Author: Ryan Dadoun

Chris Phillips

Chris Phillips (back surgery) questionable for training camp

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Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips hasn’t played since Feb. 5 due to a back injury that led to surgery. Since then he’s been rehabbing, but with training camp just around the corner, it appears that process hasn’t been completed yet.

“He’s hurting a little bit still,” Senators GM Bryan Murray told CTV Ottawa. “He hasn’t been able to do the fitness level that he wanted to get to. There are some other issues that are going on. It appears right now that his back may delay him being able to even attend camp, but we hope and think that if he can get healthy, certainly in the second half of the year his experience should help us.”

Phillips celebrated his 37th birthday on March 9. He’s spent his entire career with the Ottawa Senators and is their franchise leader with 1,179 games played.

This is the final season of his two-year, $5 million deal.

Giordano (torn biceps) feels ‘100 percent’

Mark Giordano

Mark Giordano couldn’t play past Feb. 25 last season because of torn biceps, but that’s not an issue for him anymore.

“It’s been a while,” Giordano told the Calgary Herald. “I started skating a bit toward the end of last year and shooting the puck a little bit. I got home, took a bit of rest, and got right into the strengthening phase of my recovery. I’ve felt great. Honestly, I’m 100 per cent today.

“There’s nothing in my mind that’s physically going to hold me back.”

Giordano was having a fantastic campaign prior to his injury, which has led some to speculate that he would have won the Norris Trophy had he been able to complete the campaign. Although he still has a season left on his five-year, $20.1 million deal, the Flames moved all uncertainty about his future by inking him to a six-year, $40.5 million extension over the summer.

At least on paper, Calgary is going into the season with one of the most impressive defensive groups in the league as they’ll also feature Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Wideman, T.J. Brodie, and Kris Russell.

PHT Morning Skate: Mark McGwire thinks hockey players are ‘the best athletes on the earth’

Mark McGwire

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Retired baseball player Mark McGwire called hockey players “the best athletes on the earth.” (LA Kings Insider)

Guy Carbonneau, Marty Turco, Greg Adams, and Richard Matvichuk are among a group of Dallas Stars alumni that will take part in a charity game against the Israeli National Team. The contest will be held on Sept. 12 at the Dr Pepper Arena located in Frisco, Texas. (Dallas Morning News)

We already wrote about the top-10 players in each position as far as the ratings for EA Sports’ upcoming video game NHL 16 are concerned. From that we could determine who the game’s top rated players were, but there are a lot of players that have the same overall rating, so for example figuring out which player among those with a 94 rating was the highest wasn’t doable. Now it is though as the top-50 overall list is out. (EA Sports)

The 2015-16 Calder Trophy race might be more than just Connor McDavid vs. Jack Eichel. (Postmedia Network)

Patrice Bergeron is looking for the Boston Bruins to be more consistent this season and he thinks part of the solution is to avoid getting comfortable with a one-goal lead. (CSN New England)

Jakub Voracek will donate $1,000 for every point he records in 2015-16 to his new foundation, which seeks to help those with multiple sclerosis. (Puck Daddy)

Dmitry Orlov (wrist) ready after missing 2014-15

Dmitry Orlov
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Dmitry Orlov didn’t play at all with the Washington Capitals in 2014-15 due to a wrist injury, but now he’s finally in a position to resume his career.

“I feel good,” he told CSN Mid-Atlantic. “I’m ready to go. My wrist is fine right now. I can shoot, I can do everything. I feel good, I feel fine and I’m ready to play. I can’t wait for the season to start.”

The 24-year-old defenseman has been practicing at Kettler Capitals Iceplex while he waits for the start of training camp. Orlov has also spent a good amount of the summer working with teammate John Carlson.

“(Orlov’s) skating great, he handles the puck just as great as he ever used to and his shot is definitely there again,” Carlson said.

Orlov, who did record three assists during a three-game AHL conditioning stint towards the end of 2014-15, is hoping to help fill the void left by Mike Green. Although he’s unlikely to match Green’s offensive contributions, Orlov might prove to be a mainstay on Washington’s third defensive pairing.

Coyotes sign ’15 first rounder Nick Merkley

Nick Merkley

The Arizona Coyotes signed Dylan Strome to an entry-level deal back in July and roughly two months later they have inked their other 2015 first round pick, per the team’s website.

Nick Merkley has agreed to a three-year entry-level contract with Arizona. He was taken with the 30th overall selection.

That draft pick originally belonged to the Chicago Blackhawks, but the Coyotes acquired it along with Klas Dahlbeck in exchange for Antoine Vermette on Feb. 28. Vermette won the Stanley Cup with Chicago before returning to the Coyotes this summer on a two-year, $7.5 million deal.

Merkley had 20 goals and 90 points in 72 games with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets last season. He scored another five goals and 27 points in 19 playoff games to help the Rockets win the Ed Chynoweth Cup. Kelowna went all the way to the Memorial Cup championship game before falling to the Oshawa Generals in overtime. Merkley recorded three goals and two assists in the tournament.

While Strome might make the Coyotes’ opening game roster, it would be more surprising if Merkley did the same. Still, he’s part of an impressive collection of forward prospects that Arizona has assembled in recent years. While Arizona’s offense was a big weakness last season, in a few years it might be the squad’s strength and Merkley could be a significant part of that.

Related: Coyotes sign Dahlbeck, acquired in Vermette trade