Author: Mike Halford

Ryan Reaves, Joel Rechlicz

Wings invite tough guy Rechlicz to camp


Bit of a curious move in advance of Detroit’s training camp — the club announced that Joel Rechlicz, aka “The Wrecker,” has been signed to a professional tryout.

Rechlicz, 28, was with the Wild organization last year and has pent most of his professional career duking it out in the American League, appearing in a handful of games for the Islanders and Caps between 2008-12.

The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder fought a combined 55 times for Bridgeport and Hershey during that span, including this tilt with Isles tough guy Brett Gallant:

The camp PTO is interesting.

Not because of Rechlicz so much, but rather what he represents — the Wings have been enforcer-free for quite a while and are traditionally at the bottom of the NHL table when it comes to fighting majors.

That, of course, coincided with the Mike Babcock era. The former Red Wings coach had little time for players that were out there solely to fight.

“The reality is the league has gone this way because the league is so fast you can’t get these guys on the ice,” Babcock said in 2012, to Sportsnet. “I don’t think it’s as much about not wanting toughness as it is about, how do you play them? How do you get them out there if you can’t fly up and down the rink? How do you play in today’s game?”

It remains to be seen if new head coach Jeff Blashill has a different philosophy.

It’s hard to imagine he does — he’s been groomed in the Detroit system for the last four years, after all — and the Rechlicz invite could simply be about getting a warm body into camp.

Still… it’s interesting.

McInnis, Tkachuk, Bellows highlight All-American prospects game


On Monday, USA Hockey announced the rosters for the CCM All-American Prospects game, which will be played in Buffalo on Sept. 24 and feature 42 of the top American-born prospects eligible for next year`s draft.

It`s a roster filled with familiar names, including:

— Kiefer Bellows (pictured), the son of former Minnesota North Stars forward Brian Bellows.

— Matthew Tkachuk, the son of 500-goal man Keith Tkachuk.

— Luke McInnis, the son of longtime NHLer Marty McInnis.

— Max Jones, the son of former Winnipeg Jet Brad Jones.

— Graham McPhee, the son of ex-Washington GM George McPhee.

This event has become something of a marquee showcase for draft-eligible players. Last year`s game featured several first-round picks, including Jack Eichel, Noah Hanifin, Brock Boeser, Jack Roslovic, Colin White and Kyle Connor.

This year`s teams will be coached by Jeremy Roenick and Derek Plante.

Sharks ‘cautiously optimistic’ Torres (knee) can participate in camp

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game Five

Raffi Torres has played just 12 games over the last two years due to a myriad of knee problems.

But there is hope for his return.

“He’s heading in the right direction,” new Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer said this week, per CBS Sacramento. “[That’s] probably the best way I can term it. We’ll see. We’re all cautiously optimistic.”

The optimism, specifically, is for Torres to try and take the ice when San Jose’s camp begins on Friday, Sept. 18. Torres, who didn’t play at all last year and underwent season-ending knee surgery in February, is heading into the last of a three-year, $6 million deal with a $2 million average annual cap hit — a contract that, for the most part, he’s been unable to live up to.

Though it wasn’t for a lack of effort.

Torres initially had ACL replacement surgery in ’13-14 and worked hard to return, which he did during the club’s opening-round playoff collapse to Los Angeles. What followed, though, was a series of infections that led to a second ligament replacement procedure (the aforementioned February surgery.)

It’ll be very curious to see how Torres fares this season.

He turns 34 in October, hasn’t played in over 16 months and has to fight with a number of young wingers for minutes up front, including new Finnish rookie Joonas Donskoi who, according to AHL coach Roy Sommer, could be with the big club to start the season.

Wild bringing ex-Flames goalie Irving to camp

Leland Irving

Leland Irving, a former first-round pick that spent two seasons with Calgary, has signed a professional tryout contract to attend Minnesota’s training camp later this week.

Irving, 27, spent last season with KHL club Ufa Salavat Yulayev. The decision to play in Russia came after he planned to attend the Lightning’s training camp last fall, only to later change his mind and sign overseas.

Irving has only played in 13 NHL games, and the numbers aren’t great — 3.25 GAA, .902 save percentage. That said, he did work his way back onto the radar with a strong ’13-14 campaign with Finnish-based KHL club Jokerit, posting a 2.14 GAA and .922 save percentage in 55 games.

It’ll be interesting to see if Irving can score a deal with the Wild.

The club has recent history with reviving once-promising goalies: Devan Dubnyk, the former first-rounder that was nearly out of the NHL, caught fire with Minnesota last season and finished as a Vezina nominee.

Dubnyk went on to sign a six-year, $26 million extension with the Wild this summer. He’s one of the club’s three goalies on NHL contracts, along with Niklas Backstrom and Darcy Kuemper.


Backstrom suffered serious nerve damage in elbow

Wild still optimistic about Kuemper despite ‘erratic’ season

Back again: Murray joins Flames on PTO

Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs

Calgary has brought in Douglas Murray for another kick at the can.

Murray, who joined the Flames on a (failed) tryout back in March, is reportedly getting another shot with the club and will attend training camp on a PTO, per Sportsnet.

The 35-year-old, who has over 500 games of NHL experience, playing sparingly for German League outfit Cologne last year — just eight games. Prior to that, Murray spent the ’13-14 season in Montreal, where he appeared in 53 regular-season and three playoff contests.

In his prime, Murray was one of the NHL’s most physical players and hardest hitters, thanks in large part to his 6-foot-3, 245-pound frame. But a decline in foot speed all but drummed him out of the league.

As such, it’s tough to see where he fits in Calgary.

The club is fairly deep on defense — Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Wideman, Kris Russell and Deryk Engelland are the projected top six — and Murray won’t be the only veteran in camp on a PTO, as ex-Avs blueliner Ryan Wilson is also set to participate.

Update: Murray and Wilson have company. Sportsnet is reporting that 32-year-old d-man Aaron Johnson will also attend Flames camp on a PTO.