Author: James O'Brien

Toronto Maple Leafs v Philadelphia Flyers

Simmonds expected to wear the ‘A’ in Philly


Ever since he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers heading into the 2011-12 season, Wayne Simmonds has fit in seamlessly, jumping a level or three among the league’s brightest power forwards. It only makes sense that he’s likely to be named one of the team’s alternate captains, then, as the Courier-Post’s Dave Isaac reports.

The 26-year-old has scored at right under a 30-goal pace in every season with Philly (his 15 goals from the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season would translate to about 27 tallies) while bringing the sort of physical game that endears himself to Philly fans.

(The Score’s Justin Bourne provides a fascinating view on how deft Simmonds is at the unappreciated role of being a net-front presence on the power play, too.)

With Scott Hartnell in Columbus and Kimmo Timonen’s health in serious doubt, one might believe that the Flyers are experiencing a leadership void, yet players like Simmonds could very well pick up the slack. Isaacs notes that it’s unclear who may be the other player to wear an “A,” but some believe a veteran like Mark Streit would fit the bill.

There are more than a few people who wonder if the Flyers can “out-score their problems” next season. If they manage that, Simmons will be one of the players (literally and figuratively) leading the way.

Stars’ Peverley can work out, but isn’t allowed to skate yet

Rich Peverley
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If Dallas Stars forward Rich Peverley manages to return to from his frightening March collapse, it sounds like he’ll need to take his rehab step-by-step.

The Dallas Morning News passes along word from GM James Nill that Peverley is allowed to work out, but not skate just yet.

“He’s cleared to work out, but not cleared to go on the ice yet,” Nill told the Dallas Morning News. “He has to go to a cardiologist to be tested, and there’s no timeline on that right now.”

Much like the Philadelphia Flyers with Kimmo Timonen’s blood clot concerns, the Stars are understandably taking a cautious approach with the 32-year-old forward, who dealt with other cardiac issues before that scary moment.

(In case you’re wondering, Nill said he’s “not sure” if there will be a point where doctors just tell Peverley to shut his comeback attempts down.)

The versatile center seems aware that this is going to a process that might include some bumps in the road.

“It’s a process, and there are a lot of steps,” Peverley told the Dallas Morning-News back in June. “I’m trying to take the steps one at a time and just see what happens. If I can play, that will be great.

“If I can’t, then I’ll deal with that at that time.”

Peverley has one year remaining on his current contract, which carries a $3.25 million cap hit.

Columbus reacts to Horton (back) being out indefinitely

Dallas Stars v Columbus Blue Jackets

Piggybacking off of last night’s ominous news, it appears that the Columbus Blue Jackets consider Nathan Horton “out indefinitely” because of his back issues, according to the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline.

Functionally speaking, the reading is the same as Wednesday: he might miss the beginning of the regular season or perhaps a significant chunk of it. Things seem pretty cloudy for a 29-year-old forward who just can’t seem to get healthy with his still-fairly-new team.

On the bright side, Portzline passes along word from Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen that surgery is unlikely in this case.

Another bright side: the team’s website seems to give a more optimistic reading, with Rob Mixer noting that there’s a feeling he might not miss the beginning of the season.

With Ryan Johansen stuck in awkward negotiation limbo and Horton out indefinitely, it’s difficult not to feel like the Blue Jackets’ considerable momentum might be slowing down (even if Jack Johnson says the team’s known about Horton’s issues for a while now). Portzline outlines how the team might deal with Horton’s absence, including this:

One consideration is to move Boone Jenner from left wing to center, his natural position. That would give the club Dubinsky, Jenner, Artem Anisimov and Mark Letestu down the middle.

Or, the Blue Jackets could keep Jenner on the wing and simply move each of Dubinsky, Anisimov and Letestu up a line. In that scenario, they’d probably look at Alexander Wennberg, Marko Dano or Michael Chaput as the fourth line center.

Those constellations don’t exactly strike fear in the heart of opponents (on paper, at least), but the Blue Jackets believed that they succeeded by taking a “rat-like” mentality in 2013-14. Those foul rodents are known for being resilient, if nothing else, right?

Oh, and speaking of Johansen, Portzline reports that his camp passed along a new proposal for a two-year deal to the team, so perhaps there could be a light at the end of that tunnel?

Flyers’ Timonen admits chances of playing are ‘really slim’

Toronto Maple Leafs v Philadelphia Flyers

Kimmo Timonen and the Philadelphia Flyers aren’t ready to close the door on him playing in the NHL again, but the defenseman admitted on Thursday that his chances of playing are “really slim.”

The 39-year-old isn’t ready to retire outright just yet.

Hextall apologized that there isn’t really a “black or white” prognosis as of today, yet he at least narrowed things down a bit. He said Timonen will be out for months and that the team will probably take another look at his condition in early 2015.

Timonen notes that blood clot issues run in his family and that he might need to stay on blood thinners for the rest of his life.

The experienced blueliner notes that he can participate in exercise-like activities, but isn’t allowed to participate in contact sports if he’s still on blood thinners. He also noted that he won’t be skating anytime soon.

Timonen admits that it would be really frustrating if his career ends this way – “it wouldn’t be the way I wanted to leave” – yet obviously his health is the top priority. The best news is that he sounds pretty healthy overall.

For a look at how the Flyers will look without Timonen (for at least a few months), click here.

Ducks invite Yip to training camp for tryout

Brandon Yip, Derek Forbort

The Anaheim Ducks released their 2014 training camp roster on Wednesday, revealing two tryout invites: forward Brandon Yip (pictured) and defenseman Brendan Bell.

Yip, 29, only managed to play two games with the then-Phoenix Coyotes last season. He spent most of his time with the AHL’s Portland Pirates, collecting 87 penalty minutes while generating 34 points in 66 games.

One could probably label Yip an “energy” forward, as he’s not a great scorer and his possession stats leave plenty to be desired. Still, he’s done quite well considering the fact that he was an eight-round pick (239th overall by the Colorado Avalanche in 2004).

Bell, 31, hasn’t seen NHL action since he managed a single game with the New York Rangers back in 2011-12. He managed 102 scattered NHL games so far between the Phoenix Coyotes, Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators.

Bell spent last season in Switzerland with Biel, scoring 17 points in 42 games.

One would imagine both players are more likely to earn two-way or even AHL contracts, but you never know (especially with Yip).