The Anaheim Ducks are out to win the Stanley Cup now after falling just one win shy of beating the eventual champions in the Western Conference Final. They certainly have the core to go far, but do they have the depth?
Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are one of the best offensive duos in the league while Ryan Kesler is a great two-way center that helped improve their second line in his first campaign with Anaheim in 2014-15. However, those three were the only members of the Ducks to record at least 40 points last season, which is part of the reason why Anaheim finished close to the middle of the pack with 2.78 goals per game.
There are reasons to hope for more in 2015-16 though, even if they did lose Matt Beleskey (22 goals) over the summer. The Ducks have added some capable secondary scorers Carl Hagelin, Shawn Horcoff, and Chris Stewart, but it’s Jakob Silfverberg that stands out the most among Anaheim’s forwards outside of its top-three. The 24-year-old had 39 points in the regular season, but he broke out in the playoffs with four goals and 14 assists in 16 contests. He meshed well with Kesler in the playoffs after Silfverberg only spent spent about a third of his five-on-five regular season minutes with the second-line center. If the two share the ice more frequently this season, it could result in a significantly improved second line.
Defensively, the Ducks will be anchored by newcomer Kevin Bieksa after losing Francois Beauchemin on the free agent market. That being said, it’s the team’s young defensive core of Sami Vatanen, Hampus Lindholm, and Cam Fowler that will go a long way towards determining if this is a successful campaign for Anaheim. They’ll also be leaning heavily on 25-year-old goaltender Frederik Andersen.
The hope is that their younger players have grown thanks to their lengthy playoff run. That needs to be true for the Ducks because while Getzlaf, Perry, and Kesler are a vital part of their success, they’ve also already reached their peak. If Anaheim is to grow enough to get over the final hurdle standing between it and a championship, then that improvement will have to come from its talented youngsters.
Erik Haula and the Minnesota Wild couldn’t agree to terms before their arbitration hearing on Friday, but they have managed to come to a settlement before the arbitrator was forced to pass judgment.
The Wild announced that they have signed Haula to a two-year contract. They didn’t reveal the financial terms of the deal, but it’s a two-year, $2 million contract, according to the Star Tribune’s Michael Russo.
Haula was asking for $1.2 million in arbitration. Minnesota countered at $775K, which would have been a pay cut from his salary of $900K in 2014-15.
The 24-year-old forward had seven goals and 14 points in 72 contests last season. He only averaged 12:09 minutes of ice time per game, but he was leaned on heavily in shorthanded situations on a team that killed a league-best 86.3% of its penalties.
The Arizona Coyotes announced that they have hired Claude Loiselle to serve as a hockey operations consultant.
Loiselle served as a vice president and assistant general manager for the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2010-2014, but his departure coincided with the first wave of front office changes following Brendan Shanahan coming on board as the team president. Before his stint with Toronto, Loiselle was an associate director of hockey operations for seven season with the NHL.
More recently, he served as part of the management group for Canada’s 2015 World Championships team. Canada posted a 10-0 record in the tournament, including a 6-1 win over Russia in the gold medal game.
Loiselle is a former NHL forward that was originally selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the second round of the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. He went on to record 92 goals, 209 points, and 1,149 penalty minutes in 616 career games with the Red Wings, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Quebec Nordiques, and Maple Leafs.
Marcus Johansson and the Washington Capitals couldn’t agree to terms this summer and ultimately an arbitrator has decided what his contract should be.
The 24-year-old forward was awarded a one-year, $3.75 million deal for the 2014-15 campaign, per the Monumental Network. He put in an arbitration request of $4.75 million and the Capitals had countered at $3 million.
He was coming off of a two-year, $4 million deal and earned a little under $2.2 million in 2014-15. Johansson has recorded over 40 points in each of the last three 82-game campaigns and posted a career-best 47 points last season.
He might have trouble replicating that level of success in 2015-16 though. That’s because the summer additions of T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams coupled with the rise of Andre Burakovsky might result in Johansson playing primarily on the third line. His power-play ice time might also drop from his average of 2:55 minutes per game last season.
Still, the fact that the settlement is near the middle will provide the Capitals with some breathing room from a cap perspective. Washington has a little under $500K in space remaining, per General Fanager, but that’s with three goaltenders on its roster. Moving netminder Justin Peters ($950K) to the minors would put Washington in a more manageable position.
Goaltender Louis Domingue got his first taste of NHL action last season, but that wasn’t enough to convince him to stick around.
In a move that surprised Coyotes GM Don Maloney, Domingue has decided to head to Europe rather than accept a one-year, two-way extension with the Arizona Coyotes, per the Arizona Republic. He was Arizona’s last remaining restricted free agent.
The 23-year-old posted a 2.68 GAA and .908 save percentage in 20 AHL contests and also had a 2.73 GAA and .911 save percentage in seven NHL games last season. However, his chances of making the Coyotes’ opening game roster took a major hit after the team signed Anders Lindback to a one-year, $875K contract.
“I think he’s always been quite confident in himself, and he just thought he deserved more than a two-way contract basically is what it came down to and that’s fine,” Maloney said. “He’s still a young goalie. I don’t know where he’s going to play over there, but hopefully he’ll play somewhere and then we’ll see. If he continues to develop well, that’s good. That’s fine with us. But it does open up opportunity for others.”
Meanwhile, Arizona has inked German League standout Niklas Treutle to a one-year, entry-level contract.