jonathan drouin

Holy crap, it’s finally here – the first week of the NHL season. That means from now until freaking June (hell, almost July) there will be meaningful hockey on TV.

…Starting tomorrow. Don’t get ahead of yourself there, tiger.

With the season starting teams face a dilly of a pickle: they need to be fully cap compliant for opening day. After that they’re allowed to slap players on the Long Term Injury Reserve (that “LTIR” you’re always hearing about), which means their salary doesn’t count towards the cap, which means they can go ahead and carry more salary. Sooo, we might see a couple guys who are “waiver exempt” like Sean Courturier or Brayden Schenn getting “sent down” (paper transaction only) for a day until the Flyers can get their money situation right.

Teams have been making their final roster moves, so here’s where we’re at.

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Some bigger names got sent down

Cracking an NHL roster is no easy game, and your fate is often based in circumstances as much as ability. Some moves:

* The Tampa Bay Lightning sent Jonathan Drouin back to junior. Basically, for Steve Yzerman it came down to the fact that they want him playing and develop (as in, top six minutes), and he doesn’t see that opportunity for Drouin on this year’s Lightning team.

Before dropping the axe, Yzerman had this to say on Drouin getting his NHL shot, or at least his nine games before his entry-level contract kicks in:

“Mostly, we want him playing. And if he’s not going to play regular (in the NHL), I want him playing. I don’t really have a timetable on it’s because we do have the luxury …to stagger their games and delay it for as long as you really want. So, it’s not like we are under a time crunch or anything.’’

He’s going to tear up junior, but I like the call. He could definitely use a little more physical development, so put him back in the oven.

* The Canucks 9th-overall draft pick (acquired for Cory Schneider) was Bo Horvat. He also finds himself heading back to play Major Junior. One of the Canucks other potential rookies, Hunter Shinkaruk, still finds his future up in the air.

* Brandon Pirri led the American League in scoring last year and had designs on centering the Blackhawks second line. Welp, that didn’t quite pan out, as he’s been sent back to the A. He’ll likely be an early call-up if there’s a need, but it’s not a great sign that Michal Handzus beat him out for that role on the big club.

* Jason Zucker is heading back to the AHL along with Jake Dowell. The Wild have a bunch of young talent, so someone had to go.

* Chris Kreider couldn’t hack in New York. Well, he’s still in their system, but he lost his job with the big club to JT Miller and something called Jesper Fast (which is not NOT a cool name). Kreider is still a legit NHL player in my books, but his NHL debut in playoffs convinced a few too many people (myself included) that he was nothing less than a star getting started.

* Tyler Toffoli was a stud in playoffs last year, but didn’t do enough this year to stick with the Kings out of the gate. They’re going with a bigger, more physical lineup to start.

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A bigger name on the waiver wire

* John-Michael Liles of the Toronto Maple Leafs hit waivers, as it seems the team would like to take a longer look at Morgan Rielly. They apparently tried everything in their power to move him, but y’know, he makes just shy of four mill a season, and isn’t that great.

* All told, 37 players were on waivers yesterday (many are mentioned above) - Pro Hockey Talk compiled them here.

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Wheeling and dealing

* The Toronto Maple Leafs traded 6’5″ Joe Colborne to the Calgary Flames (atta go Burkie, stick with your guys) for a fourth round draft pick. It becomes a third if the Flames make playoffs, so, y’know, a fourth round draft pick. (I believe Colborne would also have to score 10 goals or 35 points to push the pick up a round.)

* The Washington Capitals traded Mathieu Perreault to the Anaheim Ducks for John Mitchell and a 4th-rounder. Basically, Tom Wilson played well enough in Caps camp to make Perreault dispensable, and it opens up a little extra salary room for them too. I actually kinda like Perreault, and think grabbing a 25-year old center for near-nothing was a great deal for the Ducks.

(Another Caps note – it looks like they’re keeping 5’10″ 19-year-old defenseman Connor Carick.)

* The Canucks picked up talented youngster Zac Dalpe from the Carolina Hurricanes along with Jeremy Welsh for Kellen Tochkin and a fourth in 2014.

Okay, enough with the transaction talk.

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The Oilers named Andrew Ference their captain

I think this is a great move for the Oilers. With all the teams rushing to slap the “C” on their face of the franchise (I’m looking at you, Gabriel Landeskog), they’re almost intentionally missing out on what a captain is supposed to be.

Ference is a guy who’s seen the work you have to put in to get where you want to go (the Finals, usually), and should be able to use those experiences to guide a young group who’s just learning how to win. A captain has to be among the hardest workers on the team or they completely lose the ability to ask for more of their teammates, and Ference has never had his work ethic questioned.

It’s a bit goofy to suggest a kid in his early 20s be a liason to the coach about the players on the team when you’ve got intelligent 34-year-olds with success under their belt in the locker room. The “C” doesn’t have to belong to the best player, rather to the player best suited for the role. Ference seems like a good fit, first-year Oiler or not.

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Ryan Whitney is signing with the Panthers

The deal is a one-year worth $900k (that THAT, Mike Komisarek). It’s interesting to see how Dale Tallon has gone about trying to make the Panthers respectable this season. He’s signed his starting goalie (Tim Thomas), a top-four d-man (Tom Gilbert), a top-six forward (Brad Boyes), and another serviceable defenseman in the past week for like, six, seven million bucks (depending on Thomas’ bonus payouts). Savvy.

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The Penguins might be interested in Bryzgalov?

This can’t be true, can it?

They’d have to put Vokoun on LTIR (blood clot) to make it happen. Can you imagine? I mean, can you just…I can’t…what?

This just can’t be true. I refuse to believe it.

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The Blackhawks got their Cup rings

Not bad:

13-0696The feathers kind of look like hops in a beer commercial.

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Kirill Kabanov set up a beauty

The Islanders “could be great, could be awful” pick of a couple years ago did this yesterday:

Just missed on the wrap, but still, great creation of a chance.

And finally…

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Andrew Cogliano scored a lucky one

Or a gorgeous one, depends how you want to look at it. (The replay shows the spinning one-hander better.)