San Jose Sharks v Phoenix Coyotes

Under Pressure: Ryane Clowe


“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 New Jersey Devils, we picked … Ryane Clowe.

If fans merely look at Ryane Clowe as a David Clarkson replacement, he’s suddenly off to a remarkably strong head start. Clowe probably won’t get off that easily, though.

Off-year or downward slope?

Maybe it was merely a matter of the Devils solely weighing his resurgence once he was traded to the New York Rangers, but overall, the 30-year-old’s 2013 campaign was a flop. It’s not that rare for a team to pardon an “off year” – especially for a gritty goal scoring forward – yet Devils fans might get antsy if they see a lot of the guy who endured a 28-game goalless streak with the San Jose Sharks.

Things didn’t get off to a great start, either. Clowe already suffered a lower-body injury in the preseason, and while he seems to be recovering, it’s a disturbing omen for some who worried about his recent injury issues (including concussion problems). If the “Devils are too old” narrative builds, he’ll likely slot in there somewhere after Martin Brodeur and Jaromir Jagr.

Tough expectations

No doubt, Clowe fits the “tough guy who can score” bill well; one could make a legitimate argument he has a better chance to do that with regularity than Clarkson. Clowe’s the guy with two 22+ goal seasons and three more close to that 20-tally mark, after all.

The Devils are likely to expect him to drive more offense than the Sharks ever really did, though.

Clowe’s $4.85 million cap hit represents the third-highest annual mark for anyone on the team; only franchise stalwarts Travis Zajac ($5.75 million) and Patrik Elias ($5.5 million) are making more.

New Jersey likely won’t be satisfied unless Clowe affects the scoreboard and the physical side of the game, which could put a lot of pressure on the franchise’s new power forward.

For all of our Under Pressure series, click here.

Kassian suspended without pay, placed in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

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Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.

The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.

According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”

Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:

The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two:

Add Lecavalier to list of expensive Flyers healthy scratches

Vincent Lecavalier

Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?

While lineups are obviously subject to change, notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.

Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.

That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench.

“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”

The quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.

Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.

It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.