Evgeni Malkin, James Neal

Penguins will let injured stars take time in recoveries


The Pittsburgh Penguins are without forwards Sidney Crosby (jaw), Evgeni Malkin (shoulder), James Neal (concussion), and defenseman Paul Martin (thumb), but they still defeated the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday.

In fact, the Penguins have now won 20 of their last 22 contests despite a number of major injuries along the way. They’ve all-but secured the top seed in the Eastern Conference, so they might as well let their injured stars take their time in their respective recoveries.

“There’s benefit in playing hockey games … when you haven’t played for a stretch of games,” Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said in a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review report. “But we’re talking about players who are good hockey players and can get in games and be factors in games, (and) I think they’re going to do that in their first game whenever it is; be that Game 47 (of the regular season) or Game 1 (of the playoffs).”

Bylsma used defenseman Kris Letang as an example. Letang was out for 10 of 11 contests, but didn’t miss a beat when he returned on April 11. In fact, he has a goal and four points in his last three contests (Update: A scoring change gives Letang five points in three games, according to the Penguins).

“There’s going to be no thought of rushing those players back to get an opportunity to play that game before the playoffs,” Bylsma concluded.

Meanwhile, Malkin is participating in practices while the other three continue their on-ice workouts.

Sharks name Pavelski captain; Thornton, Couture alternates

Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton
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Joe Pavelski is the new captain of the San Jose Sharks. The club made the announcement today via Twitter.

The former captain, Joe Thornton, will be an alternate captain, along with Logan Couture.

Pavelski, 31, was the Sharks’ leading scorer last season, finishing with 37 goals and 33 assists. He’s also signed through 2018-19, so giving him the ‘C’ makes sense from a long-term stability perspective.

Couture, 26, is also signed through 2018-19, while Thornton, 36, only has two years left on his contract.

The Sharks had four alternate captains (Thornton, Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Marc-Edouard Vlasic) in 2014-15, but no captain.

Related: DeBoer says Sharks will have a captain next season

After PTO, Upshall signs one-year deal with Blues

Florida Panthers v Ottawa Senators
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Scottie Upshall has parlayed his training camp tryout into a contract with St. Louis.

On Monday, the Blues agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the veteran forward, worth $700,000 at the NHL level. The deal comes after Upshall spent all of training camp and the preseason impressing the Blues his speed and skating ability, no small feat for a 31-year-old veteran with over 500 NHL games on his odometer.

But where Upshall fits in the Blues lineup — and within the organization — remains to be seen.

The club has plenty of depth up front and Upshall isn’t coming off a terrific campaign, having scored just eight goals and 15 points in 63 games with Florida last season. That said, he showed enough to be just one of a handful of veterans on PTOs to score a contract.