Brendan Mikkelson wasn’t exactly expected to be in Anaheim still. Certainly not considering defensemen Steve McCarthy, Jassen Cullimore, Brian Salcido and Brett Festerling were all cut from the Ducks’ training camp first.
Which is what made Sunday’s game against the Kings, the Ducks’ final action of the preseason, so important for the 22-year-old.
Mikkelson, who had a strong game Thursday in Vancouver, has played each of the last three preseason games in a push to make the opening-day roster as a sixth or seventh defenseman. And Sunday’s might have been the worst, at least in his opinion.
“I didn’t do as well as I should,” he said. “There were a few plays in the first period that I should have had. In the third period, there’s a few pucks I should have gotten in deep but didn’t.
“I had the right idea on a lot of plays; I’ve just got to execute.”
Kept off the scoreboard, Mikkelson’s largest contribution was a second-period, open-ice hit on Kings enforcer Raitis Ivanans in which Mikkelson lost his helmet. It drew a roughing penalty on the 6-4, 240-pound Ivanans, and it drew notice to the 6-2, 180-pound Mikkelson, who normally isn’t known for his physical play.
“He’s pretty heavy, that’s for sure,” Mikkelson said of Ivanans. “That was a play there, he was going to try to chip wide and cut inside of me. I thought I’d step up and make the hit. I felt like that was the play there.”
Head coach Randy Carlyle said he may choose to keep eight defensemen and 13 forwards when the 23-man roster is submitted Wednesday, rather than the seven and 14 most teams keep.
The most likely scenario sees the Ducks keeping seven defensemen, with either Mikkelson or Sheldon Brookbank headed for the minors, or Luca Sbisa being returned to his juniors club in Lethbridge, Alberta.
Sbisa has also gotten a long look in the preseason, playing in a team-high seven games while recording one goal, one assist and a plus-1 rating.
“We think that he needs some tutoring,” Carlyle said of Sbisa. “We think that we can provide him with that, but that’s one of those decisions – do you want to do that now, or do you think it’s better a year from now?”