Vatanen signs entry-level contract.

The Ducks signed defenseman Sami Vatanen, a fourth-round draft pick in 2009, to a three-year entry level contract worth $2.7 million in the NHL.

Vatanen, who turns 20 in June, was named the Finnish Elite League’s Defenseman of the Year in 2010-11 and was selected to the league’s postseason All-Star team after leading all defensemen in scoring and ranking first overall in plus/minus.

The Jyvaskyla native had 31 points (11 goals, 20 assists) with a plus-30 rating and 30 penalty minutes in 52 games for JYP Jyvaskyla last season. In three playoff games, Vatanen posted a goal and an assist. He also captained Finland to a bronze-medal win over Canada at the 2009 IIHF Under-18 World Championships in Fargo, ND. In six games during the World tournament, he scored 0-5=5 points with a +6 rating.

The key question now for Vatanen is how well his 5-foot-10, 165-pound frame will adapt to the smaller North American rinks and the more physical NHL (or more likely, AHL) style of play.

Vatanen was the fifth player selected by the Ducks in a 2009 draft class after Peter Holland (15th overall), Kyle Palmieri (26th), Mat Clark (37th) and Igor Bobkov (76th) – all of whom have signed entry-level deals. Fifth-round pick Radoslav Illo just completed his first season at Bemidji State University and sixth-round pick Scott Valentine recently completed his 2010-11 season with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.

Smith-Pelly, Missisauga fall short in Memorial Cup final.

Prospect Devante Smith-Pelly and the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors fell 3-1 to the Saint John Sea Dogs in the Memorial Cup championship game Sunday night.

Smith-Pelly, the Ducks’ second-round draft pick in 2010, was named to the all-tournament team. He scored a pair of goals Friday in the Majors’ 3-1 win over the Kootenay Ice in the semifinals but was held scoreless in the championship game.

Smith-Pelly finished tied for second among all players in the tournament with six points (three goals, three assists) in five games. In 20 postseason games, he led Mississauga with 15 goals and 21 points.

Doug Weight announces his retirement.

Doug Weight’s time in a Ducks uniform won’t be the focal point of any career-retrospective highlight packages. In fact, Anaheim was the least memorable stop along his decorated 19-year career.

That in itself makes it blog-worthy today, when Weight announced his retirement in Uniondale, New York. The Islanders’ captain the past three seasons, Weight retires with the sixth-most points (1033) of any American-born NHL player.

After stints with the Rangers, Oilers, Hurricanes (with whom he won his only Stanley Cup in 2006) and Blues, Weight came to Anaheim in December 2008 in the trade that sent Andy McDonald to St. Louis. The Ducks needed to create salary-cap space after Scott Niedermayer un-retired, and then-GM Brian Burke figured to have obtained an adequate second-line center in Weight – who was by that time a future Hall of Famer.

But Weight never jelled in Randy Carlyle’s dump-and-grind system, recording just six goals and eight assists in 38 regular-season games. He had only one point, an assist, in the Ducks’ first-round playoff series against the Dallas Stars.

Skepticism was the natural reaction when Weight said after the season that he intended to find work elsewhere in the NHL as a top-six forward. The Islanders granted his wish, prolonging has career another three (injury-plagued) seasons.

Weight played in 107 games for the Isles, logging 12 goals and 54 points. His last game came Nov. 17 against Tampa Bay.

Ducks ink Etem to three-year, $2.7 million deal

The Ducks signed Long Beach native Emerson Etem to a three-year entry level contract on Tuesday. Etem, the 29th overall pick in the 2010 draft, will make $900,000 each year he is in the NHL.

Asked about his recently completed season in the WHL, it would have been natural for Etem to get excited about any of the 45 goals he scored for the Medicine Hat Tigers. But he wanted to talk a little more about his first fight, which he saved for the last game of the playoffs:

Continue reading “Ducks ink Etem to three-year, $2.7 million deal” »

Ducks at the World Championships, Day 13.

And then there were none.

Cam Fowler and Team USA had nothing for the Czech Republic in a 4-0 loss Wednesday, ending their run at the IIHF World Championships. Jaromir Jagr had a hat trick and Ondrej Pavelec made 29 saves. The U.S. was outshot 39-29 while finishing out of medal contention for the seventh consecutive season.

Fowler was a minus-1 in a team-leading 22:51 for the Americans. He finishes the tournament with one goal, two assists, and a minus-3 rating.

Here’s a link to a PDF document of Team USA’s stats. It’s pretty clear why they failed to medal – among their leading scorers were the New York Rangers’ Derek Stepan, and University of Wisconsin sophomore Craig Smith.

The tournament ends Sunday. Check for the most up-to-date results.

Ducks at the World Championships, Day 11. Update.

And then there was one.

Among the Ducks participants, only Cam Fowler (and Team USA) gets to keep playing at the IIHF World Championships after the U.S. lost 5-3 to Luca Sbisa and Team Switzerland on Monday in Kosice.

Fowler had an assist, the primary helper on James van Riemsdyk’s third-period goal during a delayed penalty, in 21:42 — the second-most ice time of any American skater. Fowler was on the ice for one other U.S. goal and two Swiss goals, finishing with an even-0 rating.

Sbisa didn’t register a point but finished plus-1 in 21:06 — the second-most ice time of any Swiss skater.

Win or lose, Switzerland was playing its last game, having been mathematically eliminated from the quarterfinal round. The Swiss finished 1-1-1-2 (W-OTW-L-OTL) and had the distinction of being the best penalty-killing team in the 16-team tournament at 95.83 percent, of which Sbisa probably played a large role. Individually, he finished with no goals, one assist, and an even-0 rating in 18:21 TOI over six games.

The U.S. will play the Czech Republic for a semifinal berth on Wednesday. The winner of that game plays either Sweden or Germany in the semifinals, while the loser goes home.

Ducks at the World Championships, Day 10.

Tomorrow, Luca Sbisa figures to play his last competitive hockey game in a while.

Sbisa and Team Switzerland lost 2-0 to Sweden on Sunday at the IIHF World Championships in Slovakia. It was an all-around poor game for the Swiss, who couldn’t solve goalie Viktor Fasth and didn’t help themselves by taking a string of minor penalties – seven in all – that left them short-handed for 14 minutes.

Sbisa stayed out of the penalty box in 21:43 TOI, but was stuck with a minus-1 rating when Mikael Backlund scored into an empty net in the final minute.

Switzerland (0-1-1-2), now the fifth-place team in Group F, plays the third-place U.S. (2-0-1-1) tomorrow. By then, they will know the result of the game between fourth-place Norway (1-1-0-2) and sixth-place France (0-0-1-3). Norway has five points in the standings and Switzerland has three, but Norway beat Switzerland in the only head-to-head game between the teams. That would seem to preclude Switzerland from reaching fourth place (and thus the Quarterfinal Round), but according to the game recap, Switzerland still has a mathematical chance of advancing.

We’ll find out for sure tomorrow.

Ducks at the World Championships, Day 9.

Cam Fowler and Team USA breathed more life into their quarterfinal aspirations Saturday in Slovakia, while Lubomir Visnovsky and the tournament hosts met a disappointing fate.

Fowler finished plus-1 in 18:03 in a 3-2 win for the U.S. against France. Cristobal Huet (35 saves) made things tough, but the U.S. climbed out of an early 1-0 deficit on unanswered goals by Derek Stepan, Mark Stuart and Chris Kreider. The U.S. can clinch its first quarterfinal-round berth for the first time since 2009 on Monday if it beats Switzerland or loses in overtime or a shootout, or if the Swiss lose to the Swedes on Sunday.

There will be no quarterfinal round for Slovakia.

Tuomo Ruutu scored twice in the third period to lift Finland to a 2-1 win over the hosts. Visnovsky played a team-high 23:55 — a good sign considering the shoulder injuries he dealt with late in the NHL season — but was held scoreless. Slovakia concludes tournament play Monday against Denmark.

According to <a href=”IIHF.com”></a>, no host country has won the gold medal at the IIHF World Championship since the Soviet Union in 1986.

Iiro Tarkki update. Update.

The team still could not confirm the signing of Finnish goalie Iiro Tarkki as of this morning, but Tarkki’s agent appears to have confirmed it to a Finnish publication (thanks to Google translate).

Update (3 p.m.): The team has confirmed the signing. From the official release:
Continue reading “Iiro Tarkki update. Update.” »

Ducks at the World Championships, Day 8. Update.

Historically, shootouts have been a more popular means for deciding hockey games in Europe than North America. When in Slovakia …

Canada beat the United States, 4-3, in qualification-round play in Kosice, getting shootout goals from Rick Nash and Jordan Eberle to seal the win. Ty Conklin made 48 saves between regulation and overtime, but couldn’t stop either shootout attempt he faced. Jack Johnson and Blake Wheeler missed on both U.S. shots.

Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler was a minus-1 in 19 minutes, 10 seconds on ice, including almost half (2:16) of the overtime period.

Just as they would in an NHL game, the U.S. gets a point for the shootout loss. They moved into sole possession of fourth place in Group F, from which four teams will advance into the next round. Canada leads the group with seven points.

Later Friday, Lubomir Visnovsky Team Slovakia lost 3-2 to the rival Czechs, crushing their chances of advancing out of the Qualification Round. Now, according to <a href=”IIHF.com”></a>, Slovakia needs to win its games against Finland and Denmark, and Finland shouldn’t take points in its last game against Russia.

Visnovsky assisted on Ladislav Nagy’s second-period goal that got the Slovaks on the board, but was also on the ice for Patrik Elias’ game-winning goal in the third period, finishing with an even-0 rating. 

The game was played in Bratislava, less than two hours from Visnovsky’s hometown of Topolcany.