Author: Mike Halford

St Louis Blues v New York Rangers

There’s a real ‘last chance’ vibe at Rangers camp


Dylan McIlrath and Oscar Lindberg have a few things in common. They’re both 23. Both were taken at the 2010 draft. Both split last year between New York and AHL Hartford, and both are facing what could be their last chance to become Rangers.

So says the New York Post, anyway.

First, the skinny on McIlrath:

This training camp truly does represent Dylan McIlrath’s last chance to make the Rangers, because if the 2010 first-rounder can’t earn a spot as the club’s seventh defenseman, he would have to clear waivers to remain in the organization at AHL Hartford.

Given his age (23), position (right side), and contract (one year at $600,000 NHL, $90,000 AHL), it is extremely unlikely McIlrath would clear. Indeed, if he can’t beat out journeyman Raphael Diaz for the spot, the Rangers most likely would seek to deal the defenseman in order to get at least something in exchange for losing him.

Then, Lindberg:

[He] would have to clear waivers in order to be assigned to the AHL Hartford Wolf Pack.

That’s unlikely given the combination of the 23-year-old’s upside and his modest $650,000 contract. Both he and the Rangers know it.

Which is why Lindberg’s last chance is likely his best chance, as the Rangers’ management and coaching staff are committed to giving him every chance to make the squad.

Of the two, McIlrath has the potential for bigger blowback. He was already considered a reach in his draft year — 10th overall, two spots ahead of Anaheim d-man Cam Fowler — and has failed to materialize at the NHL level. Losing him via waivers would compound what many already see as a mistake.

Losing Lindberg, a natural center, would be more understandable. The Rangers have a logjam down the middle — Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, Kevin Hayes, Jarret Stoll and Dominic Moore — and there are questions about Lindberg’s ability to produce offensively.

That said, head coach Alain Vigneault has floated the idea of moving Lindberg to wing.

Whatever happens, the McIlrath and Lindberg situations are worth monitoring. The Post is right in that both would undoubtedly be scooped off waivers if made available, and everybody knows the scorn front offices face when they don’t get anything in return for departing assets.

Debut delayed: Saad to miss Jackets’ split-squad games

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Four

Columbus fans will have to wait to see Brandon Saad in a Blue Jackets uniform.

Saad, who on Monday took a puck to the mouth that required “some work,” is being held out of tonight’s split-squad games against St. Louis, per the Dispatch.

Acquired in a monster seven-player trade this summer, Saad was supposed to be in the CBJ lineup this evening after sitting out last night’s 1-0 exhibition loss to the Penguins. While the injury isn’t believed to be serious, it will delay Saad’s team debut until at least Thursday, when the Jackets take on the Wild in their third preseason game.

In training camp, Saad was skating on the club’s top line with center Ryan Johansen and team captain Nick Foligno.

Veteran G Mason retires, transitions to radio booth

Chicago Blackhawks v Nashville Predators

Longtime NHL netminder Chris Mason has hung up his skates.

Mason, 39, announced his retirement this week by revealing the next chapter in his career — starting this season, he’ll be providing color commentary for Nashville Predators radio broadcasts.

“I am excited and happy to be back in Nashville with my family for the next chapter of our lives,” Mason said in a statement. “I am really looking forward to rejoining the Nashville Predators family and working with all my friends in the organization.

“I love hockey, I love the fans of hockey and this opportunity gives me a chance to stay involved in the sport I have dedicated so much of my life to.”

A fan favorite in the Music City, Mason enjoyed some of the finest seasons of his career as a Predator. In 2006-07, he finished top-10 in Vezina voting on the strength of a .925 save percentage and 2.38 GAA, but was traded to St. Louis just one year later.

With the Blues, Mason was the starter for a surprising ’08-09 team — they were in last place on Jan. 19 before going on a 17-7-5 run to make the playoffs — and racked up 57 wins over two seasons.

Following his time in St. Louis, Mason played in Atlanta and Winnipeg before returning for a final season with Nashville in ’13.

He spent the last two years playing in the Italian and German Leagues.

Flyers sign 6-foot-5 camp invitee Myers

Rouyn Noranda Huskies v Gatineau Olympiques

Philadelphia has added to its crop of young d-man prospects by signing Philippe Myers to an entry-level deal.

Myers, 18, scored his contract after impressing the Flyers during training camp, which he attended on an amateur tryout. Prior to camp, he’d spent the last two years in junior with Rouyn-Noranda of the Quebec League, emerging as a defensive defenseman.

He wasn’t selected at this year’s draft.

Myers is tantalizing because of his size — 6-foot-5, 200 pounds — something that Philly has looked for in some of its aforementioned d-man prospects, specifically Samuel Morin (6-foot-6, 202 pounds), Robert Hagg (6-foot-2, 204 pounds) and Travis Sanheim (6-foot-3, 181 pounds).

Avs unveil Stadium Series jerseys


On Monday, Colorado revealed the duds it’ll be wearing on Feb. 27 when they take on the Red Wings in the 2016 Stadium Series game at Coors Field.

From the NHL release:

As they did during the height of the rivalry with the Red Wings, the Avalanche, as the home team, will feature white as the main color of the jersey; a connection to the snow-capped peaks of the Rockies.

The C puck mark becomes a powerful front crest, an unmistakable reference to Colorado hockey. Streamlined sleeve striping connects to the bold visual of the Avalanche stripe, part of the team’s socks since 1995.

The modern styled collar features a 5,280 call out, referencing the Avalanche’s home in the Mile-High City.

Per people on social media that think far too much about jersey aesthetics, the gigantic numbers appear to be divisive. Some like the fact they’re huge and, ergo, easy to see from distance (which will be useful in a baseball stadium); others think they’re gaudy.