Mike Halford

New York Islanders v Philadelphia Flyers
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Grabovski (concussion) not cleared for Isles camp

The concussion issues that plagued Mikhail Grabovski throughout last season have gone into this season, too.

Grabovski, who only appeared in 58 games last season, is still dealing with symptoms and, per Newsday, hasn’t been cleared to skate — meaning he’s unable to participate as the Isles open training camp today.

The 32-year-old hasn’t suited up since Mar. 15 of last year, when he returned from a 10-game absence to play 17 minutes in a shootout loss to Pittsburgh.

At the time, the Isles were happy to have Grabovski back in the lineup, but the feeling was fleeting. Immediately after the Pittsburgh game, the club sent Grabovski back to New York for medical evaluation.

He didn’t play another game that year, or in the club’s playoff run.

Despite the injury-plagued campaign, “Grabbo” was reasonably effective in ’15-16. He had nine goals and 25 points while averaging just over 14 minutes per night.

Moving forward, one has to think the Isles are preparing for life without the veteran center. It’s entirely possible Grabovski could open the season on LTIR, which would represent nearly $5 million in cap relief.

The Isles signed Grabovski to a four-year, $20 million a little over two years ago. That contract is set to expire in the summer of 2018.

Detroit heads into training camp all kinds of banged up

Detroit Red Wings v Boston Bruins
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Niklas Kronwall wonders if his knee will ever be pain-free.

Jonathan Ericsson said his ailing hip gets a little worse every year.

Henrik Zetterberg is limited due to the injury that kept him out of the World Cup.

Teemu Pulkkinen is hoping to be a full camp participant after undergoing shoulder surgery in June.

And now, you can add Tomas Jurco to the list of walking wounded — on Thursday, Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill announced Jurco would be out until early November after undergoing back surgery.

Jurco, 23, is coming off a bit of a disappointing ’15-16 campaign, in which he only scored four goals and six points in 44 appearances. Those numbers were all down from the previous year (three goals, 18 points in 63 games), with the decrease in games played probably the most alarming.

Jurco was repeatedly a healthy scratch both during the regular season and in the playoffs. In an effort to get him some playing time, the Wings sent Jurco down to AHL Grand Rapids on a conditioning stint in mid-November.

The bigger story, of course, is Detroit’s health heading into the campaign. In addition to the five guys listed above, Wings GM Ken Holland has already ruled out both Johan Franzen and Joe Vitale for the year, as both are dealing with concussion issues.

 

 

Flames sign Korpikoski to PTO

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 03: Lauri Korpikoski #28 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center on March 3, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Oilers shutout the Flyers 4-0.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Calgary has added a veteran presence that’s familiar with the Battle of Alberta.

On Thursday, the club announced it’s signed veteran forward Lauri Korpikoski to a training camp PTO.

Korpikoski, 30, spent all of last season with Calgary’s provincial rival in Edmonton. He scored 10 goals and 22 points in 71 games for the Oilers, averaging just under 14 minutes a night.

That performance was good enough to earn one of the initial 16 spots on Team Finland at the World Cup of Hockey — and, thus far, Korpikoski has been a lineup regular, appearing in both group stage games for the Finns.

Originally a first-round pick of the Rangers in 2004, Korpikoski has appeared in over 500 career NHL contests, the majority of them coming with the Coyotes.

It was also in Arizona where he enjoyed his finest NHL campaign, a 19-goal, 40-point effort during the 2010-11 season.

Galchenyuk to start as No. 1 center in Montreal

Montreal Canadiens' Alex Galchenyuk celebrates after scoring against the New York Islanders during third-period NHL hockey game action in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Graham Hughes)
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When the Habs took Alex Galchenyuk third overall at the 2012 draft, they hoped they were getting their top-line center of the future.

And now, the plan has come together.

Per the Gazette, Montreal head coach Michel Therrien said he will open this season with Galchenyuk as his No. 1 center, on a line with Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher.

That would bump veteran Tomas Plekanec down to the No. 2 spot, next to Alex Radulov and Andrew Shaw.

“I’m always ready for a challenge,” Galchenyuk said. “I expect a lot of big things from me. I always put a lot of expectations on myself.”

One of the biggest omissions from Team North America’s World Cup squad, Galchenyuk vaulted himself into No. 1 duties with a great ’15-16 campaign, in which he scored 30 goals — 16 of them coming in the final 22 games of the year.

The goal production was nice, no doubt.

But Galchenyuk will need upticks in other categories to thrive in his new role.

The 22-year-old won just 47.9 percent of his draws last year, though it was by far his most extensive work in the faceoff circle (749 taken, compared to just 167 the year prior). He also only averaged 16:16 TOI per game, and one expects a significant bump there as well.

Buffalo center Ryan O'Reilly averaged 21:44 per game last year. Other top centers in the Eastern Conference like Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and John Tavares were all hovering around 20-21.

With all that said, Galchenyuk will certainly be one to watch as the season opens. Last year, Plekanec enjoyed tremendous early success with Pacioretty and Gallagher — trio was one of the NHL’s best lines to start the year.

Gibson replaces Murray (thumb) in goal for Team North America

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 19: John Gibson #36 of Team North America replaces Matthew Murray #30 in net during the second period against Team Russia during the World Cup of Hockey tournament at the Air Canada Centre on September 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Team North America continued to struggle with injuries on Wednesday, as starting netminder Matt Murray was ruled out of today’s game against Team Sweden with a thumb ailment.

John Gibson, who came on in relief of Murray in Monday’s 4-3 loss to the Russians, will get the start in goal.

Murray is just the latest TNA member to go down in this tourney.

Yesterday, star defenseman Aaron Ekblad was ruled out for the remainder of the World Cup with an upper-body injury (believed to be a concussion). Meanwhile, fellow North American blueliner Ryan Murray is uncertain for Wednesday’s tilt, as he’s banged up and took a maintenance day on Tuesday.

Given that one Murray has already been ruled out and the other is in danger of not being able to play, North America could be in tough.

It would leave them with just five active defensemen against Sweden and their backup goalie in net, though Gibson did look good against the Russians, stopping all six shots faced.

In other news ahead of today’s game, Jets prospect Connor Hellebuyck will dress for the first time this tournament, and serve as Gibson’s backup.