No one is saying much publicly about the Ducks’ plans, but there is a sense that for lifestyle reasons and other factors, they will eventually get Ryan Getzlaf, who is the same boat as Perry, to sign an extension. With Perry, there seems to be greater uncertainty – no real sense that he is unhappy in Anaheim, but maybe not ready to make the sort of commitment to the organization that they’ll need to assure themselves that he might not leave in the summer. So that’s the decision general manager Bob Murray faces – and it might be the toughest call that any GM faces in the next month or so. If he trades him, he could send a potentially devastating psychological message to his team, and maybe undermine one of the real feel-good stories in the early season. If he keeps him and the Ducks exit in the first round and Perry moves along after the season, he could further set back an organization already reeling from Justin Schultz’s defection last summer. Recent history suggests that the Ducks will keep their team intact and hope for the best. It’ll be interesting to see if they take that tried-and-true path – or opt for a bolder strategy.
REALIGNMENT STILL ON HOLD: As one of two Eastern time zone teams playing in the Western Conference, the Detroit Red Wings are in the crosshairs of the NHL realignment debate and one of the best examples of their travel issues is their trip that wrapped up Thursday night in San Jose with a shootout victory over the Sharks. It was the first of five trips they’re scheduled to make either to California or Western Canada in a 48-game season, meaning they’ll need to skip through two and three time zones each time. It’s why they are so desperate to get over to the East and so willing to put up with the greatest inequity in the new proposed system - the fact that the 16 teams in the Eastern Conference would have just a 50-50 chance of making the playoffs, while the 14 teams out west would have a 57.1 per cent chance to do so. Ultimately, it is the most controversial part of the latest realignment puzzle and the one that may see it quashed by the players association … Some teams have played as many as 22 games already, but the Boston Bruins are at just 17, which may be why their 13-2-2 start has gone a little under the radar. On a percentage basis, they are the top team in the East, but they will face a flurry of action from here on in to hold onto that lofty ranking, playing 32 games in the final 60 days of the season and 18 in the next 32.
BLUE JACKET WATCH: With five wins in their first 20 games, plus an injury list that includes their two top defencemen (James Wisniewski and Jack Johnson), plus their top three centres (Derrick Brassard, Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov), the Columbus Blue Jackets are winning the turtle derby at the bottom of the NHL standings, the competition to see who might draft first overall and select one of a trio of highly regarded prospects – defenceman Seth Jones, or forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin. New Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen is known for his player evaluation skills, and he was with the St. Louis Blues in 2006 when – faced with a similar choice - took a defenceman (Erik Johnson) ahead of centres Jordan Staal and Jonathan Toews. The problem in Columbus is that with Rick Nash no longer on the team, and Ryan Murray – the second player chosen in last year’s draft - already in the pipeline, the more acute need is for a dynamic offensive forward. That could make for a tough call because many scouts believe Jones is starting to separate himself from the pack as the consensus overall first pick … The Kings, meanwhile, felt they could give up Simon Gagne to the Philadelphia Flyers this past week, because they plan to carry eight defencemen once Alec Martinez returns from IR; and believe that if they need help up front, one of three prospects lighting it up for their AHL affiliate in Manchester – Linden Vey, Tyler Toffoli or Tanner Pearson – could adequately fill in … Jordan Staal played his first game against his former Penguins’ team on Thursday, on a night when the Carolina Hurricanes won 4-1 and also received some positive news on the injury front. A quartet of players were back playing: Forwards Jeff Skinner and Tim Brent, defencemen Tim Gleason and Jamie McBain. Skinner played just 13:55, but scored a goal and managed five shots on net … The bigger story in Carolina is how well Jiri Tlusty continues to play. Way back when, the Toronto Maple Leafs drafted him 13th overall in 2006 and after three seasons of bouncing back and forth between the minors and majors, they traded him to the Hurricanes for Phillippe Paradis. Tlusty wasn’t an overnight sensation in Carolina either – in his first full season, he managed just 12 points in 57 games – but he’s gradually figured it out under coach Kirk Muller and had a respectable 36 points last year. This season? Even better – nine goals, 15 points and one of the few players with a chance to exceed last year’s scoring totals, even in a shortened season. It doesn’t hurt Tlusty to be playing on the No. 1 line with Eric Staal and Alex Semin, who despite some monumental criticism from his former Washington Capitals teammates, has quietly put up 16 points in 19 games.