<span class="vcard">Joe Yerdon</span>

Sheldon Souray

Ducks lose Souray 4-6 months (torn wrist ligament); ink Fistric to one-year deal

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The Anaheim Ducks will be without hard-shooting defenseman Sheldon Souray for a while thanks to an off-ice injury.

The team announced Souray will miss the next 4-to-6 months after suffering a torn ligament in his right wrist while working out off the ice on July 17. He had it operated on back on July 25 and now they’ve got a big hole in their defensive corps. He could be back as early as late-November.

To that end, the team also announced the signing of physical defenseman Mark Fistric, formerly of the Oilers, to a one-year deal.

Souray’s absence on the blue line delivers a harsh blow to a team that was already thin at that position.

His play since arriving in Anaheim has been steady and his well-known slap shot has been productive for the Ducks scoring seven goals with 10 assists last season. He was an obvious top-four guy for them and now they’ll start the season looking a bit rough on the back end.

Fistric will give them a veteran body to help fill Souray’s absence, but he was unspectacular for the Oilers last season.

The Ducks will rely even more on Francois Bueachemin to carry them and hope guys like Cam Fowler, Bryan Allen, and Luca Sbisa can step up their game. Sami Vatanen and Ben Lovejoy will also need to bring their A-game so the Ducks don’t take a beating defensively.

Penguins name Bales goaltending coach

Eric Hartzell, Mike Bales
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After whittling the field down to three, the Penguins have picked their man and he’s a guy familiar with the team already.

The team named former NHL backup Mike Bales as their new goaltending coach and he’ll have his work cut out for him in trying to restore Marc-Andre Fleury’s game to a level fitting a No. 1 guy. He spent the past two years as the team’s goaltending development coach working with guys in the minors.

Penguins GM Ray Shero tells Michelle Crechiolo at the Pens’ website he’s confident Bales can get the job done.

“I’m very happy that we hired him a couple years ago to get him to this point, because you can see what he’s done for our organization and what he has brought,” he said. “So I think it’s a good hire for us and a real good opportunity for Mike.”

If he can get Fleury back into being a top goalie, that’ll go a long way to establishing his credibility. After the way the Pens have seen him play the past two years in the postseason, any kind of help would be appreciated.

Sharks unveil new, slightly tweaked uniforms

Joe Thornton - new jerseys
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Ah, the joys of the offseason when our thoughts turn from free agent signings to teams changing their uniforms.

The San Jose Sharks are the latest to do so and it’s just a few polite alterations to their home and away jerseys. The team, calling it “The Next Wave,” unveiled their new look on their website and if you haven’t watched much of the Sharks lately you may not see what’s different.

First the home jersey as modeled by captain Joe Thornton:

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And the road whites as worn by Dan Boyle:

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So what’s different? The stripes at the bottom are gone as are the black shoulder yokes. They’ve also eliminated one of the orange stripes on the sleeves. Essentially, they’ve made their new jerseys out to be just like their black third jerseys (which they’re still going to wear) and that’s OK.

It’s a cleaner, neater look and hey, it gives Sharks fans and jersey nuts a reason to go drop some more bank on new gear.

Charlie Coyle looks to be Minnesota’s next breakout star

Charlie Coyle
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One of the things that helped attract Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to Minnesota last summer was the wealth of young talent in the Wild pipeline. Last season, a few of those guys had a chance to show what they were made of.

You know all about Calder Trophy finalist defenseman Jonas Brodin by now, but the guy who might be the biggest key is forward Charlie Coyle.

Coyle broke out last season and earned a spot on the Wild’s top line playing right wing alongside Parise and Mikko Koivu. After tallying eight goals and six assists in 37 games and adding two more helpers in the playoffs, he showed that he’s got the game to keep up with the big boys.

This season, Coyle could start as the team’s second line center but will have to beat out fellow top prospect Mikael Granlund to do it.

Before you question that, know that Coyle’s natural position is at the pivot and both he and Granlund have tremendous offensive upside. After seeing Granlund bounce between the Wild and the AHL last season, you have to think Coyle has the advantage.

What’s important to note here is that one of those two players has to step up for the Wild to be a playoff team again. Minnesota’s dedication to them ensured that Matt Cullen would leave as a free agent, signing with Nashville for two years.

Kyle Brodziak is a solid centerman, but if the Wild are counting on him to play on the second line should Coyle or Granlund struggle, that’s a bad sign. If there’s something a team counting on young players to step up doesn’t need it’s seeing both of their top prospects fall short of expectations.

Given what Coyle showed last season and the confidence GM Chuck Fletcher and coach Mike Yeo have shown in him, things are looking up for fans in Minnesota.

Red Wings re-sign Nyquist — two years, $1.9 million

Gustav Nyquist
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The final player the Detroit Red Wings had to get under contract is finally in the fold.

The team announced the signing of restricted free agent Gustav Nyquist to a two-year deal. Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports the contract is worth a total of $1.9 million, good for a team-friendly cap hit of $950,000.

Nyquist had an opportunity to emerge last season with Detroit and took advantage of it scoring three goals and three assists in 22 games. It was in the playoffs, however, where he made more of an impact with two goals and three assists that included an overtime winner in Game 2 against Anaheim.

Last season, he put up monster numbers in the AHL with Grand Rapids when not in Detroit and was an AHL All-Star. This season, he should get plenty of time to show what he’s got as a full-time NHL player.

Now the Red Wings will have to figure out who amongst their 16 signed forwards stays and who goes as they’ll have to get under the salary cap to start the year.