Bad break for Red Wings; Blues coach on hotseat; more notes
Unfortunate news out of Detroit where it was learned that Pavel Datsyuk will be sidelined by a separated shoulder for up to five weeks after he was hammered into the boards by Rob Scuderi in the Red Wings' 2-1 win over the Penguins.
That diagnosis should ramp up the fatalism in a fan base that was having flashbacks to the Wings' injury-ravaged 2013-14 season, and it won't stop the demands from some corners for the team to employ an old-school enforcer.
You'll see the Wings switch their team colors to blue and white before that happens, but there's some logic to that thinking. For all the high-end skill on their roster, Detroit comes up shy in the team toughness department and while a goon isn't the right answer, a little sandpaper would go a long way. And the solution to that deficiency might be found in the Wings' own division: Boston's Adam McQuaid.
The 27-year-old vet is coming off an injury-plagued season, but he seems to check all the boxes for the Wings: reasonable cap hit ($1.566 million), good size (6'-5", 209 pounds), a right-handed shot and a heavy, physical presence. And yes, he's willing and able to drop the gloves when needed. Hockeyfights.com had him with a 5-1-1 mark in seven bouts—that's exactly as many as the 30th ranked Wings combined for last season.
Boston would probably prefer to send McQuaid further afield, but if the Wings ante up the best pick or a prospect in return, this could benefit both sides.
Honka makes some noise
It's never a good idea to gush over an 18-year-old prospect after one preseason game, so I'll just say this after watching Dallas defenseman Julius Honka in action on Monday night: If he ever puts it all together this kid could be a really nice piece of the puzzle for the Stars. There are size issues—he looks smaller than his listed 5-11, 175—and he clearly has a lot to learn, especially about how little time he has to hold onto the puck at this level. Still, there was a lot of jam in NHL debut against the Blues. He was supremely confident with the biscuit and made a couple of Karlsson-esque dashes that had the AAC crowd gasping. The organization has been looking for someone with that kind of offensive flair ever since Sergei Zubov moved on in 2009 and this kid could be it. Definitely one to watch.
It's inaccurate to suggest that Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is on the hot seat, but he's likely down to his last chance with in St. Louis. The team exercised a one-year option on his contract over the summer to keep him behind the bench for the 2014-15 campaign, honoring his regular-season record of 124-55-20 and a franchise-record 52 wins last season. But his teams have underperformed in the playoffs, twice losing in the first round including this past spring when the Blues blew a 2-0 lead and bowed out in six against the Blackhawks. Hitchcock is one of the best minds in the game, but this is a results-oriented business. Anything short of a conference final berth and he's probably looking for a new job.
Lots of eyes on Kings prospect Andy Andreoff right now. The 23-year-old grinder is out of options, which means if he doesn't stick with the big club he'll likely be lost on waivers to another team. The question is: Where does he fit in Los Angeles? The Kings' fourth line stacks up to be Mike Richards between Trevor Lewis and Kyle Clifford, and unless his skating has improved dramatically over the summer, Andreoff is not displacing any of those vets. He could stick with the club as the 13th forward over Jordan Nolan, a player whose upside is no longer in question, but scratching Andreoff four nights out of five doesn't do his development any favors. If the Kings can't find a way to fit him in, there should be several other clubs willing to try.
Dark horse in D.C.
One scout's assessment of Washington Capitals hopeful Andre Burakovsky: "He can do a lot of things with the puck that make it look like he's ready, but he has to show he can be trusted without it." Burakovsky showed off his NHL-ready shot in the team's exhibition opener, scoring the only goal for the Caps in a 1-0 win over Buffalo but it was the decent effort in his defensive game that was most encouraging. The odds would seem to be against him, but don't write off his chances to stick with the club just yet.
Keeping an eye on the kids
It looks like it's going to be a down year for Swedish prospects in 2015, but the only one who earned an A rating in Central Scouting's preliminary Players To Watch list is a beauty ... and he may end up being the first player selected after the Connor McDavid/Jack Eichel debate is settled. Oliver Kylington earned a spot with Farjestad of Sweden's top league last season at just 16, and he projects as the prototypical offensive-minded blueliner. Central Scouting says he can quarterback a power play and enjoys joining the rush. "Fast, smart, skilled, creative ... if he was a little bigger he'd be the whole package," one scout told SI.com. In total, 29 players received an A rating, including four from the Czech Republic: right wings Lukas Jasek of Trinec and Michael Spacek of Pardubice, center David Kase of Chomutov, and goalie Daniel Vladar of Kladno. This sets up as a big year for the country that had almost fallen off the developmental map in recent years.
Reid all about it
The Devils are going to have a hard time keeping top prospect Reid Boucher down on the farm. Coming off a season in which they averaged just 2.40 goals per game, 27th in the league, New Jersey is in dire need of offense and Boucher, a 62-goal scorer with the OHL's Sarnia Sting, has the touch they need. He had the magic mitts on display Monday night against the Rangers, scoring once and setting up Adam Henrique for another. He also showcased a commitment to defense, rectifying his own brutal cross-ice giveaway with impressive hustle and a steal of his own.
That's the sort of two-way zealotry Pete DeBoer wants to see, but even that might not be enough to crack a lineup where the numbers are so heavily stacked against him. The Devils currently have 14 forwards under one-way contract and are looking to add a 15th, veteran Ryan Carter. Boucher, playing on a two-way deal, can be sent to the AHL without repercussion. Seems likely that's where he'll start the season, but a couple more games like Monday and he could force his way onto this club .
Word is the Canadiens are willing to move Travis Moen, but his $1.85 million cap hit through 2015-16 is a tough swallow for a fourth-liner, no matter how much leadership he brings to the bench.