By Michael Walters
On Saturday, the Anaheim Ducks assigned Jacob Larsson, Nick Sorensen, and Mason Raymond to San Diego and recalled Shea Theodore, Michael Sgarbossa, and Joseph Cramarossa from the AHL. With only one win in their first five games, Anaheim was looking to shake up its roster and get their season on track. Through one game, the changes have worked as Anaheim defeated Vancouver 4-2 on Sunday.
After playing last year in the SHL, both Larsson and Sorensen made Anaheim’s opening night roster after being the two surprises of training camp. Larsson in particular was incredibly impressive, beating out both Theodore and Brandon Montour for the final spot on Anaheim’s defense. His demotion to the AHL should not be a signal that Anaheim is not happy with his progress; that would be the opposite of the truth. He’s played well in the NHL, but the Ducks figure that him spending some time in the AHL will give him a better opportunity to adjust to the size of North American rinks and a chance to play more meaningful minutes. In four games with the Ducks, Larsson went scoreless, had a -1 rating, and averaged over 16 minutes of action a night. Now that he’s been assigned to the AHL, the question becomes does he go back to Sweden for one more season, or does he stay with the Gulls. Right now, it looks like he’ll remain in San Diego, as he played for the Gulls on Saturday night and picked up an assist in that game. Depending on what happens with Anaheim’s blueline, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him recalled at some point this season, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if he spent the rest of the season in San Diego, assuming he does not go back to Sweden.
Sorensen was quite possibly Anaheim’s best forward in the preseason, but his hard work has not translated into NHL success yet. For now, he’ll get his chances in San Diego, and similar to Larsson, he picked up an assist with the Gulls in Saturday’s win over Texas. Anaheim’s bottom six needs some work and I do believe we’ll see him back in Anaheim later this season, especially if he can put up some good numbers with San Diego.
Raymond was brought in on a two-way contract over the summer. The hope was that with his speed, he could re-establish himself as an NHL regular. In four games with the Ducks this season, he hasn’t done much and his assignment to the AHL is unsurprising after he cleared waivers a couple of days ago. He didn’t play on Saturday, but hopefully, he can start lighting it up at the AHL level. At this point, Raymond’s Anaheim career may be over before it even really begins. If he does want to play for the Ducks again this year, he’s going to need to become one of San Diego’s best forwards.
Recalled Players Start In Home Opener
All three of Theodore, Cramarossa, and Sgarbossa played in Anaheim’s home opener against Vancouver. In San Diego, all three had played in two games before their recall to Anaheim. Theodore had recorded two assists in his two games with the Gulls. He was San Diego’s top defensive player and played the point on their top powerplay unit. He didn’t have a great training camp, one of the reasons why he was cut and Larsson made it, but he impressed enough in those two games to make his way back to the Ducks. One of the reasons Theodore was recalled was to give him time on Anaheim’s powerplay, and he played 1:25 over two powerplays against Vancouver. Overall, he had a +1 rating and played almost 19 minutes and didn’t look out of place being back in the NHL. I’d like to see him stay in Anaheim through the rest of the season, but once Hampus Lindholm comes back, he’ll have a tough time staying up, if no other moves are made.
Sgarbossa had one goal in two games with San Diego before his recall. He was one of the final players cut from training camp after a very strong preseason. He played in one game with Anaheim last year and is hoping to appear in more NHL games this season. Sgarbossa centered the fourth line against Vancouver and won 60% of his faceoffs while playing just over seven minutes. It was a good season debut for the center as he tries to carve out a more permanent spot in the NHL.
Cramarossa had made Anaheim’s roster out of training camp, but after the Ducks claimed Emerson Etem off of waivers, he was assigned to San Diego. He went scoreless in two games with the Gulls before his recall, but his strong training camp made it clear that he’d be back in Anaheim sooner rather than later. Cramarossa had a solid NHL debut, as he played just over eight minutes, had four hits, and two shots on goal. His best chance of the night came off of a rebound chance after Jakob Silfverberg was stopped by Ryan Miller. I don’t expect him to be in the lineup every night, but if he keeps playing like this, he certainly won’t give Anaheim a reason to send him back to San Diego.
This is only the first time this season Anaheim and San Diego have switched players, and you can expect that to happen several more times throughout the rest of this season. Players will be recalled or sent down because of injuries, a high number of games in a short amount of time, or players getting hot or cold. The Ducks also have a number of prospects in San Diego who are knocking on the door to the NHL, giving them just another reason to bring up young players from San Diego. Hopefully, future roster moves will work out as well for both the Ducks and Gulls as this initial one has, as both teams won their first game after the changes were made.
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