Anaheim Ducks

Etem, acquired in Hagelin trade, signs one-year, $850,500 deal with Rangers

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The New York Rangers have locked in the key piece acquired in the Carl Hagelin-to-Anaheim trade — on Tuesday, the club signed Emerson Etem to a one-year deal worth $850,500, per the New York Post.

Etem, 23, is a former first-round pick (29th overall, 2010) that never seemed to fit in Anaheim. Despite lightning-quick skating ability and a nice skill set, the California native never played more than 45 games in a single season for the Ducks, and never scored more than 11 points. He did show some flashes this postseason, however, scoring three goals in 12 games for Anaheim, including this beauty against Winnipeg in the opening round:

In New York, Etem will get a fresh start — something Ducks GM Bob Murray said the youngster might need at this stage of his career — and should get a decent shot at minutes on a Rangers team that’s been thinned out up front. Hagelin is gone, Martin St. Louis retired and UFA James Sheppard remains unsigned.

The Rangers did bring in speedy ex-Preds forward Viktor Stalberg, however, and that could cut into Etem’s opportunity.

In effort to ‘minimize injuries,’ Penguins announce two hirings

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The Pittsburgh Penguins announced a couple of new hires today. Andy O’Brien has been given the fancy title of Director of Sport Science and Performance, while massage therapist Andreas Hüppi has also joined the club.

In addition, the Penguins plan to hire a strength and conditioning coach to work under O’Brien.

“We are excited to add such highly-regarded specialists as Andy O’Brien and Andreas Hüppi to our staff,” GM Jim Rutherford said in a release. “We want to look at all aspects of how we train and prepare our players, how we can maximize performance and hopefully minimize injuries. We want to make sure they receive the best information available regarding training, nutrition, rehab and getting proper amounts of rest during a long season.”

Nobody in Pittsburgh needs to be reminded how many injuries the Penguins have suffered in recent years. In fact, out of all 30 teams, the website Man Games Lost deemed Pittsburgh the “most impacted by injuries” since 2009-10.

Granted, no trainer or massage therapist can keep a player from experiencing some of the serious health issues with which the Penguins have dealt, including blood clots, stroke, and cancer.

But according to O’Brien, it’s all about establishing “a methodology around how we develop and care for our players.”

Despite rumors, Linden says Canucks haven’t tried to trade Higgins

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On Monday, Canucks president Trevor Linden addressed trade rumblings surrounding one of his team’s most veteran skaters, Chris Higgins.

“Chris Higgins is an important player on our team,” Linden said in a statement, per The Province. “We have not talked to any clubs about trading him.

“We value Chris both for his on-ice abilities and his leadership in the locker-room.”

That Linden responded to the Higgins rumors was telling… because, um, Linden’s kinda the reason they’re out there.

Last week, he and Vancouver GM Jim Benning caught heat during a ticketholder event, as fans voiced their displeasure over the club’s offseason moves. Benning was actually booed after revealing he could’ve traded veteran goalie Ryan Miller rather than fan favorite Eddie Lack.

After the event, Linden reportedly pulled aside some of the more vocal attendees for a mini-hotstove.

From The Province:

It was not an easy night for Linden or Benning.

“When you’re sitting in this chair, it’s not as easy as you think,” Linden said.

What he did do, when it was over, was call over the biggest critics of the night for a 10-minute session.

It was a nice gesture, but may have been ill-advised.

In it, Linden revealed several tidbits, including his pitch that the Canucks have been trying to trade Chris Higgins but have found they cannot move his contract.

In short order, the comments were all over social media, and then on the radio. The Higgins trade horse is officially out of the barn.

Maybe they’re hoping something will change in August — unlikely — or people will forget to ask Higgins when he comes back to town in two months. Again, unlikely.

(Take this for what it’s worth, but one attendee apparently recapped meeting Linden on HF Boards.)

It’s hard to know where this leaves Higgins, 32, who’s heading into the third of a four-year, $10 million deal with a pretty affordable $2.5M average annual cap hit. It’s not a Benning contract; Higgins was extended by Benning’s predecessor, Mike Gillis, and the deal includes a Gillis staple — a no-trade clause (granted, it’s a limited NTC.)

As such, it wasn’t surprising to hear rumors of the Canucks trying to move Higgins. Benning’s already shipped out Gllis-era holdovers like Lack, Kevin Bieksa, Zack Kassian, Jason Garrison, Ryan Kesler and Tom Sestito in his attempt to reshape the club — in that light, it would make sense that Higgins, who had 12 goals and 36 points last year, was dangled in potential trade talks.

Unless, of course, he wasn’t.

PHT Morning Skate: Columnist says Sharp’s contributions to ‘Hawks went beyond numbers

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Chicago lost more than Patrick Sharp’s offensive contributions when they dealt him. (Chicago Tribune)

T.J. Oshie ran into one of the two players he was traded for, Troy Brouwer, while touring Kettler Capitals Iceplex. (Washington Post)

Maple Leafs assistant general manager Kyle Dubas feels prospect Frederik Gauthier is “an interesting paradox.” (Toronto Star)

While some might have predicted Matt Beleskey would end up with a significantly bigger contract than the five-year, $19 million deal he signed, Beleskey wasn’t one of them. (Boston Herald)

When Noah Hanifin woke up on Saturday, he wasn’t sure that he would be signing with the Carolina Hurricanes that day, but ultimately he felt ready to go pro after spending a season with Boston College. (The News & Observer)

It looks like Mike Gillis, the former president and general manager of the Vancouver Canucks, will be teaching Sports Law at the University of Victoria. (UVIC)

Finally, we already mentioned it on Saturday, but if you haven’t read Sheldon Souray’s retirement letter then it really is worth it. There’s strong language in it though, so please keep that in mind. (The Players’ Tribune)

Ducks confirm Chris Stewart signing

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The Anaheim Ducks finally confirmed that they signed Chris Stewart to a one-year contract on Sunday, one day after word surfaced regarding a deal.

They didn’t provide the financial details, so we’ll assume that it’s indeed a $1.7 million salary and cap hit as multiple reports suggest.

Beleskey replacement?

Most obviously, the Ducks are likely hoping that Stewart, 27, can help fill the void left behind by Matt Beleskey’s free agent departure. Stewart’s a power forward who can mix scoring and snarl, especially during his best moments.

It’s wise not to expect too much, as Stewart’s disappointed often enough that he even commented on the theme of offseason storylines revolving around possible rebounds last summer.

It’s fair to say that he has some scoring touch, but expecting him to approach his peak form (particularly back-to-back 28-goal seasons in 2009-10 and 2010-11) could really increase the chances of a letdown.

Not much of a risk

Pessimists might see parallels between the Ducks picking up Dany Heatley off the scrap heap last summer.

Then again, in a way, that wouldn’t really be a disaster for anyone but Stewart. Heatley’s weak offering obviously didn’t do much to hurt Anaheim’s chances in 2014-15, and the Ducks aren’t taking a huge gamble in handing Stewart a one-year deal.

Instead, it’s a great opportunity for Stewart.

He can bolster his chances of getting a much better contract next time around, particularly if he can convince the Ducks to buck the growing trend of teams packaging Stewart in various trades. He’s still in his prime years, so it’s reasonable to ponder a strong year for the feisty forward, particularly if he gets lucky enough to skate with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry every now and then. Even if his linemates are weaker, Stewart gets to play in an aggressive system on a contending team. For all we know, this could be a sneaky bargain for GM Bob Murray.

(Uh oh, Stewart is roping us in again, isn’t he?)