Anaheim Ducks

Jackets prospect Reilly going pro — but maybe not for Columbus

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The saga of Blue Jackets draftee Mike Reilly has taken another turn.

Reilly, a Hobey Baker candidate that Columbus took in the fourth round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, announced he’s leaving the University of Minnesota and will turn pro next season, but played coy as to where he’d sign.

“[I] will not be returning [next season] and will know more after the [World Championships] tournament,” Reilly said, per the Star-Tribune. “I don’t want to talk too much about my situation.

“But I am going to worlds the 25th [of April] and I’m very excited.”

Reilly is expected to be named to Team USA for the Worlds, which will be played in the Czech Republic from May 1-17, allowing him to further stave off a decision about his professional future. If he doesn’t sign with the Jackets before June 1, he becomes an unrestricted free agent and can sign with a different NHL club.

That’s important, because the 21-year-old defenseman is held in high regard. He’s a two-time All-American that, this season, became the first d-man in nearly 20 years to lead the Golden Gophers in scoring. The Jackets want him in the fold, now, and haven’t been shy about expressing as much.

More on that, from the Dispatch:

[Jackets GM Jarmo] Kekalainen and company have tried hard to woo him.

Last spring, they played host to him at Nationwide Arena for the two home playoff games against Pittsburgh. When the Blue Jackets played in St. Paul, Minn., on Jan. 19, Reilly watched the morning skate with Davidson and Kekalainen. When the Blue Jackets traded defenseman James Wisniewski, Kekalainen mentioned Reilly as a player who has a clearer path to an NHL job.

“Mike Reilly is having a great year in Minnesota,” Kekalainen said. “He’s a prospect we believe in, and he’ll be stepping into some big shoes with our organization. We look forward to getting him signed.”

The feelings don’t appear to be mutual, however. Reilly’s repeatedly deflected questions about signing in Columbus and now, Golden Gophers associate head coach Mike Guentzel is following suit.

“I talked to [Reilly] last week when we had our season-ending meetings. Mike is going to sign, it’s just a matter of who he’s going to sign with. He’s got options,” Guentzel told the Star-Tribune. “He’s going to make a decision sometime in May [or June] what he’s going to do.

“He’s 21 and he’s earned that right and opportunity, and he’s in a good situation. I really respect how much Columbus has tried to go after him and I think he’d be in a good situation there, but he has to make the decision that is best for him.”

Should Reilly balk on signing with Columbus and go unrestricted, he’d be following in the footsteps of Kevin Hayes and Justin Schultz, who spurned the teams that drafted them — the Blackhawks and Ducks — to sign with the Rangers and Oilers, respectively.

It’s also worth noting that Reilly’s dad, also named Mike, is a minority owner of the Minnesota Wild, which has led to speculation that the younger Reilly could opt to sign with his hometown team.

Update: As pointed out in several places, Reilly’s coach at the Worlds is (pending formal announcement) Todd Richards — the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Which could make for an interesting dynamic.

Stars thwart Ducks’ attempt to clinch West crown

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Much like the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Dallas Stars are red-hot even if their playoff hopes have already been scuttled. The difference is that the Stars dominated a team with at least something to lose.

(You know, beyond dignity, which seems to be beaten out of the Toronto Maple Leafs.)

The Anaheim Ducks came in with the mighty goal of locking up the top spot in the Western Conference on Wednesday, but the Stars instead handed them a 4-0 loss.

While Ryan Getzlaf sat out a second game – either to rest or to nurse an undisclosed injury – the Stars’ big names came through. Jamie Benn stood out in particular, grabbing three assists to finish the night tied atop the NHL scoring ranks with 83 points.

Jhonas Enroth grabbed his first shutout as a member of the Stars. To be honest, he wasn’t tested all that often, only needing 19 saves to accomplish that feat. It was a tough night at the other end of the ice, as Frederik Andersen didn’t exactly make a strong argument that he should be the go-to goalie instead of John Gibson. At least, he didn’t tonight.

With this, the Ducks must continue to jostle with the St. Louis Blues for the West’s top spot while Dallas keeps things going (while maybe wondering a bit about what could have been).

WATCH LIVE: Stars at Ducks

The Anaheim Ducks hope to clinch the top spot in the West by beating the team they knocked out of 2014’s first round.

The Dallas Stars aren’t in the mix this time around, yet they’ve been been feisty nonetheless, winning 12 of 17 contests and being an especially tough out on the road.

You can check out the second game of tonight’s NBCSN doubleheader either through normal TV measures or by streaming it via NBC Sports Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Important note: Ryan Getzlaf’s either being rested or out injured today.

Check out a longer preview here.

Canucks sign Dorsett and Sbisa to multi-year extensions

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The Vancouver Canucks have signed forward Derek Dorsett to a four-year contract extension and defenseman Luca Sbisa to a three-year extension.

Dorsett’s new deal is reportedly worth $2.65 million annually, while Sbisa’s cap hit is reportedly $3.6 million.

“Derek has been an incredibly valuable member of the Canucks roster, both on and off the ice this year,” said Canucks GM Jim Benning in a release. “His willingness to chip in both offensively and defensively while standing up for his teammates at all times has been instrumental to our success all season.”

On Sbisa, Benning said: “Luca has been a big part of our backend all season, logging big minutes during key stretches and doing anything that is asked of him by our coaching staff.”

Initial reaction:

— That’s a big commitment to keep a bottom-six forward like Dorsett, no matter how much he sticks up for his teammates. That being said, there’s no question the 28-year-old has made an impact since being traded by the Rangers to Vancouver in June. He’s fought 17 times, leads the team in hits (163), and has chipped in offensively with seven goals and 18 assists.

— Sbisa came to Vancouver in the Ryan Kesler trade with Anaheim. At the time, Benning saw Sbisa as a “guy that we feel can grow into a top-four defenseman.” Safe to say, the jury’s still out on the 25-year-old. Sbisa, the 19th overall pick in 2008, is a physical defender, and the Canucks like that about him, but he’s also been on the ice for a lot of goals against.

Goalie nods: Andersen likely for Ducks, who’ve yet to name playoff starter

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Andersen first off for Anaheim

Looks as though Frederik Andersen will be in goal tonight when the Ducks host the Stars on NBCSN.

Andersen was the first goalie off at this morning’s skate, suggesting he’ll take over the net after John Gibson allowed three goals on 22 shots in Friday’s 4-2 loss to Colorado. The Danish netminder will make his first start since last Wednesday, when he made 22 saves in an easy 5-1 win over Edmonton.

The bigger story for the Ducks, of course, is which goalie will get the start come playoff time. Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau continues to play coy with his choice, suggesting that he knows who he thinks will start Game 1 but won’t share that info with the media.

“I think we know who we’re going to play and what we’re going to be doing as a group,” Boudreau said, per the O.C. Register. “So let’s just leave it at that.”

Elsewhere…

Leafs at Jackets: James Reimer vs. Sergei Bobrovsky

Bruins at Caps: Tuukka Rask vs. Braden Holtby