Not that this is a huge surprise, but Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said on Wednesday that defenseman Paul Ranger, who has been away from the team since October because of personal issues, will not be at training camp when it opens Sept. 17 at Brandon.
“I had a chance to talk with Paul and we’re entering training camp under the assumption Paul won’t be part of it,” Yzerman said.
That is a bit of a blow to the team, which believed Ranger, who can move the puck, would be a good fit with coach Guy Boucher’s puck-forward system. It also seems to have ended, for now, the organizational debate on whether to carry eight defensemen. Yzerman said he is “satisfied” with the seven blue-liners on one-way deals and is not looking to add another.
This now sets the Lightning lineup to be virtually all set on defense and helps explain at least one of the recent signings. The Lightning blue line will now roll with Mattias Ohlund, Pavel Kubina, Victor Hedman, Brett Clark, Randy Jones, Mike Lundin, and Matt Smaby. Ranger, a restricted free agent, would’ve been in a battle for a spot as the fifth or sixth defenseman this season, but after struggling last year with injuries, battling back for a place on the team would’ve been tough.
While this hurts Tampa’s depth a bit, especially after dealing away Matt Lashoff to Toronto, they appeared prepared for any moves after signing Randy Jones. Lundin and Smaby saw some good time last year but it does make the Lightning depth on defense look a bit suspect. That said, their top four are likely to see a ton of time.
GM says Blue Jackets are ‘off the rails’ right now
Apparently Blue Jackets management is a little shaken by the second 0-3-0 start in franchise history, however.
Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen shared his shock and dismay with the Columbus Post-Dispatch on Tuesday.
“I’m surprised how, in just five days, we’ve gone from a very confident group to something that’s the opposite of that,” Kekalainen told The Dispatch on Tuesday. “Our confidence, our game … it’s off the rails right now.
Maybe losing to the Buffalo Sabres stings a little bit extra?
Kekalainen said “there’s no excuse for how we played in Buffalo,” pointing out that every team in the NHL is a “good team.”
Indeed, just about every squad boasts some dangerous weapons if they catch an opponent sleeping.
The Post-Dispatch goes deeper on Columbus’ recent history of stumbling out of the gate, but consider the foreboding stretch coming up.
Next four games: Three out of four at home Eight games following that: Seven out of eight on the road.
As you can see, winter is coming for Columbus, so they best get things together. All things considered, this is the right time for a wake-up call.
For bonus chuckles, here’s a photo of Kekalainen on a railing.
He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.
Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).
That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out
This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:
With Ovechkin out, Caps lines look like this: