Jason Brough

Joffrey Lupul

Lupul to start season on injured reserve, still aims to play again

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Joffrey Lupul will, indeed, start the season on injured reserve.

“It is with deep regret that I will be unable to attend training camp and start the season with the Leafs due to injury,” he said Thursday in a written statement. “I pledge to work hard with a view to return to playing this season. Hockey is the only life I have known. This is an extremely emotional time for me. Accordingly, I will not be making any further comment at this time.”

Lupul appeared in just 46 games last season, scoring 11 goals with three assists. He had sports hernia surgery in February, and with that he was shut down for the remainder of the season.

The 32-year-old has two years left on his contract, with a cap hit of $5.25 million.

Related: Lupul just ‘trying to get healthy’

After going through ‘some stuff’ last year, Johansen professes: ‘I’m in the best shape of my life’

Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen, second from left, celebrates a goal by teammate James Neal, not shown, against Anaheim Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen, of Denmark, lower right, in the second period of Game 6 in an NHL hockey first-round Stanley Cup playoff series Monday, April 25, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Ryan Johansen, after his conditioning was brought into question last season in Columbus, is feeling a lot better about his fitness today, as he prepares for his first full year with the Nashville Predators.

“I went through some stuff, just with my body last year, that I had to figure out and do some adjusting to,” Johansen told Sports Illustrated in an interview. “It took a lot more time than I thought. It’s something I was able to focus on this summer. Now being able to come and look at you and say I’m in the best shape of my life.”

He was asked to expand on the “stuff” he went through, but preferred to keep that to himself. “Just stuff with the body.”

There are high expectations in Nashville for the 24-year-old center, a former fourth overall draft pick of the Blue Jackets. The Preds gave up Seth Jones to get him, with GM David Poile calling his big acquisition a true “No. 1 center, something we have been coveting for a long, long time. We have been looking for a No. 1 center forever.”

Poile told SI what he’s expecting from Johansen: “To be our leading scorer. To have really good numbers offensively. To be a player who can be used in more situations than last year.”

Basically, he’s expecting Johansen to reach his potential and prove that he actually is a No. 1 center, the kind that Stanley Cup champions always possess, from Sidney Crosby to Jonathan Toews to Anze Kopitar and the list goes on and on.


Team USA takes issue with Kessel’s tweet

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 19:  Zach Parise #9 (C) of the United States celebrates with teammates Phil Kessel #81 of the United States and Ryan Suter #20 of the United States after scoring his team's fourth goal in the second period against Ondrej Pavelec #31 of the Czech Republic during the Men's Ice Hockey Quarterfinal Playoff on Day 12 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Shayba Arena on February 19, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Not surprisingly, Phil Kessel‘s tweet did not sit well with members of Team USA.

“Didn’t Phil have surgery?” Zach Parise said today, per Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press. “I don’t think he could even play, anyway. His tweet didn’t really make sense.”

David Backes added that certain tweets (Bobby Ryan had one as well) “have been read and I think will be remembered.”

In case you somehow missed it, Kessel tweeted after Team USA’s 4-2 loss to Canada last night: “Just sitting around the house tonight w my dog. Felt like I should be doing something important, but couldn’t put my finger on it.”

The tweet has since been retweeted over 64,000 times.

Kessel, of course, was not chosen to represent the United States at the World Cup, despite being named the best forward at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

He wasn’t the only USA Hockey alumnus to use social media to express displeasure with the Americans’ performance:

“Fact is we were constructed this way,” Backes argued, per Yahoo Sports. “We didn’t go out and play the right way and the players didn’t execute on the ice and I don’t know – criticism is going to be spread out. I’ll take my fair share, but we didn’t get the job done. Open season maybe for a little while here. We’re going to need to take the criticism. Listen to some, maybe block out others but in the end we didn’t get the job done and it didn’t fold out the way we wanted to. I still believe this is the way we needed to be built. We didn’t go out there and do it.”

Related: Tortorella defends Team USA’s roster, blames loss to Canada on ‘self-inflicted’ mistakes

Clarkson fails physical, won’t be ready for Jackets training camp

David Clarkson

David Clarkson has failed his physical and will not be with the Blue Jackets when they start training camp, reports Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch.

The 32-year-old winger has a lower-back injury, according to Jackets president of hockey ops John Davidson.

Injuries limited Clarkson, whose contract is insured, to just 23 games (2G, 2A) for the Jackets last season. He was traded to Columbus from Toronto in February of last year, in return for injured winger Nathan Horton (whose contract is not insured and who hasn’t played an NHL game in over two years).

Clarkson is signed through 2019-20 for a cap hit of $5.25 million, and the way his contract is structured makes it practically buyout-proof.  But if cap relief is required, the Jackets may now be able to place him on long-term injured reserve.

When, or if, he’ll be able to play again remains to be seen.

Report: Orlov to sign one-year deal with Caps, could get top-four role this season

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 25: Dmitry Orlov #9 of the Washington Capitals celebrates after scoring a goal in the second period against the Winnipeg Jets at Verizon Center on November 25, 2015 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals are on the verge of signing defenseman Dmitry Orlov to a one-year contract worth “in the neighborhood of $2.6 million,” according to the Washington Post. 

Orlov, 25, is a restricted free agent. He made $2.25 million last season, when he scored a career high-29 points in 82 games.

“I would like to stay [in Washington],” he said recently. “But I don’t know how it’s going to happen. We’ll see.”

From the Post’s report:

The reason the contract talks have taken this long likely has more to do with Orlov wanting a more substantial role with the team than disagreements over salary or term. Orlov averaged about 16 minutes per game last season, mostly playing on the third defensive pairing. He didn’t kill penalties, and his power play time was limited.

Throughout the summer, the Capitals’ coaching staff and management has repeatedly spoken of giving more responsibility to Orlov, potentially pairing him with Matt Niskanen or John Carlson in a top-four role. That would involve playing more minutes with more challenging defensive assignments. Though he wouldn’t be getting much of a raise on a one-year deal worth about $2.6 million, the sales pitch could be that he’d have an opportunity for more production as a top defenseman and then sign a more profitable deal in a year, when Washington is expected to have more salary cap space because Justin Williams, Daniel Winnik, T.J. Oshie and Karl Alzner will be hitting unrestricted free agency.

If Orlov does indeed get a top-four role on the left side, it could mean less ice time for 35-year-old Brooks Orpik, who still has three years left on his contract, with a cap hit of $5.5 million. And if it’s not Orpik that plays less, it will have to be Alzner.

Orlov is currently playing for Russia at the World Cup.