TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 10: Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning (L) celebrates his goal against the Florida Panthers with teammates Radko Gudas #7 (C) and Matt Carle #25 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on October 10, 2013 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Working for the weekend: Stamkos aims to return Saturday vs. Detroit


Stamkos Watch now has a target date.

Steven Stamkos, out since November with a broken leg, is aiming to return to action on Saturday against Detroit, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The game will be played at the Tampa Bay Times Forum and is the Bolts’ last before the Olympic break, so the event will be met with equal parts excitement and nervousness — excitement, as it’ll be Stamkos’ first appearance in over 40 games…and nervousness, as he’ll be cutting it close with regards to a decision for participation in the Winter Games.

According to the Times, the Detroit game will essentially decide if Stamkos is fit to play for Team Canada in Sochi or not.

The 23-year-old has been skating for a few weeks and, on Monday, said he felt good during practice with no reported issues during 5-on-5 battle drills. Tampa Bay finishes up a four-game road swing tomorrow in Minnesota before going home for a mini two-game stand against the Leafs and Wings, so Stamkos will have more opportunities to practice before potentially drawing into the lineup on Saturday.

Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp

Mathew Barzal
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It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.

Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.

Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.

The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit

What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.