The National Hockey League’s leading scorer will take to the stage when the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins meet Sunday.
And no, it’s not Sidney Crosby, although that may very well be the case at the end of tomorrow’s NHL on NBC game.
Thomas Vanek leads the league in scoring right now with 11 goals and 23 points in 14 games. Crosby is part of a four-player log jam at 21 points, accrued over 15 games.
“He has such a quick release, good shot, always in the right spot it seems around the net,” Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury told reporters about Vanek.
“Definitely a guy we have to keep an eye on.”
The Sabres come in to Sunday’s match-up with a 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins under their belts from Friday night. It’s a very modest one-game streak, and Buffalo will go up against the fourth best team in the Eastern Conference.
There’s a chance the Penguins could be atop the conference by the end of tomorrow.
“We know that they’re playing well,” Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff told the Buffalo News.
“They’ve probably got as much team speed as Boston. I think the depth of their lineup is just as deep as Boston. Maybe the Boston defenders have a slight edge when it comes to the back end, but I think overall they’re one of the teams that you’re going to have to deal with if you want to get to the top in the East.”
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.