Mikkelson, Mitera survive first cuts.

Considering that Brett Festerling and Brian Salcido were among the last defensemen assigned to the American Hockey League in training camp a year ago, it’s worth noting they were among the first on Saturday.

Salcido, who had to pass through waivers first, will start the season in Winnipeg with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. Festerling will join the San Antonio Rampage.

“We felt people here had outplayed the players we decided to reassign,” a diplomatic Randy Carlyle said Monday. “We’re going to put the best players on the ice … we felt the other players were ahead of them.”

The Ducks opened the preseason with more veteran candidates to fill the sixth and seventh spots on defense this year — Sheldon Brookbank, Steve McCarthy, Steve Eminger and Jassen Cullimore to name a few. Still, that leaves youngsters Brendan Mikkelson and Mark Mitera among those still standing.

Carlyle praised the 22-year-old Mikkelson for his confidence on the ice, something Mikkelson believes he found before he first laced up his skates.

“You’re comfortable with the guys, the room, the coaching staff, their expectations, the building,” said Mikkelson, who appeared in 34 games in 2008-09 as a midseason injury replacement. “Last year I wanted to make the NHL. This year I still have to make the team, but I want to stay.”

For Mitera, who sustained an ACL tear that cost him all but 13 games last year between the University of Michigan and Iowa (AHL), the road has been bumpier.

“It’s like he’s starting all over again,” Carlyle said.

But the big-bodied (6-3, 202) defenseman hasn’t gotten much of a chance to get anything started, playing in just one of the Ducks’ first five games. Mitera’s presence may have less to do with him beating out Salcido or Festerling for a roster spot than a chance to get his feet wet in an NHL clubhouse.

“We’d like to keep him here a little while,” Carlyle said. “It’s always a good learning experience.”
This entry was posted in Anaheim Ducks/NHL by J.P. Hoornstra. Bookmark the permalink.

About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Orange County Register, Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.

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