Injury knocks Kronwall out of World Cup, Sweden names Lindholm as replacement

Jared Clinton
Hampus Lindholm (Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Swedish World Cup team is getting an upgrade on the blueline, though it will come at the cost of one of their veteran leaders being forced out of the tournament due to injury.

It was announced Wednesday that Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall, 35, will be unable to compete at the tournament and 22-year-old Anaheim Ducks rearguard Hampus Lindholm has been named to the team in Kronwall’s place. The announcement is somewhat surprising after Red Wings GM Ken Holland said Kronwall was feeling better heading into the season.

“He’s had much better training sessions this summer than he had last summer,” Holland told NHL.com. “He feels his leg is stronger and he’s done some things to be more prepared physically for the upcoming season.”

There was no indication from Sweden what exactly is ailing Kronwall, though there’s reason to believe he could still be dealing with the after effects of a knee injury that required surgery this past season. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Red Wings will go into season with current D-corps, look at trades later

Red Wings GM Ken Holland. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Detroit Red Wings pursuit of a top-three defenseman remains a hot topic among the club’s fans. In late-June, rumors linked the Wings to St. Louis Blues blueliner Kevin Shattenkirk and Anaheim Ducks rearguard Cam Fowler.

With the start of NHL training camps fast approaching, Wings GM Ken Holland still hasn’t found a suitable defenseman. MLive.com’s Ansar Khan responded to questions from Wings fans on this topic. He notes the lack of depth in the free-agent market and intense competition for the few quality players who hit the trade block makes it difficult for Holland to address this need.

Khan points out the asking price for “non-elite talent” such as Shattenkirk and Fowler could cost the Wings some combination of “a top prospect, first-round pick or a good, young roster player.” He said the Wings contacted the Blues about Shattenkirk and the Ducks about Fowler earlier this summer, and probaby spoke to other clubs, but were unwilling to meet their asking prices.

Earlier this summer, rumors claimed Blues GM Doug Armstrong sought rising young star Dylan Larkin in exchange for Shattenkirk. It’s understandable Holland would pass on that. Larkin has the potential to become the Wings’ franchise player and future captain.

Much of the Shattenkirk conjecture is tied to his eligilibity next summer for unrestricted free agency. However, Armstrong now appears willing to retain the 27-year-old for the upcoming season.

As for Fowler, the Ducks aren’t likely to move him until they’ve re-signed restricted free agent blueliner Hampus Lindholm. The Ducks have an excess of defensemen and a need for depth at left wing. Fowler would make an attractive trade chip, but they could consider moving someone else.

Should Fowler be shopped, the Wings won’t be the only club interested in his services. The Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils could also come calling.

Since a deal hasn’t been made by now, Khan feels the Wings will go into 2016-17 with their current D-corps and evaluate their situation, and the trade market, later in the season.

KANE TRADE TALK ON HOLD

Earlier this summer, there was talk the Buffalo Sabres could attempt to trade troubled left winger Evander Kane.

The 25-year-old is facing misdemeanour charges stemming from an incident in a Buffalo bar in late June. His first season with the Sabres was an injury-shortened disappointment, limited to 20 goals and 35 points in 65 games in 2015-16.

With the Buffalo Sabres losing Jimmy Vesey to free agency, Kane could be off the market. The Buffalo News’ Mark Harrington speculates Vesey’s signing with the New York Rangers spells the end of talk the Sabres could shop Kane to the Vancouver Canucks. Harrington notes the Canucks seemed to be the only team with interest in the winger.

Considering Kane’s legal issues and the fact he’s signed through 2017-18 at $5.25-million annually, Harrington believes the Sabres’ best bet is to hope Kane rebounds this coming season and improves his trade value.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).

For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.

Rakell added to Sweden’s World Cup roster in place of injured Steen

Jared Clinton
Rickard Rakell (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Rickard Rakell’s breakout season has landed the 23-year-old a spot on the Swedish roster for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.

According to Sweden’s TV4 Sport, Rakell has been selected to replace Alexander Steen on the Swedish roster following off-season surgery that will keep the veteran winger out of the tournament.

It was made abundantly clear that Sweden would, at some point, have to choose someone to fill Steen’s spot given that the St. Louis Blues announced Steen would be forced to go under the knife to repair a shoulder injury. Steen was given a 16-week minimum recovery time. That not only puts the World Cup in question, but also Steen’s status for the start of the 2016-17 season.

“Alexander suffered the original shoulder injury in Feb. 20 in Arizona,” Blues GM Doug Armstrong said in a release. “He rehabbed and worked hard to get back and be a big part in the team’s run to the Conference Final.” Read more

Vermette inks two-year, $3.5-million deal with Ducks, sticks around in the Pacific

Jared Clinton
Antoine Vermette (Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

Antoine Vermette is going to get his opportunities this season — four of them, to be exact — to prove the Arizona Coyotes were wrong to send him packing this off-season.

Two weeks after being unexpectedly bought out by the Coyotes on Aug. 1, Vermette has signed a two-year, $3.5-million deal with the Anaheim Ducks, according to the Orange County Register’s Eric Stephens. The deal  will keep Vermette in the same division as Arizona and give him four outings against his former club in the upcoming campaign. The deal comes two days after his agent, Allan Walsh, announced the 34-year-old was mulling over several offers.

The signing is as close to a perfect fit as it gets for the two sides. With Vermette inked to a deal that pays him only $1.75 million per season, he’s easy on the Ducks in terms of cap hit and instantly slots into the third-line center role to provide Anaheim with some extra scoring punch and defensive ability down the middle. Read more

So why hasn’t your team done anything this off-season?

Flyers GM Ron Hextall. (Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images)

August marks hockey’s “silly season.” Very little happens. And idle hands are the devils’ playthings, right? Countless blog commenters and Twitter trolls dust off the “Slow news day?” insult whenever we find something to talk about. During the month before NHL training camps begin, fan bases twiddle their thumbs. And think. And overthink. And worry.

“Why hasn’t my team DONE anything this off-season?”

You know who you are. You, from that city with the sandwich everyone needs to try. Your team has been uncomfortably quiet this off-season, with nary a big trade or free agent splash. Should you panic over your team’s 2016-17 outlook? Or will you end up patting your favorite GM on the back for staying the course?

Here’s a rundown of the summer’s most tranquil teams – and whether their fan bases should worry.

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This Anaheim Ducks/Angels mash-up gear is too sweet for words

Ryan Kennedy
The Angels' Ducks Night cap (photo courtesy of the L.A. Angels of Anaheim)

Anaheim’s hockey and baseball teams have come together and the sartorial results are spectacular.

The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will wear special jerseys and caps during batting practice on Aug. 16, in honor of Ducks Night. The cap, seen above, mashes up the logos of the Angels and the Ducks, with awesome results. Here’s a shot of Ducks mascot Wild Wing rocking the jersey:

 

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Rapid Fire: with Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler

The Hockey News
Cam Fowler (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

With Matt Larkin

What was your favorite NHL team as a kid?

The Wings. I grew up in Detroit. I liked all hockey teams, but the Wings were just a little bit above everyone else.

Who was your role model growing up?

Nick Lidstrom. I modelled my game after him as best I could. It’s a tough guy to follow, but any time he was on the ice or on TV, I watched him pretty closely.

Why do you wear No. 4?

Bobby Orr was my dad’s favorite player.

What was your “welcome to the NHL” moment?

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Rakell will find ‘common ground’ with Ducks in contract talks, says agent

Jared Clinton
Rickard Rakell (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Rickard Rakell had an increased role with the Anaheim Ducks in 2015-16 and he made every minute count. But after a breakout season, Rakell is still awaiting a new contract with the Anaheim Ducks.

Rakell, 23, scored 20 goals and 43 points in 72 games with Anaheim this past season and the Ducks’ 2011 first-round selection, 30th overall, looked like every bit the core player Anaheim was hoping he would become. However, as the summer rolls on, the Ducks have been unable to lock him up to a new deal, but Rakell’s agent is hopeful that one will be coming before the season begins.

“We are talking and I think we will find common ground for a solid agreement as I feel both parties seem to want that to happen very much,” Rakell’s agent, Peter Wallen, told the OC Register’s Eric Stephens. Read more