Defenseman Mirco Mueller, at 19, may well make the San Jose Sharks next season.
Sharks general manager Doug Wilson has gone on record as saying he would like his team to be more youthful next season and NHL.com suggests "Mueller could have the best chance to break through and make the team out of training camp." The Sharks traded veteran defensemen Dan Boyle and Brad Stuart. Although Brent Burns is returning to defense after spending last season as a forward, and veteran Scott Hannan re-signed, there are spots to be won on defense, and Wilson has said Mueller is among the top young candidates. The Sharks chose Mueller with the 18th pick of the 2013 NHL Draft. "He's a really solid player," Sharks forward Matt Nieto said of Mueller. "He's a really smooth player who makes all the right decisions. . . He's got a good defensive stick. I think he's got a really good chance of making the team out of camp. . .He's got a lot of skills. He can handle the puck really well. He's got a good shot."
Penguins coach Mike Johnston is traveling to Russia this weekend to visit star center Evgeni Malkin.
Johnston doesn't have any worries about political tensions in Russia. The new Pens coach visited Moscow eight times while he was working for Team Canada Hockey. He said he always has felt comfortable in Moscow, which is where Malkin lives during the summer. Johnston is being accompanied in Russia by Penguins strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar. Kadar visits Malkin during the summer every year.
"It will be just fine," Johnston said. "It's not an uncomfortable place to visit, even with the things that are (going on in the world)." Penguins management declined to comment.
Al Montoya, recently acquired by the Panthers to back up goalie Roberto Luongo, is encouraging members of Florida's Cuban community to show up to NHL games.
The hope from the Panthers front office is that Montoya — who's coming off the best statistical season (with Winnipeg) of his five-year NHL career — will provide better insurance in net than Dan Ellis behind Luongo, and that his arrival will help attract some of the approximately 850,000 Cuban-Americans in the area to the BB&T Center. Montoya is trying his best. He is quoted in the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel as saying: "This is a very cool experience, not only on a hockey level, but a bigger level than that. [Cubans] should come out to see a hockey game. It's an unbelievable sport, and we're a team that's going to give its all. Once you taste a piece of it, you'll keep coming back."
Defensive defenseman Mark Fayne is excited that he has jumped from the New Jersey Devils to Edmonton because the Oilers are in the West and the West features bigger forwards.
"The tougher thing for me is playing against the smaller, fast guys, but I’m actually looking forward to the West," Fayne said. "My style and build (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) might be better against the bigger guys." He was referring to West forwards such as Anze Kopitar, Ryan Getzlaf, Joe Thornton, David Backes and Jonathan Toews. Fayne had 11 points with the Devils last season.
Veteran forward Daniel Alfredsson, 41, will decide in late August whether to return to the Detroit Red Wings for another season or retire.
Alfredsson was plagued by an aching back at several points last regular season and during the playoffs and plans to try and determine next month whether he’s healthy enough to endure another season. A future Hall of Famer who excelled for years with the Senators, Alfredsson produced 41 points in 68 games for Detroit last season, his first away from Ottawa.
The Detroit Red Wings are extremely high on 19-year-old forward Anthony Mantha and will give him an opportunity to win a spot on one of their two top lines at their next training camp.
The left winger was the Wings' first-round draft pick in 2013. He scored 81 goals in 81 games last season (57 regular season, 24 playoffs) in junior hockey. If Mantha doesn't impress the Wings enough to allow him to start next season with them, they will send him to AHL Grand Rapids for for an introduction to pro hockey.
Josh Gorges says he still hasn't heard any reason why the Montreal Canadiens traded him recently.
"I wish I had a really good answer — where this came from and why, and how it came about — but I don’t, to be honest," Gorges said weeks after being deal to the Buffalo Sabres. "It was a shock to me." Gorges, 29, says he was "deeply disappointed" and hat he "never wanted to leave Montreal," adding "in no way has this been my decision."
As a youngster, Brad Richards dreamed about joining the Chicago Blackhawks -- but as a goalie.
When he was growing up, his idol was then-Chicago goalie Ed Belfour. "I always wanted to be a goalie, but my dad, Glen, would never let me," Richards was quoted as saying. "He played goalie a bit himself, but he wouldn’t have it. I liked all the equipment, the gear, and whenever he wasn’t around, I was a goalie in street hockey. But he wouldn’t allow it, and I cried my eyes out when he said no." Part of Richards' dream has come true, as he recently agreed to a one-year, $2 million contract with the Hawks. But the club expects him to fill the void at second-line center next season.