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Ducks shuffle pieces in Antoine Vermette's absence

Jakob Silfverberg to left wing, more faceoffs for Ryan Kesler during suspension

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / NHL.com Staff Writer

ANAHEIM -- Plan B already was taking shape for the Anaheim Ducks at practice on Thursday, hours before official word of center Antoine Vermette's 10-game suspension came down.

Ducks coach Randy Carlyle consulted with forward Jakob Silfverberg before practice about the possibility of temporarily moving from right wing to left wing.

"He had no problem with it, no issue with it whatsoever," said Carlyle, who had him on a line with rookie Ondrej Kase and center Ryan Getzlaf.

Silfverberg said as much after practice, noting he played some on the left side for Brynas in his native Sweden prior to coming to the NHL.

Video: ANA@WSH: Silfverberg rips a wrister top shelf

"But that's like five, six years ago now," he said. "Here and there you have a shift or two. I don't think I've started a game on the left in a while. If that happens it's going to be a first time in a long time. I don't see it as anything bad.

"I think I'm pretty comfortable with it. A lot of times you get mixed up [on the other side] anyway, so it's not like you're completely clueless. … I practiced today and it felt pretty good actually. I feel like I'm more of a threat when I'm skating the puck up the ice. I can cut to the middle or protect the puck better going down the wall."

Vermette was suspended automatically by the NHL for 10 games, without pay, for abuse of an official. He slashed the back of the leg of linesman Shandor Alphonso after a faceoff at 7:33 of the third period during the Ducks' 1-0 win at the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. Vermette was assessed a game misconduct for abuse of officials.

The Ducks said Vermette would appeal the suspension and offered no additional comment. Team officials indicated they would not comment or issue a statement until the appeal process was completed.

If Vermette serves the 10-game suspension, his return would come March 12 against the Washington Capitals.

Vermette, in his 13th NHL season, does not have a history of supplementary discipline. He had 26 penalty minutes in his first 57 games this season.

He has eight goals and 22 points in 58 games, but has one in his past 21 games. His importance to the Ducks rests with his ability in the faceoff circle, where he's second in the League with a 62.4 winning percentage.

Center Ryan Kesler, no slouch on faceoffs, will have to shoulder more of the burden in Vermette's absence, starting against the Florida Panthers at Honda Center on Friday (10 p.m. ET; SN1, PRIME, FS-F, NHL.TV).

Video: ANA@WSH: Kesler buries Fowler's pass to cut deficit

Carlyle said he also wants to continue to evaluate Rickard Rakell at center.

"I've always stated that's our vision," said Carlyle, who kept Rakell with Nick Ritchie and Corey Perry at practice.

Defenseman Sami Vatanen, who has not played since Feb. 3 because of a lower-body injury, is close to returning to action.

Carlyle said he's been impressed by the early returns from rookie defenseman Brandon Montour, who is 10 games into his NHL career.

"He's not intimidated by any situation he's been presented with … that's the best way to describe that," Carlyle said. "Which is a huge positive for a young player. Again, with those young players, you've got to live it every minute, every day.

"If you know the type of personality and his makeup, he's one of those guys that goes after it vs. sitting back and waiting for things to happen. We've stated before, we'd rather have to tame people down than try to lift them up."

Up front is a different matter, of course.

Video: ANA@CGY: Kesler turns around, blisters home slapper

Are the Ducks better equipped to handle Vermette's possible extended absence? They seemingly have the depth and flexibility to do so.

"I guess you never really know it until you live it," Carlyle said. "The proof will be in the pudding, I guess as they all say. We're in a results-oriented business and the record will speak for itself."

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