Rangers bring veteran defensemen Semenov and Exelby into camp on tryouts

garnetexelby.jpgWe told you about the Rangers bringing Ruslan Fedotenko into training camp yesterday and today’s informal skate at Rangers camp revealed that there are a couple more NHL veterans getting a chance to make the team as well. Andrew Gross of Ranger Rants has the details on the two defensemen looking to land a spot in Manhattan.

Turns out, the Rangers gave out two tryout offers Friday night as ex-Thrashers/Maple Leafs defenseman Garnet Exelby was on the ice this morning for the informal group skate, though left wing Ruslan Fedotenko did not participate in the 6-on-6 scrimmage. And today, the Rangers offered a tryout to defenseman Alexei Semenov, who made the team out of training camp last year but wound up going to Russia for a bigger contract. Semenov’s KHL team, the Moscow Dynamo, folded, leaving him at loose ends.

Bringing a pair of veteran defensemen into camp is an intriguing move by the Rangers. While getting veteran help while the team still remains a bit unsure with how Matt Gilroy can fit into the lineup, there’s still that whole issue with restricted free agent Marc Staal that remains unsettled.  Staal has yet to make an appearance with the Rangers at camp and the details of the negotiations between both sides remain lacking leading people to believe there are some major hangups between both sides.

Glen Sather’s threat to match any offer sheets made to Marc Staal stands out even with the Rangers currently over the salary cap. Perhaps bringing Semenov and Exelby into camp isn’t just to provide insurance for Gilroy but to also put pressure on Staal to get into camp and sign already. While Semenov and Exelby aren’t the same caliber of player that Staal is, they’re still veterans and GM Glen Sather could say to Staal, “Listen, we’ve got some eager vets looking to keep a job in the NHL here, how about you just get here already?” It’s not much leverage to use but it’s still something.

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    WATCH LIVE: Los Angeles Kings at Minnesota Wild

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    NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 season continues on Monday night when the Los Angeles Kings visit the Minnesota Wild. Puck drop is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET. You can catch all of the action on NBCSN or on our Live Stream.


    Tobias RiederAnze KopitarDustin Brown
    Tanner PearsonJeff CarterTrevor Lewis
    Kyle CliffordAdrian KempeTyler Toffoli
    Andy AndreoffNate ThompsonTorrey Mitchell

    Derek ForbortDrew Doughty
    Alec MartinezDion Phaneuf
    Jake MuzzinChristian Folin

    Starting goalie: Jonathan Quick

    [NHL on NBCSN: Kings, Wild continue pursuit of important points]

    WATCH LIVE – 8 P.M. ET

    Jason ZuckerEric StaalNino Niederreiter
    Zach PariseMikko KoivuMikael Granlund
    Tyler EnnisMatt CullenCharlie Coyle
    Marcus FolignoJoel Eriksson EkDaniel Winnik

    Ryan SuterMatt Dumba
    Jonas Brodin – Ryan Murphy
    Nick SeelerNate Prosser

    Starting goalie: Devan Dubnyk

    NHL GMs are at least trying to fix goalie interference reviews

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    Much like the NFL’s headaches when it comes to what is or isn’t a catch, a simple stroll around Hockey Twitter will often unearth loud groans about goalie interference reviews. At least when people aren’t grumbling about offside goal reviews, that is.

    From the viewpoints of reporters on hand for the latest round of GM meetings, it sounds like the league is at least attempting to sort out the latest mess.

    Granted, you could sense some of the fatigue on this issue from what Lightning GM Steve Yzerman had to say about it, via NHL.com’s Dan Rosen:

    “You can clarify the standards, but each referee and everyone, you and I, has a different opinion,” Yzerman said. “Within that room everyone has a little different opinion on did it impact the goaltender. It’s subjective. No one is ever going to agree 100 percent.”

    Fair enough, but much of the frustration stems from the sheer confusion at hand, as there doesn’t seem to be a clear standard. It’s one thing to disagree with how an infraction is called, but at the moment, many feel like there’s far too much variation in calls.

    With that in mind, some GMs apparently hope to tweak the process by, ideally, limiting the number of people who are making the snap decisions on goalie interference:

    By “centralizing,” it could mean leaving that decision to “The Situation Room,” as Rosen explains:

    The meetings reportedly included test cases for goalie interference, with Rosen noting that GMs and media alike had trouble reaching a consensus on certain examples. That helps to illuminate the challenge at hand, but again, many people would probably be at least a bit happier if it was easier to anticipate what would and would not be called as interference.

    Quite a few numbers were thrown around about coaches challenges. ESPN’s Emily Kaplan shared a slide from the NHL that would argue that offside challenges have dropped off, likely because a failed challenge results in a delay of game penalty, but goalie interference remains a drag on the game.

    It’s a vaguely depressing yet informative chart:

    Ultimately, it seems like the league still has quite a bit to sort through, with totally fun subplots including the notion that goalies are being coached to embellish interference. Again, lots of fun.

    For fans of the sport, it’s about walking the line between getting it right and not grinding too many games to a screeching halt. One might ponder carrying over the delay of game penalty to challenging goalie interference alongside offside reviews, but that might not fly:

    Maybe Habs GM Marc Bergevin is correct in saying that just a small number of calls go wrong. Still, these challenges are slowing down games about two minutes at a time. That might not sound like much, though when it happens in the flow of an exciting back-and-forth contest, it can be a real killer.

    Let’s hope they improve the process, even if it ends up being a work in progress.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

    Injury updates: Penguins’ Murray, others deal with concussions

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    NHL teams provided injury news updates on Monday, with the most noteworthy bits revolving around players dealing with concussions. Let’s sort through that mixed bag:

    • First, we’ll begin with promising news. Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan considers Matt Murray to be “an option” to play on Tuesday against the New York Islanders. That said, it’s a preliminary viewpoint, as Sullivan wants to see how Murray handles practice.

    You’d get the impression that the optimism is high despite that caveat, as the Penguins sent Tristan Jarry back to the AHL today. That could still change, but the team must feel a lot more confident about Murray being ready for the postseason.

    [The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

    Actually, it’s worth questioning whether it’s really worth risking Price’s health in meaningless games for Montreal, especially when you note that he’s frequently suffered from bad injury luck lately. Sure, he wants to play; that ambition is part of what makes him great. Concussions can be tricky, though, and you wonder if the reward would justify the risks involved.

    • Winnipeg Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba is in “concussion protocol,” according to TSN’s Sara Orlesky. Trouba will reportedly see specialists, which isn’t that shocking considering how shaken up he looked after getting the worst of a hard collision with Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars:


    • Also brutal: Noah Hanifin is out indefinitely in dealing with a concussion, via the Carolina Hurricanes.

    The 21-year-old set a new career-high with eight goals this season, and despite being limited to 71 games, he matched last season’s peak of 29 points. Hanifin is starting to show why he was the fifth pick of the 2015 NHL Draft as part of a stacked Hurricanes defense, yet much like his team, it looks like his season’s going to end on a low note.

    Hopefully he’ll be able to rebound fully in 2018-19.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

    Bruins give Donato big opportunity in NHL debut

    via Boston Bruins Twitter

    The silver lining for injuries in sports is that one player’s absence opens the door for someone else to prove their worth.

    (Kurt Warner and Tom Brady gave that sentence a big thumbs up.)

    With the regular season winding down, the Boston Bruins are hoping to push the Tampa Bay Lightning for the Atlantic Division title and the conference’s top seed, but they’re probably just as hopeful that some key players will be healthy by the playoffs. That ship has sailed for Anders Bjork, yet they’re crossing their fingers regarding players dealing with a variety of maladies: Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, David Backes, Jake DeBrusk and Charlie McAvoy.

    [The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

    Such injuries might at least partially explain the timing of the Ryan Donato signing, and they’ll absolutely open up a chance for him to echo McAvoy in showing that he’s a quick study at the NHL level. Keith Jones and Jeremy Roenick discussed as much on Sunday:

    [NHL Playoff Push: Bruins look to test Blue Jackets]

    Donato already likely made an impact on viewers who saw him shine for the U.S. during the 2018 Winter Olympics, and logically enough, he’s slated to join fellow Olympian Brian Gionta (and Noel Acciari) on the team’s third line. Gionta came away impressed with Donato from their brief run together, as the Bruins website notes:

    “He was unreal,” Gionta said of Donato’s five-goal, six-point Olympic performance. “He was probably our best player over there. Extremely composed, great shot, great release, great hockey sense. It will all equate well to this level as well.”

    While that’s not too shabby an opportunity for his NHL debut, it’s special teams where Donato gets a fascinating, golden opportunity. Via Left Wing Lock, it appears as though Donato will be on the top unit along with Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Rick Nash, and Torey Krug.


    Update: Before Monday’s game began, it was revealed that Rick Nash is also dealing with an injury, so Donato’s opportunity may be even more promising.


    Wow. One couldn’t set the table much better in Boston, particularly for a player who’s touted for a high hockey IQ.

    There’s also the matter of having hockey in his blood.

    This situation serves as a full-circle moment for Donato and Patrice Bergeron. You see, Bergeron says he learned a lot from Ryan’s father Ted Donato as an 18-year-old rookie with the Bruins:

    Even if Donato struggles at first – certainly a possibility, considering that he’s jumping right into the mix, including tonight’s game against a peaking Blue Jackets team – it’s a great story.

    Donato has a real chance to make an impact, though. If he can help an already-impressive Bruins team roll out a deeper scoring attack, then watch out. Tonight’s game against Columbus stands as his first opportunity to show that he can hang at the NHL level, and maybe plant the seed that he deserves a significant role even once other forwards get healthy.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.