Report: Chris Pronger could miss training camp, may not be ready for season opener

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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for grinningPronger.jpgOne of the after effects of the Philadelphia Flyers making it to the Stanley Cup finals is often having to deal with injuries suffered during the playoff run. Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger wasn’t immune to such perils and now is likely to miss training camp thanks to a knee injury initially suffered in the second round of the playoffs against the Bruins.

The Flyers said about a week ago Pronger underwent an outpatient surgical procedure on his knee, to remove some loose bodies from the area. The arthroscopic surgery showed there was no further damage to his knee, but the Flyers’ 35-year-old defenseman said he will not be completely healed by the time training camp begins, Sept. 17.

That contradicts general manager Paul Holmgren’s statement last week, that Pronger will, indeed, be completely healed by the time camp begins.

“No, I can tell you that much,” Pronger said, when asked whether he would be 100 percent when camp arrives. “With the amount of atrophy it is going to take a lot of hard work to build the leg muscles back up. Obviously, I will be spending a lot of hours in the gym trying to strengthen my knee and the rest of my body.

“A lot of times when you hurt your knee you walk different and you hurt your back or you hurt your other knee because you are loading that up more. It is really about your body becoming symmetrical again and you’re not over taxing any one part of your body.”

An older guy missing out on training camp isn’t anything too new. A lot of vets don’t mind getting the break early in the year like that because they’d rather be ready for the regular season and eventually the playoffs as well. Busting one’s hump in camp and in pre-season games isn’t any veteran’s idea of a good time, especially with training camp being as relatively short as it is. As for how it’ll affect him come the start of the season, Pronger’s not quite sure how that will play out.

“I hope to be in the lineup on October 7, but it is still very early on in the process to begin guessing on a timeframe,” Pronger said. “A lot can happen over the next few weeks and months, but absolutely that is one of the goals.”

Pronger said the injury impacted his play throughout the remainder of the playoffs. He cited his range of motion as am issue, saying it was “restricted,” and that his knee felt “tighter.”

Pronger was still a pretty damn good defenseman all things considered in the playoffs and perhaps the Blackhawks should be thankful that Pronger was as banged up as he was, otherwise they might not be carrying the Stanley Cup around all summer. Of course, suffering to try and win last year might hamper the start of this year and with the Flyers defense needing to be better in order to save goaltenders Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher a world of trouble, having Chris Pronger completely healthy is an absolute must for the Flyers. Coming off a Stanley Cup finals loss, however, getting bad news is tough to digest.

Habs sign Mark Streit — is he Markov’s replacement?

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The Montreal Canadiens have signed 39-year-old defenseman Mark Streit to a one-year contract worth a reported $700,000.

This will actually be Streit’s second stint with the Habs. He started his NHL career in Montreal, all the way back in 2005.

Streit split last season between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. In the playoffs, he only appeared in three games for the Penguins, all of them in the Eastern Conference Final against Ottawa when Justin Schultz was hurt.

What the Streit signing means for Andrei Markov remains to be seen. Streit, like Markov, can run a power play, so it’s tempting to conclude that Streit is Markov’s replacement.

That being said, almost all of Streit’s contract could be buried in the AHL if necessary, so that conclusion may be premature. This could even be a move by GM Marc Bergevin to gain leverage and convince Markov to sign.

Markov, 38, remains an unrestricted free agent. The Canadiens want him back, but only at a certain price.

Devils give Mirco Mueller two-year extension

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The New Jersey Devils have signed defenseman Mirco Mueller to a two-year contract extension with a cap hit of $850,000.

Mueller, a first-round draft pick of the Sharks in 2013, has only played 54 NHL games, scoring two goals with four assists. In June, after spending most of 2016-17 in the AHL, San Jose traded the 22-year-old to the Devils.

In New Jersey, Mueller should get a good chance to crack a rebuilding roster.

“Mirco is adding another piece to what we’re trying to build here,” Devils coach John Hynes said, per NJ.com. “He’s a young player, he can play with pace. He’s a very good skater. He’s got size, which is something we need on the back end. He makes a good first pass. He allows you to get out of your own zone because he can break out, he can end plays defensively, get possession, make the pass to be able to transition yourself out of defensive situations.”

The Devils have also re-signed goalie Scott Wedgewood and forward Joseph Blandisi.

Rangers lock up Zibanejad for next five years

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The New York Rangers have locked up a key piece of their future, signing center Mika Zibanejad to a five-year deal with a cap hit of $5.35 million.

Zibanejad had an arbitration hearing scheduled for today, but that won’t be required anymore.

The 24-year-old had 14 goals and 23 assists in 56 games last season. It was his first year in New York after getting traded from Ottawa for Derick Brassard.

With Derek Stepan in Arizona now, Zibanejad is arguably the Rangers’ No. 1 center. Kevin Hayes is in that conversation as well, and perhaps Lias Andersson will be soon.

But getting Zibanejad signed long term was a top priority for GM Jeff Gorton this offseason. Hayes can become a restricted free agent next summer, but that’s a bridge to cross at a later date.

Related: Andersson to get ‘every opportunity’ to make Rangers next season

Avalanche reportedly settle with Nieto, avoiding arbitration

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Matt Nieto won’t need his arbitration hearing on Monday.

According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, Nieto has agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract with the Colorado Avalanche.

Nieto split last season between San Jose and Colorado, which claimed him off waivers in January.

In 43 games for the Avalanche, the 24-year-old forward scored seven goals with four assists.

Nieto was the only Colorado player on this summer’s arbitration list. However, the Avs still have a restricted free agent in Nikita Zadorov, who could be off to the KHL next season.