PHT Morning Skate: Ryan Kesler hosts ‘Betweeen Two Zambonis’


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.

Playing off of Zach Galifianakis’ webseries “Between Two Ferns”, Anaheim Ducks’ forward Ryan Kesler hosts his own segment called, “Betweeen Two Zambonis”. His first guest was defenseman Cam Fowler. Have a look:

George Parros and the crew at Violent Gentlemen introduced new jerseys by reenacting the “GAME ON!” scene from Wayne’s World. (Bar Down)

After his latest knee surgery, San Jose Sharks’ forward Raffi Torres is optimistic he’ll be ready for the start of next season. (San Jose Mercury News)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $25,000 fantasy hockey league for Friday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first place wins $2,000. Starts Friday at 7pm ET. Enter Now!

With news of the Leafs scratching Nazem Kadri for disciplinary reasons, Sportsnet analyst Doug MacLean discussed hiring a private investigator to follow Nikolai Zherdev while he was the GM of the Columbus Blue Jackets. (Sportsnet)

A Devastating hit in a Swedish Hockey League playoff game leads to ejection. (Puck Daddy)

Wisniewski, Vatanen and Beleskey travel as Ducks embark on tough road stretch

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The Anaheim Ducks are set to play eight of their next 11 games away from the friendly confines of the Honda Center, but will have a slew of lineup reinforcements to help them get through the stretch.

James Wisniewski, acquired at the trade deadline, is expected to make his team debut on Monday in Vancouver while three other key pieces — defensemen Sami Vatanen and Korbinian Holzer, forward Matt Beleskey — will travel with the team as well.

Vatanen told the L.A. Times he’s been practicing “with no pain,” adding that “I should be coming back soon.” Holzer, who was also acquired at the deadline — largely for depth purposes — was practicing on a pair with Cam Fowler on Sunday and, like Wisniewski, appears ready to make his Ducks debut soon, if not on Monday in Vancouver.

Beleskey, meanwhile, has yet to be cleared for contact, so his return could be a little ways off.

As for Anaheim’s upcoming schedule… well, it’s a tough one. The club will play tonight in Vancouver, Wednesday in Calgary and Friday in Minnesota before returning to Orange County for a three-game homestand against the Preds, Kings and Avalanche.

From there, the Ducks head out on another roadie to close out the month — a five-game swing out east through New York (Rangers), Columbus, Boston, New York (Islanders) and New Jersey. The Ducks will play five games in eight nights on that trip.

The additions most will be keen to see are Wisniewski and Vatanen, who should add major firepower to a Ducks power play that currently ranks 23rd in the NHL. Seventeen of Vatanen’s 34 points on the year have come with the man advantage, while 14 of Wisniewski’s 29 have also come on the PP.

Lovejoy returns to Pittsburgh for Despres

Ben Lovejoy

The Pittsburgh Penguins have reacquired defenseman Ben Lovejoy from the Anaheim Ducks, in return for d-man Simon Després.

Lovejoy, originally a depth defenseman for the Penguins, was traded to Anaheim in February of 2013. The 31-year-old played 150 games for the Ducks, scoring six times with 33 assists while logging around 19 minutes per contest.

At 23 years old, Despres gives the Ducks another young blue-liner to join the likes of Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, and Sami Vatanen. He has two goals and 15 assists in 59 games this season.

Earlier in the day, the Pens traded another defenseman, Roberto Bortuzzo, to St. Louis in exchange for Ian Cole.

Related: Ducks re-sign defenseman Lovejoy

Beauchemin wants to re-up in Anaheim, but no ‘concrete’ talks yet

If history suggests anything, the Francois Beauchemin situation in Anaheim is one worth monitoring.

Beauchemin, who turns 35 in May, is in the last of a three-year, $10.5 million deal with the Ducks and slated to hit unrestricted free agency this summer. He’s a key cog for Anaheim — averaging 23:06 TOI per game, second-most on the team — and said he’d like to stay in Orange County, where he’s spent 10 of his 13 NHL seasons.

“It would be tough if I would have to leave, I’m not going to lie,” Beauchemin said, per the O.C. Register. “I would love to finish my career here. A few more years. … It’s been our house. It’s been our home for 10 years. And the kids, they’re at school, they have their friends. They have sports and they have their routine going. So it would be really hard for us to move.

“Sometimes it’s part of the business. Sometimes teams want to go in another direction with some players. Hopefully that’s not the case with me.”

According to Beauchemin, there have been no “concrete” discussions with Ducks GM Bob Murray about a new deal. While that’s not entirely strange — the Ducks are gunning for a Cup run and he’s not going to be traded, so extension talks could be distracting — it does make one wonder if history could repeat itself.

During the 2008-09 campaign, Beauchemin, then property of the Ducks and a pending UFA, made it clear he wanted to stay in Anaheim, and “waited all year long” for the club to make him an offer.

That offer never came, though, and he proceeded to sign with Toronto… but not without hard feelings towards his ex-employer.

From the Register:

Asked if he really had heard nothing at all from the Ducks, Beauchemin said he waited fruitlessly until Saturday, when he agreed to terms with Toronto.

“They told me back in November they were going to offer me something,” Beauchemin said. “The day I got hurt, everything kind of changed. They did not make me an offer. They did not talk to me all year long.

“I waited all year long and I waited all summer long until Saturday — no offers.

“Yeah, I am a little bit disappointed by them. Obviously, I had four great years there. When you play in a place for four years and win a Stanley Cup, it’s always tough to leave, but at the same time, when they don’t want you, it’s time to move on.”

Murray, who was in his first year on the job back then, painted a different picture, saying he was told to make Beauchemin an offer but declined doing so because he didn’t want to “insult” the veteran with a low ball. The Ducks GM did eventually make good with Beauchemin, acquiring him from Toronto in 2011, then signing him to his current deal in the summer of 2012.

All of which brings us back to the present.

Beauchemin understands things have changed in Anaheim — he knows the future of the blueline revolves around Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen — but says he’d like to stay regardless, and is willing to bide his time.

“I hope they see me here for a couple more years,” he explained.

Ducks ‘pretty adamant about trying to add another d-man,’ says Ducks d-man


We’ve talked plenty about Anaheim’s desire to add a defenseman — see here and here and here — and now, following a stretch in which the Ducks have surrendered 30 goals in seven games, it seems those talks have trickled down to the players.

Like defenseman Cam Fowler, for example.

“[GM Bob Murray] has been pretty adamant about trying to add another d-man,” Fowler told the L.A. (which stands for Los Angeles) Times this week. “We feel comfortable with the group we have, but if there’s somebody who can be brought in to help us, that’s always good too.”

Murray’s been in search of defensive fixes for a while now, and has done some previous patchwork: Eric Brewer was acquired from Tampa Bay in November, and Stephane Robidas was acquired at last year’s deadline.

That said, both of those deals were of the low-risk, low-cost variety. Robidas, 37, came on board for the price of a fourth-round pick and played just 17 games (14 regular season, three playoff) before leaving in free agency. Brewer, 35, could end up much the same; he’s a UFA at season’s end and has only appeared in six games after breaking his foot shortly after being acquired.

But neither Robidas nor Brewer moved the needle much. One would think Murray wants to make a bigger splash this time around.

Whether or not he can make one, though, remains to be seen. Tyler Myers is off the board following Wednesday’s blockbuster move to Winnipeg and, as we’ve often seen come deadline day, there are more teams interested in capable defensemen than there are capable defensemen.

The Ducks could be in on Marc Methot. They could be in on Cody Franson. They could be in on Mike Green — assuming the playoff-bound Caps decide to move him — but Anaheim won’t be alone in any of these pursuits. Which begs two questions: 1) How much does Murray believe in a blueline featuring a top-four of Fowler, Francois Beauchemin, Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen? And 2) If he doesn’t believe in it enough, how much is he willing to spend on a legitimate upgrade?