New Jersey Devils
16 July 2009: Just when you thought you might see some offense from the Devils, back out of Minnesota comes Jacques Lemaire to potentially strangle the ‘O’ in favor of the ‘D.’ To be fair, the man IS a winner, having brought the Devils their first Stanley Cup. But if the Devils are going to play the kind of game Lemaire had the Wild playing for years, this team is not going to hoist a Cup unless every stick in the Eastern Conference dries up… Travis Zajac is going to arbitration. This is NOT the time for the Devils to pinch pennies as this is the Centerman that helped bring you 94 points from Zach Parise on last year’s number one line. Fans will see soon what the monetary bottom line is in New Jersey.
16 July 2009: That Heatley Thang, Ottawa Style… At OGA, we cannot help but feel Danny Heatley may not necessarily have been THE piece of locker room chemistry destruction that was last year’s Senators. But we do believe if he remains with this team come the drop of the first puck in 2009/10, he will be an albatross of ill will hanging around this team’s neck. He is the villain in the Ottawa press for wanting to jump ship, he did not produce last year like he did in the previous two seasons, and now waffles on whether or not he will go to Edmonton, or, as reported on XM Radio, one of the other two, un-named, interested teams. A good, potentially great, Hockey player, Heatley must go away from Ottawa… The hardest working player in Development Camp? Those honors according to caches would go to Robin Lehner, the top-ranked Euro Goalie in the draft.
St. Louis Blues
16 July 2009: David Backes has been working out. Blues strength and conditioning coach Nelson Ayotte says his strengthening and developing regimen had him report in a few days ago 12 percent quicker and faster in testing. Could there be more than 31 goals on his tick next season?.. Great news for the Blues includes reports that defenseman Erik Johnson looks to be in top form. He is shooting, passing and skating with confidence on his 6-4, 235-pound frame. Blues’ staff – and Johnson himself – all say he is ready to go for the 2009/10 season…
Talk of the Blues’ Pre-Orientation camp was the line combination including T.J. Oshie (2 Assists) and Philp McRae (Basil’s son, with 2 Goals) in the Blue vs Gold scrimmage. Talk is that it may be a few years before they play together, but that would be up to Philip to change, now wouldn’t it?
Tampa Bay Lightning
16 July 2009: Think Hockey doesn’t work in the Sunbelt? How about 4,717 reasons that thought is wrong? That’s how many fans were in attendance at the St. Pete Times’ Forum last Saturday, 11 July, to see Victor Hedman and the rest of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Young Guns Development Camp scrimmage. Way to go Bolts and Bolts’ fans!..
Tampa Bay has been busy, some would say, smartly acquiring off-season talent. Anterro Nittymaki brings a quality backup for starting goalie Mike Smith, giving a more formidable punch in a net that lost too many games in extra periods or by 1-to-2 goals last season. For the blueline, a reason (along with chemistry) that many close games were lost, has had significant additions as well. Kurtis Foster comes in at 6-5, 220 courtesy of free agency, along with former Canuck defender Mattias Ohlund (6-2, 227), one of the top free agent defenders on the market this summer. Matt Walker at 6-3, 214 from the Blackhawks, also joins the re-signed 6-2, 196-pound Lukas Krajicek, 6-2, 218 Andrej Meszaros, 6-3, 208 Paul Ranger and 6-2, 218 Josef Melichar amongst other prospects. Along with Victor Hedman, that gives Tampa eight, yes, EIGHT defenders that are all 6-2 or better. If your strategy is to build from the goal outward, this looks like a good step in that direction.
16 July 2009: Capitals’ Development Camp is just opening as this is being written. In Day 1 interviews, Coach Boudreau indicated John Carlson was impressive for his puck movement, the way he closes gaps and his speed in execution. Mathieu Perreault is going to get a good look at Training Camp, and worst case, will be a call up to replace an injury next season. Cody Eaken and Trevor Bruess also were noted by Coach Boudreau in his off-ice interview at http://capitals.nhl.com/…
Mark French’s hiring as the new coach of the Hershey Bears continues the line of continuity in the Capitals’ system. French coming from an Assistant Coach position because the head coach moved up to the main club shows that Washington develops coaches like they do their players. The same Capitals’ system will remain in place given some personality-driven tweaks that continue to fight for the success of the team while preparing the Caps’ prospects to move up the ladder when ready or as required. This strategy cannot help but ensure the affective growth of the team as a whole.