Good thing Colorado has such a wealth of talent down the middle — it’ll need it.
On Thursday, the Avs announced that valuable third-line center John Mitchell would miss their series opener against Minnesota with a concussion. The injury puts Mitchell on the shelf alongside another top-three center, Matt Duchene, who has been ruled out for at least the first two games of the series with a knee injury.
As mentioned, though, Colorado has good depth down the middle.
Paul Stastny and Ryan O’Reilly will man the No. 1 and 2 spots, while Max Talbot and Brad Malone appear primed to play in the bottom six. Likely Calder Trophy winner Nathan MacKinnon also has experience playing the middle, and briefly replaced Duchene there earlier this season.
All that said, losing Mitchell will still hurt.
The 29-year-old had a very good season in Colorado, scoring a career-high 32 points while averaging over 16 minutes per night. He finished third on the team in faceoff winning percentage (50) and was fantastic against Minnesota this season, scoring six points in five games.
Mitchell is also a valuable member of the Avs’ penalty kill, averaging nearly two shorthanded minutes per game.
As PHT’s mentioned before, the Florida Panthers stand as a fascinating contrast between youth and experience.
Let’s not kid ourselves, though; fresh faces usually beat out gray beards, at least when it comes to teams that are still trying to build toward contender status.
While it’s by no means official, two Panthers beat writers – the Miami Herald’s George Richards and the Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov – report that the Panthers are likely to pass on Martin Havlat.
It wasn’t just about the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad leading the charge. Other young Panthers (maybe most notably Quinton Howden and Connor Brickley) made the team, thus making Havlat less necessary.
One would assume that it might be tough for the 34-year-old to find work, at least if he insists upon only an NHL deal.
Health issues continue to dog him, but he’s no longer one of those guys who tantalizes with talent when he is healthy enough to play.
Havlat also doesn’t really bring much to the table defensively. While other veterans can kill penalties and show a little more verstaility, Havlat’s greatest selling point is scoring.
Could this be it for a solid career that may nonetheless end with a “What if?” or two?
Considering all of the controversy surrounding the 41-game suspension for Raffi Torres, some might have lost track of the guy who received that hit: Jakob Silfverberg.
The good news is that, at the moment, it seems like he’s OK.
The Anaheim Ducks announced that he skated on his own and will be involved in the team’s next practice:
That falls in line with some of the fall-out from the hit, as head coach Bruce Boudreau let out a relieved “thank goodness” at the young forward seemingly dodging a bullet.
Here’s video of the hit and the suspension decision:
Silfverberg, 24, enjoyed a nice breakout in 2014-15, especially during the playoffs.
Keep in mind that injuries can sometimes crop up later than expected, especially potential head injuries/concussions. Still, it seems like the initial reaction is that the damage was minimal.