Festerling re-signs for two years, $1.05 million.

The Ducks have re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Brett Festerling to a two-year contract. The two-way contract pays $525,000 each year Festerling is in the NHL.

Festerling was described by head coach Randy Carlyle as “the surprise of training camp” a year ago, when he leaped past fellow rookies Brendan Mikkelson and Brian Salcido to become the Ducks’ first defenseman recalled from the AHL (back when Francois Beauchemin tore his ACL in November).Festerling doesn’t have much offensively (five assists in 40 regular-season games last season) but he earned the trust of the former Norris Trophy-winning coach to spell an injured James Wisniewski in the second round of the playoffs against the Detroit Red Wings.

Come training camp Festerling will be on the bubble again. The Ducks are fairly set with their top four (Scott Niedermayer, Ryan Whitney, Wisniewski, Nick Boynton), and top five if you include Luca Sbisa. That leaves Festerling in a group with Sheldon Brookbank, Mikkelson, Salcido and Steve McCarthy competing for two roster spots.

Ducks prospect rankings released.

HockeysFuture.com has released its Fall rankings of the Ducks’ top 20 prospects, starting with new defenseman Luca Sbisa straight on down to Petteri Wirtanen (at the bottom of the
“Other Notables” list). There’s one factual error; Petri Kontiola (ranked #8) has signed with a KHL team for next season. The rest of the top 10, in order: Sbisa, Jake Gardiner, Peter Holland, Mark Mitera, Kyle Palmieri, Brendan Mikkelson, Matt Beleskey, Kontiola, Matt Clark, Matthias Modig.

Nick Bonino (#14) and Brett Festerling (#17) seem underrated, and Maxime Macenauer probably deserved a shot at the top 20, and I can’t argue with the guys I haven’t seen yet. Perhaps you can…

Palmieri has goal, two assists for Team USA.

Recent Ducks draft pick Kyle Palmieri had a goal and two assists for the United States in an 8-1 win over Russia on Tuesday, the first offour games between the two teams at the 2009 USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp.

Palmieri’s wraparound goal at 2:44 of the opening period was his team’s third in 41 seconds, and gave the U.S. a 3-1 lead.

Defenseman Jake Gardiner, the Ducks’ first-round pick in 2008, was kept off the scoresheet.

Rob Niedermayer: ‘my first choice is with the NHL.’

The brothers Niedermayer have made an annual tradition of a charity summer hockey game in their hometown of Cranbrook, British Columbia. With it comes the opportunity for each to field questions from the local media about their NHL careers and, for once, Rob Niedermayer has the more compelling career dilemma.

He hasn’t signed anywhere since becoming a free agent July 1, while Scott is already under contract to the Ducks for one more season. Asked about his future prospects by Craig Lindsay of the Kootenay News Advertiser, Rob had this to say: “Obviously, my first choice is with the NHL. We’ll see where that leads and go from there.”

I get the feeling there’s a KHL fan somewhere quoting “Dumb and Dumber.” Either way, it’s the strongest confirmation yet from Rob that he doesn’t expect to be back for a seventh season in Anaheim.

Palmieri, Gardiner selected to U.S. Juniors roster

Recent Ducks draft picks Kyle Palmieri and Jake Gardiner were selected by USA Hockey to the national team roster for a seven-game series against Russia this week.

The players are auditioning for a spot on the U.S. National Junior Team that will take part in the 2010 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship.

Gardiner, a 6-foot-2 defenseman from the University of Wisconsin, was the Ducks’ first-round pick (17th overall) in 2008. Palmieri, a 5-11 forward from the U.S. Under-18 team, was chosen 26th overall by the Ducks in the most recent entry draft in June.

Reports: Pogge to Ducks.

Several news outlets are reporting that the Toronto Maple Leafs will trade goaltender Justin Pogge to the Ducks.

Here’s what makes sense about the deal from Toronto’s end: The Leafs just hired former Ducks goaltending consultant Francois Allaire to coach their goaltenders, and it’s entirely within reason that Allaire didn’t like what he saw in Pogge. Pogge is a former third-round draft pick, 90th overall in 2004 by then-Leafs general manager John Ferguson Jr. But Pogge’s first seven NHL games, all during the 2008-09 season, didn’t particularly live up to their promise.

He went 1-4-1 in Toronto with a 4.36 goals-against average and a .844 save percentage, splitting the season between the NHL and AHL. In 53 games for the Toronto Marlies, Pogge went 26-21-5 with a 2.70 GAA and .895 save percentage. TSN is reporting the Ducks will give up a conditional draft pick, which will go up or down based on Pogge’s performance.

The curiosity of the trade begins on the Ducks’ end. The most likely scenario has Pogge going straight to the minors. Although Anaheim recently gained a goaltending prospect in Timo Pielmeier (acquired from the Sharks in the Kent Huskins/Travis Moen deal), they lost a pair of minor-leaguers in the offseason. David LeNeveu appears headed to Austria, and free agent David McKee isn’t likely to re-sign.

The less likely scenario has Pogge stepping up to the NHL sooner, with Jean-Sebastien Giguere and his $6 million salary being traded, and Pogge backing up Jonas Hiller. However, this off-season hasn’t seen Ducks general manager Bob Murray anywhere close to trading Giguere — who has a no-trade close — though Murray hasn’t ruled out the possibility.

The trade isn’t official yet, but stay tuned for updates.