James O'Brien

Carolina Hurricanes v Buffalo Sabres

Bylsma battles instinct to ‘want to kill’ Kaleta


At least on the ice, Patrick Kaleta is a tough guy to like. That’s basically the point.

Working for the same cause can raise sympathies – getting to know someone often proves that they’re not the “monster” they seem – but it’s understandable when that takes time.

New Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma admits he’s still fighting that feeling with the super-pest, as the Buffalo News’ John Vogl notes.

“I have a hard time not wanting to kill him,” Bylsma said. “I’ve told him that.”

Imagine, for a second, the meetings Bylsma had in which he evaluated players with Ray Shero during those great “24/7” episodes … only this time he’s saying to Tim Murray “well, I want to destroy Kaleta less than usual today.”

All joking aside, it’s refreshing that Byslma acknowledges the disdainful elephant in the room.

One would guess that Raffi Torres took time to gain the respect of his teammates in San Jose, among other situations.

The real question, honestly, is if Kaleta can help Bylsma win. Success has a way of easing certain tensions, after all.

Isles to Ho-Sang: Cut the bull

2014 NHL Draft - Portraits

Sensory details and reactions continue to pour in regarding Joshua Ho-Sang’s debacle of a first (and only) day of Islanders training camp.

None of them depict the polarizing prospect in a particularly positive light.

The harshest words come from GM Garth Snow, whose comments via New York Newsday’s Arthur Staple have been sanitized for innocent hockey viewers:

“Enough with the bull[blank],” Snow said. “It’s time to grow up.”

Head coach Jack Capuano’s message was simple: this slip-up was “unacceptable.”

It also may not have been the 19-year-old’s only mishap with the Islanders, although precise infractions weren’t shared. Staple did unearth some specifics about yesterday’s tardiness situation and his punishment beyond being demoted prematurely, however:

Three hours? That can’t be right, can it?

Regardless, as Jason mentioned on Friday, incidents like these do little to dissuade critics from believing that his plummet down the 2014 NHL Draft was justified. Those people may believe that he’s just not worth the trouble.

He’s young enough that this story is far from over, though you have to wonder if the Islanders “chapter” is perilously close to its conclusion.

Advantage Elliott? Back spasms sideline Jake Allen

Arizona Coyotes v St Louis Blues

It’s way, way too early to get too worried or excited about anything in training camps.

That doesn’t mean that the pre-season exists in a bubble, so when someone gets hurt, the situations should be monitored. The St. Louis Blues are doing just that with Jake Allen, who’s dealing with back spasms, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford reports.

Again, Blues fans shouldn’t freak out; Ken Hitchcock said he’ll “keep an eye on” Allen.

St. Louis is also in a solid position if back issues become a persistent headache for their hopeful-goalie-of-the-future. Brian Elliott sporadically distinguishes himself as a legit No. 1 goalie, albeit not frequently enough to really earn total trust from management.

Whether it’s been Jaroslav Halak or Ryan Miller or now Allen, Elliott seems constantly on the verge of being phased out.

This seems like a good time to ask this question, actually: which goalie would the Blues be better off leaning toward?

Report: Oilers, Klefbom zero in on seven-year deal

San Jose Sharks v Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers and defenseman Oscar Klefbom are working on a seven-year extension that could be cemented in the next day or two, TSN’s Ryan Rishaug reports.

Klefbom, 22, is currently in the final year of a deal that carries a $894K cap hit. The extension would be worth “north of $4 million per season,” according to Rishaug.

If this comes to fruition, the Oilers’ defensive future would revolve around Klefbom, Andrej Sekera, Darnell Nurse and, to some extent, Mark Fayne.

Klefbom has 77 NHL games under his belt, including 60 with the Oilers in 2014-15. He was the 19th pick of the 2011 NHL Draft.

Oilers Nation discussed the pros and cons of various Klefbom extension scenarios, leaning toward a lengthier deal.

In (Peter) Chiarelli’s shoes, I’d probably wait until November, and if Klefbom continues as he’s started I’d sign him for as long as possible. Cap pressures are already a bit of a concern, and two-to-three years from now they could be really bad; if this team develops as hoped, having Klefbom signed long-term at a reasonable dollar figure could go a long way towards keeping Edmonton’s core together.

Keep in mind that a deal could fall through or be put on hold for a bit.

Rangers coach: Kreider could become elite

Chris Kreider

The New York Rangers are going to need guys like Chris Kreider to step up if they hope to take another swing at a Stanley Cup run.

With the retirement of Martin St. Louis and trade that sent Carl Hagelin away – among other moves – the spotlight is set to shine brighter on Kreider and a few others (such as Derek Stepan and his big, new contract).

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault thinks Kreider has what it takes, as he told reporters including Andrew Gross of the Bergen Record.

“I believe he can become an elite player in the league,” Vigneault said. “He’s got everything to become a dominant power forward. It’s his time to shine now, be a go-to guy on this team.”

Wow, that’s some strong praise.

The 24-year-old is going great lengths to get better. Back in June, he basically told the New York Post that he won’t leave a stone un-turned.

“I’m going to reach out to people and I have already reached out to people who I believe can help me improve and get to the level I want to reach,” Kreider said. “I’m going to work with a skills coach, I’m going to continue to work with my conditioning and skating instructor, I’m probably going to take some boxing lessons and I’m going to consult with a sports psychologist.”

“Whatever resources are there, I’m going to use.”

As of this moment, Kreider is set to become an RFA after next season. It’s up to him to generate a huge upgrade from his current cap hit of $2.475 million.

If nothing else, it seems clear that Vigneault will give him every chance to wring the maximum amount of cash out of this contract year (and help his team along the way).