The San Jose Sharks will be forced to enter the season without Raffi Torres. The 31-year-old forward is out for at least six weeks due to a knee injury and might end up missing far more time.
Although his past transgressions make him a controversial figure, he was also an important player in the Sharks’ late season resurgence in 2013 and his intensity will be missed by his teammates. At the same time, his absence is an opportunity for Anthony Stewart, 28, as he tries to make the team after agreeing to a professional tryout offer.
“Raffi fills a big role for the team, but it’s an opening for me, a similar type player where I like to get in on the forecheck and throw some big hits,” Stewart told CSN Bay Area.
Sharks coach Todd McLellan certainly sees Stewart as a viable candidate, but nothing has been cemented yet. Stewart will still need to compete against some of San Jose’s young prospects, like former Boston University standout Matthew Nieto and 21-year-old Freddie Hamilton.
Both are talented and Nieto in particular has some offensive upside, but Stewart brings 262 games worth of NHL experience to the table and has impressed the Sharks during the preseason.
San Jose still has about a week to make its decision and there are three exhibition games left on its schedule. That’s enough time for Stewart to make one final pitch for a contract.
Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).
The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.
You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.
It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.
Scary stuff on Saturday: multiple reporters (including the Maine Hockey Journal’s Chris Roy) note that Malcolm Subban was taken to a hospital after a puck struck his throat during warm-ups.
There’s no word yet on Subban’s condition beyond that he was taken away in an ambulance.
The AHL’s Providence Bruins seem like they’ve been left scrambling for a backup goalie in Subban’s absence.
Subban stated days ago that he’s taken some significant steps forward during the 2015-16 season.
The Ottawa Senators cannot pin all of their troubles on missing their No. 1 center, yet it probably feels like a huge relief to get him back.
After missing six games with his latest injury, Kyle Turris is in the lineup as the Senators take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Again, it’s not all a matter of missing Turris, but the Senators went 1-5-0 during his six-game absence. They’ve really been falling since late December, to be honest.
Will Turris be enough to stop the bleeding? Perhaps to an extent, but the Senators are in for a serious battle if they hope to fight through the East bubble.
Times have been tough for Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers fans lately, even if they’ve been frustrating in different ways.
Saturday’s 5-1 Habs win highlights a few things, but the most tantalizing thought for those fans is that it’s likely that we’ll see more great things from P.K. Subban and Connor McDavid … sometimes against each other.
Perhaps this will be a confidence booster for Montreal. More than anything else, it directed attention to Subban, who’s quietly been absolutely fantastic for the floundering Canadiens.
Consider how much of an offensive burden he’s currently carrying:
From one current All-Star to someone who could be a perennial one: McDavid certainly seemed to grab Subban’s attention.
Then again, when you make moves like these, who won’t notice?
The Oilers did lose, mind you, so it’s not surprising that Todd McLellan mentioned that the team can’t depend upon McDavid for everything.
That said, the funny thing about that quote is that McDavid might just carry the Oilers for two decades, at least if health and other factors go the right way.
If that’s true, Subban vs. McDavid could be a fun matchup to watch a few times per season for a long, long time.