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:

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

Anaheim Ducks v Vancouver Canucks
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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.