Now well within a month of the start of the NHL season and mere days before veterans report for training camp, the media is starting to roll out its pre-season power rankings. Blog conglomerate SB Nation released its rankings, placing the Devils third in the East behind Washington (No. 1) and Pittsburgh.
As for the Rangers and Islanders? Well, there’s always next year.
Speaking of next season, TSN’s Bob McKenzie is already looking ahead to the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
In the name of all things synergistic, here’s ESPN’s Gare Joyce’s first cut at the top 10 prospects from the 2011 (Insider) field from earlier this summer.
As a cap to the summer, ESPN’s E.J. Hradek takes a look at the best and worst offseason moves in the Atlantic Division. On that Kovalchuk signing you may have heard about? Not a fan. (Insider)
Lighthouse Hockey continues its look at training camp battles by examining the competition in the crease. Things are set at the NHL level with Dwayne Roloson and Rick DiPietro, but the Isles have a pair of prospects that could step in should either of the elders fall: Mikko Koskinen and Kris Jenkins.
The Islanders’ team site has more on both goalies.
And NYI Point Blank’s Chris Botta has more on Koskinen.
David Ullstrom might be playing center, according to the Connecticut Post.
After losing 5-4 to Minnesota’s prospects Tuesday at Traverse City, the team’s site writes that winning isn’t everything at the tournament. Evgeny Grachev notched his third goal of the tourney, while 2010 third-rounder Andrew Yogan tallied as well. After the game, Rangers player development director Gordie Clark spoke highly of several of the prospects, particularly the defensive tandem of Ryan McDonagh and Dylan McIlrath. Clark labeled the duo the tournament’s “best pair by far.” The Baby Blueshirts wrap the tournament Wednesday against Dallas. You can follow the action here.
The Rangers and restricted free agent D Marc Staal continue to negotiate, according to the New York Post. Larry Brooks says the talks should conclude in a positive fashion before the opening of camp on Friday, with the discussed deal extending into Staal’s first few years of unrestricted free agency.
Head Coach John Tortorella said newly-acquired netminder Martin Biron will hopefully start around 20 games this season. That would shed about 10 games from Lundqvist’s total last season. Tortorella also discussed the status of Chris Drury, who needs to prove he can still produce, according to the coach. The bench boss also conceded that Wade Redden’s contract affects how he looks at defenseman. Honestly, if the nails aren’t already hammered into Redden’s coffin, a new big deal for Staal should take care of that.
Ranger Rants examines the training camp battles on the right wing.
Lundqvist was among a slew of NHL stars in New York for the league’s media tour. Though I can’t seem to grab the link, on NHL.com right now there’s a video interview of the Rangers’ goalie getting asked about his super-dreamy locks. This is appointment viewing, I assure you. If you’re waiting for an actual hockey question though, you can probably save the 30 seconds.
“The arbitrator found that there was a circumvention in this particular case and I’ve been very clear to the board that in the event that there’s a finding of circumvention it has to be punished,” Bettman said. “It’s that simple.”
I would argue that there has been nothing simple about the Kovalchuk signing/circumvention and that the league itself is to blame for previously allowing contracts of absurd length, padded with low-rent years to alleviate a salary-cap hit.
Anssi Salmela will start the season on long-term injured reserve, giving the Devils about $600K of salary cap relief … but they still need to fill his roster spot and he’s already making close to the league minimum, so it doesn’t help much.
If you see something odd hanging from the rafters at Prudential Center, it’s probably the Sword of Damocles hanging over Brian Rolston and Bryce Salvador. The Ledger says the duo wonders if they’re long for this team. Such is the fate of players with contracts outweighing their value to the team in the salary capped NHL. Sometimes a king's riches aren't worth the worrying.