Mikkelson accepts qualifying offer, gives Ducks five defensemen.

Depending on how you look at it, the Ducks either retained a reliable depth defenseman, or beefed up their blue line by 20 percent, on Thursday.

Either way, the fact is that Brendan Mikkelson accepted the Ducks’ qualifying offer and signed a one-year contract that will pay $687,000 in the NHL or $62,500 in the minors. The smooth-skating 23-year-old had two assists and 14 penalty minutes in 28 games last season for the Ducks.

Mikkelson was drafted 31st overall by the Ducks in 2005 and has spent most of his three professional seasons at the American Hockey League level [career stats here]. He would likely begin next season with Anaheim’s AHL affiliate, the Syrcause Crunch – but only if the Ducks can find two more qualified NHL defenseman between now and the beginning of the season.

Mikkelson joins Lubomir Visnovsky, Toni Lydman, Sheldon Brookbank and Brett Festerling as the only NHL defensemen currently under contract. The Ducks have also qualified restricted free-agent defenseman James Wisniewski and have prospect Luca Sbisa ready to turn pro, either in the NHL or AHL.

Report: Salcido signs in Prague.

A dateline out of Prague followed by Brian Salcido’s name, as well as this rough translation (thanks to The NHL Arena) is adequate indication that the defenseman has signed in the Czech Extraliga.

Salcido was a fifth-round draft pick by the Ducks in 2005. A consistent offensive-minded defenseman at the American Hockey League, Salcido’s defensive shortcomings were enough to keep him from landing a job in Anaheim. In four professional seasons, the Hermosa Beach native appeared in two games with the Ducks in February 2009, recording one assist.

The 25-year-old was re-signed for a year after his entry-level deal expired in 2009, and became an unrestricted free agent July 1. Last season, when the Ducks didn’t have their own AHL affiliate, he recorded eight goals and 18 points in 68 regular-season games for the Manitoba Moose. He also had one assist in six playoff games for the Moose.

HC Sparta Prague plays in the highest league in the Czech Republic, which the IIHF recently rated the third-strongest league in Europe.

Ducks’ prized pick looks ahead of his time.

Cam Fowler is taking notes.

For the 12th overall pick in the recent NHL Entry Draft, the coolest aspect of the Ducks’ rookie conditioning camp has been watching a pair of players with NHL experience, Dan Sexton and Nick Bonino. Not watching how they skate, pass, or shoot, but “seeing how they carry themselves, how they’re professional in the way that they act.”

“I think it’s cool for me as a young guy just to be around those guys and see what it’s like,” Fowler said. “It’s just being respectful to everybody, carrying yourself professionally whether it’s picking weights up in the locker room or gathering up some money to help the trainers out. They always seem to be one step ahead of things to help us young guys out.”

In three intrasquad scrimmages this week, Fowler has been among the players who are a step ahead of everyone else — more mentally than physically, but sometimes both.

Continue reading “Ducks’ prized pick looks ahead of his time.” »

More on Aaron Voros.

Aaron Voros certainly stands in contrast to the majority of forwards who have joined the Ducks in the Bob Murray era, guys like Jason Blake, Joffrey Lupul, Saku Koivu, Dan Sexton and Kyle Chipchura. In that group at least, there isn’t a natural fighter among them.

Voros, who was acquired Friday from the New York Rangers along with prospect Ryan Hillier for defenseman Steve Eminger, knows what got him to the NHL.

“The reason I’m in the league obviously is because I play a physical game,” he said.
Continue reading “More on Aaron Voros.” »

Ducks send Eminger to Broadway for Voros.

The Ducks have traded defenseman Steve Eminger to the New York Rangers for left wing Aaron Voros and minor-league forward Ryan Hillier.

A grinder with two-way skills, Voros was underutilized in New York by the admission of Rangers head coach John Tortorella. In 41 games last season, he had three goals, seven points and 89 penalty minutes. In 2008-09, Voros set career highs with eight goals, 16 points and 122 penalty minutes in 54 games.

The 29-year-old has one year and $900,000 remaining on his current contract, and gives the Ducks a salary-cap hit of $1 million – a net savings on Eminger ($1.5 million salary/$1.25 million cap hit).

Eminger was inconsistent in his lone season in Anaheim – sometimes a healthy scratch, other times worthy of top-four minutes. He wound up with four goals and 16 points in 63 games despite a slow start (one assist through 23 games).

Hillier, 22, played only 26 games last season between the Rangers’ AHL and ECHL affiliates. A 2006 third-round draft pick by the Rangers, Hiller has “a good combination of speed and skill, plays with a lot of energy, and shines when the puck is on his stick” according to the scouting report on HockeysFuture.com.

With the departure of Eminger, the Ducks have just four NHL defensemen under contract for next season: Lubomir Visnovsky, Toni Lydman, Sheldon Brookbank and Brett Festerling. Voros adds depth at left wing to a picture that already includes Joffrey Lupul, Matt Beleskey and Jason Blake – not to mention restricted free agent Bobby Ryan. The Ducks have also qualified restricted free-agent defensemen James Wisniewski and Brendan Mikkelson.

Transition time begins for Etem.

There may come a time when Emerson Etem is critiqued and lauded just like any other Ducks player by the denizens at Honda Center. He probably can’t wait for the moment.

Two weeks ago the 18-year-old from Long Beach was not received like any other Duck, not even like any other first-round draft pick, at the annual entry draft. His cheering section numbered in the triple digits, larger than anyone else’s, and his booing section at Staples Center (Kings fans, most likely) was still larger. You could say it comes with the territory – a clich that works on a few levels in Etem’s case.

Thursday, he was standing on the bridge between the past and the future.
Continue reading “Transition time begins for Etem.” »

Carter placed on waivers. Update.

The Ducks have placed forward Ryan Carter on waivers, a team spokesperson has confirmed. The other 29 NHL teams have the opportunity to claim him, based on the reverse order of finish, and Carter could have a new home announced at 9 a.m. tomorrow.

The move also raises some questions for the Ducks.
Continue reading “Carter placed on waivers. Update.” »

Palmieri steals show at scrimmage.

The game didn’t count, but the first impression surely did.

Kyle Palmieri scored three impressive goals Tuesday night in an intrasquad scrimmage at the Ducks’ prospects conditioning camp. The scrimmage, which consisted of two 30-minute periods of four-on-four hockey, ended in a 4-4 tie.

For many of the fans in attendance at Anaheim Ice, it was their first chance to watch Palmieri play hockey. For Palmieri, who last made headlines when he was arrested in April, it was exactly the debut he needed.

“It was good to get back into a competitive game,” the 19-year-old said. “We’re all trying to impress the people upstairs. At the same time, we’re having fun and trying to get to know some people.”

Continue reading “Palmieri steals show at scrimmage.” »

Wisniewski files for arbitration.

As expected, Ducks defenseman James Wisniewski filed for salary arbitration on Monday, the final day for qualified players to file.

Wisniewski, 26, had three goals and 30 points in 69 games last season while averaging 24:20 time on ice.

It’s unknown what the Ducks have offered, or what Wisniewski is seeking. Ducks general manager Bob Murray has said he expected the case would go to arbitration. Of course, that’s what Murray said last year too, when Wisniewski was seeking a multi-year deal. They nearly

went to arbitration before coming to
terms on a one-year, $2.75 million contract.

At the time, Wisniewski relented because he realized Murray “want(s) to see me play a season of injury-free hockey. Hopefully
after that, I can become a Duck for a long time.”

For the most part, Wisniewski accomplished his goal. He only missed three games due to injury – a separated shoulder in October – but suspensions of two and eight games cost him another 10 games total.

The Ducks’ haven’t gone to arbitration with any player since Ruslan
Salei in 2003.