reported the Ducks waived veteran goalie Anton Khudobin, ending the uncomfortable situation of having three netminders — Khudobin, John Gibson and Frederik Andersen — on the active roster.

Khudobin, acquired from Carolina at the draft for James Wisniewski, was supposed to be a one-year stopgap solution as Andersen’s backup, while Gibson got extensive playing time in the American League.

But things didn’t go to plan.

The Ducks have struggled mightily this season and, while neither Khudobin nor Andersen were to blame, Gibson has gone 4-3-1 with a 1.74 GAA and .934 save percentage since his recall.

For a team desperate for wins, those numbers are too hard to ignore — hence the decision to keep Gibson at the NHL level, and send Khudobin to AHL San Diego.

Assuming he clears, that is.

The 29-year-old doesn’t have an ideal cap hit — $2.25 million — but he does come off the books at the end of this season, and has played OK at times. His numbers on the season are pedestrian (3-3-0, 2.70 GAA, .908 save percentage) but he has won three of his last five starts for the club, and posted a pair of shutouts.

Whatever the case, it’s clear Anaheim has decided its two goalies moving forward are Gibson and Andersen.

Which now brings up another intriguing query: Who’s No. 1?

Blue(shirt) Monday: Rangers waive Stoll

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The New York Rangers made a fairly noteworthy move today, placing veteran Jarret Stoll on waivers, per TSN.

Stoll, 33, had appeared in 29 games for the Blueshirts this season, scoring one goal and two points while averaging just under 14 minutes a night.

While he’d been a healthy scratch a couple of times, Stoll was one of the more regular presences in Alain Vigneault’s bottom-six forward group.

That said, he did struggle — his possession metrics weren’t great, and he seemed a step slow at times.

Signed to a one-year, $800,000 deal this summer, Stoll’s contract with the Rangers came after his offseason arrest for cocaine and MDMA possession in Las Vegas. He eventually plead guilty to a pair of misdemeanors, but the incident all but ended his time with his old team, the Los Angeles Kings.

Stoll had been a valuable depth center for the Kings during their two Stanley Cup championships. All told he spent seven seasons in L.A., scoring a career-high 47 points during the 2009-10 campaign.

As for his future… well, it remains to be seen if anyone will take a flier. Stoll has a lot of miles on the odometer (over 800 games played during a 13-year career) and hasn’t looked great in recent weeks.

Most recently, he was made a healthy scratch in Saturday’s 5-4 OT loss in Calgary.

Prized Avs prospect Rantanen to play for Finland at World Juniors

2015 NHL Draft - Round One

The Finnish entry at this year’s World Junior Hockey Championships will be stacked.

After word broke that Toronto would release Kasperi Kapanen for the tournament, the Denver Post reported the Avalanche would do the same with Mikko Rantanen, their first-round pick (10th overall) at this year’s draft.

Rantanen, 19, is currently starring with Colorado’s AHL affiliate in San Antonio, leading the club with 21 points in 17 games.

Rantanen played at last year’s World Juniors and, like he’s doing with the Rampage this year, led the Finns in scoring (with four goals in five games.)

The former SM-liiga standout actually made the Avs out of training camp this year, and appeared in six games before getting demoted to the American League.

He, along with Kapanen, should make Finland one of the favorites at this year’s WJC, which will be held in Helsinki.

Wild in extension talks with Spurgeon, Zucker

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Minnesota has started contract extension talks with defenseman Jared Spurgeon and forward Jason Zucker, per the Star-Tribune.

Spurgeon, 26, is in the last of a deal with a $2.66 million annual cap hit, while Zucker, 23, is in the last of one that pays just over $900,000.

Both are pending RFAs, and both figure to be very interesting negotiations.

Spurgeon’s value to the Wild blueline cannot be understated. He sits second to Ryan Suter in a number of key statistical categories — including points (16) and TOI per game (22:16) — and is regarded as one of the club’s best skating and puck-moving d-men.

Zucker, meanwhile, is one of the league’s best bargains.

The diminutive speedster finished with 21 goals in just 51 games last year, 19 of which came at even strength. Those 19 ESG put him on par with the likes of Evgeni Malkin, Logan Couture and Matt Duchene — some pretty impressive company.

This year, Zucker has 14 points in 28 games, while averaging a career-high 17:54 TOI per night.

Both figure to get fairly significant raises on their current deals.

The Wild, of course, don’t have a ton of financial wiggle room.

(GM Chuck Fletcher told the Star-Tribune his club is a cap team and that “every dollar counts,” adding “it’s a challenge every year.”)

Per war-on-ice, the Wild have around $56 million already committed for next season — to just 15 players. Fletcher also has another key RFA to deal with this summer in blueliner Matt Dumba, the club’s first-round pick (seventh overall) in 2012.

Backup netminder Darcy Kuemper is a RFA as well.

So, as you can imagine, all of this has made life difficult for Fletcher.

Just ask him.

“We’re not in any hurry to get something done,” Fletcher said. “We just want to make the right deal, and whenever that happens, it happens.

“It’s hard.”

Mired in career-worst scoring slump, Moulson ‘just trying to find some confidence’

Jared McCann, Matt Moulson
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November 1.

That’s the last time Buffalo veteran Matt Moulson found the back of the net — which, for those of you not currently looking at the Sabres’ schedule, was 18 games ago.

It marks the longest scoring slump of Moulson’s career, accentuating a disappointing season in which he’s scored just four times in 30 games.

Needless to say, he’s desperate to break out.

“For me it’s just trying to find some confidence whether it’s making a play or getting a chance and trying to feed off that,” Moulson said, per the Buffalo News. “It’s not a light switch thing where it just turns on.”

The Sabres probably wish it was that simple.

In the second of a five-year, $25 million deal — with a fairly hefty $5M average annual cap hit — Moulson is Buffalo’s third highest-paid forward, and he’s been given opportunities befitting a guy making that kind of money.

In Saturday’s 2-1 OT win over the Kings, he skated on a line with Jack Eichel and Evander Kane. His last goal came playing alongside Zemgus Girgensons and Brian Gionta.

Translation: Head coach Dan Bylsma has moved the 32-year-old around plenty in the hopes of sparking his game — but to no avail. Moulson’s production has fallen through the floor and his shots on goal numbers remain startlingly low.

And Buffalo’s first six games through the month of December could say a lot about what lies ahead.

In those six games, Moulson has only eclipsed 16 minutes once (in the aforementioned win over L.A.)

Aside from that, he’s been hovering around 12 minutes, and played a season-low 10:44 in Calgary last Thursday.