Evander Kane

Evander Kane expected to play in big test for Jets


Evander Kane left Wednesday’s practice favoring his right leg, but the 22-year-old Jets forward is expected to play tonight against the visiting, and very good, St. Louis Blues.

Winnipeg head coach Claude Noel provided the Kane update today. The Jets (3-4-0) have lost four of five after winning their first two, so the news that one of their best forwards’ injury isn’t serious is most welcome.

As for Noel, he’s feeling the heat as his team continues to struggle for consistency.

From Winnipeg Free Press columnist Gary Lawless:

There’s no questioning Noel is in a tough spot. His GM has just been signed to a fresh five years and the bulk of his core players are also on long-term deals.

The coach, however, has only this year and next left on his deal, exposing him to be the first in line should change be deemed necessary.

The players, should Noel get a little too pushy for their liking, can tune him out. The GM, who has spent the last two years locking these players up with deals that stretch as long as seven years, likely won’t want to hear the skaters are the problem.

Leaving Noel to walk a tightrope and still find a way to get results from this group.

Also worth noting: Winnipeg played five of its first seven games at the raucous MTS Centre — a schedule that could have helped the Jets to a good start. Instead, there have been home losses to Anaheim, Dallas and Montreal.

After the St. Louis game, the Jets host the Predators Saturday and Capitals Tuesday then hit the road for a four-game trip to Nashville, Dallas, Colorado and St. Louis.

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo

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
AP Photo
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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.