We finally understand the Anaheim Ducks’ goalie situation

Matt Larkin
John Gibson (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

The off-season, naturally, is a time for reflection. We try to project the standings. We assess which teams won and lost the summer based on their signings and trades or lack thereof. And, without fail, we speculate on goaltending battles.

If I use Twitter, blog comments and reader emails as the measuring stick, no crease has the world’s hockey fans more puzzled than that of the Anaheim Ducks. Has Frederik Andersen solidified himself as the No. 1? Isn’t John Gibson supposed to be the world’s top goaltending prospect? And what the heck is Anton Khudobin doing in Orange County?

Believe it or not, John Gibson’s new three-year, $6.9-million extension helps us finally understand how GM Bob Murray and coach Bruce Boudreau will sort out the Ducks’ net.

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Former NHLer Todd Ewen dies at 49, police rule death a suicide

Todd Ewen (Al Bello/Getty Images)

The hockey world is mourning the loss of former NHL tough guy Todd Ewen, who passed away Saturday at 49.

CTV Calgary’s Amanda Singroy reported Sunday that Ewen’s death was the result of a self-inflicted gunshot wound and, “police are classifying his death as a suicide.” Singroy added that Ewen’s family said the former NHL enforcer had been battling depression, “for years.”

Ewen was drafted in the eighth round, 168th overall, by the Edmonton Oilers in 1984. Before he could play a game in the league, however, he was dealt to the St. Louis Blues, with whom he broke into the league in 1986-87. Upon the news of Ewen’s passing, the Blues and their alumni association released a statement. Read more

Ducks’ Clayton Stoner charged under Wildlife Act for shooting grizzly bear

Jared Clinton
Clayton Stoner (Debora Robinson/Getty Images)

Anaheim Ducks defenseman Clayton Stoner has been hit with five charges under the Wildlife Act following his shooting of a grizzly bear in British Columbia two years ago.

In May 2013, Stoner shot the bear, nicknamed Cheeky by locals, and was subsequently photographed with the bear’s severed head and paws. Though Stoner, 30, was born in B.C., most of the charges stem from him living out of provincefor more than half the year. At the time of the incident, Stoner was a member of the Minnesota Wild.

According to the Vancouver Sun’s Larry Pynn, Stoner has been charged with, “two counts of making a false statement to obtain a (hunting) licence on May 22, 2013, as well as one count of hunting without a licence, one count of hunting wildlife out of season, and one count of unlawful possession of dead wildlife.” Read more

Dany Heatley joins German team, Martin Erat inks deal with KHL’s Omsk

Jared Clinton
Dany Heatley (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Dany Heatley may have played his final game in the NHL.

It was announced Thursday morning that Heatley has signed a contract with the Nuremberg Ice Tigers of the German DEL. The contract will carry the 34-year-old through to the end of the DEL season, and Heatley is expected to be in the lineup as soon as Sunday when the Ice Tigers face the Hamburg Freezers. While he plays for Canada nationally, Heatley is German-born, so the DEL presents an opportunity for him to play in what is technically his home country.

“Dany Heatley is one of the largest commitments in the history of the DEL,” said Ice Tigers sports director Martin Jiranek. “We are very pleased and happy that he has chosen to play for the Ice Tigers in Nuremberg. We have been in contact with Dany for more than a month, he is friends with several players with us. He does not come for the money, he comes because he wants to play in Nuremberg.” Read more

Can Andersen help the Ducks put the championship pieces together?

Ken Campbell
Corey Crawford and Fredrik Andersen (Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images)

For the record, Fredrik Andersen has indeed stepped on a piece of Lego in bare feet. “Not fun,” he reports.

It seems Andersen is never far from the plastic interlocking bricks that have kept children occupied for years. He grew up about an hour from the original Legoland in Billund, Denmark, where the toy was invented and plays and lives in a place that is about an hour north of the California Legoland resort. Andersen still has his Lego from when he was a child stored away in the attic at his parents’ home and said the family where he stayed his first couple of years in Anaheim had kids who had Lego around all the time.

And following up on his mask design from last season that featured a goalie building a Lego wall, Andersen will brandish a mask this season that will feature the Batman character from The Lego Movie, adorned with the old-school Anaheim Ducks logo and going by the name Duckman. “Last year it blew up a little bit and it got pretty popular pretty quickly,” Andersen said. “So we (he and mask designer David Gunnarson) said, ‘Why not run with it and keep the theme going?’ and it’s cool how it turned out.”

So it’s only fitting that he plays for a team that is a lot like Lego. All the pieces are there and they seem to fit together most of the time, but it’s a matter of finding the right combination of pieces to build the perfect structure. Sometimes you get almost finished and decide to pull it apart a little and make some additions. Whether or not the Ducks have the winning combination this year remains to be seen, but we at THN have declared the Ducks our pick for the Stanley Cup. (Just so you know, for 2014-15 we picked the Chicago Blackhawks to win the final over the Tampa Bay Lightning.)

“That’s where we’ve picked ourselves,” said Andersen, who was part of the NHL pre-season media tour in Toronto on Tuesday. “We expect it ourselves.”

That the Ducks will start with one too many pieces at the foundation of their structure could either be a problematic distraction or a strength. Nobody is sure what it will be at this point. Andersen was terrific through the first two rounds of the playoffs, but looked worn down by the time the Ducks faced the Blackhawks and like his teammates, faltered as the series went on. But he was still very, very good and at 25, looks to be headed in the right direction.

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NHL accidentally leaks third jerseys for Colorado and Anaheim

Ryan Kennedy
Anaheim and Colorado (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s hard to keep anything under wraps these days, especially when your own league conspires against you. The Colorado Avalanche and Anaheim Ducks both had new third jerseys in the works this summer and now, thanks to the official NHL Shop, those designs appear to have been leaked. Check out the sweaters from TSN’s Instagram page:

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AHL Logo Ranking: No. 17 – San Diego Gulls

Jared Clinton
San Diego Gulls logo (via SportsLogos.net/Chris Creamer)

(The AHL has undergone a season of change and one-third of the league has changed locations or logos for the 2015-16 season. Leading up to the new season, The Hockey News will be ranking the logos of the league’s teams and offering a brief look at the history of each franchise. See the rest of the rankings in our AHL feed.)

The San Diego Gulls are preparing for the inaugural season, but it doesn’t appear as if it’ll be an incredibly successful one for the Gulls.

San Diego is inheriting the former Norfolk Admirals, which would have been quite the story were these the Admirals of the early-2000s. Unfortunately, the Admirals of the past eight seasons haven’t quite been the same club. Sure, the change in affiliation from Chicago Blackhawks to Tampa Bay Lightning to Ducks has had something to do with it, but the Gulls roster hasn’t been a top for any of its three seasons as the Anaheim affiliate.

In 2014-15, there was realistically only one team worse than the then-Admirals — the 50-point, basement-dwelling Iowa Wild. But no team was as offensively stunted as the Admirals, who scored only 168 goals over the course of the season, and were it not for netminding efforts Jason LaBarbera the season could have been much, much worse.

There are some new pieces that should make fans in San Diego feel a bit more hopeful, however. Anaheim scooped up Chris Mueller, Harry Zolnierczyk, Joe Piskula, Shane O’Brien and Matt Hackett this off-season, who will fight for starts in the AHL with either John Gibson or Anton Khudobin — whichever doesn’t land an NHL backup gig this season.

Mueller is coming off of a 40-point campaign with Hartford, which would have tied him as the leading scorer in Norfolk this past season, while Zolnierczyk’s 44 points would have made him the team leader. Piskula, 31, and O’Brien, 32, are veteran presences — and the only players to have celebrated 24th birthdays — on a very young D-corps that includes Shea Theodore and Brandon Montour.

Realistically, things can’t get much worse for the franchise after what was their worst season since affiliating with the Ducks. Or we hope not, at least. Read more

Ducks sign Santorelli to one-year deal, continue to prepare for Cup run

Jared Clinton
Mike Santorelli (Scott Audette/Getty Images)

Were it not for a Game 7 loss at the Honda Center in the 2014-15 Western Conference final, the Anaheim Ducks could very well be celebrating the franchise’s second Stanley Cup this summer. But with yet another addition, the Ducks looked primed for the opportunity to celebrate another championship following the upcoming campaign.

The Ducks announced they have inked Mike Santorelli to a one-year, $875,000 contract, and Monday’s signing is yet another addition to a roster that already had a lot of promise for the 2015-16 season.

While Santorelli’s not the biggest name available — he’s not a Cody Franson or Christian Ehrhoff — adding the speedy pivot gives Anaheim a depth center option that can contribute both offensively and defensively. That’s not to mention Santorelli comes at a cheap enough price that should Ducks GM Bob Murray want or need to add another piece, he could do so seeing as Anaheim has nearly $7.5 million in open cap space, according to General Fanager. Read more