Fowler inks three-year, entry level deal. Update.

The Ducks have signed first-round draft pick Cam Fowler to a three-year, entry-level contract.

The 18-year-old will make $810,000 in base salary each year, plus a $270,000 signing bonus spread out over the three years. He joins No. 1 overall pick Taylor Hall (Edmonton) as the only players to sign with the clubs who drafted them in June.

By signing Fowler so soon, the Ducks appear eager to give the defenseman a shot at making the NHL club in his first professional season. Fowler had an impressive rookie conditioning camp, albeit against NHL rookies, prospects and minor-leaguers. Now he’ll have a chance to see if his skills translate to the Ducks’ main training camp in September.

On paper, there is room for Fowler on the blue line. Lubomir Visnovsky, Toni Lydman and Sheldon Brookbank are all signed to one-way contracts. Luca Sbisa and unsigned RFA James Wisniewski are expected to join them in Anaheim, leaving two roster spots open if Randy Carlyle decides to keep seven defensemen. The Ducks would like to add another top-four blueliner via trade, but it’s not certain they’ll be able to do so.

To make the NHL roster out of training camp, Fowler would have to buck history. The list of Anaheim draft picks who went straight to the NHL in their draft year is a short one: Steve Rucchin and Oleg Tverdovsky in 1994-95, Chad Kilger in 1995-96, and (then-26-year-old) Niclas Havelid in 1999-2000.

Add to the fact that Carlyle, a former Norris Trophy-winning defenseman, has a notoriously short leash on young defensemen, and the chips are stacked against Fowler.

At least today he is one step closer.

Ducks tap Elmira as new ECHL affiliate.

The Ducks have identified their new ECHL affiliate, agreeing to an affiliation with the Elmira (N.Y.) Jackals. Elmira is two hours south of Syrcause, making it the closest ECHL team to the Ducks’ AHL affiliate.

“We are thrilled to be entering into a formal affiliation agreement with Elmira,” Ducks GM Bob Murray said in a statement. “With ideal proximity to Syracuse and a premier facility in First Arena, Elmira will be a key partner in the development of our young players.”

Under head coach Malcolm Cameron, the Jackals scored a league-leading 275 goals last season and captured the East Division championship with a 37-26-9 record.

The Jackals will play three games in Southern California this season, visiting the Ontario Reign on February 11, 12 and 13 at Citizens Business Bank Arena.

Logan MacMillan’s second chance.

Check out this nice feature in today’s Calgary Herald catching up with Logan MacMillan. The forward, who was recently traded to the Flames, thanked the Ducks organization for sending him home following his DUI arrest in January:

“Anaheim did me a favour,” MacMillan, 21, said on Monday at the Flames’ prospect development camp at Pengrowth Saddledome.

“I
got a lot of things sorted out and taken care of. I’m back on the
right track. I just took some time off. Kind of gave my head a rest. I
went back and spent time with family and friends. They were always
there for me. They helped out big time.”

Thanks to that help, MacMillan says he’s ready to launch another push for NHL employment.

Weller signs AHL deal in Manitoba.

Shawn Weller never saw time in an Anaheim Ducks uniform, but he played an important role in the organization last season.

The 24-year-old left wing, who had spent most of his first two pro seasons with the Ottawa Senators’ AHL team, accepted an assignment to the ECHL to begin last season, when the Ducks didn’t have their own AHL affiliate. Weller also took on the role of team captain with the Bakersfield Condors, scoring 18 goals and 46 points in 42 games.

On Monday, the Manitoba Moose announced they signed Weller to an AHL contract. The Ducks originally acquired the left wing from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Jason Bailey, their third-round pick in 2005. He finished last season in the AHL with the Abbotsford Heat.

Players on AHL contracts are eligible to play for any NHL team.

Bieksa-to-Ducks rumor takes an intresting twist.

The Ducks would like to add an established top-four defenseman, either through free agency or through trade, and the consensus from the rumor mill is that Kevin Bieksa is the top target.

However, there are other options.

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ Tomas Kaberle is a more talented offensive player but has a less appealing cap hit than Bieksa ($4.25 million to $3.75 million). Judging by the depth in their system, the Ducks probably can’t cobble together the most enticing trade package for Leafs general manager Brian Burke, who has been shopping Kaberle for months without an offer to his liking.

Former 20-goal scorer Sheldon Souray has requested a trade out of Edmonton, and is reportedly willing to waive his no-trade clause for the Ducks. But is Anaheim willing to risk trading prospects for a 34-year-old defenseman with limited defensive skills and a $5.4 million cap hit the next two seasons?

Philadelphia has a glut of defensemen, but you wonder who would be the odd man out in a trade — rising 25-year-old stud Matt Carle? Kimmo Timmonen, who is clearly on the downside of his career at 35 and brings a $6.3 cap hit for the next three seasons? Braydon Coburn?

So back to Bieksa. The Province reports that Ducks GM Bob Murray is past the stage of “kicking the tires” for the 29-year-old defenseman, who offers a blend of offense, defense, size (6-1, 206) and toughness. The only problem is that Canucks defenseman Sami Salo suffered a torn achilles tendon while playing something called “floor hockey” in Finland, and is out indefinitely.

Does that mean Bieksa is off the market? If Salo goes on long-term injury reserve, the Canucks would still pay his actual salary, but his salary-cap hit would come off the books and temporarily put them back under the cap ceiling, according to capgeek.com. They would still have eight NHL defensemen under contract, but maybe the price for Bieksa just got higher.

Maybe Murray turns his attention to one of the other options.

Stay tuned.

Reports: Florida, Elmira candidates to become Ducks’ ECHL affiliate.

Since severing ties with the Bakersfield Condors, the Ducks have been searching for an ECHL affiliate closer to AHL affiliate Syracuse. According to reports out of Florida and New York, the Florida Everblades and Elmira Jackals are the leading candidates.

The Naples-based Everblades recently severed ties with the Florida Panthers. Elmira is already affiliated with the Ottawa Senators, but dual affiliations are not uncommon and no ECHL city is closer to Syracuse.

Coincidentally, the Jackals’ new head coach, Malcolm Cameron, spent the last two seasons coaching the Everblades.

Perry’s younger brother joins Crunch.

A.J. Perry, the 23-year-old younger brother of Ducks forward Corey Perry, has signed an AHL contract with the Syracuse Crunch.

Perry spent last year with the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies and scored 30 goals and 78 points (sixth in the league) in 67 games. He was named an all-star for the ECHL’s National Conference and had an assist in the game, which was played at Ontario’s Citizens Business Bank Arena.

Where the brothers are similar in scoring touch, they differ in size. A.J. is 5-foot-11, 195 pounds and doesn’t play as physical a game as Corey, who stands 6-3 and 209 pounds. A.J. has 12 games of experience in the AHL with the San Antonio Rampage in 2008-09, when he notched a goal and two assists. He spent most of that year, his first as a pro, in the Central Hockey League, scoring 23 goals in 45 games for the Arizona Sundogs.

The Crunch also announced the signing of forward John Mitchell, who just finished a four-year career at the University of Wisconsin.

Confirmed: Defenseman Syvret signs with Ducks.

Danny Syvret, a defenseman who captained Corey Perry’s London Knights squad to the 2005 Memorial Cup championship, has signed with the Ducks. Sportsnet.ca. First reported the signing Tuesday; the team confirmed the announcement Wednesday. Syvret will make $600,000 in the NHL and $105,000 in the minors.

A 5-foot-11, 203-pound blueliner with a knack for offense, Syvret’s pro career has not picked up where his junior career left off. In his final season with the Knights (2004-05), he had 23 goals and 69 points in 62 games. Syvret has been a productive point producer in the American Hockey League since he was drafted in the third round (81st overall) by the Edmonton Oilers in 2005, and his point-per-game totals have increased each season at the AHL level. In 76 games for the Philadelphia Phantoms’, then the Flyers’ AHL affiliate, Syvret had 12 goals and 57 points in 2008-09. In 15 games with AHL Adirondack last year, he had five goals and 13 points.

But Syvret has had trouble sticking at the NHL level, with just two goals and five points in 49 games spread over parts of four seasons. If he joins the Ducks, Syvret would figure to be in competition with Brendan Mikkelson, Brett Festerling, Luca Sbisa – and possibly Cam Fowler — for one of the final NHL roster spots. The Ducks only have three defensemen (Lubomir Visnovsky, Toni Lydman, Sheldon Brookbank) signed to one-way NHL contracts, with another (James Wisniewski) scheduled for an arbitration hearing August 3.

Anaheim is still seeking a top-four defenseman with some experience. Syvret is not that defenseman, though the Syracuse Crunch, the Ducks’ new AHL affiliate, would certainly benefit from his addition. Judging by his participation in the recent Special Olympics ceremonies in London, he seems to be a good guy, too.

Etem, Fowler and Palmieri invited to US junior camp.

Ducks prospects Cam Fowler, Emerson Etem and Kyle Palmieri have been invited to take part in the 2010 USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp, July 30 through Aug. 7 in Lake Placid, N.Y.

A total of 44 players were invited to the camp, which will serve as an audition for U.S. National Junior Team that
will take part in the IIHF World
Junior Championship, Dec. 26, 2010-Jan. 5, 2011, in Buffalo.


Both Fowler and Palmieri were members of last year’s USA World Junior
team, which took home the gold medal after defeating Canada 6-5 in
overtime.

Ducks acquire minor-leaguer Zaborsky.

The Ducks have traded minor-league defenseman Matt McCue to the New York Rangers for forward prospect Tomas Zaborsky.

The 22-year-old Zaborsky, a native of Slovakia, has yet to reach the NHL since being drafted by the Rangers in the fifth round of the 2006 draft. In 43 games for Assat Pori of the Finnish Elite League, Zaborsky had nine goals, 26 points and 67 penalty minutes. Zaborsky split his first professional season between the AHL (goal, three points in eight games) and the ECHL (14 goals, 28 points in 47 games) in 2008-09.

The Ducks signed McCue as a free-agent forward out of the Western Hockey League and attempted to convert him to the blue line as a professional. Known more as a fighter than a scorer, McCue had two assists and 68 penalty minutes in 19 games with ECHL affiliate Bakersfield last season. In 10 games with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose, he had one goal and 24 penalty minutes.