When you combine injuries to Dave Bolland and Tyler Bozak with Nazem Kadri’s suspension, it’s clear that the Toronto Maple Leafs are in trouble at center. Head coach Randy Carlyle didn’t smokescreen people when asked if that’s why James van Riemsdyk has been moved to the middle.
When asked if JVR should shoulder some blame as the Maple Leafs struggle – including Friday’s 3-1 loss to Buffalo – the natural winger simply said “that’s not for me to decide.”
The numbers don’t look very good so far, as TSN’s Mark Masters points out.
Those are some rough stats, but Masters noted a tidbit that’s probably more telling: tonight marked the first time Toronto took more shots than its opponents since Oct. 5.
Sometimes it’s more comforting for people to scapegoat a single player, though.
Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.
Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.
(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)
Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.
Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.
The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.
Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.
That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.
If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.
The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.