While prospects from eight different teams will gather for the 2011 Traverse City tournament in Michigan, the Ottawa Senators plan on watching their own youngsters very closely in a different rookie competition that also involves players from the Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Toronto Maple Leafs.
One would imagine that Senators training camp will serve as more substantial proving grounds for young players who hope to make the 2011-12 roster, but GM Bryan Murray hopes to see something from those prospects during the next few days. He also admitted that the franchise would be willing to trade veteran players if prospects prove that they’re ready to compete at the NHL level.
Bruce Garrioch tabs five different Senators prospects who will probably receive the most attention during the tournament, which runs through Tuesday: defensemen David Rundblad and Jared Cowen, forwards Mika Zibanejad and Stephane De Costa and goalie Robin Lehner. Each one of those players could conceivably make a case for themselves to jump to the NHL in the short-to-mid-term future, but it all comes down to Murray being willing to open that door. Murray told Garrioch that the team would do what it takes to give younger players that opportunity, if they earn it.
“We’ll look at what has to be done,” Murray said at the Bell Sensplex. “If some of these young guys are ready to play, then it’s up to me to try to create a spot for them. That may mean we have to do something.
“I think we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves. We’ve got to go through training camp and pre-season and see who really deserves a chance to be on the team. If the young guys are good enough to play, we’ll let them play. There may not be a spot at the beginning of the year, but as we go forward if they deserve to play, at some point they’ll get a chance to do that.”
That rookie tournament represents a small sliver of the assessment process for Ottawa, but that doesn’t mean those prospects should take that opportunity lightly. They should seize every chance they get to impress the Senators’ front office, so this weekend represents the first test of the 11-12 season for these prospects.
Pavel Datsyuk‘s future with the Detroit Red Wings and in the National Hockey League has been up in the air for a while now, as he’s linked to rumors of a return to Russia and the KHL.
His agent, Dan Milstein, recently explained to the Detroit Free Press that Datsyuk’s future should become clear in mid-June after meeting with Red Wings general manager Ken Holland.
As per General Fanager, Datsyuk has one more year left on his current deal, which comes with a cap hit of $7.5 million.
From the Detroit Free Press:
“He would like to leave, but at the same time, he wants to make sure the Wings have options,” Milstein said. “He wants to help the team any way he can with the salary cap issue.”
Wings general manager Ken Holland has said there are no loopholes. Because Datsyuk signed his last contract after he turned 35, his $7.5 million salary cap hit remains in tact even if Datsyuk departs. The Wings’ only option is to trade his contract to a team such as Arizona or Carolina that could use the hefty cap hit in order to be above the salary cap minimum.
At the age of 37, his career in the league started in 2001-02, and has spanned 953 regular season games in which he’s accrued 918 points.
He’s had a highly decorated career, with two Stanley Cup championships with the Red Wings, three Selke and four Lady Byng trophies.
The St. Louis Blues need to win Game 6 on Wednesday, or their season is over. Who they decide to turn to in net is likely to be a talking point — heated debate, maybe? — leading up to that contest.
Do they go back to Jake Allen for a third consecutive start, despite the fact he allowed four goals on 25 shots in Monday’s Game 5 loss to the San Jose Sharks? Or, will head coach Ken Hitchcock turn once again to Brian Elliott, who started every single game from the series opener of the first round versus Chicago to Game 3 of the Western Conference Final.
Hitchcock at least felt that going with Allen over Elliott in Game 4 provided the necessary spark for his team, as the Blues evened the series.
But on Monday, the Sharks, on the strength of two Joe Pavelski goals, eventually overpowered the Blues for the win, moving San Jose one victory away from the Stanley Cup Final.
“I thought he was fine. I don’t know, those are decisions we make in a day or so. But I thought he was fine today. He stopped some point-blank shots, especially early, three times early,” Hitchcock told reporters.
“I don’t know. That’s stuff we’ll talk about tomorrow.”
The San Jose Sharks won a back-and-forth Game 5 to take back the lead in a back-and-forth Western Conference Final, moving one victory away from appearing in the Stanley Cup Final.
After scoring the tying goal late in the second period, Joe Pavelski notched his 12th of the playoffs to give San Jose the lead for good just 16 seconds into the third period.
The Sharks earned a 6-3 victory on the road, in a bounce-back effort from Saturday.
Twice, the Blues grabbed the lead. Troy Brouwer gave them the advantage in the first period, showing off his baseball skills by batting the puck into the net on a rebound. Robby Fabbri gave them another lead in the second period, making Roman Polak pay for snapping on Dmitrij Jaskin along the boards.
But the Blues couldn’t hold on. The Sharks scored twice on three power play opportunities and can now clinch the Western Conference on home ice in Wednesday’s Game 6.
As for the Blues, will Ken Hitchcock change up his starting goaltender again? It’s certainly an aspect of this series that will once again be up for debate leading up to Wednesday’s game.
After Brian Elliott had backstopped the Blues through the first two rounds and started the first three games of this series, Hitchcock decided to start Jake Allen in Game 4.
Allen recorded the win Saturday, and was called upon again in Game 5 as expected, but gave up four goals on 25 shots Monday.
San Jose Sharks defenseman Roman Polak took serious issue with St. Louis Blues forward Dmitrij Jaskin during the second period, as the two eventually threw off the gloves off in a fight in the corner.
In the process, Polak let his emotions get the better of him — he snapped — by also taking a roughing minor to give the Blues a power play.
The Blues made him — and the Sharks — pay on a blast from Robby Fabbri, who was a game-time decision for Monday’s contest.
The Sharks tied the game at 3-3 before the end of the second period on Joe Pavelski‘s 11th of the playoffs. Pavelski struck again in the third period, giving San Jose the 4-3 lead.