Ever since Kris Russell arrived in St. Louis after a trade with Columbus, he’s been Ken Hitchcock’s warhorse on the blue line. He’s played a ton of minutes per game, he’s been productive offensively and more than sound defensively. To sum it up, he’s been exactly what the Blues wanted in a defenseman.
Now they’re going to divvy up his minutes creatively for the next three weeks (at least) as Russell is out with a groin injury. Yeah, that always hurts to read, but now the Blues have to hope Ian Cole can step in in Russell’s absence and make it work.
Russell was playing great in the Blues lineup along with Kevin Shattenkirk to provide great two-way play but without him they’ll need to get that spark elsewhere. Getting a bit more out of Carlo Colaiacovo would go a long way towards stemming the tide there.
As for Cole, it’s a big opportunity for him to join the likes of Shattenkirk, Russell, and Alex Pietrangelo as young studs on defense. Getting great play out of their younger defenseman is a big reason why they’ve turned it around under Hitchcock.
The Toronto Maple Leafs trimmed their training camp roster by 16 players on Sunday.
Two of the Leafs’ top prospects, William Nylander and Kasperi Kapanen, are heading to the the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.
For the full list of cuts, click here.
Nylander was Toronto’s first round pick, eighth overall, in 2014.
The 19-year-old scored an impressive 14 goals and 32 points in 37 games with the Marlies in 2014-15.
Kapenen, 19, was acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Phil Kessel trade.
He had one goal and one assist in a brief four game stint with Pittsburgh’s farm team last season.
The rebuilding Maple Leafs have no issue being patient with their top young prospects. Both players could make their NHL debut at some point this season, but they may have to wait a little while longer before they become regulars at the next level.
The Leafs now have 24 players on their training camp roster. They have until Tuesday to put the finishing touches on their lineup. Toronto needs to cut at least one more player.
According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Raffi Torres has been suspended pending his disciplinary hearing with the league for his hit on Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.
Torres was assessed a match penalty for targeting Silfverberg’s head on Saturday night.
The 33-year-old missed all of last season with a knee injury, and it looks like the start of his regular season will be delayed once again.
Head coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have come back into the game, but he was held out for precautionary reasons.
Ducks center Ryan Kesler didn’t hide his feelings after the contest.
“(Torres) is the same player every year,” Kesler told reporters. “He needs to learn how to hit. That has no part in our game anymore.”