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Ducks make a hat trick of deals Wednesday as re-tooling continues

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When you’ve lost as many games in a row as the Anaheim Ducks have recently — and you’ve publicly backed your head coach — the only thing left to do is throw a stick of dynamite into the locker room to shake things up.

That’s precisely what Bob Murray has done over the last several hours (and the past couple of days). In fact, at the time of writing this, the top three posts on the Ducks’ website are three media releases involving trades. Scroll a little further down, and another trade appears.

That’s four trades in the span of three days. You can’t say Murray isn’t trying (although the debate will rage on whether these trades really move the needle at all).

The Ducks acquired center Justin Kloos from the Minnesota Wild for winger Pontus Aberg late Wednesday afternoon. Kloos, who has only played in one NHL game this season (and the rest in the American Hockey League for Iowa) led the Wild’s farm team in points and was tied for the most goals.

Aberg, meanwhile, has been a healthy scratch recently after initially showing well to start the season. Alas, his 11 goals and eight assists were cutting it, even if he was near the top of the Ducks’ scoring leaders.

[RELATED: Ducks get younger, ship Cogliano to Stars for Shore]

Michael Del Zotto was watching the Vancouver Canucks lose 3-2 in a shootout to the Edmonton Oilers when he was beckoned by Murray in exchange for fellow defenseman Luke Schenn and a seventh-round draft pick in 2020.

Del Zotto was a healthy scratch on Wednesday, something he’s been quite a bit this season. Schenn, meanwhile, has spent most of the season playing for the San Diego Gulls in the AHL.

And the last trade of the day brought a familiar face back to the west coast.

Forward Derek Grant returns to Anaheim after signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins as a free agent in the offseason. Grant played in 66 games last season with the Ducks, scoring 12 goals and adding 12 assists.

In 25 games with the Pens, he found the back of the net just twice, adding three helpers.

The Ducks sent center Joseph Blandisi the other way. Blandisi was a sweetener in the Adam Henrique-for-Sami Vatanen trade between Anaheim and the New Jersey Devils last season. He only played six games with the Ducks since arriving last winter, an has no goals and no points in those games.

Murray made his biggest splash on the first deal he made on Monday, sending Andrew Cogliano to Dallas for Devin Shore.

MORE: Who has the inside track in the Western Conference wildcard race?


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Canucks don’t see Pettersson injury as dirty play as they await MRI results

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The city of Vancouver is holding its breath hoping for the best for Elias Pettersson one day after he left the Canucks’ game against the Montreal Canadiens after getting tangled with Jesperi Kotkaniemi.

Already ruled out for Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the team is waiting for the full results from an MRI on his right knee.

“I’m walking fine. I feel better today than yesterday, so that’s good,” Pettersson told Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos.

“I think we both just fell down and I maybe fell on his leg. I’m not sure what happened,” Kotkaniemi said. “I don’t want to hurt anyone. I said this morning that he’s a good player, so everyone in the League wants that he’s on the ice, so so do I.”

While some Canucks fans were seeking blood having now watched their stud youngster get injured for the second time this season, his teammates and head coach Travis Green didn’t see anything malicious in the play.

“I think it was just two guys in a bit of a battle,” said forward Brandon Sutter. “Looked like Petey tried to get body position to try and hold him up and kind of got tangled and went down. It was kind of an awkward fall and it’s unfortunate. Hopefully it’s nothing too serious.”

“I’ve watched it a lot of times. First of all, it’s not a dirty play by their player at all,” Green said afterward. “[Pettersson] gets hooked a little bit. Petey actually pushes back on him, leans back and probably tries to give a little bit of a reverse hit, and two young guys fall to the ice. It’s not a penalty.”

Pettersson, who was named to the Pacific Division All-Star team this week, leads all rookies with 22 goals and 42 points

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Tempers flare, penalty parade ensues between Lightning, Canucks

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Who knew the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Vancouver Canucks harbored so much hate for one another?

Wherever it came from, the apparent bad blood between the two teams was certainly flowing at a steady pace on Tuesday night in Vancouver.

Things were going well until around the 12-minute mark of the second period. It was then that Antoine Roussel landed a big hit on Lightning star Yanni Gourde.

Gourde, not impressed with being turnbuckled, took exception and the two squared off. He got five for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct. Roussel was assessed two for roughing and five for fighting.

From there, Canucks defenseman was forced out of the game after an apparent head shot from Lightning forward Danick Martel.

Martel was skating back through the neutral zone when he saw that Stecher had the puck near the boards. The hit looked innocuous at first, but replays showed that Martel seemed to extend his shoulder into Stecher’s head.

Stecher left the game and the Canucks said he wouldn’t return.

With tempers already boiling, things got completely out of hand with under a minute left in the period.

Lightning forward Cedric Paquette took a run at Canucks forward Elias Pettersson, a no-no, and all hell broke loose as the two lines on the ice brawled.

Paquette received two for roughing and five for fighting. Canucks d-man Ben Hutton, who can be seen below throwing bombs, also got a fighting major.

In total, 14 penalties were doled out, with those adding up to 48 minutes in the second period alone.

Quite the game, one that Tampa won 5-2 in the end.

UPDATE:


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Canucks see rivals, partners in new Seattle NHL franchise

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Sitting high above the ice of Rogers Arena, Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning is recalling fond memories of his time playing junior hockey for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League and their trips up Interstate 5 to play at the old Mercer Arena against the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Well, how fond he is depends on the perspective.

”They had chicken wire, and the fans were rowdy,” Benning recalled recently. ”The thing with the chicken wire is like you’d line up for a faceoff and they could spit right through the chicken wire.”

While Benning’s memories of playing against Seattle remain – and who could forget chain-link fence in place of glass boards at one end of the rink – he’s also thinking ahead. Looking out at an empty arena a couple of hours before a Canucks faceoff, he can envision fans of Seattle’s new NHL franchise making the trek north on I-5, through the border crossing and into downtown Vancouver to watch their team play the Canucks.

He has no doubt it will be a healthy rivalry and great for the sport in this corner of North America. But the Canucks see the addition of Seattle as more than adding a rival 2 + hours away by car. Seattle will be a critical partner for the future success of both franchises.

The approval of Seattle as the 32nd NHL franchise earlier this week has thrilled hockey fans who for years made their way north to Vancouver to see the game played at its highest level. But there’s an almost equally excited group just north of the 49th parallel who can’t wait for 2021 when the Seattle franchise begins play.

”Vancouver is already a partner. They were the most enthusiastic team in the league about this. They love the idea of this rivalry,” Seattle team President Tod Leiweke said. ”I think for the two cities to connect like this, the two cities are 130 miles away but now they’re going to connect in a whole different way and I think that’s one of the great things that is going to come out of all this is a deep, deep visceral connection between Vancouver and Seattle and we’re going to play some great games.”

Adding Seattle to the league helps the Canucks in various ways, from marketing to travel and interest in the game. The team is already planning ways it can sell Seattle’s addition, even if it’s three years away.

Canucks COO Jeff Stipec noted that even as Vancouver’s on-ice product is improving around a core of young stars and rejuvenating interest in the city after a few down seasons, the fans flocking back to the games are seeking different opportunities. They want special events, like being able to hop on a bus for a road trip to Seattle.

”Our season ticket members, what they’re looking for now are experiences,” said Stipec, who according to Canadian media reports is stepping down from his position but is currently still in his role with the team. The team has not made any announcement about Stipec’s future.

While it would seem the proximity of the two cities might create issues in competing for dollars on the business side, it doesn’t appear that will be the case largely because of the border. The border creates a natural break between the two teams, both in their attempts to gain market share, but also in seeking corporate dollars and the acquisition of talent.

”It’s not that we just have somebody that’s two and a half hours away, we have that international border between us,” Stipec said. ”So that protects us a lot from corporate partnerships, broadcast rights, a whole bunch of things. It’s not like a Pittsburgh-Philadelphia situation. So it’s great that way, that we have our own protected markets in a sense in some of those key areas.”

The Canucks have not actively sought to promote themselves in the Seattle area, though playoff games have been broadcast on Seattle sports radio at times through the years. Still, hockey fans in the area have made the Canucks their team.

Alym Rayani lives just outside Seattle and has gone in with friends on season tickets for the Canucks for about a decade. After spending part of his childhood in Vancouver, Rayani drove back for games after settling in Seattle during the Canucks’ run as one of the Western Conference’s elite teams earlier this decade.

But like others from the Seattle area who regularly attend Canucks games, they’re hockey fans more than Vancouver fans. For Rayani, his loyalty and his dollars will belong to Seattle when it comes on board. He’s No. 16 on the season-ticket deposit list.

”I definitely feel loyalty to the Canucks being born there and having lived there, but I think it will be interesting how I’m going to feel 10 years from now,” Rayani said. ”My kids, they watch the Canucks now, they’re going to be huge Seattle fans I’m sure. … I think over time I will morph to Seattle. I like the idea of being a fan or part of something from day one.”

Trades: Penguins deal Sprong to Ducks; Leafs move Leivo

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Monday turned out to be a busy day on the NHL trade market with a pair of one-for-one swaps taking place.

Let’s get to the details.

Penguins give up on Daniel Sprong

The writing has been on the wall for a while now that Daniel Sprong was never going to fit in with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He has not developed as the team hoped he would, he never gained the trust of the current coaching staff, and he hasn’t really performed when he has been on the ice.

On Monday, the Penguins finally traded him to the Anaheim Ducks for 22-year-old defenseman Marcus Pettersson.

It’s the classic “take our prospect that hasn’t panned out in exchange for your prospect that hasn’t panned out and let’s hope it works” trade.

There is no doubt Sprong has talent, but it has yet to translate to the NHL level.

Even if you want to argue that he hasn’t been given enough of an opportunity, he hasn’t really done much to convince anyone he has deserved more of a look. In 42 career games he has just nine points (four goals, five assists) and has never developed his game away from the puck. The Penguins spent the offseason talking about how he was going to be a part of this year’s team, and they gave him a ton of playing time in training camp and the preseason. But after a dreadful preseason performance he was back to being the odd-man out on a regular basis, and when he did get in the lineup he was consistently buried on the fourth line.

He never really did anything to play his way out of it.

Pettersson will add some defensive depth to an organization that badly needs it, but it remains to be seen if he will be able to crack the lineup or make any sort of an impact. The Penguins have tried to take on a lot of reclamation projects on defense over the years with very mixed results. He is also waiver exempt (unlike Sprong) so he could be sent to the American Hockey League without having to pass through the waiver wire.

Maple Leafs make room for William Nylander, trade Josh Leivo

With William Nylander finally back in the mix for the Toronto Maple Leafs on a six-year contract, they had to make some room for him on the roster.

That move was to trade forward Josh Leivo to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for Michael Carcone.

Leivo appeared in all 27 games this season for the Maple Leafs, scoring four goals to go with two assists. After being selected by the team in the third-round of the 2011 draft he has mostly been a depth player over the past six years. Before this season he had never played more than 16 games at the NHL level. He might get more of an opportunity on a rebuilding Vancouver team that is short on depth.

The 22-year-old Carrone has spent the past three seasons playing for the Canucks’ AHL team in Utica. He has six goals and 11 assists in 20 games this season.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.