Pittsburgh Penguins v Chicago Blackhawks

The wacky Patrick Kane at center experiment continues

Instead of being a cute preseason distraction, the Chicago Blackhawks plan on keeping Patrick Kane at center to start the season.

That’s the word from CSNChicago.com’s Tracey Myers, who revealed that Kane is starting to embrace his return to the pivot position. (Apparently Kane grew up playing at center in his younger days before evolving into one of best right wings in the NHL.)

Even Kane seemed reluctant to move to the middle, especially considering the challenges related to a wrist injury that troubled him this summer. It’s hard to imagine Kane winning many faceoffs and a jump in defensive responsibility doesn’t sound like the best idea, either.

Then again, there are appealing perks: it should help him get the puck more often and also accounts for Dave Bolland’s injury. Oh yeah, it also allows the Blackhawks to roll out two one-two punches that will make defenses weep: Kane-Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews-Patrick Sharp.

It’s a flawed but potentially productive idea in theory, but we’ll begin to really test Joel Quenneville’s hypothesis during the team’s season opener against the Dallas Stars tonight.

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.

Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.

(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)

Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.

Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.