September 23 — Holding Out & School Is in Session

Last Night’s News 📰

OUT OF THE DESERT?: Jakob Chychrun has gone public with his desire to be traded by the Arizona Coyotes. The 24-year-old blueliner acknowledged the trade request to assembled media on the first day of Coyotes training camp, rejoining the club after undergoing offseason surgery on his wrist and ankle.

ROBERTSON HOLDS OUT: Dallas Stars forward Jason Roberston was not at training camp as he is awaiting a contract extension. Robertson, 23, had 70 points in 74 games last season and has been the second-best scorer on the team for the past two seasons. General manager Jim Nill stated that they are continuing negotiations with the hopes that an extension will come together quickly. 

THERE’S ALWAYS NEXT YEAR: Unfortunately, the first day of training camp also confirmed some players would miss the season. Robin Lehner (knee, Vegas Golden Knights), Nolan Patrick (undisclosed, Golden Knights), and Ryan Ellis (back, Philadelphia Flyers) are unlikely to see a return in 2022-23. 

INJURY REPORT: There were several injuries to report, some more significant than others. Nick Suzuki (Montreal Canadiens) is out for two weeks, while Gabriel Landeskog (Colorado Avalanche) will miss the start of the season, both with a lower-body injury (LBI). Carl Hagelin (Washington Capitals) is out indefinitely, also with an LBI, Ian Mitchell (Chicago Blackhawks) will miss six weeks with a wrist injury, and Jake Muzzin (Toronto Maple Leafs) is week-to-week with a back injury. 

OILERS ON McLEOD NINE: Yesterday, the Edmonton Oilers re-signed 23-year-old forward Ryan McLeod to a one-year, $798,000 contract. McLeod had nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points in 71 games during his first full year in Edmonton last season. 

FLAMES GET RITCH(IE): On Wednesday, the Calgary Flames announced they re-signed forward Brett Ritchie to a one-year, $750,000 deal. The 29-year-old had four points (three goals, one assist) in 41 games last season. He will be entering his third year in Calgary.

Friday Favorites

Let’s look back at our favorite moments of the week.

The Boys Are Back in Town

With the arrival of Fall, the seasons have officially changed, which means NHL training camps have finally opened. Yesterday, the Anaheim Ducks held a scrimmage open to the public, while the New Jersey Devils will hold their first scrimmage later today. Fans will see their favorite players hit the ice while watching their coaching staff play around with different combinations until they find the recipe for success. 

Backstrom’s Optimism

Washington Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom is finally pain-free. He had surgery on June 17 and told the media he is optimistic that he could return to the ice this season even though there is no timetable for his return. He called the surgery a “life-changer” and said even mundane tasks like picking up socks and tying his shoes were strenuous. We couldn’t be happier to hear the long-time forward is finally able to take the necessary steps to return to his team! 

New Season, Same Pranks

Fans love hearing the off-ice stories that occur throughout the season, and a favorite is always the pranks between teammates. During the NHL Media Tour, Marc-André Fleury pranked his former teammate Sidney Crosby by taping all his equipment in a bundle and hiding a full cup of water under the Pittsburgh Penguins captain’s helmet. The seasoned prankster would not take credit, but he didn’t need to. Crosby is no rookie and will be seeking revenge on his friend.

Wish You Were Here

With training camps opening across the league this week, the focus should be on those ready to get things underway ahead of the 2022-23 campaign. However, it’s only natural to be preoccupied with those who aren’t around. Restricted free agents who have not yet signed new contracts with their clubs have now entered holdout territory, where their contract impasse prevents them from joining their teammates in camp.

So what’s the story with these players still waiting on new deals? And how concerned should fans be about these holdouts? Let’s explore, shall we?

Jason Robertson – Dallas Stars

Jason Robertson, Dallas Stars (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Jason Robertson was noticeably missing on the first day of training camp for the Dallas Stars. What is particularly frustrating is that the 23-year-old was an integral component in Dallas and would benefit from time to adapt to the new system by head coach Pete DeBoer. Robertson could be looking to cash in on a breakout 41-goal campaign last season, which may keep things contentious with the Stars sitting roughly $6 million under the cap.

Rasmus Sandin – Toronto Maple Leafs

When an agent acknowledges that “negotiations are going nowhere,” it’s probably not a great sign for a swift resolution to the contract dispute. Perpetually tight against the cap, the Maple Leafs want Rasmus Sandin in the fold but can’t afford to break the bank for the 22-year-old. Accordingly, the young blueliner was probably right to balk at an offer reported to be similar to the two-year, $2.8 million bridge deal that Toronto signed with Timothy Liljegren.

Alex Formenton – Ottawa Senators

Alex Formenton, Ottawa Senators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

For all the excitement in Ottawa surrounding Senators GM Pierre Dorion’s busy summer, the continued absence of Alex Formenton casts a bit of a shadow upon what should be a hugely optimistic training camp. Dorion and the Sens went through this last year with Brady Tkachuk before signing their captain three games into the season. Coming off 18 goals in his first full NHL season, Formenton doesn’t have the profile of Tkachuk but would offer a boost to a significantly improved forward corps.

Nicolas Hague – Vegas Golden Knights

Given their sparse bit of LTIR-enabled cap space and the benefit of a deep, healthy blue line, the Vegas Golden Knights could be poised to play hardball when it comes to Nicolas Hague. Amidst reports of “very little dialogue since early July,” there’s already been speculation on a looming trade. That said, 23-year-old defensemen with a booming shot and top pair experience alongside Alex Pietrangelo don’t grow on trees. There is plenty of upside here, and Vegas hopes for a deal to be signed soon.

Back to School

Yesterday, the first day of training camp practices opened for NHL teams. It’s a day usually termed “The First Day of School” by teams and players. Because “class” is back in session, we thought we would reflect on some fun school stories shared by players over the years.

The Troublemaker

Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie attended the University of North Dakota and played through his junior year. One of his achievements was setting a program record with nine game-winning goals in a season his freshman season. As great as he was on the ice, he caused some trouble off the ice. In a 2018 interview, he stated that he tried taking online classes to finish his degree in general studies, but the University blocked him from taking classes. He reflected, “I don’t think I looked at the emails, but apparently, I still have unpaid parking tickets, and I got kicked out of the class. I must have missed the email. I didn’t think they were serious, but they’re serious.” Maybe the second time’s the charm for Oshie?

The Brains

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Alex Killorn is known for his tenacious style of play, and it turns out he might be one of the more intelligent guys in the league. He graduated from Harvard University in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in government and had a 3.5 GPA. He mentioned that he would have to accomplish a lot as a hockey player to keep up with his Harvard peers, who are likely to be America’s leaders. He jokingly responded to how he would do that by saying, “Score 800 goals.” We will point out that back-to-back Stanley Cup championships aren’t too shabby for a Harvard graduate! 

The Forever Students

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is a history buff. So much so that he took an online class at Southern New Hampshire University in 2015, during the hockey season! He mentioned that he loved the readings but not writing essays, which included a final paper on World War II. Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Jack Johnson earned his general studies degree from the University of Michigan earlier this spring. Johnson, 35, stated, “Let’s see, that (degree) takes me 18 years? Most people are at least a doctor at that point.” He won a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche and got a degree in the same year. That’s a lot of hardware! 

The Hockey Guy

Colin Blackwell is a newly acquired Blackhawks forward who spent time with the Seattle Kraken and Toronto Maple Leafs last season. Like Killorn, Blackwell also attended Harvard University. When speaking with reporters in August, he said that during his sophomore year in 2012-13, he suffered two concussions months apart that kept him away from hockey for two years due to persistent symptoms. Blackwell thought his hockey career was over and decided to focus on majoring in government and minoring in psychology. During a political science course, the professor asked if he considered himself left wing or right wing, and he responded, “I’ve always been a natural center.” Hockey guy alert! 

Heading into the 2022-23 season, the Morning Skate will introduce The Hockey Writers team contributors as they share some quick thoughts on what has been happening with their respective clubs this summer.

Friday, we highlight two Eastern Conference clubs. We speak with the New York Rangers crew of Matt GrazelBrendan AzoffRachel NonesBrian Abate, and Tom Castro, as well as Tim Chiasson and Dayton Reimer covering the Ottawa Senators, to preview their teams. 

New York Rangers

Ottawa Senators

How Would You Rate the Team’s Offseason?



A Prospect Who Could Make His NHL Debut This Season:

An Offseason Move That Will Pay Off This Season:

Most Underrated Player on the Roster:

Which Player Departure Was the Biggest Loss?:

Poised for a Bigger Breakout: Alexis Lafrenière or Kaapo Kakko?:

Will Ottawa Reach the Postseason?:

OTT: Tim: No – Dayton: Yes