Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

We’re Moving…

Posted: 09/30/2013 by bc in Uncategorized

BackCheck’s Blog is moving to a new location. All future posts  can be found at http://sunbelthockey.com/ which is part of the thehockeywriters.com/ network.

We want to thank Collin Insley for opening the door and Sunbelt Hockey publisher Andrew Hirsch for making this upgrade possible. BTW, an old friend of this blog, Bill Tiller, former Thrashers blogger at AJC, writes for Sunbelt as well. So, we already know a couple of their guys.

The rest of the Sunbelt team look young, educated and have earned their puck chops.

Sunbelt is affording me editorial privileges and they have all the bells and whistles we’ve only dreamed about; including the tech support to make it all work. Already feeling spoiled about having tech support.

In addition to joining Sunbelt, we’ll also be assisting EricT at NHLNumbers.com with some advance stat research. Can’t spill the beans yet but it will give us and you some cutting edge info you won’t get anywhere else.

This address will remain up for at least a year, as it’s paid in advance.

Sunbelt may insert a redirect link to our new home. If you want anything from the archives now would be a good time to get it. After the redirect goes up, I will have still have access to the archive.

You’re all invited to visit and post at our new host site. Looking forward to providing you better service from the new BackCheck’s Blog hosted by sunbelthockey.com

We’ll kick it off with a recap from camp and our annual look at the season ahead.

Ducks have announced the acquisition of center Mathieu Perreault from the cap challenged Washington Capitals in exchange for depth for non-roster forward John Mitchel and a 4th round selection in the 2014 draft.

With Ryan Getzlaf, Nick Bonino and Saku Koivu locked in, Perreault is likely penciled in as the Ducks new 4th line center. Obviously Ducks aren’t convinced that any of Daniel Winnick, Peter Holland or Rickard Rakell are the answer, at least for now.

The 5′ 10″, 185# Perreault has played 159 NHL games racking up 30g 37a 70pts +17 with 70 PIMS. Maybe most importantly he’s gone 50.8 and 51.7 in the faceoff circle in his first two full seasons in the NHL. He also has 11 playoff games under his belt, going 1-4 w/+3 in the Caps 7 Quarter Final loss to the Rangers last season.

Via Ducks News:

“Adding a young, quality center to the mix makes us that much deeper,” said Ducks executive Vice President and General Manager Bob Murray. “”I thought we needed some additional speed and scoring, and he is a feisty competitor. Having played under Bruce was also a factor in acquiring him, that’s another positive. He makes us a better team today.”

A native of Drummondville, Quebec, Perreault played three seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with Acadie-Bathurst from 2005-08. He won the Jean Beliveau Trophy as the league’s leading scorer in 2007-08 (34-80=114 in 65 games) and earned the Michel Briere Trophy as the league’s MVP in 2006-07 after scoring 41-78=119 points in 67 games.

Blog Summary: Perreault is a high energy player with some scoring upside. He could move up the depth chart upon Saku Koivu’s anticipated retirement. He brings an affordable $1.05m cap hit and will be RFA in 2014.

Cap impact: He brings an affordable $1.05m cap hit and will be RFA in 2014. The move leaves our Ducks with $1.8m in cap space per CapGeek. Any further acquisitions will probably involve a roster player going the other way.

In another player move, Nolan Yonkman was placed on waivers prior to sending him to Norfolk. Ducks have until 5:00pm tomorrow to finalize their opening night roster.

Viktor Fasth represents the most serious challenge to Jonas Hiller since he showed management they could shed the salary of former Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe award winner J.S. Giguere.

Now it isn’t just Viktor Fasth that Hiller has to beat out. He also has to create a margin of such significance as to justify the $1.6m  difference in their salaries. The main reason Hiller has to excel is Ducks appear to have another quality backup in Frederick Anderson and a future star in John Gibson.

It’s a fascinating confluence of pressure points heightened by the fact Hillsy is entering his contract year.

Thus far in his NHL career Jonas has met every challenge from the mysterious and little understood vertigo to his 73 game iron man performance in 2011-12.

This year he’s challenged by his health, quality competition on our Ducks depth chart to a very thin market for goaltenders, despite the obvious need of many teams.

It is just as easy to imagine Hiller traded on or before the deadline or leaving as a UFA, as it is to imagining him taking on all comers and having a career year.

It isn’t wise to bet against a guy with such a track record of rising to and thriving on challenges. While this one is daunting, I still would bet against Jonas Hiller.

Just like Hiller proved and a wonky hip proved we could move on from Giggy; it’s up to Fasth, Anderson and Gibson to prove we can move on from Hiller.

This is the brutal part of the business of hockey. You come to appreciate and respect a guy, like most of us did Bobby Ryan, and there comes a time when the best interest of the team is arguably, to move on.

Note: This post was drafted and published after reading this at Pro Hockey Talk. Factual reporting errors aside, I just didn’t think the story gave Hillsy his due. Wasn’t going to link it but google alerts is hyping it.

No surprises. Competition for D spots just shot up as 10 guys are vying for 7 spots. Competition for the 4th center spot is keen between Holland and Rakell. Giving Winnick a long look at center also represents a practical option.The moves also leave 3 goalies and 19 forwards in camp.

For Peter Holland not to make the team entering the final year of his EL earns him a late bloomer tag at best. Look for the former 15th overall draft pick to be a throw in on a trade or the main piece in a salary dump acquisition, if he doesn’t make the team out of camp.

Via Twitter:

  1. Ducks also released D Garnet Exelby from PTO and assigned him to Norfolk. Camp down to 32.

  2. Ducks make official moves of Frederik Andersen to AHL Norfolk and Shea Theodore to WHL Seattle.

 

Per CapGeek, six teams, Detroit, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, San Jose and Los Angeles are currently over the cap. These teams have to move salary before the start of the season. This reality doesn’t necessarily mean a trade but a salary dump trade is one way to get cap compliant.

Five more teams are uncomfortably close to the cap limit such that moving players in and out of the lineup will pose problems. Washington, St. Louis and Toronto have less than $1m of cap space; Carolina $1,046m and New Jersey $1,379m.

Ducks GM Bob Murray has opined that ideally a team should have $1.5m in available cap space to accommodate player movement between the NHL and AHL. Murray’s comment was made when the cap was much higher than it is today. His opinion may not have changed because the league calculates and enforces the cap on per game basis.

Washington Capitals GM George McPhee says trade talk has picked up this week.

Via Katie Carrera, Washington Post:

“I had a couple calls [Tuesday] already and we’re just starting to pick up to see what teams are looking to do,” McPhee said. “We’ll see what happens over the next few days.”

McPhee also noted teams have a lot of options, other than trade, to get cap compliant or cap comfortable to accommodate player movement. For example Philadelphia can designate Chris Pronger LTIR and become cap compliant immediately. Boston could do the same with Marc Savard.

With increasing trade chatter among the GM’s the potential for trades also increases.

Our Ducks are a tad crowded at forward and a tad thin on the blue line. We’re one player over the roster limit of 23 and have a CapGeek estimate of $2.9m in available cap space. Structurally, Ducks are well positioned to make a move though I expect Murph will be patient through the 20 games into the season.

Leafs and Flyers are reportedly looking to move Dmen. We could do the Kings a good turn by taking Jake Muzzin off their payroll.

Ducks do run a tight ship leak wise but with so many cap stressed teams one has to assume Bob Murray is taking and making calls.

 

It’s being described in various places as a bio-pic and documentary. Whatever it is, director Juuka Pekka-Siili’s film, Sel8nne, entirely in Finnish is being released in Finland on Friday the 27th.

It isn’t likely Teemu will get time during the season to redo his part in English. We’ll take any accurate English version thank you.

Here’s a look at the trailer with English subtitles.

“I have been asked a couple of years now about doing this film, but until now I have answered that I don’t have the time for this kind of project and I’m not sure I want to part of a project this magnitude,” Selanne told Finnish website mtv3.fi last year. “But the [Jari Litmanen, a Finnish soccer legend] documentary gave me courage that maybe I could do a movie, too.”

“As a hockey fan, I want to see a lot of great goals and passes, too” (director) Siili said. “But I’m interested in the anatomy of the superstar, to go under the skin with the viewer. To show who Teemu really is as a person, how he became what he is today, what experiences he’s had with wins and losses, sacrifices and learning experiences and what will he take from all this after his career.”

Quotes via Alan Muir, SI.com

Ducks dominated the first and faded in the second and third. You can credit Quick for stealing one. You can also blame our Ducks for failing to finish on numerous scoring opportunities. As usual the truth is a little bit of both but I lean toward the latter. One goal is just not enough to win most games.

Both goalies appear well adapted to the smaller nets.

Getzlaf went 12-8 on FO’s. Rakell finished 7-7 after starting the game 2-6. Bonino went a woeful 6-17; Winnick 3-5. Getz did benefit by having Flash on RW, who is quick to the puck on draws.

Penner had a couple-few good moments but was otherwise invisible out there. He might be miscast at LW. He had two great years stat wise in Edmonton, playing mostly center.

Ben Lovejoy earned a 3-year contract based on his performance in the shortened season. Tonight he looked like the guy the Penguins gave up on and with good reason. Kings isolated on him and took full advantage.

Cam Fowler had a couple of chances but seemed to shooting into Quick. He did this last season as well. Cam just isn’t finding the twine yet. Most natural goal scorers see net and hit the spot.

After building a 3-1 preseason record, our Ducks have lost 2 in a row and can only limp into the season with a mediocre 4-3 or 3-4 record. To paraphrase the Righteous Bros., our Ducks have lost that winning feeling, now it’s gone, gone, gone. They can earn it back but it’s uphill now.

 

No big surprises but it’s notable Kyle Cumiskey was assigned to Norfolk rather than be allowed to sign with a European team. Obviously they want him available for a call up. He is a puck moving Dman with some offensive upside.

I would have thought there’d be more cuts this close to the season. It would appear the coaching staff wants to run some full scrimmages.

Apologies for not being on top of this when it was announced yesterday. It’s a really busy work week.

Via AnaheimDucks.com:

The Ducks announced today that the club has made the following roster moves:

Assigned to Norfolk (AHL):
Mat Clark
 – Defenseman
Joseph Cramarossa
 – Center/Left Wing
Kyle Cumiskey
 – Defenseman
John Gibson
 – Goaltender
Alex Grant
 – Defenseman
Stefan Noesen
 – Right Wing

Anaheim now has 35 players remaining on its 2013 Training Camp Roster – 19 forwards, 12 defensemen and four goaltenders.

In other news, Ducks signed 2013 1st round draft pick Shea Theodore to a 3-year entry level contract. IIRC Theodore has another junior eligibility and will be returned to the Seattle Thunderbirds following camp. He could stay for 10 games without forfeiting his junior eligibility.

A lower body injury (LBI) limited Sami Vatanen to under 5 minutes in the OT win against the Sharks. Sami didn’t dress Sunday against the Avs. Luca Sbisa is out with a mild ankle sprain. Ducks and Luca insist their just being cautious. Take that to mean he would be day-to-day in the regular season. Ducks already are without 1/3 of their top six from last season following Toni Lydman’s retirement and Sheldon Souray’s soft tissue tear in his wrist. Francois Beauchemin is projected to be ready to the start the season. Projected is the operative word though. That’s 66% of last of last season’s Top Six D, injured, retired or rehabbing.

No further reports on Vatanen’s LBI are available. The story began with an oft-repeated Eric Stephens tweet but no official word has come from our Ducks. The best we can do is hope it isn’t one of those nagging ow-eez that keep out of the lineup.

In the meantime, Bryan Allen and Mark Fistric become Top 4 D-men on our Ducks depth chart. Kyle Cumiskey has 139 regular season and playoff games with the Avs. Acquired from Colorado in Oct./2011, he has yet to play a regular NHL game with the Ducks.

Hampus Lindholm has turned some heads in camp but respected blogger Collin Insley has expressed concerns about how easily he seems to get knocked off the puck. It should be noted that GM Bob Murray has said the 6th overall pick in 2012 is “only 19.” Nobody has any doubt Lindholm will be a good one but he needs to get much stronger on the puck for NHL hockey.

The gossip blogs, with their focus on the Canadian and big market teams, are ignoring our Ducks challenges on the back-line. Murray runs a very tight ship as to leaks especially compared to his more transparent and master media manipulating predecessor Brian Burke. Even the oft speculated Bobby Ryan trade caught everyone by surprise.

Leafs unsigned RFA Cody Franson is far and away the best unsigned free agent available. His rights might be acquired for a non-roster prospect other than Lindholm or John Gibson. Franson is 6’5″ 213# who scored 4 goals and 29pts in 45 games last season. THN player profile describes him as an inconsistent offensive Dman with size. Franson is reportedly looking for a one year contract at $3m.

Given Leafs limited cap space and Morgan Reilly and comeback Paul Ranger having great camp and good camps respectively; Leafs have little need for Franson.

GM Bob Murray has always shown a preference for picking from the bargain bins and discount racks. While there’s no doubt an apparent need for back-line, Look for Murph to give the kids a chance, ready or not.

Where are they now? Former Duck goaltender Jeff Deslaurier has signed a professional tryout contract with the Penguins AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Deslauriers 29, hasn’t played in the NHL since going 2011 with our Ducks. He went 3-1 with a SP of .903. The move is widely viewed as insurance due to losing Tomas Vokoun indefinitely to blood clotting issues.

Update: Following Ducks 3-2 come from behind OT win over the San Jose Sharks last night. Our Ducks are now 3-1 in the exhibition season. Two of the wins have been come from behind and one in OT. The team is establishing the habit and expectation of winning, ability to come through in the clutch and a no quit attitude.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – In A look at some intangibles published on 9/15, the post concluded with questions, including will the team come together. Yesterday, Coach Boudreau reported that he’s liking what he sees:

“There are always things you’d like to see better, but I think what we’re seeing are the signs of a team coming together.” (Emphasis added)

Team chemistry consists of two parts. There is the tactical chemistry of a well executed system and team assembled into smaller specialized units of complementary and offsetting skill sets. Additionally, there is chemistry that rises from camaraderie and bonding born of a group individuals  working to earn the respect of each other while passionately putting team first.

What Coach is saying is that the former, tactical chemistry or execution can be improved but overall the team is bonding and meshing nicely at this stage of camp.

It would be easy to write Gabby’s comment off if not for the supporting factual evidence. Coach gave nine vets the day off yesterday and to a man they took to the ice and practiced hard. Too soon for these guys to take Princess, er maintenance days.

Exemplified by John Gibson looking to redeem himself after a poor performance against the L.A. Kings, our Ducks gutted and ground out a 2-1 come from behind win against the Avs. Our guys didn’t make it easy on themselves as no Duck was even as high 50% on draws. Rickard Rakell was a woeful 5-10.

Francois Beauchemin is taking full contact in practice. You think he might ear the respect of his teammates taking full contact 4.5 months following reconstructive knee surgery?

Coach likes what he sees and the factual evidence supports him. Go Ducks!

The quote above comes to us via Adam Brady of AnaheimDucks.com