Ex-Ducks Daniel Winnik, Stephane Robidas fueling Toronto’s rise

Leon Komarov, Jonathan Bernier, Daniel Winnik, Stephane Robidas
Toronto’s Daniel Winnik, left, Stephane Robidas, Leo Komarov and Jonathan Bernier celebrate after a win over the New York Islanders on Oct. 21.
(Kathy Willens / Associated Press)

Withstanding health issues is one testament to the Ducks’ organizational depth.

So is their performance without the talent they parted with after last season.

Two of those players, forward Daniel Winnik and defenseman Stephane Robidas, are now members of the Toronto Maple Leafs and have played key roles in helping that team win five straight games and take a 9-1-1 run into Tuesday night’s game in Toronto against the Ducks (21-6-5), who have won seven straight.

Winnik, who the Ducks let go as a free agent after last season, has repeated his solid, responsible play in Toronto, helping convert a franchise that finished 28thin penalty killing last season to No. 10 in the category.


“It’s an area they wanted to improve upon from last year, and I think I’ve done a good job helping them, with my consistent work ethic, helping my teammates on the defensive side of things,” Winnik said Tuesday following his team’s morning skate at Air Canada Center.

Winnik is plus-11 with 11 assists.

With the emergence of young forwards such as Patrick Maroon and Devante Smith-Pelly and the pursuit of a similar grinder in center Nate Thompson, the Ducks assessed that Winnik’s time had run its course.

Yet, deep admiration remains.


“He gives coaches trust,” Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “When I had Danny and I put him out there, I felt good nothing bad would happen. I think [Toronto Coach] Randy [Carlyle] feels the same way.

“He knows how to play the game, he’s in the right position all the time. He might not score you 30 goals, but he does all the little things that help you win. Blocks shots, good skater, big man.”

Robidas said Tuesday that he believed his trading-deadline acquisition from Dallas in March would mean a Stanley Cup, but he suffered a broken leg in Game 3 of the playoffs (in Dallas) and was left to watch the Ducks’ Game 7 elimination to the Kings in the second round.

The Ducks wanted him back for this season, but Toronto offered a three-year contract, and Robidas has stepped in to post a plus-10 figure -- plus-nine during the 9-1-1 run -- while playing in all but one of the Maple Leafs’ games.

“The leg feels good, no issues. I might have the screws at the knee removed after the season because it gets tight, just uncomfortable, depending on the weather too,” Robidas said.

He said he anticipates the test his former team, currently leading the NHL in points, will bring.

“We’ve got to impose our tempo, we’re a fast team,” Robidas said. “When we manage the puck well, when we’re in our spots in the neutral zone, we’re effective.”

AS FOR THE DUCKS … : Boudreau rested his top two centers, Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler, at Tuesday’s morning skate.


Goalie Frederik Andersen was first off the ice for what should be his 19theconsecutive game.

Forward Dany Heatley (groin) and defenseman Francois Beauchemin (finger) practiced but will not play, Boudreau said, who added that he doesn’t have a set schedule yet for goalie John Gibson, who practiced as well.

Boudreau said Gibson, who was originally due back from his groin injury during this trip, could “possibly” be sent for weekend games in minor-league Norfolk.

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