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Penguins release McClement from PTO

The Pittsburgh Penguins trimmed their roster down to 24 players, releasing center Jay McClement from his professional tryout following Saturday’s preseason game against Columbus.

McClement saw just over 12 minutes of ice time in the loss, including 3:20 on the penalty kill.

He entered Penguins training camp with the defending Stanley Cup champs looking for a third-line center after the departure of Nick Bonino in free agency over the summer.

From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Unless and until general manager Jim Rutherford makes a long-rumored trade for a third-line center, the winners of the competition to replace departed free agents Nick Bonino and Matt Cullen in the middle of the team’s bottom two lines and on the penalty kill are Greg McKegg and Carter Rowney.

The Penguins need to cut only one more player before Wednesday’s opener against the St. Louis Blues. They could achieve that goal by placing winger Patric Hornqvist on the injured list. Hornqvist is still recuperating from offseason hand surgery.

McClement has played in 906 NHL games throughout his career, scoring 90 goals and 244 points.

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    Owen Tippett will ‘probably be in our starting lineup,’ says Panthers GM

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    The Florida Panthers made three cuts to their training camp roster on Friday, and 2017 first-round pick Owen Tippett remains with the big club.

    The Panthers selected Tippett 10th overall in June, following his 44-goal, 75-point season with the Mississauga Steelheads in the Ontario Hockey League. He certainly has a belief in his natural abilities, saying earlier in the summer that he has the upside of Phil Kessel, who has been among the more dangerous scorers in the league over the past several years.

    Still, the Panthers are done their preseason schedule and the training camp roster is now down to 26 players. In July, general manager Dale Tallon said the organization would give Tippett every opportunity to make the NHL club out of training camp, and it appears the prospect forward is on the verge of making that happen.

    Tippett is only 18 years old, and sending him back to junior without passing that 10-game threshold and using up a year of his entry-level contract is also an option for the Panthers.

    “Based on our coaches and how his camp has gone, he’ll probably be in our starting lineup,” Tallon told the National Post about Tippett on Friday. “What I like about him is he wants the puck and he wants it in critical situations. I think his game is very well suited to the pros.”

    The Panthers open the 2017-18 season on the road against the Lightning on Friday, before returning home to face the Bolts the following night.

    Video: Blackhawks announcer Pat Foley gives shout out to Eddie Olczyk at Wrigley Field

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    Very cool moment at Wrigley Field on Friday.

    Chicago Blackhawks announcer Pat Foley threw the ceremonial first pitch at the Cubs game, while wearing a Cubs jersey with the last name ‘Olczyk’ on the back. That is a salute to his broadcast partner Eddie Olczyk, who is currently undergoing treatment for colon cancer.

    Later on, during the seventh inning stretch, Foley gave a shout out to Olczyk, asking fans to join in, as well.

    The Blackhawks announced in August that Olczyk, the lead hockey analyst for NBC Sports, had surgery to remove a tumor after being diagnosed with colon cancer.

    Olczyk recently attended a Blackhawks practice ahead of a preseason game, and players and coaches expressed their support for him as he continues treatment.

    “To see him show up for the first preseason game at home is going to pump some guys up,” Patrick Sharp told WGN-TV. “He knows he’s got a ton of support behind him in his battle.”

    Alex DeBrincat continues push to crack Blackhawks roster

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    Alex DeBrincat was mentioned as one of the prospects looking to make the leap to the NHL for this upcoming season.

    With one preseason game remaining on Chicago’s schedule, he’ll soon await word to see if that becomes a reality — at least to begin the new campaign.

    DeBrincat put up tremendous numbers in junior, scoring more than 50 goals and 100 points in each of his three seasons in Erie, while playing one year with Edmonton’s phenom forward Connor McDavid. Selected in the second round, 39th overall, by Chicago in 2016, he’s been productive for the Blackhawks during the preseason and, with final roster decisions to be made, his play has garnered the attention of the coaching staff led by Joel Quenneville.

    “I just think he has the ability to make plays. The finish is what we like, as well. Just seems like every time he’s around the puck, something good happens,” Quenneville told reporters.

    “We certainly like his camp and we know that he can play with anybody, and that’s a good trait.”

    On Thursday against the Red Wings, DeBrincat had a goal and two points to go along with three shots on net. Through the preseason, he has played four games, with two goals and three points, while averaging almost four shots on goal per game.

    He’s still 19 years old and listed at 5-foot-7 tall, without any professional experience. Chicago also may not have the space up front, with 14 forwards currently on the roster, and Blackhawks fans have been previously cautioned that DeBrincat may not make the jump to the NHL to begin the season.

    “It’s kind of not for me to say,” DeBrincat said, when asked by Blackhawks TV reporter Eric Lear if he was ready for the NHL. “I’m giving it my all out here and I’m trying to show them I’m ready but it’s kind of up to them. They have a plan for me and I think we just want to stick to that.”

    The Blackhawks conclude the preseason Saturday against the Boston Bruins. They will open the season Thursday against the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

    Trotz urges Capitals to ‘quit with the self pity’ after playoff disappointment

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    A new season. A clean slate.

    On that note, Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz has delivered something of an urgent message to his team, sensing that what happened in the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs — going in as the Presidents’ Trophy winners and favored to finally capture a championship, only to lose again in the second round to rival Pittsburgh — is still having a negative affect several months later and with the start of a brand new season just days away.

    Wins and losses don’t matter in the preseason, but the Capitals have scored only eight goals in six games, and that isn’t sitting well with the coach.

    “If you talk to players, it’s been a little bit harder to get the energy this year based on how it ended and the summer,” Trotz told reporters on Saturday, per Sportsnet.

    “We got stuck in last year’s energy or lack of at the end. It took a piece of us and now we’ve got to dust ourselves off here and go ‘Hey, you know what? It’s for real. Let’s get going. We’re professional. Let’s quit with the self pity and all that. Whatever’s holding us back, let’s go play because we can play.’”

    The Capitals have been dominant during the regular season, with 101 points being their lowest total since Trotz took over behind the bench ahead of the 2014-15 season. Yet they have failed to advance out of the second round of the postseason in each of the last three years. Their most recent disappointment ushered in significant change to the roster, which was to be expected because of the number of pending unrestricted free agents they had in their lineup.

    With the offseason changes, it’s possible Washington’s lineup gets younger this season — to that, it’s “step up time,” says Trotz — but the Capitals still have plenty of veteran talent on their team, and they should still be a difficult opponent in the Metropolitan Division.

    “It’s been hard for us to come back right now and play hockey again,” said Ovechkin, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “Right now, it’s time to … forget about it and move forward. Obviously it’s hard but you have to do that if you want to get success in your life.”