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Senators’ Sabourin closer to return after scary collision

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Ottawa Senators forward Scott Sabourin is closer to returning to the lineup and was able to take a huge step in that return on Monday when he skated with the team for the first time since he was taken off the ice on a stretcher following a scary collision in Boston.

Sabourin has been sidelined since Nov. 2 when he was injured on an attempted check against Bruins forward David Backes. It was an innocent looking play that had a horrifying result as Sabourin was knocked out, suffered a broken nose and a concussion, and had spend the night in a Boston hospital.

He spoke to reporters for the first time on Monday and talked about his progress.

Via the Ottawa Citizen:

“I’m feeling much better,” said Sabourin, who spoke to reporters for the first time since the hit, on Monday morning. “It’s been a little while here and I’ve been taking my time recovering but we’re taking it day-by-day. I’m glad to be out there with the guys and I’m looking forward to the future.

“(Next is) getting back to shape I’d say. Six weeks off is a bit of time so we’re just trying to progress by getting the legs back under me and getting the confidence coming along with it and then hopefully back in the lineup sooner rather than later.”

The next step for him is to be cleared for contact, which has not yet happened. There is still no timetable for that — or his eventual return — but the fact he is back on the ice and skating with the team is a positive step for him.

The 27-year-old forward made his NHL debut this season after spending the first six years of his professional career playing in the American Hockey League after going undrafted.

He signed a professional tryout contract with the Senators this offseason and did enough to earn a spot on the opening roster, scoring a goal in his debut.

Related: Senators’ Sabourin stretchered off ice following scary collision with David Backes

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Senators’ Sabourin to be released from hospital Sunday

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The Ottawa Senators are expecting Scott Sabourin to be released from a Boston hospital on Sunday, one day after he had a scary collision with Bruins forward David Backes and had to leave the TD Garden ice on a stretcher.

Sabourin gave the crowd a thumbs up as he was wheeled off the ice, and the other update the team announced on Sunday was that the 27-year-old suffered a fractured nose.

“Obviously you’re at a loss for words and it was pretty emotional on the ice at the time,” said Senators defenseman Dylan DeMelo afterward, via the Ottawa Citizen. “It’s just scary. Sabby has meant so much to our group. He plays hard, he plays the right way and he gives us energy on that fourth line. To see him go down like that, in the condition he was in, was very scary and very sad and we hope that he’s doing well right now. We hope he gets a speedy recovery … Anytime a guy is laying motionless in a puddle of blood, it’s pretty scary.”

Sabourin did provide an update from the hospital via his Instagram account:

Backes, meanwhile, was shaken up physically and emotionally following the collision and had to leave the game to due to an upper-body injury. According to Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, the veteran is doubtful “for the next couple of games.”

MORE: Sabourin stretchered off, Backes shaken up by scary hit

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Senators’ Sabourin stretchered off, Bruins’ Backes shaken up after scary hit

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Ottawa Senators forward Scott Sabourin was taken off the ice on a stretcher after appearing to lose consciousness after a frightening collision with David Backes of the Boston Bruins on Saturday night.

Backes looked shaken up emotionally (and possibly physically, as well) as both teams immediately looked concerned for Sabourin’s well-being. Fans in Boston were also clearly shaken up by the moment, as well.

Recent updates provide relatively optimistic news. Sabourin, 27, gave a “thumbs up” gesture while leaving the ice, and Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston passed along a note that Sabourin was responsive and showed movement in his extremities.

Later on, the Senators announced that Sabourin has been hospitalized, but was conscious and speaking with doctors. The Bruins, meanwhile, updated Backes as out for the game with an upper-body injury.

Senators forward Logan Brown is also done for Saturday’s game with an upper-body injury.

UPDATE:

“He was conscious leaving. I don’t know the exact injury,” said Senators coach D.J. Smith. “They’re going to keep him overnight, but he was conscious and speaking. We’ll know (Sunday).”

Sabourin posted this message to his Instagram account after the game:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

PHT Morning Skate: Stan Bowman on hot seat; Five potential surprises in 2019-20

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

Sidney Crosby (foot) returned to Penguins practice on Tuesday. (Pittsburgh Hockey Now)

• The drama surrounding the Maple Leafs captaincy is about to come to an end. (Leafs Nation)

• Offense will continue rising in the NHL, according to TSN’s Travis Yost.

• It’ll be an emotional return home for Jakub Voracek when the Flyers open the season in Prague. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

• The Devils hoped to become closer during their trip to Annapolis. (NJ.com)

• Wild defenseman Greg Pateryn underwent successful surgery. He’s expected to miss around six weeks. (NHL.com/Wild)

• NHL is trying to grow grassroots hockey in China. (Sports Illustrated)

David Backes skated with some 12-year-old figure skaters over the summer. (Bruins Daily)

• This new edition of the Edmonton Oilers is hoping to avoid the same old results. (Sportsnet)

• Here are five things the Florida Panthers will accomplish this season. (Panther Parkway)

• The evolution of the Canucks roster led to them waiving Sven Baertschi. (Vancourier)

• The Central Division will have a huge influence on the upcoming NHL season. (The Score)

• What are the realistic expectations for the Dallas Stars? (The Sporting News)

• Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is on the hot seat in Chicago. (Blackhawk up)

• Here are five potential surprises ahead of the 2019-20 season. (Featurd)

• Finally, Alex Steen and Colton Parayko surprised Laila with a very special gift this week:

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Bruins face plenty of salary cap pressure

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Each day in the month of August we’ll be examining a different NHL team — from looking back at last season to discussing a player under pressure to identifying X-factors to asking questions about the future. Today we look at the Boston Bruins. 

The Bruins have been a contender for quite some time in the NHL. Inevitably, that comes with the price tag of salary cap headaches.

On the bright side, they’re in a better spot than many of their peers. Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and Brad Marchand don’t just comprise arguably the best all-around line in the NHL; they’re also all getting paid far less than market value. Those values are the headliners, yet they also have other team-friendly deals with Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, and Charlie Coyle.

Yet, as fair as it is that Don Sweeney won GM of the Year, he faces some tough work ahead — during the rest of this offseason, and also through the next one.

[MORE: 2018-19 in review | X-factor] | Three questions]

By Cap Friendly’s estimates, the Bruins have approximately $7.294M in cap space heading into 2019-20, but that number is misleading, because key RFA defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo still need to get paid.

Bruins legend and exec Cam Neely spoke of what Sweeney and the team are currently going through in an interview with NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty.

“Across the league, [negotiations with RFAs] has been like sweeping mud. Unfortunately, it’s still status quo [with Carlo and McAvoy],” Neely said. “The history since Don [Sweeney] has been here is that when we negotiate, we do it from a position of fairness. We do a lot of work at comps around the league and try to get a deal done that’s fair. We start with initial offers that are fair and that’s been no different with Brandon and Charlie.”

One can debate McAvoy’s value – he’s a star in my opinion, while the Bruins argue that injuries hurt his case – but the bottom line is that a defenseman of his caliber could eat up close to $7M alone, even without the (dubious) threat of offer sheets.

Recent history shows that the Bruins have deftly found ways to use their own limitations and leverage to get bargains. The dream is probably for McAvoy to sign the sort of relatively cheap bridge deal Torey Krug did, as Krug signed for just $5.25M per year when things were tight in 2016.

The downside of bridge deals is that they only buy you so much time, and the bill is coming for Krug, as he’s entering a contract year. So, beyond finding immediate answers for McAvoy and Carlo, the Bruins must also ponder their approach for 2020-21.

For all of Sweeney’s many wise decisions, contending teams feel the sting of mistakes.

  • David Backes struggles to even crack the top 12 forwards, and while his contract only lasts for two more seasons, it comes at the whopping cost of $6M. If his rugged career isn’t enough to eventually land him on LTIR, then he’s the biggest headache going forward. Maybe the expansion draft would save Boston, even if it meant bribing Seattle and convincing Backes to waive clauses?
  • John Moore would be another bribe case, although his $2.75M AAV lasts through 2022-23, which is tough to fathom.
  • Moving Kevan Miller seems the most doable, as his $2.5M cap hit expires after 2019-20.

Chances are, the Bruins will find a way, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Will they eventually need to wave goodbye to Charlie Coyle, whose bargain $3.2M cap hit evaporates after 2019-20? Could we see David Krejci trade rumors crop up again?

It’s one thing to get under the cap, yet the Bruins also want to contend, making this a challenging juggling act. To the Bruins’ credit, they’re at least not juggling chainsaws like peers who are in even bigger binds, but they’ll need to exhibit serious skill (and enjoy some serious luck) if they’ll end this exhibition with the crowd going wild.

MORE: ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.