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Fresh Faces Highlight Saturday Practice in Anaheim

by Kyle Shohara @kyleshohara / AnaheimDucks.com

After nearly two weeks on the road, the Ducks returned to familiar digs at Anaheim Ice with three new faces joining the mix. Centers Joseph Cramarossa and Michael Sgarbossa, and defenseman Shea Theodore took part in the full skate after being recalled earlier this morning, while left wing Mason Raymond, right wing Nick Sorensen and defenseman Jacob Larsson were reassigned to the Gulls.

Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle says the moves were made in an effort to continue the upward projection of two rookies, while rekindling a game for a former 25-goal scorer.

On the 19-year-old Larsson, Carlyle says the reassignment gives the talented prospect more ice time and a chance to take his game to the next level. "He didn't disappoint us," said Carlyle. "He needs to get more minutes in the American Hockey League and get up to the pace of the game. We love the kid. This is a fast track for his development, and we told him so. All we're looking at is for him to elevate his game one more notch because we feel he's close to being an NHL defenseman. To accomplish that at 19 years old is quite an accomplishment."

As for the 21-year-old Sorensen, Carlyle says he and the Ducks staff are looking for him to increase his foot speed - and they believe he'll find it by playing with the Gulls. "He's played hard, blocked shots and contributed from a solid third-line role," said Carlyle. "We just think a little bit more speed through the neutral zone will help him. I'm sure [Gulls head coach] Dallas Eakins is going to love him as a player because he's the type of player that you can trust. He does what's necessary for the hockey club.

"Both players made a huge contribution and impact for our group," said Carlyle. "They were the surprises of camp. Simple as that."

Lastly, Raymond's reassignment was made with the hope that the veteran finds his game again. Raymond was a non-factor in the four regular-season games he played thus far, and wasn't a standout in the preseason.

"The contribution wasn't where we needed it as far as the level from a pro," said Carlyle. "We felt it would be best for him to go down to see if he could get his game underneath him. He's a speed guy, but he hadn't really contributed much from the exhibition games through the first five games of the season. He's been a scorer before, so this move was put in place so he can hopefully join our club later."

With the increased workload placed on defensemen Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen through five games, Carlyle says Theodore's recall was made in an effort to disperse minutes more evenly. Fowler and Vatanen currently lead the Ducks in average time on ice per game - 24:46 for Fowler and 23:58 for Vatanen.

"We know Shea has the ability and offensive instincts to run a power play," Carlyle said. "Right now, he gives us the option of not taxing Cam and Sami to play the full two minutes. That's tough, plus to play a regular shift and penalty killing time. We want to distribute the minutes."

Theodore admits he didn't have the kind of training camp he was hoping for, but a prominent role and increased minutes with the Gulls to begin the season boosted his morale.

"Going [to San Diego] gave me a chance to get my confidence back," he said. "I feel good coming here. We were playing a lot of minutes. It's good to be the go-to guy there, but it's good to be back here. I'm excited to be back."

HOME OPENER TOMORROW
As a reminder, fans are encouraged to arrive early for the long-awaited home opener, particularly to take part in the Ducks White Carpet festivities in support of Hockey Fights Cancer month, beginning at 1:30 p.m. on Honda Center's south side. Players will greet fans as they walk the white carpet and will be interviewed on stage by Ducks host Kent French. More information can be found here.

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