James O'Brien

Carolina Hurricanes v Buffalo Sabres
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Kaleta gets Sabres tryout, AHL deal

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Here comes trouble … at least to training camp.

Patrick Kaleta received a professional tryout with the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. That agreement also includes an AHL contract with the Rochester Americans.

The super-pest garnered at least some interest from around the league, but as something of a dying breed, he obviously couldn’t lock down an NHL contract.

He’ll instead need to turn/punch enough heads in Buffalo during the next few weeks to earn a spot. Going into the summer, that was a more likely proposition than it is today, as the Sabres have enjoyed arguably the most dramatic makeover of any team.

Buffalo may lean toward a deal that allows the 29-year-old to hop between the AHL and NHL in 2015-16, maybe bringing him in when injuries hit or donnybrooks are likely.

Stamkos, Lightning are at least negotiating

Steven Stamkos
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If nothing else, Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning are at least discussing a contract extension.

Odds are, we won’t be fed many details about the proceedings, but here’s what Stamkos shared with the Tampa Bay Times: the sides are in the “middle stages” of discussions – whatever that means – and it sounds like he’s willing to chat during the 2015-16 campaign.

The 25-year-old doesn’t expect his situation to be a distraction for a team hoping to follow up its 2015 Stanley Cup Final run, either.

“My teammates know the kind of person that I am, the type of leader that I am,” Stamkos said. “I’m going to do everything possible to help our team win games. As long as that’s the mentality, nothing else should really bug us.”

Stamkos’ comments may ease the anxieties of many Lightning fans, although a quick look around Canadian media would quickly ratchet it up again.

Really, how could you not be a little unsettled after reading talk of Stamkos possibly becoming “the king of it all” in Toronto?

Hey, Alex Ovechkin got engaged

2015 NHL Awards - Red Carpet
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Apparently this is a summer of love for the Washington Capitals.

Not long after word surfaced that Brooks Laich got engaged to Julianne Hough, Alex Ovechkin announced that Russian model Nastya Shubskaya “said yes” on his Instagram page.

Сказала да..)))❤️❤️❤️

A photo posted by Alexander Ovechkin (@aleksandrovechkinofficial) on

Shubskaya’s photo might look a little better, although it lacks the enormous engagement ring (although you have to love the ring emoticon):

Да…💍

A photo posted by Nastya Shubskaya (@nastyashubskaya) on

This isn’t the first time that Ovechkin has announced an engagement, as he once did the same with tennis player Maria Kirilenko (who apparently is already married).

Russian Machine Never Breaks provided a little background information on Shubskaya back in March:

So who is Shubskaya? After some research, we found out that she is the daughter of a somewhat famous Soviet/Russian movie star, Vera Glagoleva. Glagoleva’s IMDb page shows she’s a veteran of 33 Russian acting roles and has directed five films. She has two other children, Anna and Rodion, from a previous marriage.

Shubskaya’s father Kirill Shubskiy is also a well-known entrepreneur in the shipbuilding industry. The couple gave birth to Shubskaya in 1993 while in Switzerland.

Congrats to Ovechkin, who posted this admirably goofy photo on Twitter:

(H/T to CSNWashington.com)

Why the Bruins passed on Franson

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Many hockey fans grumbled when they learned that the Buffalo Sabres didn’t just sign Cody Franson; they also landed him at a significant discount.

Just about any squad with a deficit on defense had to at least consider Franson, who generates the sort of points that attract the attention of traditional types while also pleasing stat-heads with his possession stats.

The Boston Bruins are making the types of changes that would seemingly play into Franson’s strengths, so their fans might feel a little disappointed.

Ultimately, Bruins GM Don Sweeney explained that he’d rather see the team’s young defensemen battle for spots, as CSNNE.com reports.

“I think this is presenting an opportunity where you go and establish yourself,” Sweeney said. “There’s definitely a little bit of a tug of war going on internally as to whether or not you go out and get a guy that you know can provide what [Franson] can versus a little of the unknown as to what these [younger] players can grow into.”

Interestingly, Sweeney also said that “if they fall short … we have to make an adjustment accordingly.” That implies that Boston would react by either making a trade or late signing.

CSNNE.com points to increased roles for Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid and opportunities for the likes of Zach Trotman to earn a roster spot.

That’s well and good, yet you have to wonder if Boston is making a mistake; Sweeney could be going from a position of strength (Franson’s surprising lack of options this off-season) to playing catch-up (as teams would be well aware of the Bruins’ plight).

It’s not as if Franson is ancient, either, as he’s merely 28.

One way or another, this has been a fascinating first off-season for Sweeney, and time will tell if his polarizing moves will work out. At least he’s providing some insight on his decision-making, right?

Connor McDavid absorbs his first big-league hit

Connor McDavid
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Connor McDavid hasn’t even been in a full-fledged preseason game, yet he already received his welcome-to-the-NHL moment.

That came in the form of a hard (but by all accounts clean) hit by Vancouver Canucks forward Jake Virtanen, as you can see via this clip from Friday’s Young Stars skirmish:

McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers prospects won 8-2, yet that check was the big story of that contest.

In case you’re wondering, it doesn’t sound like McDavid was being targeted by a player who suited up with him during the world juniors:

For what it’s worth, it doesn’t sound like hockey’s next big thing is making a big thing about the check Virtanen delivered:

Clean hit or not … McDavid being fair game or not … it’s probably fair to say that Virtanen will need to stay alert whenever he faces Oilers players (possibly at multiple levels).

Much like any budding superstar, McDavid will find himself “tested” by opponents from time to time. Last night was a reminder that, for all the hype that surrounds him, nothing’s a given.