Tyler Myers

Under Pressure: Tyler Myers


“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.

For the Buffalo Sabres, we pick…defenseman Tyler Myers.

It’s only been three years, but it’s seems like ages since Myers was coming off a rookie-of-the-year season with the Buffalo Sabres. Heading into 2013-14, his goals are remarkably different compared to back then. Instead of trying to avoid a sophomore slump, he’s trying to avoid falling even further into the abyss.

That may sound overly dire, but mentally, Myers was a mess last season when he registered just eight points in 39 games.

“A lot of things went on last year that got in my head,” he admitted, per The Buffalo News. “It just goes back to the mental training side of it, of how you prevent yourself from heading downhill mentally instead of stopping that and making sure you stay at your peak. It’s confidence level and how you build that confidence.”

Not only does the big 23-year-old have a Calder Trophy to live up to, he also has six years left on a $38.5 million contract.

Myers has the size and talent to be a franchise defenseman, even a Hall of Fame one. However, his mental makeup, as well as his commitment to fitness, have been rightly questioned.

Prior to the summer, Sabres head coach Ron Rolston challenged Myers “to get himself prepared for being an elite defenseman.” And based on what Rolston said at camp, Myers accepted that challenge with enthusiasm.

“Mysie has had an unbelievable summer,” Rolston said. “Where he’s at and where he needs to go, I think his summer was dedicated to that and working in those areas. He’s gotten a lot stronger. He’s in really good shape, both physically and I think mentally. I think he’s going to play well.”

For all of our Under Pressure series, click here.

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo
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Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.