One of the key pieces Buffalo acquired in the Ryan Miller-Steve Ott trade is doubtful to play again this season.
Chris Stewart, who suffered an ankle injury last week against Tampa Bay, will likely miss the remainder of the year with the ailment, according to Sabres head coach Ted Nolan.
“Stewart doesn’t look good right now,” Nolan said, per the Buffalo News. “There are only five weeks left in the year and his injury is four-to-five weeks.”
Stewart, 26, appeared in just two games for the Sabres after coming over from St. Louis in a pre-deadline blockbuster. While the other key acquisition in the deal, Jaroslav Halak, has since been flipped to Washington, the Sabres held onto Stewart, who has one year remaining on his deal (with a $4.15 million cap hit) and could be a good fit for the club moving forward.
The book on Stewart is a familiar one. He’s a big-bodied power forward (6-foot-2, 231 pounds) that’s displayed a nose for goal in the past, but has seen his effort and consistency called into question on numerous occasions. It’s the same knock many physical forwards get — think Dustin Penner, Bryan Bickell, Todd Beruzzi — though with Stewart, the fact he’s only 26 is key.
Nolan has shown an ability to motivate players in the past, and could light a fire under Stewart — remember, this is a guy that scored 56 goals between 2009-11, so the talent is definitely there.
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.
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.