Anaheim Ducks

Prized Gophers d-man Reilly to meet with teams at combine (Updated)

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Here’s the latest on collegiate standout and former Columbus property Mike Reilly, who’s set to test free agent waters after balking on signing with the Blue Jackets:

Reilly, 21, is a pretty hot commodity. He was a Hobey Baker candidate and two-time All-American that, this season, became the first d-man in nearly 20 years to lead the Golden Gophers in scoring. Last month, he announced he was leaving the University of Minnesota and upped his professional stock by representing Team USA at the Worlds, where he appeared in all 10 games and helped the Americans capture bronze.

Taken by Columbus in the fourth round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Reilly is following in the footsteps of former Boston College product Kevin Hayes. Hayes, taken in the first round by Chicago in 2010, passed on joining the Blackhawks to become an unrestricted free agent, and quickly signed with the Rangers.

Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen tried to sign Reilly repeatedly throughout the last year and, upon trading d-man James Wisniewski at the deadline, said the move opened up a spot for Reilly at the NHL level. But the wooing didn’t work — it always felt as though Reilly was going to go UFA, regardless of the situation in Columbus.

It’ll be interesting to see which teams Reilly speaks with at the combine. His dad, also named Mike, is a minority owner of the Minnesota Wild, which has led to speculation the younger Reilly could opt to sign with his hometown team.

Update: Interesting bit here, from the Star-Tribune’s Mike Russo…

From everybody I have talked to, I believe that as of right now the Blackhawks are the frontrunners.

As I wrote last week, there are entry-level parameters, so it’s not like any team can sweeten offers. This will come down to which team sells their program best to Reilly and where he sees the best fit and clearest path to the NHL.

The Blackhawks could be selling to the left-shot, mobile Reilly that he’s the eventual Nick Leddy replacement.

UFAs Beauchemin, Beleskey would both like to stick in Anaheim

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With the Anaheim Ducks’ run over, they now have to turn their attention towards planning for the 2015-16 campaign. The Ducks have their fair share of unrestricted free agents and while some of them will likely be looking for new homes come July 1, it sounds like forward Matt Beleskey and defenseman Francois Beauchemin would rather stay where they are.

“I’ve spent a majority of my career here in Anaheim. I’d certainly like to talk about staying here,” Beauchemin said, per the Ducks’ Twitter feed.

Beauchemin, 34, had 11 goals, 23 points, and a plus-17 rating in 64 contests in 2014-15. He also averaged a team-high 22:44 minutes per game. His role increased further in the playoffs as he logged 25:24 minutes per contest and finished with nine assists in 16 games.

He’s coming off of a rather cap-friendly three-year, $10.5 million contract and may be seeking a significant raise.

Beleskey didn’t want to discuss his status much, but he does like Anaheim and added that “you never want to leave a group like this.”

He had 22 goals and 32 points in 65 regular season games. He also finished second on the Ducks with eight goals in the playoffs, including three game winners.

The 26-year-old has completed a two-year, $2.7 million contract.

As previously mentioned, the Ducks’ cap situation is rather healthy so they do have the option of retaining both players if that’s the direction they want to go in.

Kesler says Ducks ‘absolutely’ should’ve finished ‘Hawks in Game 6

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Ryan Kesler has spent the last couple of days trying to get away from the Anaheim Ducks’ devastating loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final. When he does think about what went wrong in Game 7 though, the answer he comes to is that it was played at all.

“Obviously we lost to a good team. Should we have ended it in Game 6? Absolutely,” Kesler told the Orange County Register’s Eric Stephens. “You got to put away a team. Especially that team. We let them hang around too long and they bit us.”

Game 5 was a roller coaster, with Anaheim taking a 3-0 lead in the first period only to be forced into overtime because Jonathan Toews scored two goals in the final two minutes of the third period. Before that contest, the Ducks had already lost to Chicago twice in extra time, so the everything seemed to be pointing to a come-from-behind Chicago win. Instead Anaheim caught a break as Matt Beleskey was able to capitalize on Chicago’s bad change.

That opportunity was squandered though as Chicago rallied to a 5-2 victory in Game 6. Anaheim once again allowed Chicago to take a big lead in Game 7 en route to a 5-3 loss.

Kesler was brought in over the summer of 2014 to help give the team a boost in the playoffs and he did his part. He had seven goals and 13 points in 16 contests to provide the Ducks with a serious second line scoring threat. He also won 57.6% of his faceoffs in the playoffs.

He’s under contract for one more season with an annual cap hit of $5 million.

Bishop: ‘Taller guys…can be just as athletic as the smaller guys’

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TAMPA — The tallest goalie in NHL history isn’t quite ready to call an end to the days of sub-six-foot netminders. However, he concedes there’s a reason smaller guys will have a tougher chance of making it.

“I don’t know if it’ll be the end of the era, but I think you see taller guys that can be just as athletic as the smaller guys,” said Tampa Bay’s 6-foot-7 starter, Ben Bishop. “It seems to be the way it’s trending here.

“You look at [Blackhawks backup Scott Darling], he’s 6-6, and that guy can move pretty well. You see bigger guys that can move just as well as the smaller guys, and that’s probably why teams have started going in that direction.”

Chicago’s starter, Corey Crawford, is no shrimp either, at 6-foot-2. In fact, of the four starters to reach the conference finals, Henrik Lundqvist was the shortest at a mere 6-foot-1. (Anaheim’s Frederik Andersen is listed at 6-foot-3.)

So, given the size of goalies today compared to the past, and given the drop in scoring compared to the past, what does Bishop think of the idea of making the nets bigger?

“Let’s make ‘em smaller,” he joked.

But then, more seriously: “I don’t know, I guess they could. It’s just going to lead more goals. A couple of games ago, we won 6-5. What do you want the scores to be? 12-10?”

Well, not all the time.

Related: Does Bishop, the tallest goalie in NHL history, mark ‘wave of the future’ in net?

Boudreau doesn’t feel Game 7 record is reflective of anything

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After losing the Western Conference Final to the Chicago Blackhawks, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau’s record in Game 7s has dropped to 1-6. He’s the only head coach in NHL history with six Game 7 losses to his name and he has the unwanted distinction of leading the only two teams that have ever been eliminated at home in Game 7 for three consecutive years: the Washington Capitals and now Anaheim Ducks.

As previously mentioned, at best, Boudreau has been unlucky to the point of being a significant statistical anomaly. At worst, he’s the link the correlation suggests he is. As far as he’s concerned, he’s not the cause of those defeats.

“I got to believe that it isn’t (reflective of anything),” Boudreau said when the topic of his record in Game 7s was brought up during an interview with Sportsnet’s Fan 590. “People love to relay bad stats to people, but seven games have gone to a Game 7. I don’t win them and I don’t think I’m losing them.”

He also noted that he’s won Game 7s in the ECHL and AHL. “So it’s not a question of me, I think.”

He remains optimistic about the Ducks’ future. He likes the nucleus they already have and noted that the team is young with plenty of players that should be able to build off of this lengthy playoff run. This has been an important experience for 25-year-old goaltender Frederik Andersen in particular.

After having lost to Chicago, he feels that the Blackhawks’ experience was a big asset for them in this series. Going into 2015-16, Anaheim will be in a better position in that regard.

Related:

The Ducks shouldn’t hit the panic button