Kesler says Ducks letdowns are ‘not going to happen again’

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Anaheim Ducks management stepped up to the plate in handing Ryan Kesler a hefty six-year, $41.25 million contract extension. Now it’s up to Kesler & Co. to prove that it’s all worth it.

The 30-year-old told the team website that he believes the Ducks “have all the pieces, we just need to put them together.” Kesler also said that falling short of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final ultimately serves as a valuable learning experience for the team.

At what point do you need to put those lessons together for an even deeper playoff run, though? Kesler looked back at the Ducks’ inability to put the Chicago Blackhawks away, including a 5-2 loss in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final:

“We needed a killer instinct in Game 6. We didn’t have it,” Kesler said. “There are two ways we can go about it: We can sulk about it or we can learn from it. I’m gonna make sure, just like all the other leaders on this team, that we learn from this and we learn not to let it happen again. That’s our job as leaders on this team. That’s not gonna happen again, I’ll tell you that.”

One cannot help but wonder how wide open the window really is for the Ducks, actually.

Wrong side of 30

Look, the West remains brutal, particularly with the ascension of Anaheim’s old nemesis, the Dallas Stars.

Still, this may just be the Ducks’ best chance to go all the way. The Blackhawks suffered some significant losses during this summer, and many others seemed to idle or even get worse. On paper, Anaheim might just be the favorite in its conference.

Beyond that, the team’s big names aren’t getting any younger, and the days of having a glut of cap space might be fleeting.

As of this writing, Kesler, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are all 30 years old. According to many, that’s roughly the age where big scorers start to see diminishing returns.

Costly contracts coming

The Ducks will also see a squeeze in contracts, particularly if they don’t get some other extensions done early (like they did with Kesler).

They still have some haggling to do with Carl Hagelin* and Jakob Silfverberg before the 2015-16 season begins. Gearing up for 2016-17 may prove costly, too, as their three goalies (Frederik Andersen, John Gibson, Anton Khudobin) and significant young defensemen Sami Vatanen, Simon Despres and Hampus Lindholm will all need new contracts.

Even with the bright side of Khudobin being the only UFA in mind, the Ducks seem rapidly shift from being a contender with a startling salary cap cushion to another championship hopeful with little room to breathe.

***

Kesler can shrug off the pressure to win all he wants, but with that big new deal, he’ll shoulder a lot of the blame if the Ducks fall short once more.

* – Sorry, had to do it.

Habs lock down Tinordi with one-year, two-way contract

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The Montreal Canadiens signed defenseman Jarred Tinordi to a one-year, two-way contract on Wednesday. The financial terms have not been disclosed.

At this point, the Habs only have one pressing concern remaining: re-signing RFA Alex Galchenyuk. Naturally, much like the New York Rangers with Derek Stepan, getting Galchenyuk under contract will be more challenging than signing the likes of Tinordi and Michael Bournival.

Tinordi, 23, managed to play in 13 regular season games last season, generating two assists. He didn’t receive any reps in the playoffs, but he does have some postseason experience, as he played in five playoff games in 2013.

It’s likely that the young blueliner – drafted 22nd overall in 2010 – will need to battle for playing time. It won’t be easy, yet he has at least one ace up his sleeve:

RFAs out of the way: Rangers sign Fast, Miller

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The New York Rangers crossed two more items off their to-do list on Wednesday, signing RFAs J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast.

The team only officially acknowledged that the two deals are done, but the New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports that Fast’s contract is for two years, $1.9 million (a cap hit of $950K per season) while Miller accepted a qualifying offer of about $874K.

It sounds like Miller might be eyeing the future in compromising his 2015-16 payday:

Of course, there’s still the elephant in the room in Derek Stepan’s negotiations, but the Rangers’ other worries are largely taken care of. Taking those two contracts into consideration, that leaves New York with about $6 million in cap space for Stepan; Brooks reported that $6.5 million would just be a starting point, so there could still be some work to do there.

The Rangers have developed a pattern of saving with RFAs, for the most part, and these two deals stick with that trend.

Fast, 23, generated modest point totals (14 in 58 regular season games, six points in 19 postseason contests), yet he showed flashes of brilliance here and there. Miller, 22, managed slightly better totals and could very well blossom in the near future.

It’s been a busy day with the signing of Dylan McIlrath also in mind, but the team’s executives can’t quite take a vacation just yet.

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.

NHL releases arbitration dates

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Per the players’ union, a quick look at the players (and teams) that have elected arbitration, and what dates they’re scheduled for. Italicized names with asterisks means deals have already been reached, nullifying the need for a hearing.

PLAYER ELECTED FILINGS

Arizona Coyotes
Mikkel Boedker * (signed one-year, $3.75M deal)
Phil Samuelsson – July 21, 2015
Brendan Shinnimin- July 20, 2015

Buffalo Sabres
Phil Varone* (signed one-year, $600,000 deal)

Calgary Flames
Lance Bouma – July 22, 2015
Paul Byron – July 30, 2015
Josh Jooris – July 28, 2015

Colorado Avalanche
Andrew Agozzino – July 20, 2015
Mathew Clark – July 22, 2015

Detroit Red Wings
Gustav Nyquist * (signed four-year, $19M deal)

Minnesota Wild
Erik Haula – July 31, 2015

Nashville Predators
Craig Smith – July 20, 2015
Colin Wilson – July 28, 2015

New Jersey Devils
Eric Gélinas – July 21, 2015
Adam Larsson – July 29, 2015

New York Rangers
Derek Stepan – July 27, 2015

Ottawa Senators
Alex Chiasson – July 23, 2015
Mike Hoffman – July 30, 2015

Philadelphia Flyers
Michael Del Zotto – July 21, 2015

St. Louis Blues
Magnus Paajarvi *  (signed one-year, $700,000 deal)

Toronto Maple Leafs
Taylor Beck – July 24, 2015

Washington Capitals
Braden Holtby – July 23, 2015
Marcus Johansson – July 29, 2015

CLUB ELECTED FILINGS

Edmonton Oilers
Justin Schultz – July 24, 2015

Toronto Maple Leafs
Jonathan Bernier – July 31, 2015