Irvine — When the Ducks revealed the 23 names on their opening-night roster on Tuesday, Mason McTavish was accompanied by more familiar ones like Ryan Getzlaff, John Gibson and Cam Fowler. However, this came as no surprise to anyone who saw McTavish playing or practicing during the preseason.
Coach Dallas Eakins wouldn’t say whether or not McTavish would make his NHL debut on Wednesday, but it sure looked like he’d be in the lineup. McTavish, the third overall pick in the draft in July, skated on the left wing, with Isaac Lundeström as his center and Jakob Silfverberg on the right wing.
In the days and nights leading up to Wednesday, Eakins emphasized the fact that evaluations were ongoing and that lines and defense pairs could be in flux. Nothing was set in stone. Just because someone made an opening-night lineup, it didn’t mean it would automatically stop there.
It was up to McTwish to make the roster and now remain in the lineup.
“It never ends, the competition never ends,” Eakins said. “If you’re in the dressing room and you take your foot off the gas and say, ‘Hey, I made it. I’m good now.’ No you’re not. It’s a part of being a pro athlete.”
Certainly, the Ducks could return McTavish to their team in the junior-level Ontario Hockey League. But he believed he had sufficiently proved his worth during training camp and playing four exhibition games. He looked out of place, scored a goal and played without fear or favour.
The Kings certainly noticed McTavish during an exhibition game at the Honda Center, when he found himself in a couple of after-whistles. He didn’t drop the gloves and threw his hands, but he didn’t hold back when the more experienced Kings of the Kings clashed with him.
“When the other team is looking at you like this, it means you’re doing something right,” Eakins said. “You’re doing something they don’t like, and it’s usually very tough competition and a tough player. We value those individuals a lot when they go through this rebuilding.
“We keep talking about playing against a tough team and if we do that we need tough players.”
McTavish wasn’t the only youngster who made his mark with a gritty game during the pre-season. Bo Groulx also made the roster and could open the season as a centerpiece on the wings of Derek Grant and Max Jones. Groulx, 21, had two goals and one assist in five exhibition games.
“Mason and Bo have just earned the right to be on our roster,” said Eakins. “We’re not quite on[deciding]our lineup yet. I expect them both to be in at least one game (against Winnipeg on Wednesday or against Minnesota on Friday). You see the lines, but I’m just not going to fully commit.”
Facts & Figures
If he makes his debut on Wednesday, McTavish will be the second youngest player in Ducks history at 18 years, 256 days, eight days older than Oleg Tverdovsky in 1994. McTavish was the Ducks’ biggest choice as Bobby Ryan was second overall in 2005. McTavish was born the same year Getzlaff was drafted. …
In addition to McTavish and Groulx, the Ducks have two other rookies on their roster: Jamie Drysdale and Trevor Zegrass. ….
The Ducks have 16 players on their roster, the most in the NHL. …
According to data compiled by the website CapFriendly.com, the Ducks’ opening-night payroll is $68,573,250, which leaves them with about $13 million in the salary cap space. …
The Ducks’ payroll includes Ryan Kessler’s team-leading cap hit $6.875 million, the final season of his six-year, $41.25 million contract. Kessler, 37, is on injured reserve and will not play again after undergoing multiple hip surgeries.
duck on winnipeg
When: Wednesday at 7 pm
where: honda center
TV/Radio: Bally Sports SoCal/AM 830