Tough blow for Edmonton as it looks like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins could miss the entire first month of the season as he continues to recover from a shoulder injury. RNH had surgery back in late April to repair a torn labrum.
This should give Sam Gagner's value a boost in the early part of the campaign, as he will likely see plenty of minutes on the top line. Gagner was on a nice pace in 2013 putting up 38 points in 48 games.
Perhaps part of the reason it seems to be taking longer than expected for the Oilers to start turning a corner with their young core, is the fact that they have had several key injuries over the past few seasons. Gagner and Jordan Eberle have been fairly healthy, but Taylor Hall and Nugent-Hopkins have both missed significant time with ailments. It's tough to build cohesiveness and come together as a group when key contributors are shifting in and out of the lineup.
Some of you have been asking for more extensive coverage from the prospects camps and tournaments. Dobber had some stuff on it yesterday, but here are a few more things I dug up.
I mentioned Jean Gabriel-Pageau the other day and where he might fit in the Sens lineup this season, and he has been dominating in Ottawa's prospect tournament. Luke Richardson, who may be slightly biased because he coached Pageau with the Binghamton Senators, said he was the best player at the tournament. Richardson also added that some people in London asked him why Pageau was even there. It looks like he should make Ottawa's squad this year.
Over in Traverse City, Mike Morreale of NHL.com writes that Valeri Nichuskin is looking good for the Dallas Stars. The top 10 selection in from this past June has two goals and generated quality several scoring chances both with the power play and five-on-five. Morreale also said that Nichuskin is oozing confidence, which is always good for a young player.
Morreale has been keeping a blog from Traverse City that should give you more insight about all the teams and their prospects.
In Coral Springs, Jonathan Drouin and Nikita Kucherov looked great for the Tampa Bay Lightning writes Mike Halford. Kucherov actually led the tournament in scoring with four goals and three assists in three games.
The thing to keep in mind with these prospect tournaments is that it's hard to gauge how well someone is actually performing because it's essentially an extension of junior hockey. Most players participating have little or no NHL experience, so trying to forecast how someone will do in the NHL and ultimately their fantasy hockey potential isn't easy.
Here are a couple of prospect tournament videos with game highlights from Ottawa, Toronto, Pittsburgh, and Chicago.
Much, much more prospect news from NHL Prospect Tournaments available in Brendan Ross’ latest ramblings over at Dobber Prospects with easily his most extensive rambling…ever. Enjoy!
It looks like Bobby Ryan was dealing with a digestive illness last year that could have contributed to his sub par campaign in 2013. The issue was reportedly traced to a trip he took overseas, but apparently that is all behind him now. Poolies will be looking for him to bounce back from the 11 goals he totalled last year and if he and Jason Spezza are paired together, Ryan has a realistic shot at 40 tallies.
Staying with the Sens for a moment, they signed forward Colin Greening to a three-year $7.95M contract extension on Monday. Greening had eight goals and 11 assists last year, but he chipped in with three more tallies in the playoffs. Ottawa could have a dangerous third line in 2013-14 if they go with Greening, Mika Zibanejad, and Pageau on that unit.
The most non-news story of yesterday came with the announcement that Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff is officially retiring. Karri Ramo should get the bulk of the starts in Calgary this year.
Ray Emery has a sweet new mask paying tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen.
Can someone tell me why Mason Raymond has to tryout for the Toronto Maple Leafs while Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren already have contracts?
The goaltending situation in the Sunshine State will hopefully become clearer after the first month or so of the season. Jacob Markstrom was likely going to get the majority of the starts anyway there this year, but now that Scott Clemmensen is out for three weeks after having a minor knee procedure, Markstrom owners should have even less to worry about.
Despite a down year in 2013, Clemmensen has a history of pushing number one goalies, which may end up being a good thing in the long run for Markstrom. Michael Houser, who spent last year in the ECHL, should get more preseason minutes with the Clemmensen injury.
In Tampa Bay it should be a little more competitive between the pipes. Ben Bishop and Anders Lindback figure to share starts, unless someone can run away with things. My money would be on Bishop simply based on recent history. He looked really strong last year, especially in Ottawa, and had a .920 save percentage on the season.
Lindback barely managed to crack .900 in 24 games with the Lightning in 2013 and seemed to really miss the defensive system he had at his disposal with Nashville. Granted it's tough to compare the two when different circumstances are involved, but Bishop just looks like the more confident guy at the moment, and when it comes to goaltending that's crucial.
Michael Amato is an Associate Editor for DobberHockey and a News Editor for theScore. You can follow him on Twitter at @amato_mike