Ducks bulk up with Jacques.

The Ducks added another possible piece to their bottom-six forward picture Wednesday with the signing of free agent left wing Jean-Francois Jacques. The 26-year-old gets a one-year contract worth $650,000 in the NHL and $105,000 in the AHL.

Known more for his fights than his goals, the 6-foot-4, 217-pound winger had 63 penalty minutes, 111 hits and four goals in 51 games with the Edmonton Oilers last season. Jacques had a career-high 11 points (4+7=11) and 78 penalty minutes in 49 games in 2009-10.

Jacques has spent his entire six-year pro career in the Edmonton organization after the Oilers drafted him in the second round of the 2003 draft.

Jacques, who averaged a mere 7:04 time on ice per game last season, figures to slide into a fourth-line left wing role similar to the one occupied at times by Aaron Voros, Brad Winchester and Jarkko Ruutu last season. The addition of Jacques makes it seem less likely that Winchester or Ruutu will be re-signed.

His fight card at is a fairly long one.

Ducks sign AHL D-man Bryan Rodney.

Charlotte Checkers captain Bryan Rodney was 10th among AHL defenseman last season in points (47) and tied for fourth in power-play points (29).

The Syracuse Crunch defense was relatively young and low on offensive-minded players last season, making today’s signing of Rodney a sensible one for the Ducks. The 27-year-old Rodney has appeared in 33 NHL games for the Carolina Hurricanes the past three seasons, scoring all of his 11 points during a 22-game stint in 2009-10.

Lately, Rodney has made a living running AHL power plays with a strong shot. His nine goals last season were a career high, and he scored seven goals and 35 points in 54 games the year before for Albany, then the Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate.

The one-year contract pays $525,000 in the NHL and $250,000 in the AHL.

Rodney said in May that he was looking for an opportunity to get more NHL ice time. The Ducks recently acquired Kurtis Foster from Edmonton for Andy Sutton in a move to boost the second power-play unit, but an injury to Foster, Lubomir Visnovsky, Cam Fowler, Luca Sbisa or Francois Beauchemin could give Rodney an opening similar to those he had with the Hurricanes.

Listed at 6-feet and 195 pounds, Rodney went undrafted out of the OHL. He’s had six different minor-league addresses since turning pro in 2005-06, and almost quit at one point.

Sexton elects arbitration.

Right wing Dan Sexton was one of 23 NHL players who elected arbitration today.

Sexton, 24, appeared in 47 games in his second NHL season, scoring four goals and 13 points while averaging 11:35 per game. His season was marked by frequent trips to and from Syracuse, where Sexton was a point-per-game player (9+8=17 in 17 games) for the Crunch.

Ultimately, 2010-11 could be termed a disappointment after Sexton scored nine goals in 41 games as a rookie out of Bowling Green in 2009-10.

The 5-foot-9, 165-pound right wing made $575,000 last season and was due to become a restricted free agent. He, Nick Bonino and Patrick Maroon all received qualifying offers last week.

Schultz opts for the patient route.

It’s not always easy being a bona fide NHL prospect.

It’s not easy when you have chosen the NCAA route over the junior route, reducing your options to the all-or-nothing proposition of staying in school or turning pro.

It’s not easy when your best friend and defense partner in college was drafted in your same class by the same NHL team -then traded two years later, prohibiting you from continuing your journey together side-by-side into the pro ranks.

This was the scenario facing Ducks prospect Justin Schultz, who had to watch from the University of Wisconsin, Madison while Jake Gardiner was traded from Anaheim to Toronto, then signed an entry-level contract this year.

While Schultz was named one of 10 Hobey Baker finalists, Gardiner went on to impress observers during a 10-game stint with the Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate at the end of the season.

For Schultz, staying in school might not have been an easy choice. But it’s choice, and he’s sticking to it.

“Yeah, I think definitely I believe I could do it if I wanted,” he said of turning pro. “But I really feel like I want to play in the AHL next year and get ready so I can make the jump right to the big club.”
Continue reading “Schultz opts for the patient route.” »

Ducks invest in Gordon.

Andrew Gordon is a prolific Twitter user, part-time blogger, and on Saturday became the first player signed by the Ducks since free agency began at 9 a.m. Monday.

The 25-year-old right wing has had success scoring at the American Hockey League level and will get a shot to make the NHL leap in Anaheim. Gordon’s contract is a two-way deal in the first year that will pay $525,000 in the NHL and $250,000 in the minors; the second year is a one-way deal that pays $550,000 in the NHL.

Gordon played in nine games for the Washington Capitals last season, logging a goal, an assist and a minus-2 rating. He spent most of the season with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, scoring 28 goals and 57 points in 50 games. He missed almost six weeks between February and March with an upper-body injury, returned to play the final 10 regular-season games, but was limited to two postseason games with a lower-body injury.

The 5-foot-11 Nova Scotia native has been an AHL regular for four straight seasons, all in Hershey, since being drafted by the Capitals in the seventh round of the 2004 draft. He appeared in two games with the Caps in 2009-10 and made his NHL debut on Dec. 23, 2008 before being sent back to Hershey.

Gordon told the Patriot-News of Harrisburg, Penn. “I felt like right away, they were the best option for me. Anaheim was speaking very highly of me and where I fit in the system and where I fit in the future. I’m going to try to go in there and earn things like anybody else does.”

Ducks acquire Foster from Edmonton for Sutton.

The Ducks’ first move on the first day of free agency was not a free-agent signing but a trade. Veteran defenseman Kurtis Foster arrives from Edmonton in exchange for Andy Sutton, whose disappointing tenure in Anaheim ends after one season.

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Foster is similar in size to Sutton (6-6, 245) but the two play different games. The 29-year-old Foster can help on the power play and has a booming shot that is effective when accurate. He scored eight goals each of the last two seasons, with Edmonton and Tampa Bay, and scored a career-high 10 goals in 58 games for the Minnesota Wild in 2005-06.

Foster also had 14 assists, 45 penalty minutes and a minus-12 rating last season in 74 games. In 331 career NHL games, Foster has 37 goals and 104 assists.

The Ducks lost Andreas Lilja to free agency when the Flyers gave the 35-year-old defenseman a three-year contract worth a reported $1.7 million. Including Foster, the Ducks have seven defensemen under contract.

Sutton was due to earn $2.25 million with a $2.125 million cap hit. Foster will earn $1.8 million in the final year of his contract.

In his lone season in Anaheim, Sutton had four assists, a plus-1 rating, and 87 penalty minutes in 39 games. The 36-year-old never found his place in the lineup after breaking his thumb in the first game of the regular season. Even when healthy Sutton was a regular in the press box, and also got caught in a couple minor skirmishes with teammates in practice.

Some other notable transactions Friday involved former Ducks:

James Wisniewski signed for six years and $33 million with Columbus.
Drew Miller re-signed for two years, $1.65 million with Detroit.
Sean O’Donnell signed for one year and $850,000 with Chicago.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere is expected to sign with the Colorado Avalanche, although a formal deal hasn’t been announced.

Free agency live chat.

Since news breaks before it can be blogged, I invite you to keep your browser glued to this chat room beginning at 9 a.m. today. What I know about NHL free agents, trades and buyouts will go here, so feel free to ask me some questions in real time: