The Ducks’ free-agent front: ‘No news’ is ‘no news.’

There have been no 11th-hour deals by the Ducks (a la the Kings trading Lubomir Viznofsky last night to the Oilers) on the eve of the NHL free agency period. But since free agency begins at midnight, we haven’t technically hit the 11th hour yet, have we?
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Brian Burke’s Straight-Talk Express

Ducks GM Brian Burke spoke with season-ticket holders at Honda Center after the draft and apparently was asked about the Toronto Maple Leafs rumors. His response, which I believe is the most concrete response he’s given yet: “It comes down to what’s best for his family.”

Burke, of course, has children from a previous marriage living on the East Coast and his wife, Jennifer, was a TV personality in Vancouver before she was released from that job about a month ago. Neither of these places are close to Anaheim.

And the Ducks’ 2nd first-round pick is…

…traded. To Phoenix.

In what has to be the longest first round of any NHL draft in history, the Ducks traded to acquire the third-to-last pick, only to trade it for two second-round picks, Nos. 35 and 38 overall. A bit anticlimactic, but they walk away with Jake Gardiner and two more picks than they had yesterday.

An interview with Jake Gardiner can be found here.

Jake Gardiner, the newest Duck.

Ducks take Jake Gardiner, a converted 6-foot, 173-pound defenseman, with the 17th pick. Central scouting had him at No. 23, so you could consider him a bit of a reach, but here’s the scouting reports:

NHL Central Scouting’s Jack Barzee

“Jake’s biggest attribute is that he might be one of the best skaters in the draft – he is just a pure skater. He used to be a forward and they made him a defensemen a few years ago and he loves being a defenseman. He is smart with the puck, unselfish and he’s careful. He is another one that has grown all year, I had him measured at 6’0″ – he might be almost 6’2″ and that’s been not even a year. He’s a greyhound right now, wiry, but he’ll fill out. He is dynamic when he grabs the puck and goes. He has a very quick dangerous wrist shot – he gets it away like Joe Sakic does. The dimension of his quickness fools goalies. I liken him to Brett Hedican when he was in high school but maybe a little more polished. He’s an easy player to like.”

Minnetonkahead coach Brian Urick

“Making the switch from playing forward to defenseman really helped Jake improve as a player. He makes a better defenseman because of his experience playing as a forward. Jake has an uncanny ability to read plays and this helps him see the ice in a different way.”

Ducks, Kings make a trade.

From Calgary gets Mike Mike Cammalleri from the Kings, Calgary gets the Ducks’ 12th overall pick and the Ducks pick up the 17th selection from the Flames and the 28th from the Kings.Five first-round picks are in: Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay), Drew Doughty (L.A.), Zach Bogosian (Atlanta), Alex Pietrangelo (St. Louis) and Luke Schenn (Toronto).

Analysis: It’s no surprise that the Ducks traded down, but somewhat surprising that they traded that far down. Brian Burke thought the third tier of players ended at #15, and he’d targeted a third-tier guy that would be available there. Maybe Burke feels “that guy” will be available at 17? Or maybe he really liked the value of two first-round picks at 17 and 28 more than one third-tier guy at 12?? Stay tuned …

Scott Niedermayer update

Brian Burke said Scott Niedermayer HAS NOT been given a deadline of tomorrow to decide whether or not he’s retiring. Niedermayer’s wife is close to giving birth, Burke said, and for that reason he’s willing to extend the deadline past the draft and into next week, to let Niedermayer concentrate on his family.

Interesting to note: Burke said this will not affect the team’s draft plans either way.

No news will be good news IF Niedermayer decides to come back … whenever he eventually decides.

No news from Teemu, either.

Check out tomorrow’s editions for what Burke had to say about the Ducks’ No. 12 overall pick.