Author: Joe Yerdon

David Backes, Alex Pietrangelo, Jonathan Quick

Pietrangelo: ‘I wanted to be a St. Louis Blue for a long time’


After the St. Louis Blues ended their own summer of worry by signing cornerstone defenseman Alex Pietrangelo to a seven-year, $45.5 million deal, that was able to get the team fully ready to make a run at the Stanley Cup.

One of the many good things to come out of it for the Blues was the long-term commitment. As Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch shares, it was something Pietrangelo wanted all along.

“Ultimately I wanted to be a St. Louis Blue for a long time and this is something that made sense to me and made sense to my family,” Pietrangelo said. “Obviously it’s a relief to get it done. I think I’ve been all smiles since yesterday when things finally got announced.”

The time for smiles may continue for St. Louis as they’ll be one of the favorites to challenge for the Stanley Cup this season. Pietrangelo getting back in the fold was the final player to get taken care of and as their No. 1 defenseman, he’s vital to make that happen.

Related: Video: Blues GM says Pietrangelo ‘a potential Norris Trophy’ winner

Roy says O’Reilly and Duchene are ‘clicking really well’

Ryan O'Reilly, Matt Duchene

Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy will have his hands full in his first year with the team, but he’s got a pair of players that already demanding his attention in the best way.

Adrian Dater of The Denver Post hears it from Roy about the way forwards Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Duchene have become a sort of dynamic duo so far in training camp for the Avs.

“Wow. I thought it was a nice clinic out there,” said Roy, when asked about their performance. “He and Ryan seem to work really well together.”

“Ryan is a smart guy. He’s so good along the wall,” Roy said. “He’s really making room for ‘Dutchy,’ and they’re clicking really well.”

That’s good news for the Avalanche as Duchene, along with P.A. Parenteau, were their two bright spots last season. Getting O’Reilly to join him in picking up his game would be a boon to the Avalanche attack.

As it is, the Avs are set up to have a potentially exciting offense with 2013 first overall pick Nathan MacKinnon joining the team and playing the third line. With him joining Paul Stastny, Alex Tanguay, and Gabriel Landeskog, offense should be one area they don’t have to worry about this year.

Nabokov eager to get new season underway

Evgeni Nabokov

At 38 years old, Evgeni Nabokov has seen it all in the NHL. When it comes to moving on past an early playoff exit, he knows what that’s like all too well.

As he tells Arthur Staple of New York Newsday, he moved on past his disappointing play in that series already and is ready to get started anew.

“With me, 2-3 weeks and it’s out of the window. We have to move on,” Nabokov said. “We can’t continue to think about what happened last year. Last year is last year; it was a 48-game season, was totally different. That’s in the past. Who cares? I don’t care.”

You have to love the stubbornness of a veteran goalie.

Nabokov is right to want to forget about that series because he played poorly against the high-powered Penguins putting up a .842 save percentage and a 4.44 goals-against average. If he let that performance linger in his memory, he might have nightmares.

As it is, he’s gunning to lead the Islanders even higher in the standings this year in the new Metropolitan Division. Now that the Islanders have gotten a taste for the playoffs, they don’t want it to be another five years before they get back again.

Leafs rookie Rielly making a case to stay early in camp

Morgan Rielly

Toronto Maple Leafs rookie Morgan Rielly is making life tough on team management in training camp.

The 19-year-old defenseman came into camp knowing he had to impress everyone and then some to earn a spot with the Leafs and as Mark Zwolinski of The Toronto Star shares, he’s doing just that early on. Coach Randy Carlyle says he has to keep it going into the team’s first preseason game against Philadelphia.

“He has to play to his strengths . . . you see what he can do — get up in the rush — and he did that there on that goal,” Carlyle said. “He has to do that in an exhibition game, then the next one after that and so on.”

Rielly was paired up with team captain Dion Phaneuf yesterday at camp and such a pairing likely wasn’t done on a lark.

If he can work well with the team’s best defenseman, and if there’s chemistry, he could force Carlyle and GM Dave Nonis to give him a longer look into the regular season.

While that could make the team’s already dicey salary cap situation more difficult, if it means the team finds their new No. 2 blue liner, they might just be OK with that.

Related: Leafs need to be careful with prized prospect Rielly

Callahan (shoulder) says there’s a ‘slim chance’ he’s ready for Rangers opener

Ryan Callahan

New York Rangers captain Ryan Callahan would love to be ready for the season opener against the Phoenix Coyotes, but he doesn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up.

Callahan tells Jim Cerny at Blueshirts United he’s gunning to be back in the lineup, but says the possibility of that happening isn’t looking too good.

“I’m trying to work my way back as soon as I can here with rehab and strengthening my shoulder,” explained Callahan. “I’m not going to put anything out of my mind until that day (opening night) has passed. I think there’s a slim chance that could happen, but I’m not going to say ‘No’ until that day has passed.”

Callahan had his shoulder operated on this summer and did prepare the team by saying his rehab could last into the start of the season back in late July.

Starting off the season without one of their top forwards isn’t optimal, especially with Derek Stepan still as yet unsigned, but now the onus is on Rick Nash and Brad Richards to come flying out of the gates to get the team off on the right foot.