Simon Despres

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NHL, NHLPA have ‘conceptual agreement’ on Despres buyout

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Yesterday, Anaheim announced it was waiving d-man Simon Despres for buyout purposes — which raised a few eyebrows, given Despres was sidelined for nearly all of last year with concussion problems.

There are rules that prohibit buying out contracts of injured players. But now it appears as though both the NHL and NHLPA have reached an agreement on the Despres situation.

From the O.C. Register:

“There have been a number of unique aspects related to Mr. Despres’ situation and we and the Players’ Association have worked together to help define the appropriate collectively bargained rules that can be applied to his contract,” Daly wrote in an e-mail. “We now have a conceptual agreement on treatment and we are in the process of documenting that resolution.”

The union has apparently signed off on it, with NHLPA spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon saying, “The NHLPA is engaged in settlement discussions with the NHL regarding Simon Despres contract and the parties hope to have this matter resolved soon.”

Despres, 25, has missed 131 games over the last two years combined while dealing with concussion problems, and suited up for just one contest in ’16-17.

Acquired in a trade with Pittsburgh two years ago, Despres had a good initial showing in Anaheim. He scored seven points in 16 playoff games during the ’15 postseason, averaging nearly 21 minutes per night. Ducks GM Bob Murray rewarded that showing with a five-year, $18 million extension — one that kicked in this past season, and carries a $3.7 million cap hit through 2021.

In October, Murray suggested that Despres’ career might be in jeopardy due to the aforementioned concussion problems.

“The Despres situation is one that is a very sensitive issue and it’s one that my whole goal hopefully is make it that Simon at the end of all this lives a happy, healthy, normal life,” Murray said, per ESPN. “It’s going to take some time before we get to that point. Really, it’s all I want to say at this time on that because it is sensitive and I feel real bad for Simon.”

The timing of this buyout is crucial for the budget-conscious Ducks. It was their last chance to get Despres for one-third of his contract:

Per the Register, Despres was activated from long-term injured during the playoffs but never participated in a team practice.

Report: Ducks to waive Despres for buyout purposes (Updated)

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Ducks GM Bob Murray was expected to be one of the busiest executives in the league this summer, due to his surplus of defensemen, salary cap restraints and the goal of signing Cam Fowler to an extension.

On Friday, Murray took a step towards alleviating one of those concerns.

The Ducks will waive d-man Simon Despres for buyout purposes, per Sportsnet. Despres, 25, has missed 131 games over the last two years combined while dealing with concussion problems, and suited up for just one contest in ’16-17.

Acquired in a trade with Pittsburgh two years ago, Despres had a good initial showing in Anaheim. He scored seven points in 16 playoff games during the ’15 postseason, averaging nearly 21 minutes per night. Murray rewarded that showing with a five-year, $18 million extension — one that kicked in this past season, and carries a $3.7 million cap hit through 2021.

In October, Murray suggested that Despres’ career might be in jeopardy due to the aforementioned concussion problems.

“The Despres situation is one that is a very sensitive issue and it’s one that my whole goal hopefully is make it that Simon at the end of all this lives a happy, healthy, normal life,” Murray said, per ESPN. “It’s going to take some time before we get to that point. Really, it’s all I want to say at this time on that because it is sensitive and I feel real bad for Simon.”

Per CapFriendly, the Despres buyout will be spread over eight years — running until 2025 — with an average cost of $662,600. It is worth noting that next season’s hit would be $1.26M, followed by two years of a cap credit.

Updated: Murray released a statement Friday afternoon, saying: “Simon Despres is a good hockey player and a good person. But, at this point in time, we feel it is in the best interests of both Simon and the organization to part ways. We wish him the very best in the future.”

Related: Expansion draft will force Ducks to make some big decisions

 

‘Not an easy situation’ for Bernier, who hasn’t started in 23 days

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The last time Jonathan Bernier started for the Ducks was on Dec. 20, when he allowed five goals in a loss to Montreal.

Since then, his lone appearance was a brief 3:48 stint in relief of John Gibson in a New Year’s Day win over Philly (Gibson left the game momentarily, and was put right back in).

As the numbers suggest, Gibson’s been leaned upon heavily lately — part of head coach Randy Carlyle’s plan to develop more consistency throughout the team — but that hasn’t been the Ducks’ only goaltending development.

Dustin Tokarski, the club’s No. 3 who’s spent most of the year in AHL San Diego, was signed to a one-year extension on Jan. 5. Six days later, Anaheim acquired Jhonas Enroth from Toronto.

So, back to Bernier.

“That’s the business,” he explained, per the O.C. Register. “You got to win games and [Gibson’s] playing well right now. We’re playing well as a team obviously and I think it’s completely understandable. But it’s not an easy situation at the same time for anyone.

“Every guy that’s in here, it could be a forward, or (defenseman) or goalie, wants to play and help this team. I’m just trying to stay ready for when my chance will come.”

Carlyle told the Register he expected Bernier to accept the current situation, even if it was “begrudgingly.” One has to wonder what it means for the 28-year-old moving forward, though.

Though Anaheim is only paying him $2.15 million in salary this year, Bernier still carries a cap hit of $4.15M, fairly hefty for a little-used backup. And this is a Ducks team, remember, that is pressed right up against the cap ceiling — Simon Despres and Nate Thompson are on LTIR, which has provided some savings, and the club did waive Clayton Stoner earlier in the year, he of the $13 million contract.

Bernier’s numbers aren’t great — 6-3-1, 3.05 GAA, .897 save percentage — and, given he turns 29 in August and has never really flourished as a No. 1, projects to be a backup moving forward.

He’s also scheduled to become a UFA this summer. If the Ducks keep using Gibson as often as they have, it’ll be tough for Bernier to put forth a “contract year” performance.

Is Anaheim readying to move a defenseman?

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Last week, we wrote about the latest good young d-man to debut for AnaheimBrandon Montour, the 22-year-old that’s starred for AHL San Diego this year.

Some thought Montour’s time with the Ducks would be brief, given his recall coincided with Sami Vatanen falling ill. But Vatanen is back, and Montour is still around — rather than sending him back, Anaheim opted to send another good young d-man, ’13 first-rounder Shea Theodore, to the minors.

Why?

“We know [Theodore will] be back,” head coach Randy Carlyle said, per the O.C. Register. “It’s not a question of if, it’s just when. And it gives us an opportunity to take a longer look at Montour here, who was recalled. Given him a couple games so far, and we’ll have an opportunity for him to stay with our hockey club and practice with us.

“Kind of get more up to speed on where he’s at in his development.”

Montour played, albeit sparingly, in the first two games following his recall — 17:54 in his debut against Calgary, and 10:06 in a shootout loss to Vancouver. The 55th overall pick in ’14 was then scratched for Sunday’s win over Philly, so it’s not as if he’s ready for a full-time role with the Ducks.

But the fact Anaheim wants an extended look at Montour could be telling. As mentioned above, he’s one of several Ducks d-men that are 25 or younger, along with Theodore, Fowler, Vatanen, Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson. The latter three already established as full-time NHLers.

Beyond those, there’s also ’15 first-rounder Jacob Larsson (who made his NHL debut earlier this year) and Swedish blueliner Marcus Pettersson, who was taken 17 spots ahead of Montour in ’14.

Fowler’s name has been floated in trade rumors for a while. There was widespread speculation he’d be moved at the draft, to the point where even he expressed surprise that he wasn’t dealt.

“It’s been an interesting week or so, that’s for sure,” the 24-year-old Ducks defenseman told ESPN.com back in June. “You hear your name tossed out there. I’ve heard that before even at recent trade deadlines, but this time with the position the Ducks are in and some of the salaries, it just seemed like it was pretty real.

“I was 100 percent prepared for something to happen. And was honestly pretty surprised when it didn’t.”

Financially speaking, it seems inevitable Anaheim will have to eventually make some kind of move. The Ducks are pressed right up against the cap ceiling, and that’s with d-man Simon Despres‘ $3.7 million cap hit on LTIR (concussion). Don’t forget GM Bob Murray waived veteran blueliner Clayton Stoner earlier this year, he of the $13 million contract.

(Stoner is currently on IR following abdominal surgery.)

The big question, it seems, is if Anaheim will make a move by next month’s trade deadline. Because there are a number of teams looking for good young defensemen, even if the acquisition price is sky-high.

Just ask Peter Chiarelli.

Welcome Lindholm: Ducks send Theodore, Etem to AHL

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The Anaheim Ducks finally hammered out a (sweet) deal with Hampus Lindholm, so now it comes down to some housekeeping.

Specifically, it means sending some fairly useful players with significant pedigrees down to the AHL on Thursday. The team announced that both Shea Theodore and Emerson Etem are bound for the San Diego Gulls.

Theodore, the 26th pick back in 2013, contributed a pretty assist to the Ducks’ 6-1 shellacking of the Nashville Predators last night:

It’s a cool story that Etem returned to the franchise that selected him 29th overall in 2010, yet he’s struggled to really find a niche in the NHL so far. At 24, there’s still time, though he likely feels a little anxious to become a full-time guy at the top level.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun notes that Simon Despres is likely to be on LTIR for “the foreseeable future,” which means that the Ducks aren’t forced to move Cam Fowler.

That’s great news for the Ducks. For Theodore in particular? The situation is not so great.