The Vancouver Canucks scored the second-fewest goals in the NHL last season, in part because they got so little offensive push from their blue line.
So it’s no surprise that Jordan Subban has become a popular topic in Vancouver as training camp approaches. The 21-year-old defenseman had 36 points (11G, 25A) in 67 games for AHL Utica last season, his first year as a professional. It’s not out of the question that he makes his NHL debut at some point in 2016-17.
“He had a real good year last year, offensively,” Canucks president Trevor Linden said Friday on TSN 1040. “I think he’s understanding where he has to be on the defensive side of things, and just that consistency. I think bringing that consistent work level to practice, his professional habits, he took a big step last year. He’s a committed kid. He’s a hard worker. He’s a great kid.”
Linden balked when asked about Subban’s chances of getting the call up to the Canucks this season. The knock on P.K.’s younger brother has always been his size. He’s listed at just 5-9 and 178 pounds.
“When you’re undersized, you need to figure out how to defend,” said Linden. “He’s got a great opportunity to show well here in training camp, and we’ll see where he is.”
The Canucks are expected to give NHL returnee Philip Larsen the first crack at running their power play, but if he fails to get results, Subban could be a right-shot option.
Related: P.K. Subban thinks brother Jordan will be ‘the best of all of us’
After 1,008 games in the NHL, Shawn Horcoff appears headed for retirement. According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the 37-year-old will join the Detroit Red Wings in a player-development role.
Horcoff, a Michigan State product who makes his home today in Michigan, was drafted 99th overall in 1998 by the Edmonton Oilers. He was a big part of Edmonton’s surprise run to the 2006 Stanley Cup Final, scoring seven goals and 12 assists in 24 playoff games.
Horcoff would finish his career with stints in Dallas and Anaheim. His last season in the NHL was marred by a 20-game suspension for violating terms of the league’s performance-enhancing substances program.
“While recovering from an injury I suffered this past fall, I tried a treatment that I believed would help speed up the healing process,” Horcoff said in a statement. “Although I was unaware that this treatment was not permitted under NHL rules, that is no excuse whatsoever.”
Per the Edmonton Sun, Horcoff said in August that he’d “only be interested in moving my family if it was one of five or six teams. I have an 11-year-old boy (Will) and a nine-year-old girl (Jade) in school. They’re just starting their school year. I’ve kind of set a Sept. 1 deadline … if I don’t get anything, I’ll tell my agent to look at other things.”
Jonathan Quick went into the World Cup exhibition schedule as the favorite to start for Team USA, and he did nothing to cast any doubt.
In two pre-tournament appearances, Quick stopped 62 of the 65 shots he faced (.954). He was especially brilliant in beating Team Canada last Friday in Columbus, turning aside 29 of 30 shots.
Head coach John Tortorella confirmed today that Quick, a two-time Stanley Cup winner for the Los Angeles Kings, will be in goal when the Americans begin group play tomorrow against Team Europe. Ben Bishop is expected to back up, after Cory Schneider struggled in his only exhibition appearance.
The way things went in pre-tournament action, if Team USA has any chance of winning the World Cup, Quick could be the key.
“I mean, he can outright steal a game that swings the whole tournament,” said defenseman Matt Niskanen, per NHL.com. “It’s completely a real possibility that he not only makes all the easy saves and makes it look easy, but there’s going to be a couple doozies in there that could swing momentum. He has that ability for sure.”
The way Henrik Lundqvist sees it, he can’t be too critical of himself. Even though he struggled down the stretch last season, and even though he really struggled in the playoffs, he still had a good year, all things considered.
“I think that yes, last year was a little bit up and down, but when I looked back on the whole season it wasn’t too bad, not with the amount of shots I saw and not with the number of great chances I faced,” Lundqvist told the New York Post yesterday.
He added, “In a way, it was a fun year because I did see a lot of action and more close-in shots, so as a goalie, you challenge yourself more.”
Lundqvist went 35-21-7 with a .920 save percentage last season. While his remarks do not reflect very well on his teammates, they weren’t inaccurate, as no goalie in the NHL faced more shots (1,944) than he did.
And as The Post notes:
According to CorsicaHockey.com, Lundqvist faced the greatest number of high-danger chances in the league by a substantial margin. That was the result of the Blueshirts’ chaotic play in their own end pretty much from start to finish. Though there are discrepancies among several stat-oriented websites calculating Lundqvist’s high-danger save percentage, he ranked between second and fifth in all of them.
Related: AV concedes the Rangers had a ‘puck-moving’ problem
After two years in the KHL with Omsk Avangard, it still remains to be seen if Vladimir Sobotka will make his NHL return to the St. Louis Blues in 2016-17.
The holdup is related to his KHL contract, which has one year left on it. He was expected to opt out of that final year, but clearly the process hasn’t been so easy.
“We’re still talking and we’ll see what’s going to happen during the World Cup,” said Sobotka, per ESPN.com. “After that, I think we’re going to be smarter. It’s been going on for five months and I’ve had enough of it. It’s my agent’s job to to keep talking and we’ll see.”
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed via the Associated Press that Sobotka was having “issues” returning to the Blues.
It will not be a crippling blow to the Blues if they can’t get the 29-year-old center back, but it will be disappointing all the same. Head coach Ken Hitchcock, for instance, has talked about the “great chemistry” between Sobotka and winger Jaden Schwartz.
Sobotka had nine goals and 24 assists in 61 games for the Blues in 2013-14, his last season in the NHL before jumping to the KHL.