James O'Brien

Vancouver Canucks v Nashville Predators
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Sabres know what they want from Franson

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Once you get beyond the class of elite players who can dominate under just about any circumstance, you move to those who can excel if placed in the right situation.

Nashville wasn’t the best scenario for Cody Franson late in the 2014-15 season. With top-shelf scoring threats on the blueline in Shea Weber and Roman Josi, Franson got lost in the crowd.

The Buffalo Sabres nabbed him for a bargain price on Thursday, and to the delight of fans, it sounds like they’ll have a much better chance of getting the most out of a talented defenseman.

More specifically, it seems as though GM Tim Murray envisions the 28-year-old as something of an offensive specialist.

In case you don’t want to watch the video, Murray touched on some specifics:

  • He doesn’t expect Franson to be a heavy-hitting, stay-at-home defenseman. It sounds like any big checks will just be “gravy” to the Sabres.
  • The blueliner sounds primed for a role on the first power-play unit.
  • While Murray pencils Franson in as a “top four or five” defenseman, he noted that new head coach Dan Bylsma will try to put him into advantageous on-ice matchups and emphasize offensive zone starts for Franson.

Murray paints a picture of Franson in his ideal situation: sending crisp passes that hit the likes of Evander Kane in stride or firing a well-placed shot from the point.

Buffalo’s off-season presents such a drastic change that it’s difficult to gauge expectations for this team. If the Sabres touch the right buttons with players like Franson, this team could be awfully intriguing, awfully quick.

Habs will name new captain before start of 2015-16

Max Pacioretty, Pk Subban,
Associated Press
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After opting for four alternate captains during the 2014-15 season, the Montreal Canadiens are going to give one guy a “C” before the 2015-16 season begins.

GM Marc Bergevin said that the franchise’s 29th captain will be named by the end of training camp.

“We look for a leader who is respected by his teammates. I think that’s important,” Bergevin said on Thursday. “The transition that began last year has changed us a lot and has helped us make a decision as to whether the team was ready. And after a long discussion, we believe it is.”

“But who will it be?” screamed/typed the teeming the masses.

Sadly, no obvious foreshadowing took place. Neither Bergevin nor head coach Michel Therrien even dropped a hint regarding who will be the first captain since Brian Gionta left town.

Let’s not kid ourselves, though; it’s easy to at least identify the most likely candidates.

Max Pacioretty, P.K. Subban, Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Markov served as the four alternates in 2014-15. You might be able to throw Carey Price‘s name in the hat, even if the goalie-as-captain thing didn’t work out too well when Vancouver tried it out with Roberto Luongo. You might even throw in a dark horse candidate such as Brendan Gallagher.

Pacioretty, 26, may not get healthy soon enough to be ready to play on opening night, but he sounds game if management decides that he’s the guy.

“I think last year prepared me a lot for this,” Pacioretty told the team website. “I think whether you have a ‘C’ on your jersey or not, you are expected to lead this team and we expect everyone to be a leader but like I said, I would be honored if that opportunity came.”

Interestingly, PHT readers voted Subban as the right choice for Canadiens captain back in August 2014. What about today?

Report: Ryane Clowe’s NHL career is over

Ryane Clowe
AP
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For all intents and purposes, it sounds like Ryane Clowe‘s NHL playing days are finished.

That’s the report from the Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti, who passes along word from New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero that Clowe “will be unable to play hockey now or in the future.”

Clowe, 32, admits that he’d rather continuing playing for the Devils, yet doctors recommend that he hang up his skates.

Shero told Gulitti that Clowe will go on IR or long-term injured reserve for the remaining three years of his contract, depending upon how his $4.85 million cap hit affects the Devils’ situation.

Clowe’s hard-hitting style helped him earn the five-year, $24.25 million contract the Devils handed him heading into 2013-14, but it ultimately caught up to him.

Concussion issues plagued him almost since day one with the Devils, doing little to silence critics of that deal.

While it’s clear Clowe wanted to try to play, it’s tough to imagine him being a difference-maker without taking physical risks. It’s a shame that Clowe isn’t the one making the call, but it might be the right move.

Panthers give Havlat a tryout offer

Ottawa Senators v New Jersey Devils
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The Florida Panthers announced that they handed veteran winger Martin Havlat a professional tryout offer on Friday.

Havlat, 34, spent the 2014-15 season with the New Jersey Devils, generating five goals and nine assists for 14 points in 40 games.

He’s likely to be delighted to reunite with fellow Czech forward Jaromir Jagr – whom he played with in New Jersey, not to mention internationally – although one might guess that the Panthers would prefer not to line them up even if Havlat makes the cut.

Jagr was a fantastic fit with Florida’s younger forwards after being traded to the Panthers last season, as you may remember.

Havlat is a player who, at his best, featured dazzling talent. Even so, injuries have plagued him over the years, leaving many “what if?” questions.

Now the question is “what’s left?”

Related: David Booth gets a PTO from the Panthers, too.

Report: Grand jury for Kane case to resume soon

Patrick Kane
AP
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After being postponed earlier this week, the latest word from the Chicago Tribune on Thursday is that a grand jury is expected to resume regarding Patrick Kane‘s alleged rape investigation.

Paul Cambria told the Tribune that the grand jury wasn’t pushed back on his request, and he wasn’t sure why it was canceled. Cambria also doesn’t know when the grand jury will resume, only that it will happen soon.

Others told the Tribune that it could happen sometime in the next two weeks. There’s no word how this may affect Kane’s involvement in Blackhawks training camp, which kicks off on Sept. 18.

One other noteworthy element is that Cambria said the 26-year-old “did nothing wrong,” backing up sentiments expressed by Kane’s agent.

There have been a few legal postponements lately, from Mike Richards’ situation being moved to December to Ryan O'Reilly‘s situation getting postponed to October.

Related

Police confirm investigation

Jonathan Toews on Kane

What happens with Kane?