Hockey Hearsay runs weekdays, 12 months a year; mixing stories, quotes and fantasy takes from around the hockey world.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said this morning that he will practice with the club in training camp, starting with Saturday's first day on the ice. He has not, however, been cleared for contact, so will sit out scrimmages and contact drills.
"I'm excited to get going," said Crosby, who was diagnosed with a concussion Jan. 6 and did not play again last season.
"I'm pretty happy with the way things have gone the past week or so. Exertion's been pretty high."
Crosby was doing the same thing -- practicing with the team in non-contact situations -- before he began having headaches and other symptoms in April. He expects training camp practices to be set at a higher, tougher pace.
"I think camp will be a pretty good indication," he said. "It's going to be pretty intense.
"I feel pretty comfortable and confident with where I'm at."
Crosby indicated he will be evaluated as camp unfolds. There is no timetable for when he might be cleared for contact or when he might play. The Penguins open the season Oct. 6 at Vancouver.
The Ottawa Sun recalls that Daniel Alfredsson, whose 2010-11 season was ended because of a bad back after just 54 games, finally had surgery to correct the problem in June. Meeting the media at the Kanata Golf and Country Club Thursday, he stopped short of declaring himself as good as new — or at least as good as a new 38-year-old.
Are you 100%, Dan?
“I don’t think anybody’s going to camp 100%,” Alfredsson said to at least one pair of raised eyebrows. Huh? That’s a reply given by a player returning from a mid-or late-season injury. The guy says “I don’t think anybody is 100% at this time of the season” and you get that. But in September, most if not all of them should be unblemished.
“But I feel good, and obviously excited to start off,” he continued. “Training has been going good so far. I’m happy where I am.”
Are there any restrictions or concerns with the back?
“Not right now, no,” said Alfredsson.
Are you good enough to play pre-season games at the start?
“Yeah, I should be,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ll play all the pre-season games. But hopefully I’ll get a few in.”
Just two or three of the seven, to get his timing back, is plenty.
The Sun relays Alfredsson admitted he doesn’t know for sure how long the back will hold up.
“I don’t know what to expect,” he said. “I’ll take it as it comes. Listen to the body. But as any athlete, I hope I can come back and play fully. As you get older, that’s going to be tougher and tougher, but we’ll assess the situation, how I feel, as we go along.
“Starting off, I expect to play a lot."
The San Jose Mercury News relays that Martin Havlat won't be going full tilt as the Sharks open training camp this weekend. In fact, the right wing acquired from the Minnesota Wild for his speed and scoring might not be going at all when players take the ice for the first time Saturday.
The Sharks disclosed Thursday that Havlat is recovering from arthroscopic shoulder surgery last May and is considered day-to-day. But general manager Doug Wilson wasn't treating that as a significant setback.
"Our goal is to get ready for the start of the year," Wilson said. "He's been skating a month, he looks great."
The injury occurred in May when Havlat, who came to San Jose in exchange for Dany Heatley, was playing for the Czech Republic in the world championships. Like Wilson, Havlat did not seem discouraged.
"I'm just working on the strength. It's in a good way," he said. "We just want to make sure everything is 100 percent."
Whenever Havlat can play, coach Todd McLellan has him penciled in on a line with Ryane Clowe and Logan Couture.
"I used to watch him when I was in Ottawa and he was with the Senators," said Couture, who played junior hockey there. "He's one of those players you can watch for an entire shift and see what he does with the puck and without the puck."
The Mercury News says the Sharks' top two goalies are also dealing with injuries, though one is far less of a concern than the other.
Wilson said starter Antti Niemi may not fully participate at the start of training camp because he recently had a cyst removed, but he should be fine shortly. Backup Antero Niittymaki, however, could be out 12 weeks if he decides to undergo surgery for ongoing pain problems that plagued him last season, when he missed 17 games with a groin injury.
We've gone over the projected forward lines for the Minnesota Wild recently in HH, but the Minneapolis Star-Tribune has more with Wild coach Mike Yeo today on that and more. Here are quotes directly from him.
Forward lines: "Devin Setoguchi - Mikko Koivu - Dany Heatley. Guillaume Latendresse - Matt Cullen - Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Darroll Powe - Kyle Brodziak - Cal Clutterbuck. Colton Gillies - Eric Nystrom - Brad Staubitz. Of course, it can change, but the reason you put it together now is to see if it's going to work, to see if those guys can develop the chemistry together or maybe there's an ingredient missing on a particular line."
About Powe-Brodziak-Clutterbuck line: "Everybody always talks about teams' first and second lines, but I'm a huge believer in every guy must contribute to a team. It doesn't matter if it's Staubitz or Koivu. Each guy has a role to fulfill. This third line can provide a clearly identified role, which sometimes makes it easier to go out and do your job. When I think about the possibility of them playing against other teams' top lines, one, physically, they're going to be punishing on them; two, they're smart and will play the game system-wise and structurally the right way; and three, the line can create a lot of momentum and be hungry to get to the offensive zone and buzz down there. It can be a real momentum line for us shift after shift."
Young players with a chance to make it: "Colton Gillies is a guy I'm expecting to be with our team. At his point in his career, we have to give him a good opportunity. [Defenseman] Justin Falk is like that, too. ... I've seen enough in their game that I believe they're going to be quality NHL players. Guys really knocking on the doorstep are Cody Almond and obviously Casey Wellman, among others, up front. On defense, Nate Prosser is a guy who really impressed us last year. Marco Scandella is a real interesting one for me. ... I believe he's a guy that can come in and make our team better if he's ready right now. But I definitely don't want any young kids not playing games or playing four or five minutes a night. But we as a staff want to ice the best team we can, so if Marco or Casey make us a better team, we'll make those decisions."
Defensive pairs: "Greg Zanon-Marek Zidlicky, Nick Schultz-Mike Lundin, Clayton Stoner-Jared Spurgeon."
Replacing Burns: "I don't want to see defensemen necessarily going end to end, coast to coast trying to score flashy goals, but I do want to see them execute well and support the attack. I think we do have guys that are very capable of doing that."
Addition of Heatley: "I don't like to say that one guy is critical to our team's success. But when you have a guy like that who can each and every shift go out and impact the game, the better he is, the better our team will be. The same goes with Setoguchi. I'm extremely hopeful for what Dany can bring, not just as far as goal production but leadership."
The Montreal Gazette writes that the health of defenceman Andrei Markov is the No. 1 concern as the Canadiens gather at their training facility in Brossard Friday for the start of their main training camp.
Physicals and fitness testing are on the schedule for Day One and a setback in his rehabilitation from knee surgery will limit Markov’s participation when the players hit the ice Saturday.
Markov, who underwent his second major ACL reconstruction on his right knee in December, skated on his own in Brossard Thursday and it was obvious that he’s far from 100 per cent.
General manager Pierre Gauthier acknowledged as much when he addressed the media at the team’s golf tournament Wednesday, but he put on optimistic spin on the situation while preaching patience.
“It’s always a risk when you sign older players, first, and it’s a bigger risk when you sign older players who have had injuries,” said Gauthier, who gave Markov a three-year deal worth $17.5 million. “But you evaluate that as a calculated risk, and you also evaluate what your options are. In the case of Mr. Markov, he’s such a professional, such a hard working person. One of the things that was interesting about his knee is he had absolutely no collateral damage. The ACL was torn a second time, but in a lot of cases with knee injuries there’s something else that’s gone wrong, like an MCL or some cartilage. In his case it was strictly one band that was ruptured. So we feel pretty good about his prognosis.”
The article also points out there are few openings for jobs in Montreal and most of the battles among the forwards will be for ice time and spots on the top lines. There are arguably seven top-six forwards in camp with newcomer Erik Cole joining Tomas Plekanec, Michael Cammalleri, Scott Gomez, Andrei Kostitsyn, Brian Gionta and Max Pacioretty.
The most interesting situation on the bottom two lines involves where to use David Desharnais. He’s a natural centre, but head coach Jacques Martin used him on the wing during the playoffs last season. He could find himself back there if someone steps up to play centre. Two possibilities are Andreas Engqvist, whose 6-foot-4 frame would be welcome in the vertically challenged lineup, and Brock Trotter, who is back in the fold after a season with Dinamo Riga in the Kontinental Hockey League.
The St. Petersburg Times details how Tampa Bay's training camp opens today at the Ice Sports Forum, and for the first time in five years, Vincent Lecavalier comes in healthy.
"In five years?" exclaimed coach Guy Boucher.
In five years.
The center had arthroscopic surgery on his left wrist after the 2006-07 season to clean up cartilage. He had right shoulder surgery after 2007-08 for a torn labrum.
Cartilage in his right wrist was repaired just as the 2008-09 season was ending, and his right knee had arthroscopic surgery in August 2010.
"It just drains you," Lecavalier said. "Summer is a time to recharge your batteries. When you have surgery, they don't recharge."
The question is, can Lecavalier, 6 feet 4, 208 pounds, regain more of the form that made him one of the best players in the world from 2006 to 2008?
And can he do it for an entire season?
"I want to produce," Lecavalier said. "I know if I played the way I played since January, things will come and the goals will come."
But, Boucher said, "the expectations are not in terms of a number of points. The expectation is he's going to be more in shape, more ready to start."
"We always downplay the effect of injuries, but they are devastating. The enthusiasm that comes from the fact that there's no injury and being able to train in the summer the way he wanted to train will be invigorating for him."
The Chicago Tribune points out in a training camp outlook article that the Hawks already have been hit with injuries to two top players. How quickly — and effectively — forwards Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane bounce back could determine how successful the team is early in the season.
Kane was scheduled to have the splint on his left wrist removed Thursday as he recovers from July 19 surgery to repair a fractured wrist. The winger will be limited as camp begins but still hopes to play in up to four of the Hawks' seven exhibitions. He says doctors have told him "for the start of the season, no question at all I'll be 100 percent."
Sharp is expected to miss the bulk of camp and possibly the opening of the regular season after undergoing an emergency appendectomy Monday. Team physician Michael Terry said he expects the forward to have "a full recovery in approximately three to four weeks."
The New York Post affirms that the alignment up front entering camp for the Rangers seems rather obvious: Wolski-Richards-Gaborik; Dubinsky-Artem Anisimov-Ryan Callahan; Ruslan Fedotenko-Derek Stepan-Zuccarello (his spot to lose); Michael Rupp-Brian Boyle-Brandon Prust.
And on defense, it's fairly concrete as well: Marc Staal-Dan Girardi; McDonagh-Sauer (if healthy); a third pair with Erixon, Steve Eminger, Del Zotto and Pavel Valentenko in the mix. It would, however, be no surprise if the Blueshirts remain on the lookout for veteran assistance.
The goaltending tandem is etched in stone: Henrik Lundqvist backed up by Marty Biron.
The Rangers should be better. Richards should be a critical component in their improvement. But while captain Callahan told The Post on Monday he expects the Blueshirts "to be contenders and make a push for the Stanley Cup," his coach does not want to put the end before the means.
"I expect us to take the next step in the process," Tortorella said. "I don't want to talk about results. I want us to focus on what we need to do and how we have to play in order to get those results.
"We've kept our core here, we added the top free agent on the market in Richie in order to fill our hole at center and increase our level of talent, we signed Michael Rupp who is going to be a major factor for us moving up and down the lineup and our kids have an additional year of experience.
"I think we're where we want to be as an organization," the coach said. "But I'm not going into this putting pressure on the team by stating that we're Cup contenders.
"We're in the next step. But I do feel good about where we are; I don't want to leave any question about that."
Darren in St. Louis: "hi chris, happy almost hockey season!
third year of a keeper, 4 teams dropped out and the league is now at 16 teams. standard plus shp, fw, and hits. play 3c 3lw 3rw 6d 2w 1f and 2g nightly. keep 10, c lw rw d d g and 4 more at any position.
my keepers are c stamkos lw ryan rw giroux d karlsson d fowler g luongo brodeur couture e kane berglund.
the players on the teams that dropped have been released into the free agent pool for the draft on tue 9/20. i have the 13th overall selection. who do you think i should target? the first three goalies will likely go in the top 10. here are the top players that will be available on draft day. thanks!
bryzgalov, niemi, fleury, roloson, backstrom(g), d sedin, datsyuk, p kane, carter, m richards, chara, duchene, d boyle, letang, stastny, pavelski, burns, ennis, ladd, krejci, kronwall, weiss, callahan, dubinski, jml, stafford, kaberle, jagr, wisniewski, hejduk, seguin"
Chris: It's really tough to project 13 picks into a dispersal draft like that Darren.
Part of me would like to see you add a younger goalie this season in case Brodeur retires, but for now - unless someone like MAF falls into your lap - you can put that off until Brodeur decides. I kind of think he'll play beyond this year, unless the Devils stink.
My guess would be you won't have these guys from which to choose when you pick... Bryz, Niemi, MAF, Sedin, Datsyuk, Kane, Carter, Richards, Chara, Boyle, Letang.
Burns would be nice and maybe the first choice if he's there. Pavelski, Duchene/Stastny, Dubinsky and Wisniewski would be helpful. If you kept a few more guys, even investing in Seguin now (although you could likely easily get him back at the draft) would be fine in the long run... but a lot of guys there are better bets for this coming season.
Another possibility would be going with Niklas Backstrom, if there, as a third goalie and possible Brodeur replacement this summer if needed.
Charles in Burnaby: "Hiya Chris, first question in a loooong time.
I’m starting in another keeper league. I have the 9th spot of 12. The positions are: 10 forwards, 3D, 2 G, 1 BN, IR, IR
So it’s fairly deep. I want to go after Ovechkin, Crosby or Malkin with that first pick, so am considering swapping my 9th pick for one of the 1st three, in addition to my 3rd round pick (downgraded to 4th round) and my 1st round pick for next year (downgraded to 2nd). There are 4 keepers per team.
I know it’s a lot but I want an elite keeper. Should I go for it?"
Chris: I'd do it, sure. I'd be a little hesitant to target Crosby, although his long-term outlook is still supposed to be a full recovery. I'd likely rather want Stamkos and I'd still probably take Ovechkin first.
In terms of the price you'd pay though, I have no problem with it. There are few truly elite options and at the start of a keeper league is your best chance to get one of them.
Peter(Karlstad/Sweden): "Hi Chris, once again I'm looking for you for some help, last year I took over a team in a keeper league and managed to manage it to 3rd place, here are the details.
12 teams, Head-to-Head
Scoring F/D: G, A, +/-, PIM, PPP, GWG, FW, BLK Scoring G: W, L, GAA, SV%, SO
The keepers will be made up of 2C, 2LW, 2RW, 2D, 1G, 2 Util Team positions: C, C, C, LW, LW, LW, RW, RW, RW, D, D, D, D, Util, G, G, BN, BN, BN, BN, IR, IR, IR
And my team to choose keeper from is:
C: Henrik Zetterberg, Henrik Sedin, David Krejci, Patrick Sharp, David Legwand LW: Jussi Jokinen, Scott Hartnell, Peter Mueller, Matt Calvert RW: Patrick Kane, Ryan Callahan, Radim Vrbata, Martin Erat, Brad Boyes D: Mark Giordano, Alex Goligoski, James Wisniewski, Erik Karlsson G: Henrik Lundqvist, Ray Emery, Jhonas Enroth
The two first names(or first regarding goalie) is my preliminary keepers but now for my question(s), whom should I pick as my utility guys?
Currently I'm leaning towards Krejci and Wisniewski since Krejci will bring good amount of points and top notch FW while Wisniewski should get even more PPP this year then last.
But I'm not sure if I should keep Callahan or not due to his many injuries last year and the added burden of being team captain but on the other hand he will play with Richards...
Chris: Peter, I'd make a few small changes. On D, I'd put Goligoski and Karlsson as your two keepers and use a util slot to keep Wisniewski. Giordano is ok, but I'd rather have the other three going forward.
Sharp's eligibility seems to vary league to league, but I'd keep him as your second utility guy over Krejci since Sharp should be eligible on the wing too. If you want Krejci's FW, try to get him back at the draft. I think it'll be easier to get him than Sharp back.
Otherwise, I'm fine with your choices. Mueller is one to watch, but can likely be had at the draft again too.
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