Sexton, Levasseur wrap up big weekend for Syracuse.

Dan Sexton’s three-point game Sunday wrapped up a big weekend for the erstwhile Ducks right wing in the American Hockey League.

Sexton scored once at even strength and once short-handed – who knew he could kill penalties? – and added an assist in the Syracuse Crunch’s 5-0 win over the Hartford Wolf Pack Connecticut Whale. Sexton also had a goal in a 4-1 win over the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday, giving him three goals and an assist in two games since his latest AHL demotion.

Defenseman Brett Festerling (two goals, plus-4 rating), left wing Matt Beleskey (goal, assist) and defenseman Mat Clark (goal, assist) also had strong games for the Crunch on Sunday.

Although playing back-to-back games is common for AHL goalies, Jean-Phillippe Levasseur’s weekend bears mentioning. His 32-save shutout Sunday came less than 24 hours after a 42-save effort against the Penguins. The 23-year-old lowered his goals-against average to 2.81 and boosted his save percentage to .918.

With Timo Pielmeier struggling (6-10-1, 3.61, .898), Levasseur looks like the Ducks’ number three goalie by default.

Down on the farm, some Ducklings are hatching.

The Syracuse Crunch can loosely be broken down into two
groups of players: Those who are still developing, and those you might see in
Anaheim this season.

Nick Bonino and Kyle Palmieri cut to the front of the
promotion line with strong performances last week. By Wednesday they were in
Ducks uniforms, playing against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

That might have been ahead of the curve for both, who are
just beginning their first full season in professional hockey. Even though
Ducks fans have been hearing about Bonino and Palmieri for more than a year, if
anything they have been fast-tracked to the NHL.

“In baseball, most of the top prospects get put into
Single-A and work their way up,” said David McNab, the Ducks’ senior vice
president of hockey operations. “It doesn’t appear that they draft a player and
immediately stick them in Triple A. that’s what the American League is:
Triple-A baseball. It’s a tough league. There’s a lot of veteran hockey players
in the American Hockey League who are great players. It takes time.”

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Toni Lydman is cleared to play.

The Ducks got more good news one day after their first win of the season when defenseman Toni Lydman was cleared to play.

The 33-year-old has been sidelined by double vision since training camp began. He had been practicing with the team
daily, but has not appeared in a regular or pre-season game.

The Ducks figure to get another veteran defenseman back when Andreas Lilja’s work visa is finalized.

To make room for Lydman on the active roster, defenseman Brett Festerling was assigned to AHL affiliate Syracuse Thursday.

Report: Ducks sign Andreas Lilja. Update.

A tough week for the Ducks and Andreas Lilja could be ending with a contract that brings the veteran defenseman to Anaheim.

A report on the Swedish website HockeyExpressen.se indicates that the 35-year-old Lilja will sign with the Ducks. Anaheim lost veteran defenseman Andy Sutton to injury in Friday’s regular-season opener in Detroit, a 4-0 loss. Brett Festerling was summoned from the AHL prior to Saturday’s game in Nashville, a 4-1 loss.

Sutton’s thumb fracture left the Ducks without two of their key blue line additions; Toni Lydman is still out following an acute episode double vision. Lilja, meanwhile, has been looking for a contract since he was cut in training camp by the San Jose Sharks – after he flew with the team to Europe.

Lilja is a defensive-minded defenseman who has played the last five seasons with the Red Wings. In 478 career games, he has 15 goals, 74 points and 501 penalty minutes.

The website mlive.com reported that Lilja’s visa was set to expire today.

3:20 p.m. update
: Lilja will sign a one-year contract with the Ducks, but agent Todd Diamond relays that the defenseman might not be able to suit up tomorrow in St. Louis. Monday is Columbus Day, a federal holiday, which will delay Lilja’s ability to renew the P-1 (work) visa.

As a side note, Diamond said that Lilja was never offered – nor did he reject – a contract from the Red Wings, contrary to the mlive.com report.

Sutton breaks thumb, Festerling up.

Andy Sutton broke his thumb in a second-period fight Friday against the Detroit Red Wings’ Ruslan Salei. Sutton did not return for the third period. No timetable for his return was immediately available, pending further evaluation.

Reduced to six healthy defensemen for tonight’s game against Nashville, the Ducks recalled Brett Festerling from American Hockey League affiliate Syracuse. Festerling, who played 42 games for the Ducks last season, was among the second-to-last round of training camp cuts.

Luca Sbisa, a healthy scratch last night, also figures to have a crack at the lineup.

Festerling, Syvret waived. Update.

Defensemen Brett Festerling and Danny Syvret have been placed on waivers, paring the Ducks’ blue line down to eight as the regular season approaches.

The biggest name of the eight belongs to 2010 first-round draft pick Cam Fowler. The 18-year-old has appeared in four preseason games, logging two assists and a minus-3 rating, while also seeing time on the Ducks’ power play. For Fowler to make the opening-day roster would represent a major accomplishment with a franchise that has historically given its draftees more time to develop. 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.
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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.

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.

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.

Dallas 3, Ducks 2.

Jonas Hiller made 49 saves over 65 minutes, and Bobby Ryan scored a pair of goals, but Mike Modano stole the show in the Stars’ shootout win.

Modano, who has spent his entire 20-year career with the Dallas organization, electrified the crowd by scoring the game-tying goal with 1:47 left in regulation of what could be his final game at American Airlines Center. He scored again in the second shootout round against Hiller, then Jere Lehtinen sealed it with a goal in the third round.

Ryan’s team-leading 33rd and 34th goals of the season allowed the Ducks to salvage a point on a night when they were outshot 51-19. His second goal, a sharp-angled power-play tally, gave the Ducks a 2-1 lead at 15:16 of the third period.

With several veterans remaining home, Randy Carlyle went with his youngest lineup of the season. Nick Bonino, Nathan Oystrick, Brendan Mikkelson, Brett Festerling and Dan Sexton got long looks while Ryan Getzlaf (ankle) and Lubomir Visnovsky (hand), as well as healthy scratches Scott Niedermayer, Saku Koivu, Teemu Selanne and Todd Marchant were held behind.