Notes from rookie scrimmage.

It was tempting to leave Anaheim Ice on Thursday with a broad set of generalizations, but the Ducks’ rookie scrimmage amounted to a one-hour snapshot of a portion of the organization’s prospect pool.

Twenty-two players have been invited to the six-day camp that began Thursday. All but one was at the rink Thursday morning — a team spokesperson said that goalie Igor Bobkov’s flight into California was delayed. Maybe Bobkov knew something the other 21 didn’t: Of the players on the ice for the intrasquad scrimmage, the goalies had the least fun.

The final score was 9-6, apropos for the 4-on-4 game of river hockey that featured no hitting and plenty of uncoordinated improvisation. John Gibson, the 39th overall pick at last week’s Entry Draft, and Iiro Tarkki, whom the Ducks lured from Finland this summer, absorbed all of the burden.

Tarkki gave up the nine-spot, but faced more shots than Gibson (by my unofficial estimate) and made the more impressive saves. The 6-foot-3 netminder, who turns 26 today, is not ready for the NHL, and the Ducks will be happy if he and Bobkov can upgrade the goaltending picture in Syracuse. Gibson struggled early but seemed to settle down. He’ll have up to four seasons at the University of Michigan to iron out the kinks before he ever plays a game in Anaheim.

Goals were scored by Chris Wagner (4), Emerson Etem (2), Joseph Cramarossa (2), Devante Smith-Pelly (2), Andy Welinski, Tim Heed, Andreas Dahlstrom, Brett Perlini and Radoslav Illo. Rickard Rakell was at the rink but didn’t scrimmage because his equipment hadn’t arrived. Neither did Jake Newton, who is battling illness.

Those are the facts. They can be overestimated. I did longer interviews with Justin Schultz and Rakell, and will save their stories for a later post.

Since it was the only scrimmage that will be open to the public, here’s a few snap judgments:
Continue reading “Notes from rookie scrimmage.” »

Goalie John Gibson highlights Ducks’ Day 2 haul.

John Gibson, a goaltender from the U.S. National Development Program, was the first of six picks by the Ducks on Day 2 of the NHL Entry Draft.

Initially projected to be the first goalie selected in the draft, Gibson went to the Ducks with the 39th overall pick – one slot after 6-foot-5 Swedish goalie Magnus Hellberg, who went to Nashville. The 18-year-old told reporters in St. Paul that “my goal at the beginning of the season was to be the first goalie taken but that’s the way it worked out.”

Gibson, a 6-foot-3 native of Pittsburgh, backstopped Team USA to a gold medal at the 2011 Under-18 World Championships in Germany. He posted a 2.34 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage along the way to earn Best Goaltender of the tournament honors.

The Ducks’ AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, struggled with a goalie tandem of Jean-Phillippe Levasseur and Timo Pielmeier last season. Igor Bobkov, a 2009 draft pick, could turn pro next season (he’ll be 20) and Finnish free agent Iiro Tarkki was also signed to help shore up the position, but Gibson probably won’t join the pro ranks for another two seasons at least.

“I’ve just got to see how the next couple years play out,” Gibson said. “When you’re
ready, you’ll be there. I’ve got to see what they need, the best
development for yourself, so I’ll take it one step at a time.

“It’s definitely a great organization. I’m really happy to be there. I’m really thankful they drafted me. I’m thankful they have a lot of good young talent coming up so hopefully in the near future I can be there and help the team out.”

The Ducks finished their draft day by selecting center William Karlsson (second round, 53rd overall), center Joseph Cramarossa (third round, 65th overall), defenseman Andy Welinski (third round, 83rd overall), left wing Max Friberg (fifth round, 143rd overall), and defenseman Josh Manson (sixth round, 160th overall).

Rakell goes to Ducks at No. 30.

The Ducks selected Rickard Rakell, a Swedish-born forward from the Ontario Hockey League, with their lone first-round draft pick Friday after trading down to No. 30.

The Ducks also acquired the 30th and the 39th overall picks from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for the 22nd overall pick.

“He’s very intelligent and he plays more of a North American
game than a European game,” Ducks general manager Bob Murray said. “He’s a good
two-way player and a smart player. He can play center or wing. We’re very happy
he was still there at 30.”

Rakell had 19 goals, 43 points and 12 penalty minutes in 49
games for the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League last season, his
first in North America. The 18-year-old played for Sweden at the World Junior
Championships and had three assists in five games at the tournament in Buffalo,

“I had a lot of meetings at the combine and they went really
well, especially with the Ducks,” Rakell told reporters in Minnesota.

Listed at 6-foot-1, 193 pounds, Rickard is “two or three
years” away from the NHL according to NHL Central Scouting’s Al Jensen.

Murray also said that he hasn’t received a decision from
star right wing Teemu Selanne, who is contemplating retirement.

“His knee acted up a little bit. Doctors looked at it,”
Murray said. “I think he wants to play hockey again. We’re just trying to see
how the knee goes.”

Live draft chat.

Who will the Ducks take with their first-round pick? Join me (and a bunch of other hockey wonks) for a live draft chat beginning around 4 p.m.:


Perry’s Hart Trophy highlights Ducks’ haul on awards night.

Corey Perry gave the Ducks the franchise’s first Hart Trophy on Wednesday, edging out Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin for the NHL’s most valuable player award.

Perry’s 50-goal season earned him 67 first-place votes, 47 second-place votes and 1,043 points. Sedin collected 960 points — 51 first-place votes and 56 second-place votes; only eight other first-place votes were cast. Martin St. Louis of Tampa Bay finished a distant third.

Perry’s credentials gained steam late in the season. The right wing tied for the league lead in game-winning goals (11) and ranked third in points (98); his 21 third-period goals also led the league.

Perry also received the Rocket Richard Trophy for leading the league in goal scoring.

Two other Ducks received Hart votes — Ryan Getzlaf tied Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang for 20th, and Lubomir Visnovsky tied Chris Pronger for 23rd.

Visnovsky was rewarded for his career year with a fourth-place finish in the race for the Norris Trophy. Visnovsky received 20 first-place votes; fifth-place finisher Keith Yandle of Phoenix received five first-place votes. Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom won the award for the seventh time. Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman received a single fourth-place vote to finish 13th in the Norris voting.

Defenseman Cam Fowler finished eighth in the Calder Trophy voting for the league’s top rookie. Fowler received seven fourth-place votes and six fifth-place votes. He can take solace in finishing ahead of ninth-place Taylor Hall of the Edmonton Oilers, the first overall pick at the 2010 entry draft.

Ducks GM Bob Murray finished fourth in the General Manager of the Year award race, behind winner Mike Gillis, Tampa Bay’s Steve Yzerman and Nashville’s David Poile. Murray collected four first-place votes, three second-place votes and six third-place votes.

Ray Emery finished second in voting for the Bill Masterton Trophy, which went to Philadelphia Flyers forward Ian Laperriere. The award, created by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association, is given to the player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”

Teemu Selanne collected nine first-place votes but finished sixth in the voting for the Lady Byng Trophy, awarded for “sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct.” Visnovsky finished 13th.

Randy Carlyle collected one second-place vote and two third-place votes to finish tied for 11th (with Peter Laviolette of Philadelphia) in the Jack Adams Award voting.

Among Wednesday’s other winners, Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler won the Selke Trophy; former Mighty Ducks forward Dan Bylsma won the Adams; Canucks goalies Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider shared the Ken Jennings Award for allowing the fewest goals in the regular season; Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara won the Mark Messier Leadership Award; Kings forward Dustin Brown won the NHL Foundation Award.

Preseason schedule announced.

The Ducks released their 2011 preseason schedule, four home games and three on the road before the team makes its regular-season debut in Helsinki:

Date                     Opponent         Venue                              Time (Pacific)

Sept. 20                      PHOENIX       Honda Center                   7:05 p.m.

Sept. 21                   SAN JOSE                     Honda Center              7:05 p.m.

Sept. 23                       @ San Jose              HP Pavilion                         7:30 p.m.

Sept. 24                    @ Vancouver        Rogers Arena                   7:00 p.m.

Sept. 25                       @ Los Angeles         Staples Center                   6:30 p.m.

Sept. 28                  VANCOUVER               Honda Center              7:05 p.m.

Sept. 30                          LOS ANGELES             Honda Center              7:05 p.m.

Ducks extend Guenin for two years.

The Ducks have extended the contract of minor-league defenseman Nate Guenin for two years. Guenin will make $525,000 in the NHL and $175,000 in the AHL.

Although he never played a game in a Ducks uniform last season, Guenin played heavy minutes for the Syracuse Crunch after arriving in a January trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The 28-year-old had two goals and 12 points in 43 games for the Crunch, along with 44 penalty minutes and a minus-2 rating. He was among the “Black Aces” that were recalled from Syracuse for the Ducks’ first-round series against Nashville but did not play.

Guenin has two assists, eight penalty minutes and a minus-3 in 17 career NHL games with the Blue Jackets, Penguins and Flyers.

Honda Center is getting a face lift.

Honda Center will undergo an eight-figure renovation beginning this fall, Anaheim Arena Management, LLC announced today. The facelift is more expensive than expansive, targeting the east side of the building where the ticket booths and Ducks team store are located.

The team store will expand out from the building, growing from 1,800 to 4,200 square feet, with a 12,000 square-foot terrace above featuring an 80-foot bar and upscale dcor. On the main level, a 250-seat full service restaurant will be added.

A timetable for the construction wasn’t immediately available, but the majority of game-day car and foot traffic probably won’t be affected by the project.

While it’s nice to see that there will be more to do within walking distance of the arena before and after Ducks games — a needed amenity in the “Platinum Triangle” area — perhaps the true impetus behind the project was buried deep inside today’s press release.

“More than ever, Honda Center itself will be NBA-ready,” Anaheim mayor Tom Tait said.

Here’s an artist’s rendering of the planned project, as provided by the arena (click here if the image doesn’t load):


Ducks extend minor-league defenseman Zimmerman.

As first spotted on, the Ducks extended the contract of minor-league defenseman Sean Zimmerman on a one-year, two-way deal.

Zimmerman, who turned 24 in May, finished last season in Syracuse after arriving in the trade that brought enforcer Brian McGrattan to Anaheim from Boston for prospects Stefan Chaput and David Laliberte.

Zimmerman had no goals and three assists in 21 games with the Crunch, his third American Hockey League stop last season. He will make $525,000 in the NHL and $75,000 in the AHL.

Live Game 7 chat.

Join me and a few other hockey bums below for a live chat during Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Bruins and Canucks get started from Vancouver at 5 p.m.

Also, if you’re in the area of Sonny McLean’s in Santa Monica, we can have a live Game 7 chat there too — the face-to-face kind (remember those?).