This week’s edition of Anaheim Ducks News & Rumors covers a Sasha Pastujov hat trick, more news on a potential Jack Eichel trade, and some speculation on what roster moves the Ducks could make in order to finalize their opening night roster. Starting this week (coinciding with the start of the 2021-22 regular season), there will also now be two Ducks News & Rumors articles a week.
Pastujov Nets Hat Trick
After spending a good amount of preseason at Ducks training camp, Pastujov was reassigned to his junior team, the Guelph Storm, before their first game of the 2021-22 regular season. All Pastujov has done so far is score a hat trick in just his second game donning the Storm jersey, but it wasn’t enough as they fell to the Kitchener Rangers in overtime, 5-4. His third goal was a wicked one-timer from the point off a well-designed face-off play, a goal that helped the Storm get to overtime in the first place as it knotted the game at four apiece.
A prolific scorer while playing for the US National Team Development Program, Pastujov slid to the third round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft before the Ducks snagged him with the 66th overall pick. He was once deemed a potential first-round pick but tumbled down draft lists due to concerns with his skating. But Ducks personnel is confident that time spent with renowned skating coach Barb Underhill—whose husband also previously had a stake in the Storm—will improve Pastujov’s skating enough to make the teams that passed on him regret their decision in the near future.
Ducks Roster Almost Finalized, More Moves to Come
With opening night just around the corner, the Ducks have been busy trimming down their roster to 23 players. They were able to pass Sonny Milano and Alexander Volkov through waivers earlier this week. They will hope to do the same with Jacob Larsson and Sam Carrick after placing them on waivers yesterday morning. There are still 25 players on the Ducks’ roster, which means that there are still some moves to be made.
One is a no-brainer, which is sending goaltender Roman Durny to the minors. The second move may be a difficult decision to make. Defenseman Simon Benoit has done well this preseason but does not require being placed on waivers to be sent down to the minors. Fellow defenseman Greg Pateryn is an NHL veteran and would require passing through waivers before reassignment.
There’s also third overall pick, Mason McTavish, who may or may not start the season with the Ducks. As an entry-slide candidate, he can play nine games with the Ducks before the first year of his rookie contract goes into effect. If he doesn’t make the team out of training camp, he will have to return to juniors, where he’s been playing with the Peterborough Petes.
However, McTavish did spend last season on loan at EHC Olten in the Swedish second tier. The Ducks may be hesitant to send McTavish back to juniors––where he’d be playing against his peers––after he spent last season and most of training camp playing against grown men.
If McTavish does return to juniors, it will signal that Sam Steel still has a part to play with the Ducks, at least for a little bit. He seems the likely waiver casualty if McTavish does indeed remain with the big club.
Ducks Remain Interested in Eichel
The Eichel-Buffalo Sabres saga has dragged—perhaps even endured—the entire summer and doesn’t look like it’s going to conclude any time soon. Eichel has reportedly become so desperate to leave the Sabres that he’s willing to accept a trade to any team in the league. Any trade would subsequently be followed by at least four months of recovery following the surgery that Eichel wants to undergo—one which has never been performed on an NHL player before.
Because of the unique situation that Eichel has placed the Sabres in, teams around the league have been lurking in hopes that the price for Eichel will decline to a cut-rate package. The Ducks are one of these teams and have been one of the more interested parties, writes The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun (from, ‘LeBrun: The latest on renewed Jack Eichel talks,’ The Athletic, 10/08/21).
There’s no guarantee that the Ducks would be willing to pay the cost required to acquire Eichel, discounted or not. Nor is there a guarantee that this artificial disc replacement (ADR) surgery would allow Eichel to perform pain-free at the highest level of competition.
The Sabres also aren’t in any rush to move their former captain, which has led to a standoff between the two parties. The Ducks will continue to do their due diligence, much like other teams interested in acquiring Eichel, but I wouldn’t expect this situation to be resolved soon.
Preseason has come to a close for the Ducks, but their American Hockey League affiliate, the San Diego Gulls, still has one preseason game remaining, and it’s free! The Gulls will be facing off against the Los Angeles Kings AHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign, tonight at Honda Center at 7 PM PST. The link to tickets can be found by clicking here. If you’re in the area, come check out some of the Ducks’ future stars in action!
Derek Lee is a contributor for The Hockey Writers covering the Anaheim Ducks. Derek has spent nearly two decades immersed in the world of sports and has been writing about sports for five years. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Sports Communication in May 2020 from UCCS in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he also spent two and a half years on staff with their on-campus student newspaper–both as a sports reporter and editor. In his free time, he enjoys playing FIFA, curating his Spotify playlists and attending concerts & sporting events