Jason Brough

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Report: Jets to place Pavelec on waivers today

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Ondrej Pavelec appears to be the odd man out in the Jets’ goalie battle. According to Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun, the club will place Pavelec on waivers today.

If Pavelec clears, he’d presumably be assigned to the AHL, leaving Michael Hutchinson, 26, and Connor Hellebuyck, 23, as the two NHL netminders.

Pavelec, 29, is in the final year of a much-maligned five-year, $19.5 million contract. He went 13-13-4 with a .904 save percentage last season. His career NHL save rate is just .907.

There was a hint on Saturday that something like this might be brewing, when Pavelec was not given the start in the Jets’ final preseason game. When all was said and done, Pavelec only made one start in the preseason, compared to three for Hutchinson and two for Hellebuyck.

In an odd twist, Pavelec actually earned a shutout in that lone start, stopping all 31 shots he faced in a 4-0 victory over Calgary last Sunday. For that, he was named the game’s first star.

Report: Talks ‘intensifying’ between Bolts and Kucherov, likely a bridge deal coming

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Nikita Kucherov hasn’t signed yet, but according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, he’s “likely” to suit up for the Lightning on Thursday when they open their regular season at home to Detroit.

McKenzie reported this morning that negotiations between Kucherov and the Bolts have been “intensifying.” The 23-year-old winger is a restricted free agent. It’s probable, says McKenzie, that it’s a bridge deal, as opposed to a long-term contract.

Tampa Bay has less than $6 million in cap space at the moment, per General Fanager.

Related: Yzerman thinks he can get Kucherov signed without making a trade first

Once a major weakness, the defense is now the ‘engine’ of the Blue Jackets

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When Dan Boyle officially retired last week, his former coach in Tampa Bay, John Tortorella, called him the “engine” of the 2004 Stanley Cup-winning Lightning squad.

Boyle had an outstanding career as an NHL defenseman, putting up 605 points in 1,093 games.

So it’s interesting that Tortorella chose to use the same metaphor in describing his young defense in Columbus.

“That’s our engine,” Tortorella said of Ryan Murray, Seth JonesZach Werenski, and training-camp surprise Markus Nutivaara, per the Columbus Dispatch.

“We can’t wait to work with them through it. There are going to be some struggles with it, but to see the youth and the legs and the puck skills … When you understand the big picture of what we’re going through, it’s exciting.”

The Blue Jackets’ back end was a major weakness last year, to the point they traded their franchise center, Ryan Johansen, to get Jones out of Nashville.

Now, all of a sudden, the future of the defense looks extremely bright. Murray is still only 23; Jones and Nutivaara are 22; Werenski is just 19.

To be sure, the Jackets are still expected to struggle this season. The defense is talented but inexperienced, and the forward group is less than impressive. If there’s any hope for a playoff spot, it’s that Sergei Bobrovsky can stand on his head in goal.

But long term, there’s optimism.

“Within our organization, and some didn’t come to camp, there’s some good speed and skill to get up the ice coming from our back end,” Tortorella said, per the Dispatch, recently. “We have youth in that situation. I don’t think it’s all going to come together right away, but the progression of this is very encouraging.”

Flyers’ Del Zotto out 4-5 weeks with reported knee injury

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Flyers defenseman Michael Del Zotto will miss 4-5 weeks with a lower-body injury, the club announced today.

The team did not say how Del Zotto was injured. The 26-year-old logged 16:34 in Thursday’s preseason game against the Rangers. It is reportedly a knee injury.

The Flyers announced just yesterday that defenseman Brandon Manning was week-to-week with an upper-body injury, and also that forward Scott Laughton would be out 3-4 weeks with a lower-body injury.

Manning said this morning that he hopes to be ready for Friday’s opener is Los Angeles, but if it wasn’t a given before that 19-year-old Ivan Provorov will start the season in the NHL, it surely is now.

Related: Impressive Travis Konecny pushing for roster spot in Philly

Rangers waive Glass and Gerbe, opening-night roster appears to be set

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The New York Rangers put a couple of veteran forwards, Tanner Glass and Nathan Gerbe, on waivers today, presumably to send them to the AHL should they clear.

Glass, 32, had just four goals in 57 games last season, while struggling badly in terms of possession. He has one year left on his contract, at a cap hit of $1.45 million. (His cap hit will be reduced to $500,000 while he’s in the minors.)

Gerbe, 29, was signed to a one-year, $600,000 deal on July 1. But the addition of Jimmy Vesey in August didn’t help Gerbe’s chances of making the opening-night roster.

The Rangers are now down to 24 players, and that includes Oscar Lindberg, who will reportedly start on injured reserve after having offseason hip surgery.

So in reality, the Rangers have made all the cuts they need to make. They start the regular season Thursday at home to the Islanders. They finished their preseason schedule with a record of 2-2-2.

Related: Pavel Buchnevich is looking to make the leap