By Kyle Shohara
After a day in which Executive Vice President and General Manager Bob Murray made a flurry of moves leading up to the noon deadline, the Ducks took part in their morning skate at Gila River Arena with a few new faces.
Among them was 23-year-old Simon Despres, a big, physical defenseman whom the Ducks acquired yesterday for d-man Ben Lovejoy. A former first-round pick (30th overall) in the 2009 NHL Draft, Despres recorded 17 points (2g/15a) with a plus-9 rating and 64 penalty minutes in 59 games with the Penguins this season. Despres led Pittsburgh defensemen in hits (184), ranked second in scoring, assists and penalty minutes, and third in shots on net (76) and blocked shots (85).
Murray says he’s had his eye on Despres for quite some time, and the need for added toughness and size was addressed in this move. “He’s a big, strong kid that moves the puck,” Murray said yesterday. “He plays a big, physical game. He closes gaps really well. He’s a big-bodied guy, which is something we needed. The big thing with him is that he’s young, and to keep playing within himself. He has a chance to become a very solid top-four defenseman in the future.”
Despres will wear No. 24 for Anaheim and is expected to play tonight vs. Arizona.
Also expected to make his Ducks debut is veteran left wing Tomas Fleischmann, acquired from the Florida Panthers on Saturday in exchange for Dany Heatley and a third-round selection in the 2015 NHL Draft. Fleischmann, 30, has amassed 304 points (122g/182a) with 164 penalty minutes in 567 career NHL games with Washington (2005-11), Colorado (2010-11) and Florida (2011-15). Fleischmann spent four seasons with head coach Bruce Boudreau in Washington (2007-10), and also played for Boudreau in Hershey of the American Hockey League from 2005-07, winning the Calder Cup Championship in 2006.
Fleischmann originally chose No. 41, but has since switched to his familiar No. 14 following the James Wisniewski trade that saw Rene Bourque (along with William Karlsson and a 2015 second-round selection) go to Columbus. He skated with Ryan Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg during line rushes this morning.
As for Wisniewski (who will wear No. 20) and defenseman Korbinian Holzer (No. 5, acquired from Toronto for Eric Brewer and a fifth-round selection in 2016), both are scheduled to arrive in Anaheim tonight.
‘AND’ HE’S BACK
First off the ice was Frederik Andersen, who last played Feb. 8 at Tampa Bay. The 25-year-old has missed eight games since the injury, but still ranks tied for sixth among league leaders in wins (29) and co-leads in shootout victories (6). Andersen enters the game having won 19 of his last 24 decisions (19-4-1). His start in goal signals a break for John Gibson, who made nine consecutive starts in place of Andersen.
Gibson has a 5-1-0 record with a 1.98 goals-against average and .936 save percentage in his last six games, and has a 6-3-0 record in 10 games since his recall, Feb. 10.
EXPECTED LINE COMBINATIONS
Kyle Palmieri-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Tomas Fleischmann-Ryan Kesler-Jakob Silfverberg
Jiri Sekac-Rickard Rakell-Emerson Etem
Patrick Maroon-Nate Thompson-Andrew Cogliano
Hampus Lindholm-Francois Beauchemin
Cam Fowler-Simon Despres
Clayton Stoner-Josh Manson
Earlier today, the Ducks announced they have recalled forward Chris Wagner from Norfolk of the AHL. The 23-year-old has appeared in three games for Anaheim this season, going scoreless with two penalty minutes. Wagner made his NHL debut on Oct. 17 vs. Minnesota and has won 10-of-18 faceoff attempts for a 55.6% success rate in his three appearances with the Ducks. In his most recent recall, Wagner dished out five hits and blocked two shots while also winning eight of 13 draws (62%) in the Feb. 27 game vs. Los Angeles.
Selected in the fifth round (122nd overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Wagner has collected 26 points (13g/13a) with 54 penalty minutes in 41 games for Norfolk this season. The 6-0, 202-pound forward co-led Norfolk in scoring and goals, and led in shorthanded goals (2) at the time of his recall.