An ever-evolving Ducks third line is getting a new wrinkle, as Ben Maxwell will be the latest center to get an opportunity there.
|“I played in the NHL parts of the last three or four seasons,” Maxwell said. “I just never really stuck around. I think now, I’m not taking it for granted. I don’t have infinite chances. I have to take advantage of one of these. I’m hoping to do that here.” |
Claimed off waivers from Winnipeg on Nov. 10, Maxwell was grouped with fellow waiver pickup Niklas Hagman
(from Calgary on Nov. 14) and rookie Devante Smith-Pelly
during Anaheim’s return to practice Tuesday at Honda Center. The trio hit the ice for the first time together midway through the first period of last Sunday’s 4-2 loss to Detroit and generated some good chances down the stretch.
“There is some speed and skill on that line,” Maxwell said. “I think we’re clicking pretty well in practice. Hags is a seasoned guy, so he can help us out there. Things change quickly in this sport, so you never know if you’re going to be there for a couple games or a couple of shifts. It’s up in the air.”
This is an opportunity the 23-year-old Maxwell has long waited for. His first chance in the NHL came with Montreal in December 2008, when then-Canadiens captain Saku Koivu
was out with a foot injury. He would only play in a total of 20 games with the Habs over the next two years.
He was dealt to Atlanta this past February and scored his first goal on March 27 against Ottawa. He relocated to Winnipeg with the team, but never felt he quite fit into the Jets’ plans. After being plucked off waivers by Anaheim, it took him almost a week to join the team as he awaited his work visa. Now entrenched with the team, Maxwell is looking to capitalize on the current opening at third-line pivot.
“I played in the NHL parts of the last three or four seasons,” Maxwell said. “I just never really stuck around. I think now, I’m not taking it for granted. I don’t have infinite chances. I have to take advantage of one of these. I’m hoping to do that here.”
Maxwell logged 7:15 of ice time in his Anaheim debut, firing two shots on net and winning four out of seven faceoffs he took. Hagman and Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle were impressed with what they saw from him against the Red Wings. “He controls the puck well and is a strong skater,” Hagman said. “He had good poise with the puck and did smart things with it. He has been doing the same things in practice.”
Added Carlyle, “He displayed in a couple of instances his hockey sense and his ability with the puck. We think that we’ll give him a look in the middle right now with Hagman and Smith-Pelly. We’ve experimented and tried other people there. I don’t think we were really comfortable with that. It’s a little too early to put (Maxime) Macenauer in that situation, being in that he is a younger player than Maxwell and less experienced.”
|“It was an anxious for me getting down here and getting things going," Maxwell said. "Now that I’m back in the swing of things, I’m feeling good. I am excited to help out, get some wins and contribute wherever I can.” |
Along with the 37 NHL games he currently has under his belt, Maxwell has played another 179 down in the AHL since signing his entry-level contract in the 2008. In three seasons with the Hamilton Bulldogs, Montreal’s affiliate, he amassed 49 goals and 142 points. He feels he can bring some of that scoring ability to the Ducks, while also being sound in his own end of the ice.
“I think I can play that two-way game,” Maxwell said. “I know my role. I just have to contribute a little more offensively. Coming down here, I’m in a position to do that with a little more ice time. Hopefully, I can step in, put the puck in a couple of times and keep it out of our net.”
He has joined the Ducks at a time where the team is finding wins hard to come by. The club will battle Pacific Division foe Phoenix tomorrow having gone 2-10-3 in their last 15 games played. Getting a full 60 minutes of play from the team continues to be stressed by the coaching staff. Maxwell and the rest of the Anaheim roster are eager to put it together.
“I jumped into a situation here where they have a couple of losses strung together,” Maxwell said. “It was an anxious for me getting down here and getting things going. Now that I’m back in the swing of things, I’m feeling good. I am excited to help out, get some wins and contribute wherever I can.”