Futures Mailbag: Blueline prospects in Philly, Dylan Strome and more

Samuel Morin (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Welcome to my new mailbag, a spot where I will answers questions from readers who reached out to me on Twitter using the hashtag #thnfutures. The idea behind this space is to bring you info on prospects and the draft, so anything in that world is game. There was a pretty good crop of questions right off the bat, so if you don’t see yours answered this week, check back next Friday. Here we go:

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Frederik Andersen continues love of Lego with Batman mask

Jared Clinton
Frederik Andersen's new mask features 'Lego Duckman.' (via DaveArt/Facebook)

Frederik Andersen’s Lego mask was a hit this past season and the Anaheim Ducks netminder is paying tribute to the toy from his homeland again in 2015-16.

For 2014-15, Andersen’s mask with the Ducks featured a Lego figure, fit with a goalie mask atop its head, building a brick wall. With a new season approaching, the Danish netminder clearly wanted to keep the same theme, but wanted to switch it up a bit. Enter Lego Duckman – the creation of DaveArt artist David Gunnarsson and a cross between Lego, Batman and the Ducks. Read more

10 players facing make or break seasons in 2015-16

Justin Schultz  (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

The Edmonton Oilers avoided arbitration with Justin Schultz Wednesday by inking the 25-year-old blueliner to a one-year, $3.9 million deal. But the arbitration wasn’t Schultz’s choice. Rather, it was the Oilers who wanted to plead their case for a lower cost on Schultz’s contract.

However, by opting for team-elected arbitration – which, as mentioned, has now been avoided with the one-year contract – Edmonton was essentially giving Schultz an ultimatum: if he wants to keep his spot in the Oilers lineup for what he believes to be fair value, he’s going to have to prove that he’s worth it. Thus, the one-year deal.

Schultz isn’t the only restricted free agent signed to a one-year contract and he’s not the only player who can, as Mike Babcock put it with regards to Nazem Kadri, “put the screws,” to his club. On the flip side, though, one bad year could see some franchises giving up on their young guns.

Here are 10 players who could have make-or-break seasons in 2014-15: Read more

The many pitfalls of Ryan Kesler’s six-year, $41.25-million extension

Matt Larkin
(Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Ryan Kesler trade was a coup for the Anaheim Ducks.

The Ryan Kesler extension, however? Hm.

Kesler, 31 this August, was precisely what Anaheim hoped he’d be in his first season with the team. He was a capable second-line center behind star Ryan Getzlaf. Kesler played close to 20 minutes a game. He killed penalties. He scored shorthanded goals. He saw some power play time. He provided secondary offense with 20 goals and 47 points while playing a shutdown role and finishing 10th in Selke Trophy voting. Gone were his days as a 41-goal scorer, but that wasn’t what Ducks GM Bob Murray acquired Kesler for. Kesler did just what he was supposed to, especially in the post-season, when he was a genuine terror, amassing seven goals and 13 points in 16 games and coming up big in clutch moments time and again.

So Kesler established himself as a crucial part of the Ducks’ Stanley Cup puzzle, and he had another year left on his contract to help with the championship push. The Ducks have added Carl Hagelin, Kevin Bieksa and Chris Stewart, too, while saying goodbye to Emerson Etem, Kyle Palmieri and James Wisniewski. They have a nice blend of youth, superstars and veterans, which is why certain pundits like them to go all the way in 2015-16.

But Kesler’s contract extension, announced Wednesday, bulges the eyeballs out of one’s head. Six years and $41.25 million, good for an average annual value of $6.875 million. Whoa.

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Report: Anaheim Ducks ink Chris Stewart to one-year deal

Jared Clinton
Chris Stewart (Bruce Kluckhohn/Getty Images)

Chris Stewart is heading to Southern California.

According to CBS Sports Radio’s Andy Strickland, the Anaheim Ducks are expected to announce they have inked the 27-year-old right winger to a one-year deal.

This past season, Stewart was one of the names most frequently mentioned in trade talks and it was believed the Buffalo Sabres, whom Stewart began the season with, were looking to move the power forward from the beginning of the year. It took until the trade deadline for the Sabres to find a deal to their liking and, at the deadline, Stewart was shipped to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2017 draft. Read more

Report: Viktor Fasth signs contract with KHL’s CSKA Moscow

Jared Clinton
Viktor Fasth and Richard Bachman (Andre Ringuette/Getty Images)

Unrestricted free agent goaltender Viktor Fasth won’t be back in the NHL next season.

According to a report from Sports-Express’ Igor Eronko, Fasth has signed a contract with the KHL’s CSKA Moscow that will take him back overseas for at least the upcoming season. Terms of the reported deal have not been released.

Fasth, 32, had spent the past three seasons in the NHL after establishing himself in Sweden, but it appears his NHL career is coming to a close just about as quickly as it took off with the Anaheim Ducks. Read more

Sheldon Souray, Scott Clemmensen announce retirements

Jared Clinton
Sheldon Souray (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Lost in the hubbub of the free agent frenzy was the news that both Sheldon Souray and Scott Clemmensen have decided to hang up their respective skates.

Souray, 38, was largely forced into retirement due to a wrist injury that has sidelined him for the past two seasons. Known for a booming shot that made him one of the best power play quarterbacks in the NHL for several seasons, Souray officially ends his career as a member of the Anaheim Ducks.

Over the course of his 13-year NHL career, Souray suited up for the Ducks, Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens and New Jersey Devils. Selected by the Devils in the third round, 71st overall, of the 1994 draft, Souray didn’t make the jump to a full-time NHL career until the 1997-98 campaign and didn’t become a standout blueliner in the league until the 2003-04 season as a member of the Canadiens. Read more

Avs look to bolster defense corps with veteran Francois Beauchemin

Ken Campbell
Francois Beauchemin  (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Colorado Avalanche needed someone to defend, so they went out and got a defenseman who established a career-high in goals last season when they signed Francois Beachemin to a three-year deal worth a reported $4.5 million per season.

This, however, will be a good addition for the Avalanche, at least in the short term. Beauchemin is a veteran defenseman who can help stabilize the blueline corps in Colorado. The 11 goals last year was nice, but the Avs don’t necessarily need him to score that way with the likes of Tyson Barrie and Erik Johnson providing much of the offense they need from the back end. Read more