Author: Ryan Dadoun

Matt Carkner
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Islanders reduce camp roster by 23, release Carkner from PTO


The New York Islanders reduced their training camp roster by 23 players on Saturday and 34-year-old defenseman Matt Carkner found himself released from his PTO as part of those cuts.

This is the latest chapter in Carkner’s unusual career path. After playing in a single game with San Jose at the age of 25 and then getting another cup of coffee with Ottawa when he was 28, his NHL career truly started in 2009-10 while he was 29 (as of Nov. 3 of that campaign).

He’s gone on to to participate in 237 contests with San Jose, Ottawa, and the Islanders, but didn’t play in the NHL last season. Now the question is if he’ll still manage to claw his way onto a roster once more.

The Islanders also released Tyler Barnes and Parker Milner from their PTOs. Among the other players that got reassigned to their respective junior teams are notable prospects Matt Finn and Sebastian Collberg.

James Wright, who is a 25-year-old veteran of 146 NHL games but spent the 2014-15 campaign in the KHL, was among those placed on waivers by the Islanders.

Blues release Bickel from PTO, reassign Schmaltz, Vannelli

Stu Bickel
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The St. Louis Blues weren’t shy about inviting veterans to join their training camp on a tryout basis, but naturally most of them weren’t going to end up making their opening game roster. Stu Bickel is among those that have fallen short, per the team’s website.

The 28-year-old defenseman is a veteran of 76 NHL games, including nine with the Minnesota Wild last season. Along the way he has accumulated 10 assists and been charged with 203 penalty minutes.

Forwards Evan Trupp, Eriah Hayes, Spencer Asuchak, and Zach O’Brien were also released from their tryouts. Between them, only Hayes has any NHL experience.

In addition to shedding some PTO players, St. Louis also reassigned 14 players to AHL Chicago. Although there were no surprises among them, defenseman Jordan Schmaltz stands out on the list given that he’s a former first rounder (25th overall, 2012). Schmaltz, 21, is beginning his pro career after spending three seasons with the University of North Dakota.

Defenseman Tommy Vannelli and goaltender Jordan Binnington are two other prospects on that list that are seen as having the potential to become good players. Vannelli, who was taken in the second round of the 2013 draft, had 35 points and 52 penalty minutes in 44 contests with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers in 2014-15. Binnington, 22, posted a 2.35 GAA and .916 save percentage in 45 AHL games last season.

St. Louis has 33 players remaining on its camp roster.

Elias isn’t sure if he’ll play in opener

Patrik Elias
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Patrik Elias will not play in any preseason games, but he doesn’t want to dismiss the possibility that he’ll be ready for the New Jersey Devils’ season opener on Oct. 9.

“I really don’t know. I wish I could tell you more,” Elias told NJ Advance Media. “It won’t be long. I’ll be back soon. I’m just having a little lower body issue. It’s not a big thing.”

The Devils and Elias are erring on the side of caution though to give his lower-body ailment a chance to heal. He has played in fewer than 70 contests in each of his last two campaigns and is now 39 years old, so issues like this could unfortunately be a recurring topic for him this season.

Elias is in the final season of his three-year, $16.5 million contract and it’s not clear what his plans are beyond that. It doesn’t sound like his goal is to extend his career for as long as possible though as he made it clear last season that he wouldn’t be interested in a fourth-line role if it came to that.

In the short-term, that’s likely not an issue. He might not be the offensive force he once was, but the hope is that he can be a key player for the Devils this season.