Ales Hemsky

Ales Hemsky’s awkward spot in Edmonton

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Ales Hemsky has been often thought to be on the next plane out of town when the trade deadline approaches or offseason begins, but after another rumor-filled time he’s set to begin his 11th season with the Oilers. In that time, however, he’s spent plenty of time on injured reserve leading to frustration with fans and media alike.

Could now be the time to send Hemsky packing for a new destination? If GM Craig MacTavish can find a taker, perhaps yes. The Oilers’ current position against the salary cap and Hemsky being in the final year of his contract means he could be on his way out. It’s not as easy as that though.

The Oilers have embraced their future and guys like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are leading the way. Hemsky’s offensive abilities make him an obvious fit either next to Hopkins or in his familiar spot with Sam Gagner, but with his injuries and cap hit, he’s an obvious candidate to be exiled.

That doesn’t make things easier for MacTavish, however. If Hemsky stays healthy for most of the season and puts up monster numbers in Dallas Eakins’ new system, he’d be set to hit free agency as a proven offensive player. At age 30 he’d be high-risk for a long-term deal and with Edmonton being a possible playoff team, they might not want to upset the apple cart.

All that aside, those are a lot of “ifs” for Oilers brass to get a handle of. If ever there were a time it’d be best to move Hemsky, now is it. Unfortunately for them, the reduced salary cap comes at a bad time. His $5 million cap hit makes him a tough sell to anyone in need of offense.

Sabres place Lehner on IR; Recall Lieuwen

Connor Brown, Robin Lehner
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They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.

The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.

In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.

Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.

The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.



Chara ‘doubtful’ for game against rival Canadiens

Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara
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It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.

Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.

Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.

“Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”

Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: