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.
To start the school year, Russian president Vladimir Putin skated on a team that included Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, and Pavel Bure and faced off against students. You can see footage of that below:
In the same vein, Michal Neuvirth’s “Rocky” mask has been revealed. (NHL.com)
Red Wings GM Ken Holland reflects on some of the changes in strategy and challenges the Red Wings have endured over the cap era as they look to make the playoffs for a 25th consecutive campaign. (RedWings.nhl.com)
Evgeny Kuznetsov hopes to spend his entire career with the Washington Capitals. (Washington Post)
The Carolina Hurricanes endured a rough campaign in 2014-15 and their biggest overall issues surrounded their offense. Now going into his second season as head coach, Bill Peters hopes to address that.
“We’re going to tweak a few things from what we did last year, with an emphasis on being a more dangerous team offensively,” Peters told The News & Observer.
The Hurricanes had a number of key players that didn’t live up to expectations in that regard last season. Alexander Semin, who was bought out this summer, is the most obvious example, but Eric Staal led the team with just 54 points, which was his lowest total in an 82-game campaign since 2003-2004. Meanwhile, Jeff Skinner went from scoring 33 goals in 2013-14 to 18 last season and Jordan Staal was limited to 46 contests due to a fractured fibula.
There’s some hope that this season can be better though, in part because 20-year-old Elias Lindholm and 22-year-old Victor Rask may be ready to take another step forward.
As for the system itself though, blueliner Justin Faulk — who ranked second in the Hurricanes’ 14-15 scoring race — rose to its defense.
“It’s not a matter of trusting the system. It’s a matter of trusting the players to make sure everyone that’s in the lineup that night is ready to go,” Faulk said. “The system is there, it works. Guys believe that.”
After all the hype and preparation, Jack Eichel’s debut with the Buffalo Sabres is only about a month away. Of course he still has to go through training camp and the preseason before he officially makes the team, but barring an injury or surprise turn of events, he should be playing for the Sabres in their opener on Oct. 8.
“I think it’s starting to get real,” Eichel said, per Buffalo News.
While he’s already had to deal with plenty of attention and high pressure situations, the shift to the NHL is still a major undertaking, even for players as talented as Eichel. It should help that he’ll have plenty of support, particularly from veteran forward Matt Moulson, who has opened his home to Eichel.
“I know that everyone who knows him well says great things about him,” Eichel said. “I haven’t heard a bad thing about the guy. The way he offered his house to me shows what kind of person he is. He’s a really generous guy, a good guy to be around.”
Eichel might also end up playing on a line with Moulson, although at this point that’s purely speculation. The Sabres will be entering the season with a bolstered offense after finishing last in scoring in 2014-15 and has a new coach in Dan Bylsma, so one of the interesting aspects of the Sabres’ training camp will be what lines are experimented with and which ones gel.
The Tampa Bay Lightning will start the 2015-16 campaign in a much better position from a tickets sold perspective and it seems reasonable to credit their run to the Stanley Cup Final for that boost.
After reaching the final round for the second time in franchise history, the Lightning have sold 13,500 season tickets, per the Tampa Bay Times. That’s up from 11,500 from the 2014-15 campaign.
The Lightning were already doing a great job of filling out Amalie Arena as they enjoyed an average attendance of 18,823 last season, which was good enough for ninth place in the league. It helped that even before their playoff run, the Lightning were giving fans plenty of reasons to see them as they posted a 50-24-8 record.
They will enter the 2015-16 campaign with largely the same group of players and are expected to be very competitive again this season.
Tampa Bay will begin to sell single game tickets on Friday.
Will Scottie Upshall be the one to take advantage of the hole left in the St. Louis Blues’ roster by Patrik Berglund’s major shoulder injury? He’ll get that chance as the Blues have invited him to training camp on a tryout basis, per the team’s website.
Upshall, who will turn 32 on Oct. 7, is a veteran of 553 career NHL games. He has reached the 30-point mark on five separate occasions, but he was limited to eight goals and 15 points in 63 contests with the Florida Panthers last season.
He is coming off of a four-year, $14 million deal. Under other circumstances, he might have been able to secure a new contract by now to serve as a bottom-six forward, but with many teams up against the cap or their internal budgets, this has become a particularly rough summer for many veteran players.
The Blues have taken advantage of that by offering Scott Gomez a PTO as well, but St. Louis also has some young forwards vying for spots with two of the most noteworthy examples being Robby Fabbri and Ty Rattie.
Thrilled to be invited to the @StLouisBlues camp. I believe this team is very close to winning a Stanley Cup and that's exciting!!