Ryan Malone hoping to turn back the clock in more ways than one after shoulder surgery

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You could say that last season for Ryan Malone was one he’d rather not let linger in his memory. Injuries piled up on him and held him to just 54 games played, a career low. By missing 28 games he registered a career low in goals scored with 14 and had his second worst points output in his seven year career.

While the Lightning didn’t appear to miss him too much last year after finishing fifth in the Eastern Conference and making it to the Eastern Conference finals, heading into this season they’re going to need Malone to be at his best. After undergoing offseason shoulder surgery, Malone will look to have a throwback kind of season starting off with the number he’ll be wearing. After wearing the number 6 last year giving deference to Simon Gagne, with Gagne in Los Angeles now Malone is switching back to his trusty number 12.

With his number back in place, Malone hopes a healthy shoulder can return him to his previous 20+ goal scoring form as Erik Erlendsson of The Tampa Tribune shares.

When the Lightning’s season ended, rest and recovery was the expected route for Malone, but while doing some off-season training, he said he felt something wasn’t right behind the shoulder.

“It was just kind of nagging, so I went to get it looked at it and it was still kind of separated so we had to go get it fixed,” Malone said. “After the season there was still all the swelling so after everything went down, that’s when we found some other stuff that had to be taken care of.”

The procedure was performed by Dr. Daniel Buss, the team physician for the Minnesota Twins, who specializes in shoulder and elbow injuries. While initial reports suggested that Malone could miss up to six months, he said on Sunday that he expects to be ready for the start of the regular season when Tampa Bay opens up at Carolina on Oct. 7.

Before last season, Malone had posted three straight 20+ goal seasons going from 27 goals in 07-08 to 26 during his first season in Tampa Bay in 08-09 to 21 in 09-10. Life as a power forward in the Eastern Conference isn’t generally as difficult as it is in the West, but Malone’s found a way to be effective around the net. With Steve Stamkos emerging as the Lightning’s top gun and with Martin St. Louis being their most dependable scorer, getting Malone going once to help out Vincent Lecavalier and either Teddy Purcell or Steve Downie would give the Lightning a frightening top six.

To do that Malone is going to need to be healthy, something he’s had a tough time doing since joining Tampa Bay. Malone has missed 53 games over three seasons in Tampa and while his absence last year allowed Purcell to see more ice time, having him out there harassing goalies and scoring dirty goals in front of the net is what they’d like to see more often. If Guy Boucher can have his full arsenal of toys all season long, the Lightning might just be able to go a bit further than they did last year.

Isles sign Northeastern captain Stevens

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John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.

Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).

Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.

A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

McElhinney to start for Leafs tomorrow

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Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.

Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.

Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”

McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.

It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.

Update:

Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.

Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.

The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.

Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

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Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

“He does everything for us.”

Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.

 

After ‘great’ senior year, Pens sign Union standout Taylor

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Pittsburgh wasted little time in getting Jeff Taylor in the mix.

Taylor, the Union College senior defenseman who had his collegiate career end over the weekend, signed a two-year, entry-level deal on Monday, and also inked an ATO to join the club’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Taylor, the club’s seventh-round pick in 2014, enjoyed a career year at Union, helping the Dutchmen advance to the NCAA Tournament by setting career highs in goals (9) and points (33) in 38 games.

Back in December, Pens assistant GM Bill Guerin spoke glowingly about Taylor’s last collegiate campaign, saying he was in the midst of a “great” senior season.

“This is a kid we’ve been looking forward to getting since we drafted him,” Guerin said, per the Post-Gazette. “I remember his first development camp, everybody was like, ‘Oh, wow, look at this kid. He can move the puck, he can skate, he’s quick. He thinks the game well.’ And it hasn’t stopped.

“He’s an undersized guy, but he has the ability to get himself out of trouble because he’s got great feet and he thinks the game well.”