In a move that should come as little surprise to anyone who’s followed the Ducks’ off-season goalie moves, Ray Emery will go to the Chicago Blackhawks’ training camp on a pro tryout.
Ducks general manager Bob Murray did not aggressively try to re-sign Emery after receiving assurances that Jonas Hiller’s recovery was on track. Murray instead signed Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers – a logical candidate to be the number three goalie – to a two-way contract.
If there was a surprise, it is that Emery was not pursued aggressively by any of the NHL’s 30 general managers after going 7-2-0 with a 2.28 goals-against average to help the Ducks make the playoffs as the Western Conference’s number four seed. After an injury relegated him to the bench in Game 1, Emery was the Ducks’ starter in the first-round series against Nashville, going 2-3 with a 3.19 GAA.
In Chicago, Emery can expect to battle rookie Alexander Salak in a race to back up starter Corey Crawford.
Emery’s time in Anaheim ought not be forgotten. It can be argued that the Ducks would not have grabbed the fourth seed without him (even if home-ice advantage failed to achieve the desired effect). The team was certainly grateful for his contribution, and Emery was likewise grateful for the opportunity to return to the NHL.
Would Emery have received a camp tryout in Chicago without first getting the chance to prove himself in Anaheim?
No one knows for sure.
Brian McGrattan, who thrived as an enforcer after arriving in Syracuse in a mid-season trade, re-signed with the Ducks today on a one-year contract worth $600,000 in the NHL and $105,000 in the AHL.
Much like the Ducks’ other free-agent acquisitions this week — Andrew Gordon, Bryan Rodney and, possibly, J-F Jacques — McGrattan is a safe bet to start the 2011-12 season in Syracuse. He had six goals, four assists and 56 penalty minutes in 20 games for the Crunch last season after being acquired from the Boston Bruins. The 29-year-old also had 13 shots in a single game March 12, a franchise record.
Should Jacques fail to land an NHL roster spot, the Ducks could turn to McGrattan for extra fourth-line muscle in a pinch. He’s played 182 career NHL games with Ottawa, Phoenix and Calgary, collecting three goals and 14 points with 395 penalty minutes. He most recently played with Calgary in 2009-10, notching one goal, four points and 86 PIM in 34 games.
McGrattan told the Syracuse Post-Dispatch that his “goal is to make Anaheim. If I don’t, I’ll be in Syracuse. Playing for (Crunch head coach) Mark Holick again, that’s a big reason I’d want to play in Syracuse, if I’m sent there. It’s a win-win. If I make the team (Anaheim), I make the team. If I don’t make the team, I know I’ll have every opportunity to get back up there. I can see myself being an extra guy up top. You never know. A lot can happen. That’s why you have to be ready. If I’m not there, at least I know I’ve given everything I had.”
One other interesting wrinkle to the story out of Syracuse: McGrattan and Ray Emery are good friends, having played in the Ottawa Senators’ organization together from 2002-08. McGrattan told the P-D that “at last word Emery told him he didn’t have much cooking in terms of signing with a team.”
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:
Playing without Bobby Ryan due to a league-imposed suspension, and without their best defensive game plan for reasons unknown, the Ducks needed to steal one to win Game 3 of their first-round playoff series Sunday in Nashville.
Despite trailing 2-0 late in the second period, and 3-2 early in the third, they nearly did.
Mike Fisher’s goal at 10:21 of the third period held up as the game-winner, and the Predators’ 4-3 victory put the Ducks in a 2-1 hole in the best-of-seven series.
Teemu Selanne scored goals 30 seconds apart late in the second period to erase the 2-0 deficit. With the Ducks trailing 3-2 early in the third period, Matt Beleskey re-directed a Saku Koivu shot past Pekka Rinne (13 saves) to tie the game again.
It was nearly enough for the Ducks to pull out the road win despite being outshot 37-16 and despite the absence of Ryan, who was suspended for Games 3 and 4 of the series for stepping on Nashville defenseman Jonathon Blum.
Ray Emery (33 saves) held his weight against the barrage of shots, but some defensive-zone lapses by the Ducks did him in — Martin Erat took advantage of a poor clearing attempt by Lubomir Visnovsky on the game’s first goal; Ryan Getzlaf mishandled the puck just before Jordin Tootoo put it in the Ducks’ net; David Legwand and Fisher snuck behind the defense to score the Preds’ final two goals on Emery’s back door.
A few more notes and observations:
Count on Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle making more adjustments in Game 2 than his Nashville counterpart, Barry Trotz. That’s the expectation, at least, in light of the Predators’ 4-1 win in Game 1.
The first change figures to be in goal. Ray Emery was the first of the Ducks’ three goalies — four, if you include Igor Bobkov’s late cameo — to leave the ice at the morning skate Friday. Emery’s last playoff game was in this same building on June 6, 2007, when the Ducks beat Emery’s Ottawa Senators in Game 5 to win the Stanley Cup.
There could be more changes in store for the Ducks, but Carlyle declined to say who would be coming out or going into the lineup, if anyone.
Trotz said he has some minor adjustments in store.
Francois Beauchemin was the only Ducks player who did not participate in practice Thursday, but head coach Randy Carlyle said the defenseman would be available for Game 2 tomorrow at Honda Center.
“Beauch is resting, what we call a maintenance day. He will skate tomorrow morning and he’s available to us tomorrow night,” Carlyle said.
Beauchemin is dealing with a lower-body injury, the result of blocking a shot during the regular season. “It’s just taking a little more time to heal,” he said. “I’ve been taking medicine for it, and painkillers and stuff. It’s good on game days but on practice days it’s tough to get out there and force it.”
The Ducks’ bigger question is in goal.
Ray Emery took part in his first full practice Tuesday, one of three Ducks goalies on the ice along with Dan Ellis and Jonas Hiller, but couldn’t commit to being ready for Game 1 Wednesday against the Nashville Predators.
“I’m not sure. We’ll see how it goes when we get there,” said Emery, who has not played since leaving last Wednesday’s game against San Jose with an undisclosed lower-body injury. “I’m just happy with the way practice went today and we’ll go from there.”
Since Hiller has only played in three games since the All-Star Break, that leaves Dan Ellis as the likely starter by default. As usual Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle didn’t say who would get the call, but Ellis is the safe choice given his health and solid performances in wins over the Kings last Friday and Saturday.
The Ducks must wait another day to clinch a playoff berth after the Dallas Stars handed the Colorado Avalanche a 4-2 loss Thursday.
Aside from whether or not they will participate in the postseason, the biggest question facing the Ducks in their home-and-home series against the Kings is who will be in goal.
Ray Emery did not practice Thursday, one day after leaving midway through the Ducks’ 6-2 win over San Jose with an undisclosed lower-body injury. Emery finished the game on the bench, while Dan Ellis finished the final 29 minutes between the pipes.
“I felt a lot better this morning than I thought I would last night,” Emery said Thursday. “It’s a thing where I’m trying to be cautious, because I’m leery of things I’ve had in the past and I want to be able to contribute when I’m in there for a long period of time. It’s more of me being cautious.”
Said head coach Randy Carlyle, “we felt it was best for him to work out off-ice and have a treatment this morning, and we’ll make an assessment tomorrow morning at the morning skate.”
Emery was not the only Ducks player missing at practice.
It’s never a good day when a coach is asked to recall an overturned goal that went against his team, and has to specify which one.
It hasn’t been a good weekend for Randy Carlyle and the Ducks.
Back-to-back losses to the Sharks and Stars have put their playoff plans on hold, and this one was frustrating on a couple counts. Namely, Teemu Selanne’s goal at 17:56 of the third period and Bobby Ryan’s goal at 19:11, neither of which counted in the eyes of referee Brad Meier.
Those tended to overshadow the goals that counted — by Lubomir Visnovsky, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry — and the fact the Ducks played like a group worn down by Saturday night’s loss in San Jose. The low point was probably a 5-on-3 shift spanning 80 seconds of the middle period during which the Ducks couldn’t get off a shot from within 20 feet of Kari Lehtonen.
Ray Emery (27 saves) lost his second game as a Duck, second game of the season, and second in as many days.
Tomorrow’s game story focuses on the reaction in the Ducks’ room to the calls by Meier, whose crew also missed a too many men on the ice call against Dallas in the second period. There was plenty of steam to be blown off, and Carlyle instructed his players to “do nothing” tomorrow — no practice, no golf — just recharge the batteries for another game against the Sharks on Wednesday, with a playoff berth at stake again.
A few more notes:
There’s really no such thing as a ho-hum win in Anaheim these days.
Monday could have been, given the matchup between two teams on opposite ends of the playoff picture. But an early 2-0 lead by the Avalanche, and the first three-goal, five-point game by an NHL player over the age of 40 changed that.
Teemu Selanne did not so much steal the show — he was the show, figuring into all five Ducks goals on a night when they needed every one.
“I’ve been feeling great all year,” he said. “I’ve been able to play with great players all the time. It has been fun. That’s the only reason I’m still around.”
The questions of whether or not Selanne will retire, but Monday’s game could only nudge him in the “should-I-stay” direction.
Here are some of the milestones Selanne achieved, courtesy of the Ducks’ PR staff: