Andrew MacDonald #47 of the New York Islanders carries the puck against the Phoenix Coyotes at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on October 8, 2013 in Uniondale, New York.
(October 7, 2013 - Source: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images North America)

PHT Morning Skate: Islanders leaning on MacDonald even more


PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

New York Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald is getting more minutes with the man advantage while Lubomir Visnovsky recovers from a concussion. The Islanders were already leaning heavily on MacDonald and he ended up logging 31:26 minutes in the team’s 5-4 overtime defeat to the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. (Newsday)

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Chris Kunitz talks about the Olympics and playing on a line with Sidney Crosby. (

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $1,500 Fantasy Hockey league that includes Wednesday and Thursday’s NHL games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $400. Starts Wednesday at 7:30pm ET. Here’s the link.

Vancouver Canucks coach John Tortorella was asked about the New York Rangers struggles since he was fired, but he wouldn’t take the bait. “I don’t work there anymore and I’m certainly not going to criticize,” Tortorella said. (Newsday)

Newly retired goaltender Martin Biron singled out Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Smyth as his toughest opponent during his 16-season career. (NHLPA)

The New Jersey Devils are turning to video of retired forward Tomas Holmstrom to help them with their power play. (The Star-Ledger)

Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman took was in attendance for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ game against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday. Although he went there to evaluate some of the Canadian talent, projected Team USA forward Phil Kessel stole the show with his hat trick. (Toronto Star)

The Penguins didn’t alter their roster much over the summer, but that doesn’t mean that nothing’s changed since their elimination in the Eastern Conference Finals. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Hightlights from Minnesota’s 2-0 win over Nashville:

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.

Canucks say Markstrom (hamstring) out another week — could it be longer?

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Bit of uncertainty out of Vancouver regarding the health of backup goalie Jacob Markstrom.

Markstrom, a late drop from the Canucks’ 5-1 opening-night win over Calgary, has suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him sidelined for another week, the club announced on Thursday.

With Markstrom out, backup duties will stay with AHL call-up Richard Bachman, who served as Ryan Miller‘s No. 2 on Wednesday.

Now, the focus turns to how long Bachman keeps those duties.

Per a Sportsnet report, Markstrom could miss up to three weeks of action with his injury. If that’s the case, Bachman will almost certainly be called into action; the Canucks will play eight games in 17 nights starting with Saturday’s home-opener against the Flames, which includes back-to-backs in Los Angeles and Anaheim on Oct. 12 and 13.

It would be asking a lot of the No. 1, 35-year-old Ryan Miller, to shoulder that entire load.

Bachman does have some NHL experience, with nearly 50 games to his credit. That includes a 3-2-0 record with the Oilers last year, in which he posted a 2.84 GAA and .911 save percentage.