Stefan Matteau feels spot with Devils is his to lose


Stefan Matteau is 21 years old and has 24 NHL games on his resume, but he thinks this should be the season he earns a regular spot with New Jersey.

“I worked hard this summer and with the changes that happened in the offseason it’s definitely a big camp for me,” Matteau said prior to Monday’s preseason contest, per NJ.com.

“I feel it’s more my job to lose rather than… It’s obviously not going to be given to me, but I feel ready to make the jump.”

The Devils already showed some faith in him this summer by agreeing to a two-year, one-way contract that comes with a $612,500 annual cap hit. However, the Devils have 12 forwards inked to one-way deals and that doesn’t include top prospects Pavel Zacha and John Quenneville or tryout forwards Tyler Kennedy and Lee Stempniak. In other words, Matteau still has significant competition for that roster spot.

Bench boss John Hynes said Matteau has a “real shot,” but he needs to see him demonstrate more consistency.

“It’s a big camp for him,” Hynes said. “He’s a young guy that is raw but he’s showing that he has NHL size, an NHL body, good hands and good hockey sense. Where does that package fit on a nightly basis?”

As for Monday’s game…

JVR has something to prove following Kessel trade

The Associated Press
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The acquisition of James van Riemsdyk from the Philadelphia Flyers back in the summer of 2012 has paid off nicely for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but he’s something of a question mark now.

He had a career-high of 40 points before his first season with the Maple Leafs, but has gone on to record 75 goals and 149 points in 210 contests with the Leafs. The thing is though, he did that while spending more than three-quarters of his even-strength playing time on a line with Phil Kessel. Even when van Riemsdyk was selected to represent Team USA in the 2014 Winter Olympics and averaged more than a point per game, it was with Kessel at his side.

Now that Kessel has been traded to Pittsburgh, the Leafs will be looking to van Riemsdyk to help keep their offense going, but he’s also one of the players that could be most effected by the move.

“That’s a good question,” van Riemsdyk said when asked what it will be like for him without Kessel, per TSN. “Now we’ll see it more so.”

While it’s a potential problem for van Riemsdyk, it’s also an opportunity to demonstrate that he can still be a serious offensive threat without the likes of Kessel. van Riemsdyk is still just 26 years old, so he’s one of the players that could be in a leadership role once Toronto emerges from its current rebuilding process.

Capitals see window to win championship as open

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For the Washington Capitals, the preseason narrative is getting old, but this time around there is one difference: Alex Ovechkin is no longer in his 20s.

“I think our guys are getting to an age where a lot of them are in their prime, and we need to be assertive in what we’re doing,” Capitals GM Brian MacLellan told the Washington Post. “The window is there, whatever it is; we’ve got to try to make it happen here over the next two, three, four years. I mean, there’s more urgency in what we’re doing now, because we’ve got to try to win a championship.”

Capitals owner Ted Leonsis agrees that with Ovechkin celebrating his 30th birthday and Nicklas Backstrom‘s 28th nearing (Nov. 23), the Capitals sense of urgency is growing.

In line with that win now mentality, the Washington Capitals have added to their veteran core in recent years by bringing in forwards Justin Williams and T.J. Oshie as well as defensemen Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik. Washington certainly has noteworthy youngsters too like Evgeny Kuznetsov (23) and Andre Burakovsky (20), but it’s fair to call this a veteran team.

Although Washington has made the playoffs in seven of its last eight campaigns, it hasn’t made it past the second round over that span.

“Every year we talk about [how] this team can do something,” Ovechkin said. “You know, I think right now it’s time to not [be] talking; we have to do it. It’s 10 years; we have to move forward and take a big step.”

Helm (concussion/shoulder) hopes to be ready for home opener

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Darren Helm has had quite a bit of bad luck when it comes to injuries, but he doesn’t think his latest setback will end up costing him much time.

Helm crashed into 21-year-old prospect Jerome Verrier during a drill mere minutes into the Red Wings’ training camp. The veteran forward suffered a Grade 1 slight shoulder separation, which is expected to keep him out for two-to-four weeks. That alone might rob him of the opportunity to play in Detroit’s season opener on Oct. 7, but he also sustained a concussion and it’s hard to say how that might impact his recovery.

“I’ve been feeling a little off, a little bit of a headache,” Helm told MLive. “I think we’re going to jump on the bike tomorrow and see how that feels, get the heart rate going, take it from there.

“Hopefully, I can get back for home opener (Oct. 9). If not, then right after that.”

That being said, this isn’t his first concussion and in his own words, “there’s no set timeline in returning.”

He played in 75 games last season, but was limited to 43 contests over the previous two campaigns.

McDavid set to make preseason debut tonight

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The wait to see what Connor McDavid can do in the NHL is nearing its close as he’s set to accomplish another first tonight.

McDavid will skate alongside Taylor Hall and Teddy Purcell in his preseason debut tonight in Edmonton against the rival Calgary Flames. Although he’s already appeared in two rookie games and two scrimmages with the Edmonton Oilers, this another step up for him and his best opportunity yet to get a sense for what it will be like to compete at the NHL level.

“I don’t know if nervous is the right way to say it, I think it’s more anxious and excited,” McDavid told NHL.com. “Those are the two words that come to mind, I’m just looking forward to it. I think it’s going to be a challenge, that’s just how it is, it’s the next level. It’s going to take some getting used to, but I’m confident in my abilities and I believe in myself.”

The fact that he’s being paired up with Hall and Purcell is also noteworthy as that line is expected to stay intact throughout the preseason. With that in mind, it stands to reason that McDavid might be playing with those two when he’s projected to make his true NHL debut on Oct. 8.

Tonight’s contest will begin at 9:00 p.m. ET and its a split-squad game as Edmonton and Calgary will simultaneously battle in Calgary.

Related: Yes, McDavid is already piling up highlights