Montreal Canadiens fans who were nervous about their club re-signing oft-injured defenseman Andrei Markov earlier this summer wasted little time second-guessing management last week when it was reported he would miss the start of training camp due to swelling in his surgically-repaired right knee.
Markov dismissed the concern, claimed the swelling was a normal part of rehabilitation and remained optimistic at being in the Canadiens lineup for their season-opener Oct. 6 in Toronto.
Nevertheless, his status prompted Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette to speculate GM Pierre Gauthier would go shopping for a possible replacement if Markov were out for an extended period.
For now, it appears Gauthier will give Markov time to recuperate and evaluate his performance upon return. Gauthier will also evaluate young blueliners such as Yannick Weber and Alexei Yemelin during pre-season rather than reach any hasty decisions regarding his blueline.
Canadiens fans would do well to remember the wisdom of goaltender Carey Price when fans and media questioned his performance in a couple of pre-season games last year: “Chill out.”
YOUNG SENS MAY PUSH WITH VETERANS
The Ottawa Senators have committed to rebuilding with young talent this season, but ownership hasn’t ruled out the possibility of adding veterans later on if needed.
Bruce Garrioch of The Ottawa Sun recently interviewed Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, who said he’d be willing to spend near the February trade deadline if GM Bryan Murray felt he needed another player to not only help his team make the playoffs, but advance beyond the first round.
Melnyk would love to see his Senators make the playoffs, but is keeping his expectations low for this season.
If, as many observers have predicted, they fail to make the playoffs, the Sens will look at moving a pending unrestricted free agent or two come February.
Garrioch’s colleague, Don Brennan, recently suggested defenseman Filip Kuba would become a trade candidate by the deadline, believing it “unimaginable” the Senators would re-sign Kuba, regardless of how he plays this season.
It’s believed Murray attempted to shop Kuba this past summer, but a combination of injuries, poor performance and a $3.7-million cap hit made the veteran blueliner impossible to move.
POTI INJURY PUTS CAPITALS PAYROLL ON TRACK
The Washington Capitals have been perched above the NHL’s $64.3-million salary cap by roughly $890,000 throughout the off-season, spurring speculation over what moves they’ll make to become cap compliant.
That question was all but answered this past weekend when defenseman Tom Poti, whose cap hit is $2.875 million, failed his team medical.
The Washington Post reported Poti will be placed on long-term injury reserve due to his lingering groin injury, effectively providing the Capitals with the necessary relief.
In other words, ignore the silly rumors of Alex Semin being dealt for draft picks or prospects before October.
PENDING FREE AGENTS WORRY NASHVILLE FANS
Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Suter will be eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer and while his status is likely to be the subject of considerable conjecture over the course of the season, Suter claimed he wasn’t concerned.
He’s confident “the business side will work itself out” and said he loves playing in Nashville.
However, those words aren’t likely to alleviate the concerns of Predators fans, who fear the potential their club will lose Suter or goalie Pekka Rinne (himself a potential UFA next summer) to free agency, or perhaps team captain Shea Weber to a trade or offer sheet next summer if he and management are unable to reach an agreement on a long-term extension.
Unless Suter, Rinne and Weber are re-signed soon, expect their names to appear frequently in this season’s rumor mill.
TURRIS, COYOTES LOCKED IN SALARY BATTLE
While much of the media focus of late has been on Drew Doughty’s stalled contract talks with the Los Angeles Kings, the situation between the Phoenix Coyotes and center Kyle Turris appears to be getting worse.
Turris, who’s reportedly seeking either a three-year deal worth more than $4 million per season or a two-year deal at $3 million per, has come under considerable media and blogger criticism over his salary demands.
GM Don Maloney recently told NBC Sports he considered Turris’ requests “illogical,” saying the centerman’s stance made “absolutely no sense to me.”
It’s been suggested Turris’ demands are a “trade request in disguise,” but Maloney said he had “no intention of trading him whatsoever.”
That, however, hasn’t stopped speculation the Coyotes will trade him for the right price.
For now it’s a standoff that could stretch into the opening days of this season.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and Kukla’s Korner.