Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Eric Stephens of the OCRegister,
Nowhere on his tattoo-laden torso does Jonathan Bernier have one that contains the saying “I Survived Toronto” on it, but you couldn’t blame him if he had that added in permanent ink.
You also couldn’t blame Bernier if he feels renewed these days. He is a member of the Ducks now, no longer having to carry the weight of the Toronto Maple Leafs and their expansive, critical fan base on his shoulders.
Bernier is no longer seen as the “franchise goalie” for the Leafs. He’s definitely not that with the Ducks, as John Gibson wears that label. That may be a good thing at this stage for the 28-year-old, who started his career as a can’t-miss first-round pick of the Kings.
“I think there’s less pressure overall,” Bernier said. “In this market, probably, it’s a lot different. It was a great experience in Toronto but it’s fun to be back here in Cali. Obviously I’m used to it a little bit with the Kings. It’s a completely different mindset and lifestyle as well.”
from Jeff Miller of the OC Register,
“It’s hard to watch the playoffs,” the veteran defenseman said Friday. “You don’t want anybody to win. It feels like you get punched in the gut every time you watch a game.”
Punched in the gut … or some place even worse, the Ducks, for the fourth consecutive season, experiencing the stun-gun zap of being eliminated in Game 7 at Honda Center.
Such punches certainly can knock out your wind. But dropping the deciding, do-or-don’t game four straight times at home turns on its head the concept of breathtaking.
Being eliminated this way – and repeatedly so – can take away more than just your breath. Portions of your heart and soul can go, too.
“Without having much success last year in the playoffs, guys are a little bit snarlier,” Bieksa said. “Guys are little bit more (ticked) off, a little bit more focused, I think.”
That’s a good sign this early, on the opening day of training camp. It’s also a good sign that the Ducks have upped their level of snarly and Corey Perry isn’t even here yet.
“This is what I do. I was a hockey player for 18 years and now I’m a coach. That’s what I do. That’s my job. I want to go to work. I want to work.”
-Randy Carlyle, head coach of the Anaheim Ducks. More from Eric Stephens of the OC Register.
“If you ask me, I’m going to play as long as I feel good and feel I can contribute. My body feels great right now. Training has gone really well. I don’t feel like I’m 35 years old physically.
“Who knows? If we had won a Stanley Cup back in 2011, maybe my perspective would have changed. I’m at the point in my career where I really want to win a Stanley Cup and I’ve wanted to win one for 30 years and I’ve dreamed about it for 30 years and I’ve been as close you can get.
“I’m going to keep playing for that. I’ll take whatever role it takes to help my team get there.”
-Kevin Bieksa of the Anaheim Ducks. Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province has more on Bieksa.
via the Anaheim Ducks,
The Ducks have signed center Antoine Vermette to a two-year contract through the 2017-18 NHL season. Per club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Vermette, 34 (7/20/82), has scored 211-260=471 points with 546 penalty minutes (PIM) in 910 career NHL games with Ottawa, Columbus, Phoenix/Arizona and Chicago. A veteran of 78 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, Vermette helped lead the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup championship in 2015 and the Senators to a Stanley Cup Final appearance against the Ducks in 2007. Since making his NHL debut with Ottawa in 2003-04, Vermette ranks second among all active NHL players in faceoff win percentage at 55.8% (min. 13,000 FO) and fifth in faceoff wins (7595). He has posted a faceoff win percentage of 50.0% or higher in 11 consecutive seasons and ranked in the NHL’s top 10 for faceoff leaders in each of the last four seasons.
Selected by Ottawa in the second round (55th overall) of the 2000 NHL Draft, Vermette scored 17-21=38 points with 93 PIM in 76 games with Arizona last season. Vermette led the Coyotes in faceoff wins (754) and paced team forwards in blocked shots (57). The 6-1, 200-pound center led Arizona in scoring, goals and power-play points (2-3=5) from Mar. 1 through the end of the regular season, collecting 7-7=14 points with a +6 rating and 41 PIM in 19
from Tal Pinchevsky of ESPN,
"I was expecting [the trade], it's a tough business. I was ready mentally for that," Bernier said. "I knew they were going to get someone. But to be honest I didn't expect a long-term deal like Freddy signed. At that point I knew it was better for me to go somewhere else because I wasn't in their future plan. That's why I'm excited."
It's a new challenge for Bernier, who has suddenly gone from being an undisputed No. 1 to battling for crease time with John Gibson, a potential franchise goalie who is four years Bernier's junior and is entering the first year of a three-year extension. But after a whirlwind three-year Toronto tenure that began with playoff hopes and ended with a top-to-bottom rebuild under new management, he hasn't been this close to a title since hoisting the Stanley Cup in 2012 as a backup with the Los Angeles Kings.
"They are big and physical and a skilled team. You need a team like that to go deep in the playoffs," Bernier said of the Ducks. "That's your goal as a hockey player: to be in the playoffs and win the Stanley Cup every year. I just feel I'm a lot closer with Anaheim than I was with Toronto."
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
The Panthers and Coyotes could have waited until Saturday, the opening of the NHL’s interview period, to speak with Keith Yandle and Alex Goligoski. It would have cost them nothing to do so.
Instead, rookie GMs Tom Rowe and John Chayka took proactive measures to enter exclusive negotiating periods with both defensemen by acquiring their rights. Their respective trades (a 2016 sixth-rounder and a 2017 fourth-rounder for Yandle, a 2016 fifth-rounder for Goligoski) were worthwhile assets for the freedom to get their claws on their pursuits before their competitors.
Whether their contracts will be worthwhile is another story.
Yandle is laughing all the way to the bank after netting a seven-year, $44.45 million blockbuster. The Milton native will be 36 years old in the final season of his contract. While Yandle should be a good offensive defenseman for the win-now Panthers, his deal may not be so team-friendly closer to its conclusion....
But Yandle’s five-on-five performance cannot be qualified as dependable. Like others in his segment of puck-moving defenseman, he makes risky plays that blow up in his face. In five-on-five action in 2015-16, according to http://www.corsica.hockey Yandl,e averaged 0.99 points per 60 minutes of play, the second-lowest rate of his career. It’s debatable whether Yandle has the defensive chops to execute the grunt work for Gerard Gallant, who insists on defensive accountability. Yet the Panthers had no trouble giving Yandle a higher average annual value than Brent Burns.
Goligoski did not strike it as rich as Yandle. The ex-Star signed a five-year, $27.375 million deal with Arizona, where he will complement No. 1 defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. But it is a fair valuation for the consistent Goligoski, who can provide some of Yandle’s skills and amplify others, albeit with less flair. Goligoski scored five goals and 32 assists while averaging 23:50 of ice time last year, including 2:20 on the penalty kill and 1:57 on the power play.
more plus numerous other hockey topics....
from Mark Whicker of the LA Daily News,
“One guy’s younger and has a lot better contract,” Murray said, referring to Gibson.. “I’m not concerned with what we have there.”
Ducks fans are permitted to be....
For the Ducks, it’s just a fact of life below the cap, as practiced by owners Henry and Susan Samueli. If the Ducks keep winning division titles over teams that spend more, it’s not likely to change. If their best-paid players are the ones who keep falling short of the moment, it’s even less likely.
It all depends on Gibson, who shut out the Kings in Game 4 of the 2014 second round and was anointed as the next top American goaltender years ago. Goaltenders have been lead actors in Anaheim from Day One, when Guy Hebert began assembling his career. For this to work, either Gibson or the Ducks must be better than they were, last time we looked.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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