James O'Brien

New York Rangers v Washington Capitals - Game Four

Caps’ Burakovsky as a center: Improving, ‘not perfect’

Washington Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky told the Washington Post that he’s getting more comfortable as he transitions back to the center position.

Granted, that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement.

“I do feel a lot more comfortable,” Burakovsky said. “There’s still a lot of things to work on. Everything’s not perfect, so there’s a lot of stuff I have to watch on videos and learn and try to do better. But I think it’s been pretty good in this preseason so far.”

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz praised his eagerness to learn and work ethic, but he provided some constructive criticism of the 20-year-old:

” … He has to recognize a little bit more that there’s a real confined area, so when he does get the puck in the middle of the ice, sometimes you’ve just got to move it just a hair quicker and then get it back,” Trotz said.

As far as forwards go, centers tend to carry the greatest two-way burdens.

Can he pull it off? Maybe, but chances are that it will also be a work in progress.

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    Rangers cut camp roster to 25, including demoting Skjei

    2015 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship - Northeast Regional

    The New York Rangers assigned the following players to the Hartford Wolf Pack, their AHL affiliate, late on Saturday:

    Luke Adam, Mat Bodie, Ryan Bourque, Brian Gibbons, Ryan Graves, Magnus Hellberg, Brady Skjei, and Chris Summers.

    The names that likely stand out the most are Adam, Gibbons, Hellberg and Skjei (pictured). The Rangers are getting pretty close to cementing their final group heading into 2015-16, as their training camp roster is now down to 25 players.

    New York Newsday’s Steve Zipay passed along a series of interesting observations regarding these cuts last night:

    It certainly would be interesting if the Rangers subjected Emerson Etem to waivers.

    Report: Defense (maybe Byfuglien?) is on Boston’s shopping list

    Dustin Byfuglien

    Imagine, for a moment, a blueline featuring two super-heavyweights in Zdeno Chara and Dustin Byfuglien.

    (You may also imagine the ice cracking when they’re on it at the same time.)

    It’s not a situation that is imminent, yet the rumor is at least being batted around regarding the Boston Bruins. First, here’s Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe:

     … The Bruins need help on defense with Dennis Seidenberg out for two months following back surgery. Byfuglien, the dynamic right-shot rover, would help. But the Jets are set in goal long term with Eric Comrie and ex-UMass Lowell puckstopper Connor Hellebuyck in the minors under Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson. The Jets would want one of the Bruins’ two 2016 first-rounders and help off the roster. Winnipeg has to budget cash for Andrew Ladd (unrestricted), Jacob Trouba (restricted), and Mark Scheifele (restricted), whose deals will expire after this season. As unique as Byfuglien is, the UFA-to-be is 30 and is seeking what could be his final big contract. Byfuglien would be a good addition for the Bruins as well as any other club, but one that would come at a cost.

    There may be at least a tiny bit of fire to go with the smoke, as Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the Bruins are looking for a blueliner … but not exclusively Byfuglien.

    Byfuglien’s cap hit of $5.2 million is virtually assured to balloon in his next contract, so the Bruins would need to decide if a] they could (or would want to) re-sign Byfuglien or b] he’d be worth a key asset if he only plays with Boston as a “rental.”

    Again, it doesn’t sound like GM Don Sweeney has his finger hovering over the trigger to make a deal moments from now.

    It’s also worth noting that Byfuglien might not be Boston’s first choice as an upgrade, for a variety of reasons.

    Still … it would be fascinating, wouldn’t it?

    Chicago releases Jan Hejda from tryout

    Colorado Avalanche v Anaheim Ducks

    Saturday featured quite a few instances in which teams cut their training camp rosters down to size, and the Chicago Blackhawks were no exception.

    The standout name was Jan Hejda, who was released from professional tryout contract. Forward Tanner Kero also couldn’t make the grade, yet he’ll just go the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs.

    Hejda, 37, enjoyed a better outlook when he initially received that PTO back on Sept. 12.

    Since then, Chicago bolstered its lineup with full contracts (re-signing Michal Rozsival) and added a PTO defenseman with arguably more in the tank in Lubomir Visnovsky.

    At his advanced age, it’s anyone’s guess if Hejda lands with another NHL team or if he’ll need to settle for a job in the AHL or overseas.

    If nothing else, the thick resume he brought to Chicago helps his chances of finding work somewhere else.

    As CSNChicago.com’s Tracey Myers notes, the Blackhawks’ training camp roster is now down to 36 players.

    Bolts’ Paquette day-to-day, X-ray comes up negative

    Cedric Paquette

    Once you shake off the naivete that comes with sometimes getting a little too excited about results, following pre-season sports is often about crossing your fingers when it comes to injuries.

    The Tampa Bay Lightning are doing that right now when it comes to pest Cedric Paquette, who was shaken up after blocking a shot during Saturday’s 6-3 loss to the Dallas Stars.

    So far, it’s a wait-and-see situation, although there are a few notes to consider.

    The good: Paquette was walking around after the contest, according to the Tampa Bay Times’ Greg Auman.

    The bad: It’s concerning enough to at least call for an X-ray, Auman notes:

    Paquette isn’t a make-or-break player for the Lightning, but you might be surprised how much of a difference a nuisance of a forward (with a dash of skill) can make.

    Update: Sounds like they dodged a bullet.