On Wednesday morning, the NHL released the 23-man rosters ahead of the start of the 2015-16 regular season — meaning we’re that much closer to the start of real hockey.
You can view all of the rosters in the attachment below, but here are a few quick highlights:
• Six players selected at the ’15 draft made opening night rosters: Connor McDavid (Edmonton) Noah Hanifin (Carolina), Mikko Rantanen (Colorado), Daniel Sprong (Pittsburgh) and two Sabres — Jack Eichel (the No. 2 overall pick) and Brendan Guhle (51st overall, but currently injured.)
• The oldest player is Florida’s Jaromir Jagr, who turns 44 in February.
• The youngest is Guhle, who turned 18 in July.
• Buffalo will open with the most players on the injured list, with six: Guhle, Zach Bogosian, Josh Gorges, Cody McCormick, Bobby Sanguinetti and Linus Ullmark.
• Three teams — Carolina, Nashville and San Jose — have no players listed as injured.
CLICK HERE TO SEE ALL 30 OPENING-NIGHT ROSTERS
CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Blackhawks have placed defenseman Michal Rozsival on long-term injured reserve.
The Blackhawks also recalled defenseman Ville Pokka from Rockford of the American Hockey League and assigned defenseman Viktor Svedberg to the IceHogs.
Rozsival broke his left ankle in Game 4 of Chicago’s second-round sweep against Minnesota in the playoffs. He re-signed with the Stanley Cup champions last month.
The Blackhawks host the New York Rangers in their season opener on Wednesday night.
The team announced the moves on Tuesday.
Pavel Zacha was this close to making his NHL debut.
Just days prior to opening their season against the Jets, the Devils returned Zacha — the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft — back to his junior club in OHL Sarnia.
The move comes after Zacha, 18, impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. He appeared in four exhibition games for New Jersey, scoring one point while endearing himself to the organizational brass, coaching staff and players.
“He understands the game. He plays with a maturity. It’s crazy to think an 18-year-old coming out of high school is up here and playing with the maturity and understanding of the game with the new system,” Kyle Palmieri told NJ.com. “I think he’s got a lot of raw talent there as a power forward. He’s got the body for it, the puck-handling skills and the nose for the net.”
At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Zacha has the frame and physical stature to play at the NHL level, and looked the part for long stretches of the exhibition season, getting turns on New Jersey’s top line.
The decision to send him back to junior is probably the right one, however.
Zacha only turned 18 in April and has limited experience even at the OHL level; ’14-15 was his first year with Sarnia, though he did appear in 38 Czech League games (for Liberec) the season prior.
There’s another Raffl in the NHL.
On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.
Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.
“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.
With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.
For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.
We don’t usually pass along minor-league transactions, but this one’s intriguing — the New Jersey Devils have acquired Brian O’Neill, the reigning American League MVP, from the Los Angeles Kings.
In exchange, L.A. receives a conditional seventh-round pick.
O’Neill, 27, scored 78 points in 69 games for Manchester last season, then another 20 in 19 playoff games as the Monarchs captured the Calder Cup. O’Neill finished third in playoff scoring, losing out on playoff MVP honors to teammate Jordan Weal.
It’ll be interesting to see if O’Neill can parlay the AHL MVP award into NHL success. The ’13-14 winner, Texas’ Travis Morin, got a handful of games with the Dallas Stars the following year and the winner two seasons ago, Tyler Johnson, has gone on to become a star in Tampa Bay.
Whatever the case, O’Neill looks to have a greater shot at NHL minutes in New Jersey than in Los Angeles. The Kings are stacked at forward while the Devils have been adding veterans on the cheap in recent weeks, signing the likes of Jiri Tlusty and Lee Stempniak to one-year deals.