Willie Mitchell thinks the best of Roberto Luongo will come this season now that the netminder has a fresh start with the Panthers.
Luongo had to deal with a goalie controversy in Vancouver when Cory Schneider was there, but he's at at ease now in his return to Florida. "No one wants to win a Stanley Cup more than Roberto. ... Coming back down here is a breath of fresh air for him because, who's kidding who, it's not [the same] market, there's not that pressure and he could be himself. I think you'll see the best of him.'' The 35-year-old netminder went 25-23-7, with a 2.40 goals-against average and .919 save percentage last season. The Panthers will need him at his best to have a chance in the Eastern Conference this season.
Jon Merrill had the wind knocked out of him in a collision with Ruslan Fedotenko on Friday.
Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said Saturday that Merrill, who did not practice, "is fine, he had the wind taken out of him and he's day to day." Coach Pete DeBoer is not concerned about it being a long-term problem, either. Merrill suffered a concussion last season, and that is why there's been more buzz about this injury. There's chance the 22-year-old could skate on Sunday. Merrill had 11 points in 52 games last season.
CSKA Moscow of the KHL is set to offer Ryan Johansen a one-year, $5 million deal, according to TSN’s Farhan Lalji.
Lalji reports that CSKA’s offer, which will occur Saturday night, is the seventh Johansen has received from a KHL team. The Blue Jackets center is not expected to take any of them, despite the ongoing contract stalemate with his NHL club. Reports have indicated that Johansen and the Blue Jackets are at least $2-3 million off per season.
Ryan McDonagh doesn’t think there is a wrong choice for the next Rangers captain.
The 25-year-old is the favorite to be named captain by coach Alain Vigneault by the end of training camp, but he thinks the Rangers’ leadership is strong from top to bottom. "We have a lot of great candidates here, and the coaching staff is going to make the right decision. They can't make a wrong decision because this group is so solid. Even if you're not going to be one of the guys with a letter, we need 20 guys to be a leader in their own way. It might be a small part. It might be little things off the ice: cracking jokes, keeping spirits up in the room. I think no matter what happens, this group is going to [have] solid leadership all the way through."
Alex Ovechkin is being moved back to the left wing this season.
New Capitals coach Barry Trotz will work to help Ovechkin become a more complete player and the first step will be a move back to his off wing. "He's better on the right side a little bit defensively, but his talent is on the left side," Trotz said. "And so if I'm going to maximize his talent, I need to get him on the left side. Now if he doesn't want to adjust defensively playing the left side, then we'll talk about maybe moving him back to the right. The stuff that he does on the left side, there's no coach on the planet who can teach (it). If he's willing to learn, I can teach him the other stuff." The Capitals captain had 51 goals and 28 points last season, but it came with a minus-35 rating.
Stars coach Lindy Ruff is excited about what Ales Hemsky brings to the table.
"His passing," Ruff said. "I think his compete level is good. I think it is his individual skills. You saw yesterday that he had nothing coming on a play from the outside, and on a curl and drag got inside. He turned what should have been a non-scoring chance into a Grade A scoring chance on his own. I think he’s been criticized sometimes for not shooting enough when he is in those situations. He’s a heady player. He can make plays under pressure and I think those are the things that you’ve got to be able to do at this level." Hemsky has been a frustrating player in recent seasons, but if healthy and properly motivated — and in a plum situation in the Stars’ top-six — Hemsky could thrive. Don’t forget about him later in drafts. He could easily score 20 and have 30 assists.
Ryan Johansen’s agent Kurt Overhardt submitted a proposal to the Blue Jackets for a two-year deal worth less than $5 million per year, according to NY Post’s Larry Brooks.
Brooks said the offer was made Thursday, so obviously it’s not something the Blue Jackets were intrigued by. Team president John Davidson has said that the Blue Jackets would not budge off a two-year deal at $3 million a year as Johansen does not have arbitration rights. The 22-year-old broke out last season with 33 goals and 63 points. An agreement doesn't appear imminent, but these situations tend to resolve themselves quickly once there's a compromise.
Evander Kane believes he can become a 50-goal scorer.
Kane tallied a career-high 30 goals during the 2011-12 campaign, but he dipped to just 19 last year. While talented, it’s going to be a difficult feat for him to accomplish; Alexander Ovechkin was the only player to do it last season and Kane has topped the 50-point mark just once, let alone get close to 50 goals. "I said when I got drafted that I can score 50 and I know I can score 50," said Kane. "Playing with the right guys and playing with those guys consistently and obviously staying healthy is a big part of it too. The sky is the limit." More realistic expectations are 25 goals and 55 points, with the upside for more.