Ryan Dadoun

Dougie Hamilton

With Hamilton on board, Flames can keep defensemen fresh

The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, but there’s one aspect of their game that the Calgary Flames don’t want to emulate.

During the 2015 playoffs, Chicago leaned heavily on defensemen Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Johnny Oduya. In early May Michal Rozsival suffered an ankle injury and that led to the Blackhawks using their top-four defensemen even more extensively as no other blueliners averaged more than 10 minutes per contest.

That worked out, but it was also a big burden on those four players. Calgary had a group that, when healthy, could similarly carry that kind of load in T.J. Brodie, Mark Giordano, Dennis Wideman, and Kris Russell, but after acquiring Dougie Hamilton over the summer, Calgary won’t have to resort to that. The Flames should be able to use all three pairings with confidence, which has the potential to pay off as the campaign progresses.

“When we throw a defenseman on the ice, he will be 100% rested because part of our style is go, go, go,” Flames coach Bob Hartley told the Calgary Sun.

The main question now is what the Flames’ defensive pairings will look like as Hamilton potentially throws a wrench in their old setup. It’s a good problem for Hartley to have and he’ll deal with it by trying a lot of different combinations over the preseason.

Preds hope Moses signing will boost third line offensively

Czech Republic v USA - 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Bronze Medal Game
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The Nashville Predators wanted more depth scoring and they went all the way to the KHL to get it. Steve Moses, who signed a one-year, $1 million contract, is tentatively projected to play on Nashville’s third line and could make that unit significantly more dangerous.

“Goal-scoring was something we wanted to put more of in our lineup,” Predators GM David Poile told The Tennessean. “Here’s a guy that’s free, here’s a guy that has all those qualities and why not take a chance on somebody like that? He’s not big, but he’s fast and he can score. Hopefully, there’s got to be a place for him in our lineup.

“Last year, we had two lines, the (Mike) Fisher and (Mike) Ribeiro lines, that were very prolific offensively. And our third and fourth lines (were) somewhat equal, very good defensively, (but) didn’t provide, with all due respect, too much for us offensively. I don’t want to be greedy, but would like to try to push the envelope a little bit more.”

Nashville had six forwards last season that recorded at least 15 goals in Filip Forsberg, Craig Smith, James Neal, Colin Wilson, Mike Fisher, and Mike Ribeiro. When they were all healthy, combinations of those forwards typically compromised the team’s top two lines. After those six though, Nashville’s next best forward when it came to goals scored was Taylor Beck, who netted eight markers in 62 contests.

Meanwhile, Moses had 36 goals and 57 points in 60 games with the KHL’s Jokerit Helsinki. He is a product of the University of New Hampshire, but the 26-year-old has spent the last three seasons playing in Europe.

Former UNH teammate James van Riemsdyk said, “(Moses) skates like the wind. He’s really well built. He won’t get thrown around over here.”

Related: Video: New Pred Moses opens U.S. scoring at Worlds with beauty goal

Chris Phillips (back surgery) questionable for training camp

Chris Phillips
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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
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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)