A friend of mine came up to me the other day and asked if I'm contractually obligated to discuss the collective bargaining agreement in every column. Only through the dog days of summer, buddy. Now, with training camps set to open across the league this weekend, we can get back to the fun stuff.
On my mind right now, and likely yours as well, is a simple question: Who among the hundreds of hopefuls will step up in camp and win himself an NHL job. That's something I'll be watching closely over the coming weeks. For now, here are some young players who bear watching.
Remember him? His bête noire,
Even with the acquisitions of veterans
The pressure is on
The big center, taken 13th overall by St. Louis in 2007, comes to town with a heavy weight on his shoulders. He can't replace the popular puck-stopper in the nets, but as the main piece obtained by the Habs in the
Cynics will suggest caution against reading too much into
The organization's putative top prospect looks to be the biggest mystery at any camp. After missing all but 13 games last season with a series of back problems, he still wasn't healthy enough to join the team for any rookie activities over the summer. There's a chance he could make an appearance at the main camp, but it's no sure thing, even after spending the summer training for his return with fitness guru
The most hyped battle will be on the blueline, where
Still stinging from the disappointing returns on the
Caniacs believe they already have their future No. 1 defender after watching the former Wisconsin Badger score three goals and 10 points in 14 games last season. The enthusiasm is understandable, but now it's up to McBain to display his maturity. Some guys who come into the league late and experience some success return the next season with the sense that they have it all figured out. McBain still has a lot to learn, particularly about handling his responsibilities in his own end. It's a good bet he'll round out his game, but it's far from a sure thing that he'll do it by October. Watch out for a bumpy start.
The 6-0, 187-pound center broke the hearts of Badger Nation, leaving the University of Wisconsin after his sophomore year to sign a three-year deal with the Rangers. Based on his showing at the recent Traverse City prospects tournament, he might be ready to jump directly from college to the Big, White Way. He tied for the scoring lead at the eight-team event with Carolina first-rounder
Don't think that particular skill set isn't critical to his chances this season. The Blueshirts will basically hold a camp-long casting call to find someone capable of centering franchise forward