Jonathan Toews. Check.
Daniel Sedin. Check.
Jeff Carter. Check.
And now Danny Briere has joined the list of star players that missed the last part of the regular season with an injury but are expected (at least by the media) to be available for Game 1 of the playoffs.
Briere sat out the Flyers’ final three games with an upper-back contusion after getting blasted by Pittsburgh’s Joe Vitale on Apr. 1.
Today after practice, he wouldn’t commit to playing Wednesday in Pittsburgh. But it sure sounds like he’ll be out there.
“To be honest, I’m not allowed to speak on any injuries or the roster or if I’m going to play or not,” Briere said (with a smile) today.
“All I can tell you is – and you saw it – I’m practicing and working to get ready. That’s all I’m allowed to say at this point.”
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Asked if he has any limitations right now, Briere replied, “no,” while adding there has been a “big change” (translation: positive) in how he feels this week versus last week.
Briere practiced on a line between Brayden Schenn and Jakub Voracek.
Oh, and Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossmann will play Wednesday.
For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”
On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.
With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.
“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”
As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.
It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.
Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?
We’ll know in a month.
Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:
The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.
The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.
If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.
Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”
And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.
While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.