While they did lose Sean Bergenheim and some support players, there are still plenty of reasons to be positive about the Tampa Bay Lightning. The team’s new vision can be seen in the form of their new uniforms, their promising first run of results under new management and a bright future fueled by Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and other talented players.
GM Steve Yzerman just hopes that this solid vision of the future doesn’t get impaired by a wayward puck to the face. Months ago, Yzerman issued a challenge to players to wear visors next season, a challenge that makes Raw Charge’s John Fontana curious now that training camp is right around the corner.
As Fontana mentions, the team has some direct anecdotes about the importance of wearing a face shield. An errant puck struck Yzerman in the eye during the 2004 playoffs and ultimately ended his career. The Lightning team itself dealt with near-disaster when Stamkos’ nose was damaged by a Johnny Boychuk slap shot. While his visor didn’t keep him from getting hurt at all, one can only imagine the damage that would have come from that incident if he wasn’t wearing one. Instead of scary consequences, Stamkos barely missed any shifts during that Game 7 match against the Boston Bruins.
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Ryan Malone is among the players who don’t want to deal with the negative aspects of wearing a visor. It’s reasonable for some to feel like a worried mother when a son goes out in cold weather without a jacket when it comes to visors, but it’s ultimately a player’s choice to make.
Malone is currently recovering from shoulder surgery, which is a situation the Lightning are monitoring closely. The latest update from Damian Cristodero reveals that Malone will probably miss all but two preseason games (he’s reportedly expected to appear in their final two contests on September 29 and October 1), yet he should be able to start the 2011-12 season.
Aside from polarizing winger Steve Downie, the Lightning’s top six forwards are almost exclusively finesse players. Having Malone in the mix (often on one of those top two lines) gives Tampa Bay a presence in front of the net and in the dirtier areas of the ice. Judging from his shoulder issues, that style of play takes its toll, but the Lightning obviously hope to have him back for the beginning of next season. So far, it sounds like that is a strong possibility – just don’t ask him to put on a visor.
(H/T to Rotoworld.)
Another bold move by GM Marc Bergevin, another statement from Montreal Canadiens president/CEO Geoff Molson.
However Molson actually feels about the franchise’s decision to let Andrei Markov leave for the KHL, he provided quite the goodbye letter regarding the 38-year-old defenseman. One can’t help but wonder how Molson feels about Montreal’s overall makeover, whether you believe Mark Streit is really “replacing” Markov or not.
Anyway, that will need to wait. In the meantime, here’s the very kind statement from Molson to Markov:
“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Andrei for his great contributions during his 16 seasons as a proud member of the Montreal Canadiens. Arguably one of the best defensemen in franchise history, Andrei was a model of dedication to the great game of hockey. A respected figure around the league and among his teammates, Andrei demonstrated leadership both on and off the ice. Andrei’s commitment to our franchise was second to none, proven by his overcoming three serious and potentially career-ending injuries. I would like to wish Andrei the best of luck in the next step of his career, and happiness with his family.”
Speaking of Canadiens all-timers, Larry Robinson had plenty of nice things to say about Markov, too.
Markov, Habs officially part ways.
Markov is headed to the KHL.
The Buffalo Sabres might have signed Evan Rodrigues back in 2015 in part because he enjoyed so much success as a college linemate with Jack Eichel at Boston University, but the undrafted forward seems like he’s making a case that he’ll be a part of their future in his own right.
The Sabres handed Rodrigues a two-year deal that is two-way in 2017-18 and one-way in 2018-19. Whenever he’s at the NHL level, it’s worth $650K per season.
Rodrigues debuted in 2015-16, scoring a goal and an assist in two games. He managed to play in 30 regular-season contests for the Sabres last season, collecting six points.
He’s shown quite a bit of improvement at the AHL level, in particular. After collecting 30 points in 72 games for the Rochester Americans in 2015-16, he scored 30 again in 2016-17, although he only needed 48 contests to do so. Rodrigues isn’t quite Matt Moulson to Eihel’s John Tavares just yet, but it’s possible that he might at least development into a regular NHL player.
Buffalo’s work isn’t done for the summer just yet, as RFAs Zemgus Girgensons and Nathan Beaulieu still need deals.
Andrei Markov wanted to play his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens. With that option officially off the table, Markov announced that he’s headed for Russia and the KHL.
“I didn’t see myself with any other NHL team,” Markov said during a conference call wrapping up his lengthy stay with the Habs. “I didn’t see myself wearing another jersey.”
(At least not the jersey of another NHL team.)
The 38-year-old also noted that he hasn’t closed the door to a return to Montreal. That makes sense since it seems like it was largely the Canadiens’ decision to part ways with Markov, essentially replacing him with Mark Streit at a heavily discounted rate.
Beyond the comforts of home, Markov was almost certainly motivated to play in the KHL because of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The veteran blueliner did not mention which KHL team he’ll end up playing for. There were some rumblings that Markov might sign with the Florida Panthers, but that turned out to not be true.
If it’s a one-year deal, a return to the Habs is at least feasible in 2018-19. Considering his age, it sure seems like this is the end of Markov’s lengthy run with the Canadiens, though.
One of the Isles’ feel-good stories from last season wrote a new chapter on Thursday.
Connor Jones, the undrafted 26-year-old that made his NHL debut in April, has signed a one-year, two-way extension, the club announced.
Jones certainly earned his way to the show. He spent four years at Quinnipiac before catching on with the Oilers, spending time with both their AHL and ECHL affiliates before jumping to the Isles organization in 2015.
Though he’s not an offensive producer — just 19 points in 58 games with Bridgeport last season — Jones emerged as a good energy guy that proved an effective penalty killer.
With AHL Bridgeport, he also played alongside his twin brother, Kellen, who was in attendance as Connor made his NHL debut in April.
Connor would go on to play four games for the Isles, averaging just under 12 minutes per night.