Minnesota Wild forward Zenon Konopka took part in Friday’s informal talks between the players’ union and NHL.
Not a lot of details were revealed about those discussions, but afterwards, Konopka was “cautiously optimistic” about the possibility of having a full 82-game season.
“I’m a fan of the game as well…I understand the fans 100%,” Konopka told Josh Rimer on nextsportstar.com. “We’re trying to do this for the greater good of the game. Stay with us and keep the hope out there, lets stay positive because we need the fans and their support.”
Of course, the CBA situation hasn’t been resolved yet and Konopka acknowledged as much. He also didn’t think there was a breakthrough on Friday. Still, he felt that it was “a step in the right direction.”
Konopka added that, despite the fact that the current CBA is set to expire on Sept. 15, they still have lots of time if they’re meeting most days.
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.
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.