The PHT Nightcap: Thursday, July 22nd

Even in the depressingly hockey-free summer, we expect to be a productive bunch here at Pro Hockey Talk. Sometimes it might be difficult to follow our pace. We understand that. For that reason, whenever we can, we’ll put all of the day’s stories in one convenient post called the PHT Nightcap. Enjoy, hockey fans.

Kings would be interested in pursuing Kovalchuk again – I really doubt that Kovalchuk will be an unrestricted free agent … ever again, really.

Flyers re-sign Daroll Powe – Apparently they couldn’t live without the power of Powe.

Henrik Zetterberg to get married – Informal poll: which lifetime commitment will work out better, his lengthy deal to stay in Detroit or his marriage? Hormonally rabid hockey females may hope it’s the former.

Thrashers re-sign Ondrej Pavelec – I imagine Josh Harding’s contract ended up being the model for this one. The Thrashers could have a nice 1a-1b rotation with Pavelec and Chris Mason.

The curious salary arbitration case of Fabian Brunnstrom – (Waits for Dallas Stars fans to stop rolling their eyes.)

Jeremy Yablonski signs with NY Islanders – My guess is he became a fearsome fighter after a lot of “jabronie” jokes. (For some reason, his last name always makes me think of The Rock’s favorite term of non-endearment.)

US Hockey HOF welcomes Jeremy Roenick, Hatcher brothers – Kevin Hatcher’s not quite the Frank Stallone of the Hatcher brothers, but he might be Donnie Wahlberg.

Blackhawks trade Marty Reasoner to Florida for Jeff Taffe, cap space – I’m not sure which player has the better obnoxious pun-last name: Reasoner (“That’s pretty Reasoner-ble”) or Jeff “Laffy” Taffe.

Canucks forward Jannik Hansen wins arbitration case

Lightning might go after Aaron Asham – He’s a bruiser who can play a little bit, which seems pretty important to Tampa Bay’s front office.

Small signings ahoy – Followed by Chips Ahoy?

Two more Ilya Kovalchuk contract details

Wacky goal celebrations (video) – Does that Theo Fleury one ever get old?

Islanders deny Rick Dipietro car accident rumor – When you look for class acts, you must first search for people who prank call radio stations.

Official 2011 Winter Classic press conference set for Tuesday – New Year’s day really isn’t as far away as you’d think.

Ducks may try to trade for Vancouver’s Kevin Bieksa – The Canucks are clearly struggling from a salary cap perspective, so Anaheim might be able to get him for a reasonable price.

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

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Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.

Brandon Sutter didn’t have the greatest preseason

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When Brandon Sutter was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks, GM Jim Benning called the 26-year-old a “foundation piece for our group going forward.”

Sutter was quickly signed to a five-year extension worth almost $22 million, more evidence of how highly management thought of the player.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Benning was asked the following question:

“What does it say that you made the trade for Sutter, you called him a ‘foundation’ player, and it took him until the final night of the preseason to find a spot (with the Sedins) on the wing, which isn’t his natural position?”

Here was Benning’s response:

“Well, [head coach Willie Desjardins] wants to try that out, he thinks that’s going to be a good fit. At various times, the Sedins played with wingers with speed, with [Ryan Kesler], who could get in on the forecheck and had a good shot. Sutter brings some of those qualities, too.”

While all that may be true, Sutter was not signed to play the wing; he was brought in to play center, specifically on the second line. He finished the preseason with zero points in five games. And as mentioned, he’ll start the season on the wing, not his natural position.

Meanwhile, youngsters Bo Horvat, 20, and Jared McCann, 19, had outstanding camps and are expected to start the regular season (tonight in Calgary) centering the second and third lines, respectively.

Though Sutter did finish the preseason with 12 shots on goal, up there with the most on the Canucks, it’s fair to say he did not look like a “foundation” player.

“I haven’t seen him play his best,” Desjardins said last week. “I see a guy who’s big and a good skater and who understands the game real well, but just hasn’t got that involved.”

Now, we are only talking about the preseason here. New players often take time to get comfortable. Perhaps playing with the Sedins can provide Sutter with some confidence.

“I know he’ll be there and I totally believe that,” said Desjardins.

But it hasn’t been the best start, and if it wasn’t for the encouraging play of the youngsters, it would be a far bigger story in Vancouver.

Related: Canucks roll the dice on rookies, waive Vey and Corrado