Playing With the Big Boys?

After a grueling training camp, the Anaheim Ducks closed out their rollercoaster of a pre-season against their Freeway Faceoff rival, the Los Angeles Kings. Though the Ducks still have yet to make the final roster cuts, there are a couple of, what some may refer to as, surprises still with the club.  As of Sunday, Luca Sbisa, 20, and Cam Fowler, 18, were still on the Ducks defensive roster.

Anyone who follows the Ducks knew that it was going to be a defensive rebuilding year after the retirements of Aaron Ward and Captain Scott Niedermayer were announced during the offseason.

Although they picked up veteran d-men in Andy Sutton and Toni Lydman, who is out indefinitely after experiencing double vision a couple weeks ago, the Ducks organization knew they were going to need some young blood to fill in a few defensive voids.

Sbisa came to the Ducks from the Philadelphia Flyers as part of the trade for Chris Pronger that took place on the first day of the 2009 draft. It was speculated that Sbisa might have a chance at making the opening night roster this season and staying with the team longer than the eight games he lasted last season before being shuffled around the WHL. He also made Switzerland’s Olympic Hockey roster, in which he participated in all five of Switzerland’s games with Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller.

“There’s going to be about two spots open for grabs, and there’s four or five guys that want to take those spots,” Sbisa remarked during training camp.

Now that the Ducks are down to seven defensemen, there’s only one cut left.

On the other hand, the Ducks drafted Fowler as the 12th overall pick back in June. Many thought that Fowler would be a top five pick as he was the NHL’s fifth ranked draft prospect. However, as it turned out, most teams were not looking for a defenseman and the Ducks’ General Manager Bob Murray felt that the Ducks got quite a steal for the 12th pick.

Since the moment he was drafted, Fowler’s goal was to make the roster and play in the NHL. “I’m definitely going to put all of my effort into it. It’s a goal that I set for myself, I want to try and play next year,” he stated at the draft.

More recently he commented, “I think it’s just a huge opportunity for me and a big moment in my life.”

The final NHL rosters will be decided by this coming Wednesday, prior to the commencement of the regular season on Thursday. Whether or not Sbisa and/or Fowler will be on that roster, they don’t know, but it is out of their hands now that pre-season games are finished and all they can do is wait.

However, Coach Randy Carlyle did say, “We’re transitioning from some young players that were selected very high in the draft and we hope that their development enables them to provide us with strong minutes and we don’t expect anything more than that from them.”

Game Notes

Regulation of Sunday night’s game ended tied at two, sending the last pre-season game into a five-minute overtime.  Teemu Selanne scored a power play goal just over a minute into overtime, giving the Ducks a 3-2 victory.

The Ducks announced that Ryan Getzlaf will be serving as Captain this season with Selanne and Saku Koivu as Alternates.

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