Thrashers to give former Bruins/Sharks defenseman Kyle McLaren a tryout

kylemclaren-ap-josesanchez.jpgIn the first of what’s likely to be many stories like this during training camp, the Atlanta Thrashers have invited a veteran name of the more-recent past to join them at training camp to try and win a spot with the team. Thrashers Blueland Blog breaks the details of the former Bruins defenseman that will get his shot with Atlanta.

According to Rick Dudley, who I had an extensive chat with today (look for the Q&A on the site sometime soon) veteran defenseman Kyle McLaren will be coming to training camp on a tryout in an attempt to revive his career and earn a contract.

Dudley likes the potential of what McLaren could bring to the table.

“Kyle is a big, strong guy who, if he can stay away from injuries, is certainly capable of playing in this league.”

There’s the bugaboo in what Rick Dudley has to say on this: injuries. Kyle McLaren was once a pretty good defenseman for the Bruins and did all right with the Sharks, but since his last two seasons in Boston, staying totally healthy has been a major issue. McLaren hasn’t played hockey since the 2008-2009 season thanks to a knee injury and even that season he spent in the AHL with the Worcester Sharks. Life has been tough for McLaren.

If he can stay healthy, however, he provides a big body in front (6’4″ 220 pounds) and a physical presence on the ice. Whether he can actually keep it all together to make a run at cracking the top six for Atlanta is the big question. The Thrashers are currently rolling with Tobias Enstrom, Zach Bogosian, Brent Sopel, Ron Hainsey, Johnny Oduya, Freddy Meyer, and Boris Valabik on defense. Fighting through all those guys will be tough and nearly impossible. At the very least, winning a job with their AHL team in Chicago is a possibility so that he can stay in playing shape and perhaps get the call back to the NHL later on.

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    After years of hype, McDavid to play first NHL game

    Connor McDavid
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    The hype surrounding Connor McDavid couldn’t be much greater, but finally expectations will start to give way to results.

    The NHL career that’s been talked about for years will begin tonight when his Edmonton Oilers face St. Louis.

    “It’s something that you dream of for so long,” McDavid told “The draft is one thing, but to finally be in this situation is another, so I’m really excited. It’s been a long road; it’s been a lot of hard work. I think a lot of guys’ stories are different in how they get here, but the one common theme is hard work and my story is not any different that way.”

    McDavid has transformed the Oilers with his mere presence. Its breathed fresh optimism into a city that have watched this team struggle in its efforts to dig out of the NHL basement. One also has to wonder if Peter Chiarelli would be the team’s new general manager and Todd McLellan its new head coach if Edmonton hadn’t won the draft lottery.

    But where will he lead Edmonton? Will he be just the sixth 70-point rookie of the salary cap era? Will he struggle out of the gate, putting the hype into question? Perhaps he’ll draw comparisons to Steven Stamkos, who had a modest rookie campaign by the standards of a highly regarded top pick, but has nevertheless gone on to become a superstar.

    That would surprise Stamkos as the Lightning captain feels McDavid is better than he is currently. Just further proof that those lofty expectations are coming from all sides.

    “You don’t want to put too much weight on his shoulders; he’s an 18-year-old kid,” Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “I don’t care how good he is or how good he’ll be, it’s a lot to shoulder if you’re supposed to be the guy and you’re the only guy. Fortunately we have a lot of high-pedigree players that are high picks who have gone through similar situations that he’s going through.”

    Edmonton certainly has no shortage of first overall picks, but none as highly regarded as McDavid. But then, few ever are.

    Related: There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight

    There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight

    Connor McDavid

    Jack Eichel didn’t disappoint in the preseason, finishing with six points in four games, including two shorthanded goals.

    Tonight in Buffalo, his NHL career will start for real when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators in regular-season action.

    “It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, stepping foot on that ice and making the NHL,” Eichel said, per “It’s kind of been a whirlwind, but you’re finally playing hockey for a living and everything you’ve done your whole life is to get to this point. It’s pretty special.”

    The 18-year-old’s debut was front-page news this morning in Buffalo, where the Sabres have been among the NHL’s worst teams since last making the playoffs in 2010-11.

    Eichel front page

    Granted, even with the additions of Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, Robin Lehner and Cody Franson, expectations for 2015-16 remain modest for the new-look Sabres. Certainly, a spot in the playoffs would count as a surprise.

    But for the fans of a team that’s barely possessed the puck the past couple of years, it’s night and day.

    “People are excited,” GM Tim Murray said earlier this week. “It’s great. They think we’ve improved, and there’s a real positive vibe, I believe.

    “That’s what I said to our coaches, ‘I want everybody to be positive. I’m the only guy in the organization allowed to be negative.’ That’s the way I wanted it. If I’m the most negative guy in the city about the team, that’s pretty good.”