Stan Bowman

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman loses his voice discussing deals today

Judging from the massive (but mostly justifiable) five-year, $29 million deal the Blackhawks signed with Brent Seabrook, it’s reasonable to say that Chicago GM Stan Bowman already had a busy weekend.

Yet there’s no time for Bowman to relax with the trade deadline set to expire Monday afternoon. Even though his team seems to be on an upswing with three wins in a row, they find themselves outside the Western Conference’s top eight as of this writing, so it’s understandable that he might want to make a tweak or two.

Bowman’s probably been piling up a hefty cell phone bill lately. CSN Chicago’s Tracey Myers reports that Scotty Bowman’s son has been discussing possible deals with other GMs so frequently on Trade Deadline Eve that he’s starting to lose his voice. Perhaps he needs a lozenge almost as much as his team will need to dump salary this coming summer.

“I’m losing my voice here a little. I’ve been on the phone all day,” he said.

Indeed, Bowman has been burning up the phone lines, making plenty of calls to acquire a center or defenseman before the NHL trade deadline expires at 2 p.m. CST Monday.

After a flurry of trade activity throughout this last week, Sunday has been very quiet. With less than 24 hours remaining before the deadline, Bowman said it was “still optimistic” that a deal would be done.

“There’s a lot of talking still but it’s probably one of those things where the first domino has to fall and then I think it’ll spur other things,” he said. “If we end up with the group we have now, I’m very comfortable with that. But we’re aggressively trying to improve the team.”

It might be reasonable to assume that tomorrow’s trade deadline won’t be as hectic as last year’s quantity-over-quality afternoon since there’s been an impressive flurry of moves already. That being said, there are still plenty of interesting possibilities as teams try to gear up for their final playoff pushes or prepare for the future by jettisoning unnecessary veterans.

The Blackhawks probably need to keep their focus on players with expiring deals only, especially if they opt to make a deal like last year’s cap-friendly Cam Barker for Kim Johnsson trade. (Of course, they’re unlikely to find another GM who wants to get rid of some of their dead weight, unless there are some Brian Campbell fans we don’t know about.)

The team is suffering a bit after being forced to shed some of the depth that made them such a tough team last season, but with prorated cap hits making certain deals slightly more affordable, the deadline might be a good time to bolster their lower ranks.

Naturally, stick with PHT for timely and informative updates regarding the one type of deadline that almost everyone loves.

Lehner (forearm contusion) to miss preseason game versus Maple Leafs

Matt Puempel, Alex Chiasson, Robin Lehner
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The Buffalo Sabres will not have goalie Robin Lehner in their lineup Friday versus the Toronto Maple Leafs.

As per the Sabres, Lehner is dealing with a forearm contusion and will not dress for this preseason game. Jason Kasdorf will start in net for Buffalo.

Members of the media in Buffalo have noted that if this were a regular season game, Lehner would be able to play.

Lehner had ankle surgery in March, ending his 2015-16 season. His ankle issues dated even further back, to the beginning of last season when he suffered a high-ankle sprain.

The Sabres have some exciting young players on their roster, especially up front, but they need Lehner to be healthy if they are to take a run at a playoff spot this season.

Behind him sit Linus Ullmark, Anders Nilsson and Kasdorf, who have a combined 73 games of NHL experience between them all.

Matthews to sit out preseason tilt versus Sabres, as Maple Leafs give him ‘a little break’

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Auston Matthews poses for a portrait after being selected first overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in round one during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)
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The Toronto Maple Leafs play the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. But No. 1 overall pick Auston Matthews won’t be in the lineup, according to multiple reports.

“Sooner or later, he’s going to get in, but not tonight,” said assistant coach Jim Hiller, as per the Toronto Sun.

“The lineups are day by day. They (World Cup players such as Matthews, Milan Michalek, Leo Komarov and James van Riemsdyk) went through a solid three weeks. It’s a little break, a little down time. There are tons of games coming. They’ll get a lot of ice time. They’ll get in shortly.”

(The report also notes that Matthews is not dealing with a health issue, which is obviously good news for the Leafs.)

On a night when the No. 2 overall selection Patrik Laine is slated to make his preseason debut for the Winnipeg Jets, fans wishing to see Matthews don a Maple Leafs jersey in his anticipated debut will have to wait.

Matthews played for Team North America at the World Cup held in Toronto. He had two goals and three points in three round robin games, but the young North American team was unable to advance to the semifinal round.

The Maple Leafs play the Montreal Canadiens at home on Sunday.

McLellan: Maroon’s lower-body injury not considered serious

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It appears Patrick Maroon‘s injury from Wednesday’s preseason game against the Vancouver Canucks looked worse than it is.

The Edmonton Oilers forward was in obvious pain immediately after he went hard into the boards from an awkward hit delivered by James Sheppard just past the midway point of the third period. Maroon needed help to the bench and was unable to put much, if any, pressure on his left leg.

He left the game and didn’t return.

Good news, however, from the Oilers: Head coach Todd McLellan told reporters on Friday that the injury — lower body — is not serious, as per the team’s Twitter account.

According to Mark Spector of Sportsnet, the 28-year-old Maroon is expected to be ready for Edmonton’s season opener against the rival Calgary Flames on Oct. 12.

The Oilers acquired Maroon at last season’s trade deadline, a move that certainly added size and an element of grit to their group of forwards.

In 16 games with Edmonton, he scored eight goals and 14 points. In 56 games with Anaheim that same season, he registered only 13 points before the trade.

Patrik Laine to make highly anticipated preseason debut for Jets

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Patrik Laine gives an interview after being selected second by the Winnepeg Jets during round one of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images)
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Anticipation has been building since the Winnipeg Jets officially took Patrik Laine with the second overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft.

On Friday, Laine, the highly coveted Finnish forward, will make his preseason debut for the Jets when they play the Edmonton Oilers in Winnipeg, as the home fans get the chance to take in the occasion.

The Jets have done a nice job of amassing good young forwards in their organization. Laine, who has the gifts to be a prolific scorer in the NHL, is at the top of that prospect list.

Winnipeg’s roster tonight also includes forward prospects Kyle Connor, Nic Petan and Brandon Tanev, not to mention more NHL experienced forwards like Alex Burmistrov, Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele.

Laine enters this season with high expectations placed on him from fans and media, after coming to the NHL following a standout career in Finland as a teenager. He’s aware of the expectations, but toned down the hype with the usual statements of just playing his game.

“Just be brave on the ice and show everybody I will earn my spot on the team,” he told reporters.

Laine has already seen game action this month. Not with the Jets, but with Finland’s entry at the World Cup of Hockey.

Following offseason knee surgery, Laine wasn’t happy with his performance in Finland’s first pre-tournament game. In three tournament games, Laine failed to register a point, despite a team-best 10 shots on goal, as Finland was quickly eliminated in the round robin.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Patrik Laine