James O'Brien

New York Rangers v Philadelphia Flyers
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Hayes, Miller in running for Rangers’ second-line RW

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With the 2015-16 season rapidly approaching, there’s at least one prominent position up for grabs for the New York Rangers.

While sniper Rick Nash obviously has one of the top right wing positions locked up, the same cannot be said for the second-line RW slot, as head coach Alain Vigneault said on Wednesday.

“We haven’t made up our minds on the roster yet,” Vigneault said. “No one has grabbed that spot.”

Tonight serves as an interesting next step in that tug-of-war, as Kevin Hayes will play to the right of Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan.

J.T. Miller earned backhanded compliments from Vigneault regarding his work as second-line RW, as the coach likes his effort but wasn’t happy with the amount of scoring chances Miller generated at even-strength.

Call it the fall-out of Martin St. Louis’ retirement, but one way or another, it sure sounds like the Rangers will have a fresh face in their top six.

Update: One goal doesn’t make or break Miller’s training camp, but this was a nice one:

The Rangers ended up beating the Boston Bruins 3-2 in that pre-season contest.

PHT Morning Skate: Favorite ‘Slap Shot’ characters

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

As you can see in the video above, PHT’s own Jason Brough and Mike Halford discussed their favorite “Slap Shot” characters as NBCSN presents a special tonight: the Kraft Hockeyville game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning (7 pm ET) followed by a showing of (you guessed it) “Slap Shot” at 10 pm ET. (Both also will be streamed on NBC Sports Live Extra.)

A buyer’s beware bit that focuses on fantasy, but maybe it forecasts some down years in reality, too? (TSN)

Will Edmonton Oilers captain Andrew Ference fail to even make it into the team’s group of seven defensemen? (Sportsnet)

The New York Islanders’ goal horn is not particularly well-received. (Lighthouse Hockey)

The highest-paid player in women’s hockey is … (The Hockey News)

Radek Bonk in an Ottawa men’s league: kinda cool, kinda unfair. (Bar Down)

Habs, Pens broke in Quebec City’s Videotron Centre

Alex Galchenyuk, Derrick Pouliot
AP
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It’s unclear if Quebec City’s Videotron Centre will eventually play host to an NHL team of its own – we may know more about that later on today, though not necessarily decisively – but fans enjoyed an appetizer on Monday.

The Montreal Canadiens “hosted” the Pittsburgh Penguins last night, and while they didn’t seem to enjoy much of a home-ice advantage, they won 4-1.

That’s not really the point, though. This was all about giving the arena a test-run, and provide the intriguing atmosphere of Montreal playing in Quebec as an added bonus.

Let’s take a look at different viewpoints from last night’s proceedings, including people mocking the name Videotron Centre (sadly without evoking “Tron” or “Videodrome”).

The building isn’t the only make-or-break factor for expansion, of course.

Las Vegas, Quebec City set to take step in NHL expansion bid

Gary Bettman, Bill Foley
AP
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Las Vegas and Quebec City are moving closer in their bids to land a NHL franchise.

A Bill Foley-led group and Montreal-based communications giant Quebecor are in the third and final stage of a process to potentially bring the world’s top hockey league to Las Vegas and Quebec City, respectively.

“They have been invited to make presentations to the Executive Committee on Tuesday,” NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly wrote in an email.

Later in the day, the committee will report to the NHL Board of Governors.

“Evaluation process will continue,” Daly wrote. “No defined timeline.”

Quebecor spokesman Martin Tremblay and Michelle Kersch, spokeswoman for Foley’s group, confirmed their groups will make a presentation.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said earlier this month the league is “not feeling any timeline pressure,” in the expansion process. Bettman has proposed an expansion fee of $500 million, a significant jump from the $80 million fee paid by the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild, when the NHL last expanded to 30 teams in 2000.

It is expected to take at least two years before the NHL would potentially have 32 teams playing.

The league has examined each market and both groups’ arena plans after they were the chosen two out of 16 expansion applicants. As part of the process, both groups submitted a $10 million down payment, $2 million of which was nonrefundable. An NHL franchise in Las Vegas would be the first for any of the major sports leagues in the city.

John Wawrow and Greg Beacham contributed to this report.

Follow Larry Lage at http://www.twitter.com/larrylage

Related on PHT: Quebec City goes under the microscope

Benn to get his feet wet for Stars on Tuesday

Jamie Benn
AP

A lot is riding on new additions to the Dallas Stars, but ultimately, they go as far as Jamie Benn and other stalwarts can take them.

The reigning Art Ross Trophy winner is one of a handful of Stars who elected to undergo hip surgery during the off-season, so there’s some question about where he’ll be at.

The team might get an idea of his progress on Tuesday, as Benn (and fellow hip surgery recipient Ales Hemsky) will see some pre-season action against the St. Louis Blues.

That’s great news all-around, although head coach Lindy Ruff admits that he isn’t sure that Benn is fully healed.

“I think he is close. I think there is a comfort level where he is,” Ruff said. “100 percent? I don’t know. That’s putting a number on it, and it’s hard.”

Ruff stated that he’ll evaluate both players after Tuesday’s game to weigh the pros and cons of giving them more reps vs. more rest.