Andrew Ebbett is a quiet and unassuming man at 5-foot-9 and 174 pounds, the type of professional athlete who, if he introduces himself as a professional athlete, makes you do a double-take. He’s easy to overlook.
Coming off his first NHL season, nobody bothered to ask Ebbett what he thought the Ducks needed to do in the off-season. If they had, he probably wouldn’t have suggested bringing in another second-line center, the job he held throughout last season’s playoff run.
Of course, the Ducks promptly signed Saku Koivu to take Ebbett’s place. His reaction?
“It’s tough to hear sometimes during the summer,” he said. “I think that affects me a little bit there, but when they bring in a guy like Saku Koivu, it’s tough to argue with that. I mean, the guy’s been a captain in Montreal for 10 years, been in the NHL and put up big numbers.”
The good news for Ebbett is that he’s made it this far in NHL training camp. The bad news is, his time may be up when the Ducks’ 23-man roster is submitted to the NHL today.
In 48 regular-season games after being recalled from the AHL, he had eight goals and 32 points for the Ducks, then posted just three points in 13 playoff games. Ebbett officially went on “the bubble” after posting just one assist and no goals in five preseason games.
“The points haven’t been in there in the preseason, but I thought that I’ve done my best every game and just felt a lot stronger out there, a lot more comfortable,” he said. “Just the comfort level, being able to come in with the attitude … I played two rounds of playoffs, and those playoff games were huge for my experience factor — knowing what to do in certain situations — it just felt a lot better in the exhibition season.”
To bolster his case, Ebbett pointed to last Thursday’s game in Vancouver, in which he spelled an injured Joffrey Lupul at left wing. It was the first time since an AHL contest with the Portland Pirates that Ebbett didn’t play center, which has always been his natural position. To make the adjustment easier — and Ebbett said there wasn’t much of one — he studied the work of Todd Marchant and Bobby Ryan at left wing.
As is often the case, Ebbett’s effort is there. As is often the question, will it be enough?
“I’m the first guy to tell you I’m a big team guy,” Ebbett said. “Whatever it takes to be on this team and help it win, I’m here to do that.”