Edmonton Oilers management has tried for months to ship out disgruntled defenseman Sheldon Souray but his $5.4 million per season salary cap hit, injury history and clashes with the front office have seemingly made him untradeable. However, recent reports out of Columbus suggest the Blue Jackets, lacking a skilled puck-moving defenseman, might be willing to acquire Souray, perhaps by offering up blueliner Mike Commodore in return. It remains to be seen if this deal occurs but the rumor dominated preseason headlines for awhile.
A Devilish choice
Since signing superstar Ilya Kovalchuk to a monstrous contract, speculation has been rampant over which players the Devils might move to get under the salary cap. Jamie Langenbrunner, Dainius Zubrus, David Clarkson and Bryce Salvadore have been most frequently named in recent trade rumors. It’s believed GM Lou Lamoriello would prefer to deal away Zubrus and/or Salvadore, but few teams appear interested, which could leave Lamoriello little choice but to demote one or both to the minors.
Expectations were low for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers, Edmonton Oilers and St. Louis Blues. The four clubs failed to make the playoffs last season as they continued rebuilding. So far in the preseason, however, they’re either leading or tied for the lead in their respective divisions and all rank in the top five of their conference standings. Of course it’s only preseason so expectations shouldn’t be raised too much, but perhaps these performances can give their long-suffering fans a glimmer of hope for the regular season.
The Price of preseason
Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price knew he would face more pressure than usual coming into this preseason. Management had dealt away playoff hero Jaroslav Halak and put its faith in Price as the starting goalie. But after poor performances in his first two preseason games the boo-birds were out in full force while analysts questioned if he was up to the task. Price’s attempts to remind his critics it was only preseason by telling them to “Relax, chill out” didn’t help. Backstopping the Canadiens to a 6-2 win against Florida in his next outing quieted his critics, but Price will have to raise his performance to silence them for good.
Several veteran free agents have attended training camps on a tryout basis hoping to play their way into a roster spot. Some, like defenseman Kyle McLaren (Atlanta) and former Richard trophy winner Jonathan Cheechoo (Dallas), failed to make the cut and face the potential end of their playing careers. Others, like Bill Guerin (Philadelphia), Kyle Wellwood (Phoenix) and Brendan Morrison (Vancouver), are hanging in and will know by the end of next week if they’ve played well enough to earn jobs.
The Hall-Seguin watch
It’s the first NHL training camps for Edmonton’s Taylor Hall (right) and Boston's Tyler Seguin (left), the top two picks in this year’s entry draft. While neither has been dominating so far they’ve certainly held their own. In two preseason games Seguin has a goal and an assist while Hall has a goal and two assists in two games. Their clubs intend to ease them into the lineup slowly but so far their considerable promise has been apparent. It’ll be interesting to see how they fare in regular-season action.
It may only be preseason but that hasn’t prevented several players from suffering serious injuries. Minnesota’s Josh Harding (knee), Philadelphia Michael Leighton (pictured, back), Anaheim’s Toni Lydman (eye) and Colorado’s Peter Mueller (concussion), along with Chris Drury (broken finger) of the New York Rangers plus Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo (shoulder) of the New York Islanders are just some of the notables whose injuries have knocked them out of action for weeks, and in some cases months.
Several players are having better-than-expected camp performances. Ottawa Senators checker Nick Foligno and Toronto Maple Leafs winger Nikolai Kulemin were the preseason league goal-scoring leaders through Sept. 29. Pittsburgh Penguins rookie center Mark Letestu not only led Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pens in points but was also tied for second in the league, while rookie left winger Magnus Paajarvi was the Edmonton Oilers' leading scorer. Most likely these players will come crashing back to reality when the regular season begins, but perhaps one might be headed toward a breakout season.
Sometimes it seems if it weren’t for bad luck the New York Islanders would have no luck at all. That was evident this week when the constantly rebuilding Islanders lost first-star defenseman Mark Streit and then promising forward Kyle Okposo to shoulder injuries during scrimmages. Okposo is believed out until December, Streit for possibly six months. Their injuries are serious blows to the Islanders before the season even begins.
A Wild need for a backup
Josh Harding’s season-ending knee injury has Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher weighing his options for a replacement backup goalie. Fletcher could give minor-leaguer Anton Khudobin a shot at the job but he’s also been in touch with the agent for free agent Jose Theodore and admitted receiving offers from a few teams looking to move goalies. San Jose (Thomas Greiss) or Edmonton (Jeff Deslauriers or Devan Dubnyk) could be possible trade partners