When the Anaheim Ducks
and Ryan Getzlaf
agreed to a five-year contract extension last week that will keep the emerging star in Anaheim for a sum of $26.6 million, it marked a pivotal moment in General Manager Brian Burke
’s attempt to keep his Stanley Cup-winning team intact in the salary cap era. The 22-year-old Getzlaf was in the final year of a three-year deal and would have become a restricted free agent this summer.
Getzlaf, who has 15 points in his last 10 games, was Anaheim’s first-round pick (19th overall) in the 2003 Entry Draft. Last season, he had 25 goals and 58 points in the regular season before leading the Ducks with 17 postseason points – fifth among all playoff scorers – as the team claimed its first-ever Stanley Cup. He leads the Ducks with 25 points so far this season.
“This is an important day for the franchise,” Burke said. “He’s the whole package.”
Getzlaf’s continued presence in the Anaheim lineup became all the more vital when Dustin Penner, also a power forward, moved to Edmonton last summer. Penner signed a five-year, $21.25-million offer sheet with the Oilers that Burke refused to match. That deal, no doubt, helped establish Getzlaf’s market value. Burke called the contract he gave Getzlaf “astronomical,” but was afraid the price would go up if he did not sign Getzlaf now.
“It used to be you could wait until the end of the year and not worry about affecting your player's play,” Burke said. “Now you got to try and see if there's a common ground and lock these guys up.”
Burke said he believes Getzlaf can be as good as he wants to be.
“He really, I think, can do what he wants in this league. And I say that with praise.”
Getzlaf was thrilled with the opportunity to remain with the team that drafted him.
“The team showed that they wanted me here as much as I wanted to here,” he said. “This is an organization that’s been first-class ever since I got here, as well as the city. I’ve had a great time and look forward to many years playing in Anaheim. It’s great to be able to still be part of this core group.”
The question in Anaheim is how much of that talented core Burke can retain. Already, he’s lost Penner and backup goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who is scheduled to become a free agent next summer.
After signing Getzlaf, Corey Perry figures to be next on Burke’s to-do list. The 22-year-old right-winger had 15 playoff points last season, second only to Getzlaf.
Agents of change -- The changes in Dallas began with Les Jackson and Brett Hull taking over for Doug Armstrong in the general manager’s suite. Lately, Mike Smith has begun to nudge Marty Turco out of the goal crease.
Stars coach Dave Tippett said both goaltenders would see significant playing time.
All the change has been kind to the Stars, who are 6-0-1 since the GM switch, while Smith has won four in a row in goal. Turco won his last two outings, Friday in Toronto and Monday on Long Island.
Sunday, Smith helped the Stars steal a game in which the Rangers held a 41-18 advantage in shots.
The Stars have been on a roll lately, but Tippett said the wins don’t necessarily correlate with the changes.
"It's just confidence and finding a rhythm," Tippett told Mike Heika of The Dallas Morning News. “It’s not anything that we can’t do. It’s staying within ourselves and playing our game.”
The Stars will look to continue playing their game as they finish a six-game road trip with contests in New Jersey (Wednesday), Pittsburgh (Friday), Philadelphia (Saturday) and Columbus (Dec. 3).
Changes at the bottom -- The once resurgent Kings have gone cold again, having lost six of their last seven games to fall into the Pacific Division basement at 9-13-1. Meanwhile, the Coyotes have won four straight games to move above .500 and crawl into fourth place in the division.
Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky downplayed his club’s recent surge. “We’ve won four games,” he said. “Last time I checked, that doesn’t mean too many rings.”
Included among the Coyotes’ recent wins was a 4-3 shootout victory over Anaheim in Ilya Bryzgalov's homecoming Friday. The Ducks honored the backup goalie on their Stanley Cup championship team with a video tribute during the first period that drew a standing ovation from the 17,174 fans on hand.
The gesture brought tears to Bryzgalov’s eyes. “I was crying a little bit,” he said. “I have great memories here.”
The Kings, meanwhile, don’t get nearly so sentimental about games with the Ducks. Three of their six losses have come at the hands of their cross-town rivals, with Anaheim prevailing by taking charge in the third period twice and winning in a shootout once.
In the most recent renewal of the rivalry, Sunday at Honda Center, the Kings took an early 2-0 lead before surrendering three straight goals – including two in the third period – to lose.
“Getting out to a lead is great,” Mike Cammalleri said, “but then it seems like we’re just trying to hang on. That’s not a successful way to play.”
The Kings’ lone win in their last seven games came Saturday at San Jose, where they have had success lately, winning both of their games at HP Pavilion this season.
Who’s hot -- Radim Vrbata of Phoenix has five points (two goals, three assists) in his last three games. … Stars defenseman Sergei Zubov has one goal and 14 assists (15 points) in his last 12 games. … Anaheim defenseman Chris Pronger has 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in 10 games. … Dallas goaltender Mike Smith is 3-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average and .953 save percentage in his last three starts. … Since joining the Coyotes in a waiver deal, goalie Ilya Bryzgalov is 4-0-0 with a 1.22 GAA, .954 save percentage and one shutout.
Not hot -- The Kings’ Brian Willsie is scoreless in eight games while posting a minus–6 rating. Teammate Michal Handzus has not scored in seven games, while defenseman Jaroslav Modry has not found the score sheet in six contests. … Philippe Boucher of Dallas has not scored in 11 games. … San Jose’s Kyle McLaren has gone eight games without a point.
The week ahead -- Anaheim takes to the road, playing games in Vancouver (Tuesday), Calgary (Thursday) and Edmonton (Friday), before returning to Southern California Sunday to host Edmonton.
Los Angeles will close out a streak of five consecutive road games when they visit San Jose Wednesday. They’ll host Colorado Saturday.
Phoenix embarks on a four-game roadie that includes games at Minnesota (Wednesday), Chicago (Friday), Detroit (Saturday), and Pittsburgh (Dec. 3).
San Jose hosts Los Angeles (Wednesday) and Colorado (Friday).