Tag:Colorado Avalanche
Posted on: October 13, 2011 1:28 pm
 

Daily Skate: Sabres being careful with Hecht

By Brian Stubits

HECHT OUT: The Buffalo Sabres will be without Jochen Hecht, who suffered a concussion until at least next week as the team is being especially careful with him considering he has a history of concussions. He will be out at least through Saturday's game at Pittsburgh. (Sabres Edge)

GO FISH: Speak of concussions, Capitals GM George McPhee and member of the NHL and NHLPA concussion working group, talked about them recently. Noting that of course you have to be concerned about the players, a non-physical game just isn't as entertaining. “If you go to Europe … it’s not very entertaining. It’s highly skilled, but it’s like trying to watch two guys fish.” (Washington Times)

ROLOSON THANKS SNOW: Dwayne Roloson returns to Long Island to face the Islanders for the first time since he was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning last season. And the 42-year-old took the time to say thanks to GM Garth Snow. "When I signed, Garth told me the situation and to his credit he stuck to his word, that when we were out of the playoffs, he would trade me. Very appreciative of what he did" (ESPN New York)

SERGE OF MOTIVATION: The boo birds have found a target of Sergei Gonchar in Ottawa. Unhappy with his performance, the Senators fans have let him know. His coach Paul MacLean suggests he uses it to his advantage. “I’ve been booed, so it’s something that you ... I think it’s a motivator. If your fans are unhappy with how you play, they should express that they’re unhappy with how you play. Conversely, if you play better, they should appreciate that you play better and to me, it’s just a signal that you need to be better.” (Senators Exra

THE UNTOUCHABLES: Here is a list compiled of the 10 most untradeable contracts in the NHL. Not surprisingly it starts with Rick DiPietro. But after seeing Brian Campbell change addresses this summer makes me think in this this era of a salary cap floor, no contract is untradeable. (The Hockey News)

FISHER STORY: Mike Fisher of the Nashville Predators is very open about his strong religious faith. He has said in the past one thing he likes about being in Nashville as opposed to Ottawa is the amount of churches. Last summer he came out with a book Defender of Faith about his story. Here's a little more from Fisher on how it came about. (Predators Insider)

BROTHER BOND: When the Toronto Maple Leafs headed to a military camp for a team-bonding retreat, it made defenseman John-Micheal Liles think of his brother stationed in Washington state with the U.S. Navy. Here's a good story on the strong relationship the brothers have. (Globe and Mail)

STROME SENT DOWN: It's about the time of the season where a lot of the rookies who were getting extended looks out of camp are going to be returned to their junior teams beore contracts kick in. That's what the Islanders did with their first pick in this summer's draft, Ryan Strome. (Islanders team site)

MURPHY TOO: The Carolina Hurricanes did the same with their top pick, sending diminutive Ryan Murphy back to Kitchener of the OHL. In Murphy's case, he had been a healthy scratch in the team's four regular-season games, so it seemed pointless to continue to leave him up. (Hurricanes team site)

GABRIEL'S GOAL: One first-round pick who won't be returning to his junior squad is Colorado Avalanche rookie Gabriel Landeskog. The No. 2 pick in the draft scored his first NHL goal (video below) on Wednesday night in a win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, and he talked to Adrian Dater about it afterward. (All Things Avs)

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: October 4, 2011 7:08 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 7:22 pm
 

Duchene looking for Tavares money

MD2By: Adam Gretz

Matt Duchene is entering the final year of his entry-level contract with the Colorado Avalanche and the topic of his next contract is, naturally, starting to come up. Especially since the player taken two spots ahead of him in 2009, John Tavares, signed a six-year, $33 million contract with the New York Islanders earlier this summer.

According to Mike Chambers of the Denver Post, Duchene and his agent, Pat Brisson, who also represents Tavares, are looking for a similar deal from the Avalanche. And it's awfully difficult, if not impossible, to argue that he isn't worth it based on his performance over the first two years of his career when compared to the play of Tavares on Long Island.

Here's what Duchene had to say on the subject, as well as the connection to Tavares, via Chambers:
"J.T. and I are pretty close. I didn't talk to J.T. about it, but I talked to our agent, Pat Brisson, about it, and we weren't sure what was going to happen right after he signed, whether it was going to be potentially something for me, but I didn't really care either way," Duchene said. "I love playing the game and the money is obviously nice, but I've never let that be a distraction for me. Not once. I'm not worried about it whatsoever."
The two players have basically been carbon copies of one another over the past two seasons from a production point of view, and they both play the same position, center. See for yourself on the chart below comparing their games played, goals, points, Even Strength points per minute and their faceoff percentages:

Matt Duchene vs. John Tavares: First Two Years
Player Games Goals Points ES Points/Min Faceoff %
John Tavares 161 53 121 .0304 50%
Matt Duchene 161 51 122 .0348 47%

The raw numbers are as close as they can possibly be without being absolutely identical, and while Tavares has a small edge in the face off circle, Duchene scores a bit more in even strength situations while Tavares is more dangerous on the power play. But these are marginal differences.

James O'Brien over at PHT points out that while Duchene's apparent asking price is expensive, it could be worse for the Avalanche as he's not asking for a deal similar to the one his teammate, Paul Stastny, signed that pays him $6.6 million per year. A contract similar to the one Tavares signed would pay him $5.5 million per year.

Of course, it's also difficult to compare Duchene and Stastny at this point. While Stastny signed his current contract early in his third season (the same season Duchene is entering now) he was a significantly more productive player during his first two years in the league. During Stastny's first two seasons, for example, he had recorded 149 points in just 148 games. He was a point-per-game player and a regular on the Avalanche penalty kill, a role that neither Duchene or Tavares have regularly played over their first two years.

Duchene is a building block player for the Avalanche and he's already a very accomplished player for his age. Of course he's going to be expensive, and a deal in the same ballpark as Tavares is not only reasonable given how comparable they are, it should be expected. Anything less is a financial win for the Avalanche.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: October 3, 2011 9:09 am
Edited on: October 3, 2011 9:10 am
 

Daily Skate: Brouwer gets a look on top line

By: Adam Gretz

BROUWER EXPECTED TO BE CAPS' TOP LINE RIGHT WING It appears that Troy Brouwer is going to open the regular season for the Washington Capitals as their top line right wing, according to coach Bruce Boudreau. Said Boudreau, via Stephen Wyno of the Washington Times, “He's a physical presence. He hits, he forechecks well. He can make the play when he has time.” The Capitals acquired Brouwer on draft day in exchange for their first-round pick. In 79 games last season he scored 17 goals to go with 19 assists.

JULIEN: VERBAL ON-ICE TAUNTS CROSSING THE LINE We've had a couple of taunting incidents in the NHL over the past week, including fan-on-player and player-on-player. Bruins head coach Claude Julien is one person in the NHL that thinks some of the trash-talking is crossing the line. Here's what he had to say on the subject via Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com:
“Whether that's been like that decades ago, I'm not quite sure. People are going after divorces or calling people certain names that I don't even want to allude to here,” said Julien. “But there is a fine line I think that has to exist. There's gamesmanship and then there's crossing the line. I think more and more, players today are going further than they used to so.

“You'd hope that it would be policed by [the players] and by having a little bit more respect for each other. They are part of a player's association, they should all be part of a group and there should be at least that kind of respect that exists. Some people are better at refraining themselves than others. You always have those other kind of guys whether the league needs to step into it . . . it's always a hard thing to prove. You know he said, she said and whatever. It's not an easy thing to tackle.”
COACH ALFREDSSON Daniel Alfredsson has been the best player for the Senators franchise since it entered the NHL back in 1993, and he's starting to get closer to the end of his career. He's starting to look forward to his post-playing days and one of the idea's that's at the top of his list is being a minor hockey coach. He talks about that, as well as being a "hockey dad," with Wayne Scanlan.

DO PRESEASON RECORDS MATTER? I typically fall on the side of "No," but Adrian Dater of the Denver Post examines whether or not the 1-4 record the Colorado Avalanche put up in the preseason means anything, and concludes that for this young Avalanche team, coming off a 29th place finish, it matters more than it would for, say, the Avs glory day teams.

NYQUIST SCORES TWO Gustav Nyquist scored a pair of goals for the Detroit Red Wings in their final preseason game on Sunday evening, a 3-2 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and his second goal, a power play tally in the second period, came on this nice give-and-go one-timer with Johan Franzen.



For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: September 30, 2011 6:44 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 7:02 pm
 

Northwest Division Preview: 'Nucks still own it

NW1

By: Adam Gretz

This was the only division in the NHL last season to produce only one playoff team, and that was the Western Conference champion Vancouver Canucks, the team that's won the division three years in a row.

Playoff teams have been difficult to come by in the Northwest in recent years, as Colorado and Calgary are the only teams other than Vancouver to reach the postseason over the past three years; and they only managed to qualify once each. You have to go back to the 2007-08 season to find the last time more than two teams went to the playoffs in the same year out of the Northwest, and it's probably not going to happen this year.

Once you get past Vancouver, the Flames are probably the best bet to reach the playoffs, and even they're not a lock, having failed to qualify two years in a row, and then there's a steady dropoff to a pair of rebuilding teams in Colorado and Edmonton, and a team in Minnesota that seems to be stuck somewhere in the middle between being in contention and in a  rebuilding phase.

The Northwest Division (In predicted order of finish):

CanucksVancouver Canucks: The Vancouver Canucks reached the Stanley Cup Finals for the third time in franchise history last season, losing to the Boston Bruins in seven games. After jumping out to a 2-0 series lead, Vancouver went on to lose four of the final five games of the series. And they not only lost, they were absolutely dominated, losing by a combined score of 21-4. Even with that disappointment in the rearview mirror, the Canucks are bringing back a roster that remains loaded from top to bottom, and is one of the top two or three cup contenders in the league.

Strengths: Just about everything is a strength for the Canucks. They're deep down the middle with Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler and the underrated Manny Malhotra at center, and even with the loss of Christian Ehrhoff, they have an excellent defense led by Alex Edler, Dan Hamhuis, Keith Ballard, Kevin Bieksa and Sami Salo. Roberto Luongo is still one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, and Cory Schneider, his young backup, could probably start for quite a few teams as well. They have quality depth up front with wingers like Daniel Sedin, Alex Burrows, Mikael Samuelsson, Jannik Hansen and Maxim Lapierre, and they excel on special teams, finishing with the top power play in the league last season and the third best penalty kill.

Weaknesses: It's really difficult to find one. Is there one? An obvious one? The Canucks are as deep as just about any team in the NHL at forward, defense and goaltender and have outstanding special teams. Where is the weakness?

FlamesCalgary Flames: A slow start that resulted in just 11 wins in their first 27 games put the Flames in a hole that was simply too deep to dig out of in the Western Conference, missing the playoffs by just four points. It's actually the exact opposite path they followed the previous season when they opened the with a 17-6-3 mark, only to completely fall apart over the final four months of the season and missed the playoffs by five points.

Strengths: Jarome Iginla is simply fantastic. He hasn't missed a game in four years, has scored at least 32 goals in each of those years, and managed to put in 43 during the 2010-11 season. Rene Bourque, Lee Stempniak, Curtis Glencross and David Moss is a solid group of forwards to put around Iginla, and all have the ability to score somewhere between 20 and 25 goals. A lot of other teams teams can -- and will -- do worse up front.

Weaknesses: How much does Miikka Kiprusoff have left in the tank? He's declined in recent years and his workload might be catching up with him and Henrik Karlsson could (and perhaps should) be getting a bigger role this season. Losing Robyn Regehr could be a significant loss on the blue line, and Jay Bouwmeester's first two years in Alberta have to be considered a tremendous disappointment. In his final three years with Florida he scored 12, 15 and 15 goals. In his two years with the Flames? He's scored seven. Total. And he's taking up over $6.6 million in cap space to be an offensive-defenseman. That's not going to work.

WildMinnesota Wild:  Mike Yeo takes over a team that hasn't made the playoffs in three years, hasn't won a playoff series since it went to the Conference Finals nine years ago, and he's introducing his version of the neutral zone trap (insert your own "it's boring hockey" comment here). Actually, it's pretty similar to the system the Penguins run -- the team Yeo was an assistant with for a number of years -- and is a bit more up-tempo than the Jacques Lemaire trap Minnesota fans witnessed all those years.

Strengths: Yeo is pushing for Mikko Koivu to win the Selke Trophy as the NHL's best defensive forward, and he's definitely a worthy player to put on your early season watch list. An excellent two-way player that makes an impact in all three zones and all phases of the game. Dany Heatley, acquired from the Sharks over the summer, is coming off a down year (by his standards) in the goal-scoring department but possesses the best natural goal-scoring ability of any player on the roster and is a legitimate 40-goal threat.

Weaknesses: With Brent Burns no longer on the roster Minnesota has a bit of a hole on its blue line when it comes to providing offense. Marek Zidlicky, who was limited to just 46 games a season ago, was the only other defenseman to register at least 20 points. The 13th ranked power play in the league a season ago lost its top-three power play goal scorers (Burns, Antti Miettinen and Andrew Brunnette). Heatley should be able to help in that area, but will he be enough?

How good is Niklas Backstrom? He hasn't approached the numbers he put up the first three years of his career while playing under Lemaire, and his backups have pretty consistently put up similar save percentages in recent years. Was he a product of the system or is he set to play like one of the best goalies in the league again?

FlamesColorado Avalanche: Their decision to trade a first-round draft pick to the Washington Capitals for goaltender Semyon Varlamov was panned over the summer, as most observers are expecting Colorado to once again finish near the bottom of the NHL's standings, meaning that pick could turn out to be a lottery selection. The jury is still out on that trade, obviously, but there's no denying the Avalanche needed a significant upgrade in net after a disappointing season from Craig Anderson helped put the Avs at the bottom of the NHL in save percentage last season.

Strengths: The 1-2 punch of Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny down the middle is the foundation of this team, and they picked up another top young forward prospect back in June when they selected Gabriel Landeskog at the top of the draft.

Weaknesses: The Avalanche bulked up their defense this summer by putting an emphasis on adding size to their blue line, but will it result in a better product? Erik Johnson, acquired in last season's blockbuster trade with the St. Louis Blues, has the most potential of the group and is still only five years removed from being the No. 1 overall pick in the entire draft. Even with the addition of Varlamov, goaltending remains a question mark, especially since he's had problems staying injury free throughout his career.

The Avs had the worst penalty killing unit in the league last season. Can a full season of Jay McClement to go along with Daniel Winnick help improve that area?

OilersEdmonton Oilers: It's another rebuilding year, but they're getting closer, slowly but surely, to making an impact. And they might be the most entertaining -- and exciting -- non-playoff team in the league with an impressive list of young forwards led by last year's top pick, Taylor Hall.

Strengths: Even if No. 1 overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins doesn't spend the entire season in Edmonton, the Oilers still have some outstanding young talent up front. Ales Hemsky is one of the NHL's most creative players with the puck and a tremendous playmaker, typically averaging near a point-per-game. The biggest flaw in his game, unfortunately, is that he tends to miss at least 10 games (or more) per season. Getting him for a full season would be a welcome change. Hall looks to be a star in the making, and players like Jordan Eberle, Magnus Paajarvi and Sam Gagner are loaded with potential and should make the Oilers worth watching every night, even if they don't win a ton of games.

Weaknesses: Defense. Goaltending. Goaltending. Defense. After Ryan Whitney it's a very thin team on the blue line, and additions like Cam Barker aren't likely to help that. Their defense and goaltending, led by Nikolai Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk, will keep the Oilers at the bottom of the division, as well as the Western Conference, for at least another year.

NHL season preview schedule
Wed., Sept. 21: Step-back players Tues., Sept. 27: Atlantic Division
Thur., Sept. 22: Breakout players Wed., Sept. 28: Central Division
Fri., Sept. 23: Southeast Division Thur. Sept. 29: Northeast Division
Mon., Sept. 26: Pacific Division Fri., Sept. 30: Northwest Division

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.

Posted on: September 29, 2011 10:02 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 10:09 am
 

Daily Skate: P. Kane fares well in center tryout

By Brian Stubits

CENTER STAGE: Patrick Kane played his first game of the preseason last night, and the Blackhawks went throught with their plan to try him out at center. The reviews are in and they aren't bad. When asked if there was anything about the experiement that wasn't good, coach Joel Quenneville said “No, we liked it." COuld get interesting. (ESPN Chicago) Bonus note: Kane joined the Twitterverse on Wednesday, he can be found @88PKane and has over 14,000 followers after just two tweets.

RIPPING AVERY: Boy, this year's 24/7 will be good. The animosity continues to grow in the Broad Street vs. Broadway rivalry. Things got very ugly on the ice in Philly on Monday between Sean Avery and Wayne Simmonds. At one point, Avery was overheard on TV saying he didn't want to have to f***** kill (Claude) Giroux. So the Flyers' Danny Briere took Avery to task for being hypocritical and just seeking attention. (Philly.com)

AV APOLOGY: The Colorado Avalanche were whipped up and down the ice by the Kings on Wednesday, including a hat trick for Anze Kopitar. After last year's second-worst record in the NHL, it caused some bad flashbacks in Denver. Soon after, Matt Duchene took to Twitter to apologize: “Sorry to all the fans that paid their hard earned money tonight to watch that terrible performance of ours. We WILL be better” (Denver Post)

SLOW START: Speaking of not being pleased with preseason results, Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau was upset at Washington's 4-1 loss in Nashville on Wednesday. “It’s time we started to get our act in gear and start playing better.” If they don't, Boudreau's seat could be awfully warm come Thanksgiving. (Capitals Insider)

MOVING ON: James Wisniewski of the Blue Jackets received the toughest punishment from new chief Brendan Shanahan this preseason, but he's not dwelling on it. “I’m going to be around here, but I’m not going to be down about anything. No pouty face from me. It’s over. It’s done. That’s how it has to be.” (Columbus Dispatch)

SANTORELLI SETBACK: The Panthers will be missing one of their few holdovers for the first month of the season. Mike Santorelli, who had somewhat of a breakout season last year with 20 goals and 21 assists, will sit out with a shoulder injury until Halloween. (Miami Herald) Speaking of Halloween, the Panthers will give free tickets to kids who are willing to trade in candy for hockey. (Miami Herald)

GETTING TO KNOW YOU: Alex Ovechkin took time before returning to the States for the season to have a lengthy sit-down interview with Elena Khanian at Sobesednik in Russia. Here's the entire transcript in English. Among the interesting parts is this bit about his taste in women: "I think I will only marry a Russian, well, I mean, a girl from Russia. Russians are sincere, understanding and cook well." I imagine an influx of Russian women to the D.C. area soon. (Alex Ovetjkin)

IS HE READ-Y? One of the big revelations from Flyers camp -- outside of the fact that Jaromir Jagr can still play -- has been Matt Read. He leads the NHL preseason list in points and is still sticking with the big club. The unsigned free agent out of Bemidji State is doing all he can to make the roster, and it's looking good. (Philly.com)

Photo: US Presswire

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 27, 2011 12:26 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Varlamov mask features snowman, Yeti and bazookas

By Brian Stubits

So I thought we had seen all of the cool goalie masks for this season considering it is just over a week from beginning for real. Well I thought wrong.

Check out (In Goal Magazine) new Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov's mask. I take back calling anybody else's mask the coolest, this one is my favorite for this year, hands down.

In Varly's new cage, there is a battle going on. In one corner, hailing from Russia, is an angry Yeti wielding a snowball bazooka! And in the other corner, representing the United States of America, an angry snowman holding a carrot bazooka! In the words of John McCarthy (and the late Marvin Gaye, but we're using it in the McCarthy sense here), "Let's get it on!"

While I'm picking a Yeti over a snowman any day of the week even with magical powers to come to life, if they have weapons I gotta pick the snowman. He's at least hurling pointy projectiles. Unless the Yeti is loading the snowballs with rocks, I've got Frosty.

On a little more serious note, it's a really awesome and interesting design that sticks with the Avs' winter theme. The object of the two sides is one that we're seeing in a lot of goaltenders now that many are coming from overseas, and that's to represent both his home country (in this case Russia) and adopted country.

Mask designer extraordinaire Dave Gunnarson describes the mask thusly: It is a “mix of Rocky Mountains and Russia, a lot and a lot of cool details. For example one of the mountain tops are transformed into one of the tops of the Vasilij Cathedral, and you also find a cool russian jet flying there, and much much more…!”

Photo: In Goal Magazine

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 26, 2011 9:59 am
Edited on: September 26, 2011 3:37 pm
 

Daily Skate: Avalanche's Yip out 4-6 weeks

By Brian Stubits

LOSING THE YIPS: The Colorado Avalanche will be opening up the regular season with Brandon Yip on the sidelines after breaking a forearm this weekend against the Blues. He will miss 4-6 weeks. Avs defenseman Jan Hejda is also dealing with a setback, 2-4 works after suffering a knee injury in the same game. (Denver Post)

WHAT'S HIS NAME: Tomas Fleischmann is new to the Florida Panthers, and it showed over the weekend. Check out the jersey that he was sporting in the team's home game against the Lightning. (For those who can't see, it spells F-L-E-S-I-C-H-M-A-N-N) I guess the people in charge of putting names on jerseys didn't brush up on their offseason acquisition list. (Getty Images via Litter Box Cats)

SCOTT'S SCARE: Scott Hartnell played only nine minutes of the Flyers' game against the Red Wings over the weekend because of a heart scare. During the intermission it was discovered he had an elevated heart rate that didn't slow down during the break. A checkup on Saturday showed things were normal, but he will still be evaluated by a cardiologist. (flyers.nhl.com)

SUTERWATCH STARTS: It's almost another full year before free agency begins again, but fans in Nashville are already holding their collective breath. In addition to Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber, Ryan Suter doesn't have a deal for 2012-13 and LeBron James-like quotes aren't helping soothe the anxious Predators fans. (Pred Gold)

HEIDI STRIKES AGAIN: While it wasn't exactly the movie interrupting a regular-season NHL game, but it's close enough. In Montreal the television feed pulled away from the game just moments before Scott Gomez scored the winning goal. It is the latest positive step in a good preseason for the much-maligned Gomez. (Montreal Gazette)

MORE, PLEASE: The biggest concern for this season in Columbus has to be the situation in net for the Blue Jackets. Chris Mason hasn't exactly kept up his rookie form that saw him win the Calder Trophy in 2008-09. But optimism is rising in camp that a return to form might be coming for Mason. (Columbus Dispatch)

MEET MIKA: Branding is the big thing for athletes these days, you have to find a way to sell your "brand." Well Senators rookie Mika Zibanejad is already getting started. Take a look at his personal web site. Not too bad for a guy who hasn't played a game in the NHL yet. (Senators Extra)

OH BOY O'BERTO: Red Wings veteran Todd Bertuzzi is becoming a shootout star. Just check out his latest move on a hapless goaltender, going between his legs to pass it back up to himself and back-handing the puck into the net.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: September 13, 2011 9:51 am
 

Daily Skate: Charges for Byfuglien? Captain picks

By Brian Stubits

GETTING TOUGH ON BYFUGLIEN: Dustin Byfuglien is facing criminal charges for his foray on Lake Minnetonka over Labor Day weekend. The Winnipeg Free Press reports the district attorney has given the OK for the sheriff's office to formally charge Byfuglien with drunk boating.

CAPTAIN CAROUSEL: In the last week David Backes has been named the captain of the Blues and Ryan Callahan picked to lead the Rangers. But there are still six vacant positions across the NHL, so Pro Hockey Talk took the liberty of picking a captain for the remaining teams. Among the nominees is John Tavares for the Islanders.

CONCUSSION CRACKDOWN: With the attention on concussions growing every day in the NHL with each high-profile case, the concern is trickling down. Canadian youth leagues are planning to begin putting players as young as 10 through the same tests as NHL players this upcoming season (ESPN.com).

BICK IS BACK: After missing some of the seven-game series against the Canucks in the first round of the playoffs, the Blackhawks' Bryan Bickell is recovered and ready for the season (Chicago Tribune). He had surgery in April to repair two lacerated tendons, an incident that happened in Game 2 against the Canucks. He did return in time for Chicago's wins in Games 4, 5 and 6 but wasn't the same.

MAKE THAT TWO: The Sabres are in the same position with Jason Pominville as the Blackhawks and Bickell. They weren't counting on having Pominville back in time for training camp (Buffalo News) after having a tendon severed in the playoff series against the Flyers, but his recovery has gone faster than expected and he "[doesn't] think there will be any issue."

GREAT EXPECTATIONS: The Dallas Stars don't have high expectations this season, and that's great for the team, Brendan Morrow says. He told Kevin Allen of USA Today that the Stars have plenty of young talent to surprise as underdogs, and it starts with Jamie Benn and Alex Goligoski.

SEEKERS OF THE CUP: As the release of EA Sports' NHL 12 told us on Tuesday, hockey season is right around the corner. Here's a great promo video from the MSG Network in New York for the metro area's three teams, the Rangers, Devils and Islanders.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com