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In this edition of NHL Talk, the Anaheim Ducks, Seattle Kraken, and Washington Capitals have the best quotes from around the League.
Verbeek Hired as Ducks’ Newest General Manager
Pat Verbeek became the newest general manager (GM) of the Ducks on Thursday. He replaces Jeff Solomon, who took over GM duties on Nov. 10, after Bob Murray resigned as executive vice president and GM to enter an alcohol abuse program. The Ducks are on the upswing, tied with the Los Angeles Kings for second place in the Pacific Division, and are looking to build success for years to come under Verbeek.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to be named general manager of the Anaheim Ducks,” Verbeek said. “For me it’s the beginning of a longtime goal to become a general manager and to build a Stanley Cup winner. I look forward to building this team into a Stanley Cup winner as well.”
Anaheim holds a solid 23-16-9 record on the season, with multiple players stepping up and contributing to the team’s success. Among them, Troy Terry leads the Ducks with 41 points (25 goals, 16 assists) in 43 games, while rookie Trevor Zegras ranks second on Anaheim with 32 points (12 goals, 20 assists) in 42 games.
“Certainly you don’t have to come [to Anaheim] and look to take a long time,” Verbeek said. “So, there’s good players in the NHL and there’s also good players in the minors and then there’s also players that have been drafted. So, there’s lots coming to support the growth of this team and that’s truly what I’m excited about.”
The Ducks, who are still in the midst of a rebuild, are exceeding expectations this year. Verbeek is ready to take the team to the next level and compete for a Stanley Cup championship, which would be Anaheim’s second ever, and first since 2007.
“As I said during my interview, every winning organization, everything starts at the top,” he said. “And when I got a chance to sit down with [Ducks owners] Henry and Susan (Samueli), their commitment to winning was unbelievable. So that was a huge part for me. I think the other part is that the team is… they’re in the middle of their rebuild, and so this is a great opportunity to kind of take this team forward and turn it into a contender.”
Francis Possibly Open to Trading Kraken Captain Giordano
Kraken defenseman Mark Giordano could potentially be on the move at this year’s NHL Trade Deadline. Seattle general manager Ron Francis may look to move some assets to fix some flaws on the struggling roster and build for the future. With the Kraken ranked 29th in the NHL with a 15-27-4 record, Francis has some difficult discussions to have, particularly with his team’s captain.
“At some point, we will have a conversation and see what he wants to do,” Francis told NHL.com on Wednesday. “I think every situation is different. Mark’s been in this league for a long time. He’s our captain, and the conversation will be had face to face with him. We will see where he is at and what he wants to do.”
The 38-year-old is in the final year of his six-year, $6.5 million average annual value (AAV) contract he signed with the Calgary Flames on Aug. 25, 2015. This season marks his first outside of the Flames organization, where he spent 14 seasons and served as captain for eight years. He became the first captain in Kraken franchise history on Oct. 11, 2021.
“We assessed things in training camp and that’s why you make that decision. I don’t regret it for one second,” Francis said. “He’s a warrior, a competitor and a good leader on and off the ice. … I don’t think you look at it that way when you make the decision. It’s always a possibility (trade or leaving as a free agent), but you never know what is going to happen when you get into the season.”
Just over a month away from the NHL Trade Deadline on March 21, Francis has some big decisions to make in the coming weeks.
“My history is to be open and honest,” Francis said. “I may have conversations with one player, five players, 10 players. That is the way I like to operate. Whether those conversations are to re-sign or move on, the deadline is March 21 and we have to get there.”
Wilson to Replace Ovechkin for Capitals at NHL All-Star Weekend
Capitals forward Tom Wilson will represent the Capitals at the 2022 NHL All-Star Weekend, after his teammate Alex Ovechkin was placed in COVID-19 protocols ahead of the event. It marks the first All-Star appearance of his career. While Wilson is excited about the opportunity, he is also upset his captain was unable to make it instead.
“It’s the roller coaster of the year,” Wilson said. “You wake up and you’re like, ‘Oh no, ‘O’ can’t play tonight. I called him on the way here and was kind of like, ‘Thank you, I guess,’ because I get to go experience a pretty cool event because of it. But I’m happy to represent the Caps and fill in for him. But it [stinks] to lose your captain and your leader and such a big part of our team for tonight and, obviously, the NHL for the All-Star Game. But I’m looking forward to it.
Throughout his career, he has tallied 252 points (104 goals, 148 assists) in 612 games. He is also known for his aggressive, chippy playing style, accumulating 1181 career penalty minutes and five suspensions over that span. He now gets to showcase his unique gameplay as an NHL All-Star.
“I’m really excited,” Wilson said. “It’s one of the best events every year. I think this year is going to be great in Vegas. The League is putting a lot of work into it, a lot of exciting names, young players going out there. So I think that’s part of the best part of it, going out there and meeting the guys, hanging out with them and just being part of an overall great weekend for hockey and trying to grow the game, and no better place to do it than Vegas.”
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Tom Pepper is a diehard Montréal Canadiens fan, writing NHL and IIHF content at The Hockey Writers since 2020.