Thrashers prospect Patrice Cormier looks to put ugly past behind him

atlanta_thrashers_2000.gifTo call Thrashers prospect Patrice Cormier’s last year turbulent would be being nice. The former Devils prospect spent the better part of the last year looking to get past being labeled as a reckless and careless player after a vicious elbow he laid on Mikael Tam during a QMJHL game last season, one that saw him get suspended indefinitely by the league as well as brought up on criminal assault charges.

After being shipped off to Atlanta in the Ilya Kovalchuk deal, Cormier is looking to redeem his image and his career with the Thrashers and so far in rookie camp it appears he’s done just that and is gunning for a spot on the roster with the Thrashers this year as Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution finds out.

General manager Rick Dudley called Cormier “one of the most mature kids I’ve seen at his age, physically and mentally.” Team officials went so far as to say that once Cormier was included in trade talks for Ilya Kovalchuk, the deal was promptly struck with New Jersey. The Thrashers sent their franchise player to the Devils for Niclas Bergors, Johnny Oduya, Cormier and a first-round draft pick in February.

“He was as big as any part of that trade,” Dudley said.

Such homage would seemingly place plenty of weight on the 20-year-old center. Following rookie camp, which ends Thursday, Cormier will take part in the Thrashers’ training camp, where he will essentially be trying to jump straight from junior hockey to the NHL.

“I don’t think there is a lot of pressure on me,” Cormier said. “Maybe there is, but I don’t put any pressure on my shoulders. I don’t worry about that. I can’t control what the organization is going to do with me this year. I just control what I can do. That’s work hard on the ice, help my teammates, be a good leader.”

Cormier was a second-round pick of the Devils in 2008 and he’s a player that Devils GM Lou Lamoriello liked quite a bit. Seeing Cormier grow up the way he apparently has and harness his game for good could help make the Kovalchuk trade look even more helpful to Atlanta.

Having Cormier become a major contributor to the Thrashers potential success along with Niclas Bergfors would be just the boost the franchise and GM Rick Dudley could use. The Thrashers struggles since joining the league are certainly not a secret but if Cormier’s reclamation can spur the Thrashers to rise from obscurity and help fans forget former GM Don Waddell’s shortcomings, it’ll turn Atlanta into a reclamation story of their own.

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    Report: Blue Jackets RFA Anderson in contact with Hockey Canada about 2018 Olympics

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    The preseason is well underway and Josh Anderson is still without a contract.

    Anderson, who scored 17 goals and 29 points last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is one of two remaining restricted free agents without a new deal. The other is Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings.

    While there were reports this summer about Athanasiou potentially going to the KHL for this season, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported on Thursday that Anderson’s representatives have reached out to Hockey Canada’s staff about the 2018 Olympics. 

    Anderson’s entry-level contract, with an AAV of just over $894,000, expired at the end of last season.

    Meanwhile, here is the latest on this ongoing contract situation.

    Making an impression: Sergachev has ‘NHL written all over him’

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    Mikhail Sergachev has, over the summer, stated his belief he can play in the NHL this season.

    He had a small taste of NHL action last season, appearing in four games for Montreal — the team that selected him ninth overall in 2016 — before getting sent back to junior and then being traded in June to Tampa Bay, as part of a blockbuster involving Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

    Well, Sergachev made a statement Wednesday in his preseason debut for the Lightning.

    He scored once. He also played more than 22 minutes, which led all Lightning players on the night. That included time on the power play and penalty kill. If he was looking to make a favorable impression, to show that he belongs at the NHL level when the regular season begins, this seems to be another step in that direction.

    “You watch this kid skate, shoot, stickhandle, he’s got NHL written all over him,” Tampa Bay’s associate coach Rick Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times. “Now we’ve got to give him experience. How much can he handle?”

    There is competition on the blue line, with eight defensemen under contract in Tampa Bay for this season. That includes Sergachev, who is still only 19 years old. After getting sent back to junior last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games with Windsor and then won the Memorial Cup that spring. That said, he’s made it a point of saying going back to junior “is not an option” for him.

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    Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Sergachev

    Report: Lupul will have ‘independent medical exam’

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    Joffrey Lupul issued a statement Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t seek a second medical opinion after the Maple Leafs announced he didn’t pass his training camp physical.

    A day later, reports have surfaced that the 33-year-old forward will, in fact, undergo another, independent medical test.

    That is according to James Mirtle of The Athletic:

    Earlier this week, Lupul made accusations against the Maple Leafs on Instagram.

    “I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per a screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

    Lupul, who didn’t pass his physical for a second year in a row, issued an apology yesterday. But those comments — which have since been deleted — seem to have grabbed the attention of the league.

    Darren Dreger of TSN added to that, saying it’s the NHL pursuing a second medical opinion on this matter.

    “The National Hockey League has that right to pursue the second opinion. That’s exactly what they’re engaging in right now,” Dreger reported Thursday.

    “The reasoning behind it is because of the comment that Lupul made on social media. I’ll go back a year ago. The league didn’t step in a year ago but Lupul stayed quiet at that point. So they want to make sure — ‘They’ being the National Hockey League — that the medical evaluation from the Toronto Maple Leafs is 100 per cent above the board.”

    Team USA won’t include NHL draft-eligible prospects at 2018 Olympics

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    BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) General manager Jim Johannson has ruled out the possibility of the U.S. men’s hockey team having NHL draft-eligible prospects competing at the Winter Olympics in February.

    Johannson tells The Associated Press he doesn’t view anyone from the 18-and-younger pool of prospects capable of cracking the projected lineup of non-NHL players, many of whom are opening this season playing in Europe.

    USA Hockey’s assistant executive director says he’s also targeting a number of established college players, and would not rule out keeping a spot or two open for members of the U.S. team competing at the World Junior Championships this winter.

    Johansson spoke in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, where he is attending USA Hockey’s sixth annual All-American Prospects game. The game features the top 42 U.S.-born players eligible to be selected in the NHL draft in June.