Posts Tagged ‘Sheldon Souray’

Arguably the most competitive training camp in Ducks recent history is set to open Thursday. There are 56 players who received invitations though two, Sheldon Souray and Andrew O’Brien are injured. Most are getting a taste of NHL competition and will be gone long before the season opener on October 2.

Among the 56 include, 6 goalies, 17 D and 33 forwards. One name you might recognize is NHL journeyman Garnet Exelby. He hasn’t played in the NHL since appearing in 51 games for the 2009-10 Toronto Maple Leafs.  Exelby is here on Professional Try Out (PTO) contract. Realistically, the hard-nosed Xman is auditioning for a two-way contract.

At center Ducks have an opening. The leading candidates are Peter Holland and Rickard Rakell. One or both of Antoine Laganiere or William Karlsson could make the decision difficult. Rakell could also get a look on wing.

Ducks are stacked on the wings and have quality players competing for four openings. The Twins, Bonino-Selanne need a winger and there are the two fourth line jobs up for grabs. Checking line wingers and PK specialists Daniel Winnick and Andrew Cogliano are likely set as top nine role players. The leading candidates for the openings include Dustin Penner, Jakub Silfverberg, Kyle Palmieri, Emerson Etem, Matt Beleskey, Patrick Maroon and Brad Staubitz. The latter two are on one way contracts. Other notables who could earn serious consideration include Devante Smith-Pelly, Max Friberg, Steve Whitney and Nicolas Kerdiles.

Via Jim Hodges, Virginian-Pilot, correspondent:

“From a contract standpoint, there isn’t a lot of room,” notes Coach Boudreau, “But if a guy comes in and stands out, you have to take a look at him,” no matter what kind of contract the player has, Boudreau added.

On the backline Ducks are looking to replace the retired Toni Lydman. Injuries to Sheldon Souray and Francois Beauchemin could necessitate extra long looks for a couple of youngsters. Sami Vatanen is the leading candidate to earn a top six spot. Cam Fowler, Ben Lovejoy, Bryan Allen and Luca Sbisa are the healthy incumbents. Newly signed veteran journeyman Mark Fistric is a serviceable depth D-man.

Barring injury, Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth will start the season in net. Frederick Anderson, John Gibson and Igor Bobkov are look at Norfolk with odd man out dropping to the Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL. Etienne Marcoux is in camp on an Amateur Try Out (ATO) and could earn a spot in the org with a strong showing.

Due to one-way contracts signed with Brad Staubitz and Patrick Maroon, Ducks will start the season with a 23 man roster made up of 14 forwards, 7 D-men and 2 goalies.

All camp invitees report today for medical checkup.

Ducks are landing and nesting for the new season. Guys are showing up at the rinks for pre-camp skates. It’s all low impact non-check scrimmages. Often called Pond Hockey or just shinny. The kind of hockey that frustrates a Bryan Allen or Mark Fistric and allows a slick sleuth like Kyle Palmieri to virtually to hot dog it at will.

Guys are working on skating, puck handling, passing, shooting and finding their timing. It’s important work. Primary attention is given to their agility, followed by timing and in the last few days prior to camp opening, chemistry or teamwork. This latter testing too is about timing though not just your own, but with your teammates.

What is established now will set the foundation for how and when the team comes together during the season and hopefully playoffs.

At camp the degree of difficulty is magnified exponentially. The moment the hitting starts, the competition gets brutally honest. This camp is will be our Ducks most competitive camp in years.

The team is set in goal but step outside the crease and there are question marks everywhere. Every reporter, blogger and poster is busily filling out their depth charts and most of us will be proven wrong.

Half of the forward jobs are open. You can pencil guys in here and there but nothing is set outside of Getzlaf, Perry, Selanne, Koivu, Cogliano and Winnick. Factually, the best we can do is handicap the competition at this point.

The D is similar. Toni Lydman retired. Sheldon Souray is out until Christmas. Francois Beauchemin will hopefully start the season but will have likely missed most of his camp. If Beauch starts, he starts a month behind.

Virtually half the team will get sorted out in camp. Bob Murray has finally created the camp he wants.

One result we might expect is TOI will be more evenly divided among the forwards. Fowler and Beauchemin will carry the heavy load on the back line.

I definitely see a playoff roster out there. Probably with home ice advantage in the first round.

Sheldon Souray underwent wrist surgery on July 25th to repair a torn ligament he injured during a workout. His recovery is expected to last another 3-5 months. The earliest Souray is expected back would be around U.S Thanksgiving through post-Christmas.

Ducks kept the news under wraps so as not to be pressured during trades or UFA negotiations. GM Bob Murray’s recent comments that he was intentionally keeping D spots open may have also been a negotiating gambit.

Mark Fistric is a first round 2004 draft pick of the Dallas Stars. Last season he was traded to Edmonton for a 3rd round pick. The 6’2″ 233# 27-year-old Fistric has scored 3-26=29 points with a +26 rating and 252 penalty minutes (PIM) in 282 career NHL games with the Stars and Oilers.

Fistric will do what is asked of him. Drop gloves, block shots. He’ll earn respect from teammates. Fans will be hard on him because he’s slow and beat by speedy forwards. If he’s spot played, used in a shut down role against guys he can skate with; Mark Fistric can be very effective.

Fistric is signed for one year at $900,000.

Ducks are expected to move Souray’s $3.3M cap hit to the LTIR, a move will free up cap space temporarily. Now we know why Bob Murray was so emphatic about having enough cap room to sign Teemu.

With Beauchemin coming off knee surgery and tentative to open the season, Souray out and the expected retirement of Toni Lydman our Ducks suddenly have serious questions on the blue line.

Ducks could start the season without almost half of the top seven defenders who finished last season. Cam Fowler, Ben Lovejoy, Bryan Allen and Luca Sbisa are the returnees. Fowler and Lovejoy are the only legit top four defenders in the group. The jury could still be out on Lovejoy. Allen is a stay@home specialist who can log big minutes. Last season, Coach was still spot playing Sbisa in order to protect him during his 4th season in the NHL. Allen was also an occasional healthy scratch.

Ducks also have the newly signed Fistric, Sami Vatanen, Mat Clark, Hampus Lindholm and Kyle Cumiskey  who will compete for those 5th, 6th and 7th D spots on the roster.

We’ll need everyone to step up. The good news is that we still have our best defensive pairing, Hiller & Fasth between the pipes.

We haven’t done this for a while. Longtime followers may remember the format. If not you’ll catch on quickly enough. Interviews or stories are republished with a comment. Comments are in italics.

Via Ducks Official Website:

Earlier this week, having just packed his locker and gone through exit interviews with coaches and management, Etem reflected on his rookie season and what’s to come for him.

What are your impressions of the season when you look back on it?

The season didn’t finish how we wanted it to. We obviously wanted to lift that Cup at the end of the two months here. But sometimes you just fall short and you’ve got to regroup in the summer, see what you did wrong individually and as a team, and be better next year. I’m going to look at my game, watch a lot of video. I was pretty happy with the way my season progressed. It started out a little bit slow, but I worked on it, from getting sent down and coming back up. I just continued to work on my shot and a lot of the areas of my game I knew I needed to work on. I finished pretty strong, especially in the playoffs, and I thought I played pretty solid. I’ll just take that into next year.

For a guy who initially struggled in the ‘A’ EE’s growth was truly exceptional. By the end of the playoffs EE had clearly establish himself among the top 9 forwards. In game six he played 3 more minutes than Teemu Selanne.

What did you feel was the most notable thing you improved on as the season progressed?

My confidence. It was not only the coaches’ trust in me with my ice time, but I think as it increased, my confidence got that much better.

There are genuine hockey reasons for that. Brady could have followed up much better than he does. But then again, he’s a P.R. not a hockey guy.

Confidence almost sounds like a cliché at times, but it really is huge part of the game, isn’t it?

Yeah, it is. If you’re getting seven or eight minutes a game, you don’t have too many opportunities, especially as far as offense is concerned. You maybe get one or two shots in there. But you feel the flow of the game a lot more when you’re playing and put in different situations. The more I was playing, the more confidence I got. It was great to have the coaches put their trust in my game.

I feel like that kid in the tv commercial, “We want more. We want more.”   Coach saw in EE that he might able to trust him on the PK.  He proved coach right. At this point EE was a solid 4th line ES and 2nd unit PK. He really didn’t consistently get more ice time until he started finishing his scoring opportunities in the playoffs. In the first question EE mentioned working on his shot but it wasn’t until the playoffs that he got rewarded for all that previous effort. What gave EE this confidence is how he met and/or exceeded the tests the Coach put on him. He did this by reading and reacting to the plays. He also used his best asset, his deceptive speed and acceleration. EE has the best acceleration I’ve seen since Bobby Orr. I hope he watches some video of Orr and picks up on how and when to use that acceleration.
Note: Bobby Orr had such power that he achieved top speed between his initial push and his next stride. EE isn’t quite there but he isn’t all that far from it.

You had a couple of big moments in these playoffs, but what pops into your head as the highlight? 

I just think playing in front of the fans, just playing at Honda Center and experiencing that for the first time. Every time I stepped on the ice, the fans got me going. It wasn’t even the goals or anything else. It was just the guys in the locker room, as a team going out on that ice and preparing to battle every game. That was the biggest thing.

Typical rookie. Nothing stood out because he was so busy soaking it all in.

The most important thing in your development is your play in all three zones. Did you see that continue to improve this season?

Yeah, for sure. Back in juniors, like a lot of guys on this team, you’re looked at as the No. 1 guy. But I think your role changes when you’re here at this level. I think I’ve carried over the defensive role I had in Medicine Hat. Obviously the offense didn’t come as quickly, but slowly but surely I was able to accomplish some of the stuff I did at that level, and I hope to keep that going.

It was EE’s accountability that earned him the opportunity to eventually begin showing the offensive ability. The goals began to come when he showed patience with the puck around the net. The skill that gave him that is his  breathtaking acceleration. One flows from the other.

What was discussed in your season-ending meetings with coaches and management? 

Just don’t change anything. What you did in the last series was great, but now it’s time to keep working hard in the summer, don’t stop and make sure you’re prepared for training camp in the summer.

No need for concern here. This is one fine young man devoted to developing his skill. The only question now is his upside.

What’s the biggest thing you learned by being at this level for an extended period of time?

The biggest thing is just to stay humble, keep working hard, learn from the veterans in the room – Sheldon Souray, Getzlaf, Perry, Teemu and all those guys. Both on an off the ice, learn what they’re doing, because it’s obviously working. I just need to make sure I follow their path.

The reason we’re here BackChecking with Emerson Etem. He said, “The biggest thing is just to stay humble…” The rest, “keep working hard, learn from the vets”  flows one from the other. Fact is, he just showed the world he’s a fine young man intent on making the most of his ability. We of course get to enjoy the show.

With Teemu Selanne’s future uncertain once again, and considering your popularity with fans already, is there any thought in your mind of someday filling the void his retirement would leave for this franchise? 
I would want everyone to return no matter what they’re thinking for their future. But you always want to be the go-to guy. You work hard to be popular, just through work ethic or by what you bring every night. If you work hard, the chance of the fans loving you is pretty high. I think everyone loves Teemu here and Getzlaf and guys like that because of what they do for us. If I keep working hard, then maybe I’ll be in those names someday. But I’m nowhere close to being there yet. I’ve just got to keep working hard.

So Brady immediately tests that humility by asking the rookie to compare himself with our legendary face of the franchise. If anything shows Brady is more P.R than hockey it’s comfort with massive egos. And by working hard it’s likely EE moves ahead of Teemu on the depth chart. And yes supplants him on PP. This is partly why I hope Teemu retires now. Seeing kids pass him is just not something I want to witness. It does appear that we can trust EE’s work ethic. He gets that from his good family upbringing. He’s not carrying any baggage such that he’s one guy I think will avoid the sophomore jinx. This is one level-headed dude.

What are your plans for the next few months? 
I’m going to be training again with TR Goodman at Pro Camp Sports up in Venice once again. I’ve been training there since I was 13, so that’s not going to change. I might even get a place up in Venice, so I can be more focused up there. My buddy Beau Bennett plays for the Penguins, so we’ll be skating a lot together this summer and working hard. I’m looking forward to it.

Devante Smith-Pelly would be wise to join him.

#NHLDucks D Luca Sbisa (lower body) reported feeling good after going thru full practice and hopes to be available for Game 1 tomorrow.

Look for Ducks to split up Francois Beauchemin and Sheldon Souray. Fowler will play w/Beauchemin while Souray will be w/Lovejoy for Game 1.

BB wouldn’t get into it but there’s a feeling Fowler’s speed alongside Beauchemin could work better against Datsyuk and Zetterberg.

Analysis: Separating Souray/Beauchemin makes sense. Genuine concern about Souray matching up against DAZzle Line of Datsyuk-Abdelkader-Zetterburg. Souray is a fine hockey player but he lacks the quick feet necessary to move with the DAZzle Line.
Ice’ followup post confirms this analysis.

Given Dan Woods tweet the 3rd pairing will be two of Allen, Lydman, Sbisa and Vatanen. My preference is Allen-Vatanen.

@SlashSkater At this point, I’d guess Allen and Lydman, but that could change, especially if Sbisa were ready to go.

Anaheim Ducks were flat but effective in beating the spirited but ineffective Calgary Flames 4-0. Viktor Fasth was outstanding turning aside 29 shots.

Daniel Winnick got things started at 1:15 of the first attacking the low slot and snapping a feed from behind the red line from Andrew Cogliano.  It was Winnick’s sixth goal of the season and first in 18 games.

Our Ducks would then play a passive defense shell for the next 35 minutes. The Flames took territorial control and out shot our guys 10-4 in the first.

Not even a dance invitation from former Duck Bryan McGratton to Brad Staubitz was accepted. It was the smart play by Staubitz. McGratton was only trying to fire up his teammates. By refusing, Staubitz denied them the opportunity, not they needed it.

In a similar play to Winnick’s goal, Ryan Getzlaf raced to a loose puck along  the right mid-boards and whipped it behind the net to Corey Perry. Pears spotted Ryan racing into the left slot shooting lane to complete the tic tac toe score. It was Ryan Getzlaf’s 500 career point, all with our Ducks.

Note: Video links of the first two goals are included to show set plays and also note how both Winnick and Ryan one-timed the pass.

Sheldon Souray put the home squad up by three just 2:12 following the Ryan goal. With Peter Holland providing the screen, Souray blasted a Brad Staubitz pass into the Calgary net.

Ryan Getzlaf put the game out of reach at 16:18 of the third when he took a no look redirect from Bobby Ryan and pushed it behind Kiprusoff.

Coach Boudreau summed it up pretty well, “We sure were outplayed in the first half of the game,” he noted. “Thank goodness for Viktor. Once we scored the second goal, we started to get our legs and started to do the right things, and I think they were frustrated. A win is a win.”

It was the tenth consecutive home win for Anaheim.

Famed and accomplished NFL coach Bill Parcells said, “You are what your record says you are.” By that measure our 9-2-1 Anaheim Ducks are a pretty good hockey team. By every other measurable statistic our Ducks are a very good hockey club.

Ducks are second in the Western Conference trailing the team they beat last night by just two points. They’re first in the Pacific Division. Their 19 points of a possible 24 points available has them third in P% at a scintillating .792 rate. They’re scoring at the rate of 3.25 goals per game likewise places them third overall in the NHL. These Ducks are either best or second best in even strength situations. Our Ducks sport the seventh most efficient PP and next to last PK.

From my perspective Goal Differential is the single most significant measure of a hockey team, aside from total points of course. By this standard our +9 Ducks are tied for fifth overall. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that our Ducks are also fifth in most Power Rankings this week.

While the record is indeed a great one, the numbers don’t tell us how they’ve done it and why we watch. It’s really quite a story.

He might be a late bloomer as a GM. Maybe these Ducks prove the rule, “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and then.” Regardless, Bob Murray has earned credit in more than just a couple of areas. This entire report reflects well on him as a late bloomer or as the metaphorical blind squirrel.
Following the trade of Chris Pronger and retirement of Scott Niedermayer our blue line was in shambles. It’s taken four seasons, perhaps not surprisingly to re-assemble an elite level blue line but our Bob has done it. He also put back the size and snarl into a lineup that just couldn’t match-up physically in recent seasons.
As important, our Ducks have three scoring lines again. Our Ducks are deep and the most complete hockey team since the Stanley Cup edition. Through signing UFA’s, excellent drafts and trades that are beginning to pay off three seasons after they were made, Bob Murray has assembled an NHL elite level hockey team.

By late November of 2011 the once feared Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks had hit rock bottom. Like a drunk experiencing his first day of sobriety, the change from Randy Carlyle to Bruce Boudreau breathed new life into the team. It took a few weeks but as the team bought in they went on a rip that brought them within four points of the playoffs. Just as suddenly and perhaps not coincidentally, the streak ended the day our Ducks moved past the trade deadline.
This shortened season our Ducks are experiencing their first full with an asterisk year under the new coach. System wise, our Ducks do nothing different from what hockey players have known their entire lives. System wise, our Ducks now play support the puck hockey, up and back. This system places a third man high in the offensive zone and brings a third man back to support the D. And yes, we trap in the neutral zone.
Another primary difference between  Coach Carlyle and Coach Boudreau is how each marshals his assets. Randy Carlyle relied upon his best players. Bruce Boudreau gives his depth players more time on the ice. As we’ve witnessed particularly in the past two games, Gabby will shorten his bench as he deems necessary in the third period.
BB is not so committed to tradition that he won’t show some creativity. For example, he surprised this observer by going back to No. 1 goalie Jonas Hiller after new guy on the block, Viktor Fasth earned a shutout. His forward lines are based on twosomes, Getzlaf/Perry, Ryan/Selanne, Koivu/Winnick and Bonino/Beleskey. He’ll move around his third forward based on instinct.
Last night Josh Brewster of Ducks Calls reported Coach referred to Daniel Winnick as his Brooks Laich. The go to player he can send over the boards in any situation.
In a move designed to spread out the scoring, and opposition defenses, he moved perennial 30+ goal scorer off the top line. Additionally, Coach has used Ryan to anchor the 2nd PP unit and has given it more TOI.
On the back-end Gabby has found a No. 1 pairing in new addition Sheldon Souray alongside Francois Beauchemein. This is the most hard-nosed pairing since hey day of Pronger-O’Donnell. New addition Bryan Allen will eventually be paired with the injured Cam Fowler. Toni Lydman and Luca Sbisa round the D pairings.
Not insignificantly our Ducks feature great depth along the blue line. They can call up future star Sami Vatanen or go with experienced hands of Ben Lovejoy, Nate Guenin or Jordan Hendry. Hampus Lindholm figures to get a look-see at the NHL level soon after he becomes available.

On the ice, where the games are won and lost, our Ducks are showing they have all the tangibles and intangibles necessary to compete  with the NHL’s best.
Jonas Hiller and Viktor Fasth have provided winning if not always great goaltending statistically speaking.
The hard-nosed guys, Staubitz, Allen, Souray, Beauchemin and Winnick are sticking up for our skill players. Allen and Souray are doing the job expected of them in the low slot in front of our goalies.
Knowing someone has their backs, the remarkable composure of Viktor Fasth and how Coach is marshaling his assets is having a positive effect on the team overall. These Ducks aren’t quitting and giving up on themselves or giving in to a natural instinct for retaliation, for the most part. The second Vancouver and the Dallas games as the exceptions that prove this rule.
Whether it’s the league’s 29th worst PK limiting the league’s top ranked team to just one shot in nearly 4 minutes of a 4 on 3 or the timely scoring provided by Daniel Winnick and the kids, these Ducks just find ways to win.
Incredibly our Ducks are doing it while their most heralded player, Corey Perry is in a slump and their best puck moving D-man is out on IR.

This isn’t to say that the wheels can’t come off. Anything from a player stepping out with the wife or significant other of another player to injuries can destroy a good or great hockey team.

What we can say is that our Ducks have met every challenge in their way so far this season. As one great coach said, “They are their record.”

Note: Ducks have sent forward Rickard Rakell back to the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League. The moves leaves the full 3 seasons remaining on the player’s EL contract. Because no immediate announcement as to Rakell’s replacement is made, expect the Ryan to center experiment to continue with Koivu and Bonino moving up the depth chart if and when Coach elects to shorten his bench in the third period of close games.