Ducks trade for Cogliano, sign Drouin-Deslauriers, etc.

The Ducks took their biggest step toward addressing their biggest area of need this summer today, trading a second-round draft pick in 2013 to the Edmonton Oilers for center Andrew Cogliano.

The 24-year-old has never missed a game in four NHL seasons – all with Edmonton – while racking up 57 goals, 146 points and 137 penalty minutes. Listed at 5-foot-10, Cogliano compares favorably to recently-retired forward Todd Marchant, another player whose two-way game evolved in Edmonton before he arrived in Anaheim.

“I’ve matured as a player,” Cogliano said. “At this point in my career, I can create offense but also take up the def side of things. I played a lot of penalty kill last year. I feel like I can contribute at both ends of the rink.”

In Cogliano and Brandon McMillan, the Ducks now have two viable options for the third-line center position. McMillan finished a strong rookie campaign with 11 goals and 21 points, but his 38.9 percent success rate in the faceoff circle was the lowest on the team. Cogliano only won 41.6 percent of draws last season, but his 461 faceoff wins were the most of any Oiler, and that figure should reasonably increase if he’s surrounded by better and hungrier players.

Cogliano also scored 18 goals in each of his first two NHL seasons before dipping to 10 and 11 the last two years, respectively.

The Ducks’ third- and fourth-line positions – arguably their biggest area of weakness in the playoffs – are more clear but still a little muddy. Cogliano and enforcer George Parros are all but locks; so are youngsters Brandon McMillan, Dan Sexton and Matt Beleskey if they don’t take a step backwards, and Jean-Francois Jacques. There could be one or two open positions –for a fourth-line center, or a third- or fourth-line left wing — with a decent crop of candidates lying in the AHL and junior ranks.

Considering his two-way potential and his faceoff skills, it’s safe to say that adding Cogliano should allow McMillan to switch to either the left or right wing. Counting those two, along with Beleskey, Dan Sexton, Kyle Palmieri or perhaps Emerson Etem -to name just four candidates -the Ducks could have a young third line with above-average speed.

“We dabbled in this a bit over the last year and a half,” general manager Bob Murray said. “The biggest thing for us is speed. We tried to increase our team speed the last couple of years and we really haven’t accomplished that. He can definitely skate.”
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Ducks sign Sexton, avoid arbitration.

Arbitration cases are always hard to predict from the outside looking in, but there were a few clues leading up to Monday’s announcement of a new two-year contract for Dan Sexton that the speedy right winger would be able to avoid going to arbitration with the Ducks after he filed last week.

For one, the team hasn’t gone to arbitration with any player since Ruslan Salei in 2003. For another, Sexton was one of the best players at AHL affiliate Syracuse last season, which has been a focal point for general manager Bob Murray’s free-agent targets so far this off-season.

Sure enough, Sexton said Monday, only the terms kept the negotiation process from concluding any earlier.

“It was never a question of whether they wanted me or not,” Sexton said. “We started conversations the day after the season ended. We weren’t sitting there waiting for them to pick up the phone.”

Sexton’s contract is a two-way deal in the first year, paying $550,000 in the NHL and $105,000 in the minors, and a one-way deal in Year 2 ($550,000) –similar to the contract structure for recent free agent signee Andrew Gordon.

Of course, Sexton would prefer to spend the season in Anaheim, not Syracuse.

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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.

Kings 3, Ducks 2.

Wednesday was a long day for the Ducks.

Jonas Hiller said he’s got vertigo, Timo Pielmeier was demoted to Syracuse, Ray Emery was flown in to Anaheim, Curtis McElhinney earned another start, Saku Koivu tried to play despite a groin injury but sat, Ryan Getzlaf tried to play but his wife gave birth so he sat out too, and then the Ducks lost 3-2 to the Kings.

Time to breathe now.

A one-goal loss to the Kings was about the most uplifting way to extend a losing streak to four games, short of earning a point in overtime or a shootout. Figure that with Getzlaf and Koivu in the lineup, Jarkko Ruutu isn’t starting the game on the top line; the Ducks are putting more pressure on Jonathan Quick and not relying on a pair of deflections to constitute their offense; and certainly Bobby Ryan and Brandon McMillan aren’t dressing as the No. 1 and 2 centers.

“I think we played good enough to win the game,” Teemu Selanne said, and against a team that isn’t as hot as the Kings (9-1-3 in their last 13 games), he’s probably right.

Here’s the game story, and here are a few details I left out:
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Ducks 4, Vancouver 3.

Ryan Getzlaf and the Ducks didn’t ease into anything in Vancouver.

The captain played 21:45 in his first game since Dec. 28, and the Ducks used a big lead to help hold off the Canucks. Getzlaf’s only point was this beautiful assist on Bobby Ryan’s first goal of the game, which gave the Ducks a 3-0 lead at 4:12 of the second period.

He also made an impact on Dan Hamhuis, planting the defenseman dangerously into the end boards on this shoulder-on-shoulder check. There’s already a debate raging over whether or not it was a clean hit.

Ryan had two goals, Jason Blake and Brandon McMillan had the others, and Curtis McElhinney made 16 of his 36 saves in the final period.

A few more notes:
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San Jose 4, Ducks 3.

The first 11 minutes, 15 seconds of hockey at Honda Center rendered the next 48:45 moot. Almost.

At least, it made for fairly easy writing on deadline. Seeing Jonas Hiller allow three goals in that early span, before heading to the bench, was a rare sight. Just as rare were the nature of the goals – each a little less excusable than the one before. Hiller said he didn’t see Jason Demers’ shot from just inside the blue line until it was in the back of the net. A few seconds later, Hiller was on the bench, and the Western Conference standings were guaranteed to be a gnarled mess.

The Sharks (27-19-6) and Ducks (28-21-4) each have 60 points now, cosmetically tied for fifth place in the standings but San Jose has the advantage of having one game in hand. Clearly, playing the Phoenix Coyotes the night before was a tremendous advantage, as the Sharks’ quick start was too much for Hiller and the Ducks.

“I think when they scored on the first shift it should have been a wake-up call,” said Bobby Ryan, who had one of the Ducks’ three goals. “We let them build off it. I don’t think you can discredit Jonas. He stood in there and some of the goals were tough to see, especially the third one. You don’t see it much.”

Cam Fowler and Joffrey Lupul also scored goals, with Lupul netting his first since Dec. 28. Curtis McElhinney made 17 saves – 10 more than Hiller – allowing only a power-play putback by Ryane Clowe at 15:39 of the second period.

More details in tomorrow’s editions. A few more notes:
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Getzlaf’s back, and other notes from practice.

Ryan Getzlaf returned to practice — looking trim, but weighing the same, he insisted — for the first time since he went on injured reserve after suffering multiple nasal sinus fractures on Dec. 28. He skated on a line with usual fourth-liners Todd Marchant, George Parros, Kyle Chipchura and Aaron Voros — who was officially activated off IR today.

The occasion of seeing Getzlaf on the ice allowed a moment to put his injury into perspective. I tried, with limited success, to extract from him the potential severity of taking a puck between the eyebrows. Check out tomorrow’s editions for more on that.

Voros was the other big news. Because he gave the Ducks a total of 22 players on the active roster, there was only room for one player to come up from Syracuse. Dan Sexton got the call and Matt Beleskey, who had two goals and seven points in 11 January games, was left behind.

It’s worth noting that Voros was scratched from 20 of the Ducks’ 31 games before he went down with a fractured orbital bone, and his injury opened up ice time for youngsters like Beleskey, Sexton and Brandon McMillan — who skated as the top-line center again Monday. Voros could well find himself in the press box again Wednesday when the San Jose Sharks visit Honda Center.

The forward lines and defensive pairings remained the same. Corey Perry said his flight back from North Carolina touched down at 1 p.m. local time, giving him just enough time to make the 3 p.m. practice (but not enough time to unpack). Jonas Hiller and Cam Fowler were also on the ice, as was goaltending consultant Pete Peeters, wearing the full goalie pads.

Perry and Cam Fowler talked a bit about their All-Star Game experiences, but I’ll save that for the next blog.

One more tidbit that you never find in a newspaper (which reminds me why blogs were invented): Teemu Selanne said today’s practice, which ended around 4:30 p.m., reminded him of how it used to be when he was coming up because he was able to leave the rink with darkness creeping in outside. Winnipeg, I asked? Nope, Finland. “Back home,” he said.

Toronto 5, Ducks 2.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere was ready for this one.

The most decorated goaltender in Anaheim history, playing his first game against his former team since the trade that sent him to Toronto last January, made 26 saves and outshone successor Jonas Hiller at the Air Canada Centre.

Dan Sexton and Brandon McMillan scored the Ducks’ goals, the latter giving Anaheim a 2-1 lead at 5:23 of the second period. But Toronto scored four unanswered as the Ducks couldn’t stop the bleeding defensively. Hiller made plenty of All-Star caliber saves, but let in some relatively easy ones in stopping 32 of 37.

Mikhail Grabovski scored two goals and linemate Clarke MacArthur added a goal and an assist. Phil Kessel had a pair of assists for Toronto, which was coming off a 7-0 loss at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.

Nashville 4, Ducks 1.

With 52 seconds left in the game and a puck having just crossed into an empty Ducks net, Corey Perry slammed his stick over his own goal frame, the logical reaction to a typical Nashville Predators victory.

Wednesday’s was one of those. The Ducks outshot their opponent 41-24 but had only a Saku Koivu goal – not a thing of beauty in its own right – to show for it.

The Preds never trailed in ending Anaheim’s three-game winning streak, taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Jerred Smithson and Patric Hornqvist. After Koivu’s goal halved the Ducks’ deficit at 11:46 of the third, empty-net goals by Sergei Kostitsyn and Shea Weber provided the final score.

“The puck was doing funny things for us,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle told reporters after the game, “and in some of the situations they beat us for 1-on-1 battles with the puck. That was really the telltale story of the game, where they won more little puck battles 1-on-1 where we should have come up with the puck.”

Nashville won its third straight game by the same score, though Anaheim played better than a three-goal difference would indicate. A few of Pekka Rinne’s 40 saves were extraordinary; he also had help from a goal frame that robbed Matt Beleskey and Lubomir Visnovsky in the third period.

Second-chance shots were few and far between, part of Nashville’s blue-collar M.O. for as long as the team has existed.

Even though he didn’t score, Maxim Lapierre had one of the Ducks’ better efforts in his first game since arriving from Montreal. Playing 15:46 while centering the first and third lines, Lapierre put four shots on goal and was one of the few black-clad players consistently charging on net.

Another player making his 2011 debut, Dan Sexton, had the primary assist on Koivu’s goal. He started the game on a third line with Lapierre and Joffrey Lupul and ended it on the second line with Koivu and Selanne.

It was one of those efforts that probably gets a team more than one goal on most nights, but didn’t Wednesday. These things happen.

A few more notes:

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Sexton up, Lapierre receives his passport, etc.

Updating an earlier item, the Ducks officially announced that Dan Sexton has been recalled from AHL affiliate Syracuse. Sexton hasn’t been with the Ducks since Dec. 18. In the meantime, he’s scored four goals and nine points in eight AHL games.

Sexton and center Maxim Lapierre might both play their first NHL games of 2011, after Lapierre received his American work visa and became eligible to play tomorrow night against Nashville.

The team is still awaiting word on Ryan Getzlaf to determine an exact timetable for his recovery from multiple nasal sinus fractures. Count on him missing a third game since he suffered the injury a week ago in Glendale.

Randy Carlyle told reporters after Tuesday’s practice that Jason Blake (shoulder) is a possibility to play tomorrow. If he can go, the Ducks have plenty of options at forward.