Ducks News & Rumors: Injuries, Beaulieu & More

With the regular season just under a week away, the Anaheim Ducks have been busy putting the finishing touches on their opening night roster. They’ve had to navigate injuries and reassignments along the way, but it’s all coming together with just one preseason game left.

Zegras, Vaakanainen Out with Injuries

The Ducks have seen a few injury scares during the preseason, with the two major ones coming in back-to-back games. First, Trevor Zegras was shaken up on a hard – but legal – hit from the Arizona Coyotes’ Jan Jenik. Zegras left the game and did not return. He has not appeared in a game since then, with the team stating that he is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

Then, defenseman Urho Vaakanainen made incidental contact with the San Jose Sharks’ Artemi Kniazev while assisting on Derek Grant’s goal and slammed hard into the boards. The defenseman had to be stretchered off and was admitted to UCI Medical Center, with the Ducks reporting that he had full movement in his extremities and was fully conscious and alert. He was released from the hospital later that night.

Injuries like this are always tough to analyze and Vaakanainen does have a history of concussions that could come into play depending on how serious the injury is. Given that the Ducks are unlikely to contend for the Stanley Cup this season, they’ll take their time getting the 23-year-old back up to speed once he’s cleared to get back on the ice.

Ducks Sign Beaulieu to One-Year Deal

Coming into training camp on a professional tryout contract (PTO), Nathan Beaulieu seemed to be on the outside looking in given the Ducks’ plethora of left-hand shots on the blue line. However, the injury to Vaakanainen took one hat out of the ring. Given the severity of the injury, it’s likely that the Finn will be out for an extended period of time, which necessitated signing Beaulieu to a standard deal.

Nathan Beaulieu Winnipeg Jets
Nathan Beaulieu, formerly of the Winnipeg Jets (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Beaulieu won’t be expected to be a minutes eater or someone who takes on the opponent’s top line every night. He’s there to add size and snarl to the blue line, with anything else being a welcome bonus. The defenseman has also had his fair share of injuries in the past, so staying healthy will also be a priority.

Ducks Make More Roster Moves

The Ducks have made several roster moves this past week, assigning a large number of players back to juniors and the minors. First, they assigned Gage Alexander, Nathan Gaucher, Tyson Hinds, Sean Tschigerl and Olen Zellweger to their respective junior teams and released Charles Cote from his PTO. Zellweger is one of the prospects who’s had a lot of buzz ever since he was drafted by the Ducks and it came as a bit of a surprise that he was released from the training camp roster so early into the preseason. Gaucher and Hinds – who recently signed his entry-level deal – also had their moments during the preseason and will return to juniors, where they both are coming off solid seasons.

Related: 3 Anaheim Ducks Poised for a Breakout Season

The Ducks have also assigned 25 players to their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the San Diego Gulls, in the past week. A large number of those players are prospects in the Ducks’ pipeline and will be expected to play a large role with the Gulls this season.

Players like Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Brayden Tracey, Jacob Perreault and Lukáš Dostál could also see time with the Ducks at some point this upcoming season. Others like Chase De Leo, Justin Kirkland and Danny O’Regan will provide veteran leadership but they too could get the call much like former Gulls captain Sam Carrick, who turned his call-up last season into a full-time role at the NHL level.

The Ducks’ final tune-up before the start of the regular season will come on Saturday afternoon against the Los Angeles Kings, their third matchup of the preseason.

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