The New York Rangers will have to build their offensive chemistry on the fly this season as new coach Alain Vigneault installs his system.
Captain Ryan Callahan is recovering nicely from shoulder surgery, but he doesn’t expect to be ready for opening night. Fellow winger Carl Hagelin is facing the same scenario.
Adding to the fun is the ongoing holdout of center Derek Stepan, who isn’t close to striking a deal with this cap-cuffed franchise. Stepan has thus far balked as the team’s offer of two years for a shade over $5 million.
His absence could help Brad Richards get off to a fast start with new coach Alain Vigneault. “To me, he looks real positive and he looks like he’s got a lot of energy, so I think he’s looking forward to the challenge that’s coming up with this season,” Vigneault told the New York media. “He seems to want to lead the troops and that’s what we want him to do.”
Here are some other storylines of note from NHL camp:
Alex Pietrangelo gets back to work. With a new seven-year, $45.5 million contract in hand, he will join Jay Bouwmeester in one of the NHL’s elite defensive tandems. His signing moves Kevin Shattenkirk back to the second pairing for the St. Louis Blues. It also reduced the chances of Ryan Whitney of earning a contract with his professional tryout.
Jaren Cowen gets back to work: The Ottawa Senators talked about an eight-year deal with their young defenseman before settling on a four-year deal. Cowen, the ninth overall pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, was limited to just seven games last season by hip surgery and has played just 90 NHL games. So establishing a fair value for Cowen is tricky. He finally agreed to a $12.4 million deal. Consider him a solid bet for a breakout season.
Claude Giroux recovers from finger surgery. When he was initially injured in a golf mishap, the Philadelphia Flyers feared their top scorer could miss the start of the season. But he is recovering quickly from surgery, enough to resume shooting pucks. “They say, 'Take your time.' We're going to start testing it more next week when we know there's no danger,” Giroux told NHL.com.
Jaromir Jagr’s painfully slow start. The destined Hall of Famer hasn’t been able to blend with his new teammates in camp. Lower body soreness has sidelined him indefinitely, preventing the New York Devils from building offensive chemistry with its new lineup. “There's no timetable,” Devils hockey czar Lou Lamoriello told the Newark Star-Ledger. “But we're not concerned.”
Daniel Alfredsson’s adjustment. He and fellow newcomer Stephen Weiss opened camp for the Detroit Red Wings on a line with Johan Franzen. That could be a formidable No. 2 unit. Alfredsson noted that his new team’s offensive system was similar to the one Ottawa used under coach Paul MacLean, former Reds Wings assistant coach.
Bobby Ryan’s adjustment. The Ottawa Senators are trying him on the top line with Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek. What is the key to developing good line chemistry? “Just playing together and skating to get familiar with each other,” Spezza told the Ottawa Sun. “There’s no real rhyme or reason why you have chemistry with a guy.”
Jarome Iginla’s adjustment. He and former Dallas Stars maintain Loui Eriksson are adapting to their new life with the Boston Bruins. Iginla will start off playing with David Krejci and Milan Lucic. “Krejci is a very smooth player,” Iginla told the Boston Herald. “He just finds ways to score or makes things happen; he’s a great passer. I love to score, so you always love to play with a great passer. “Looch is the best power forward in the game, as tough as they come. But (he is) also a smart player who creates a lot of room for his linemates.”
Francois Beauchemin’s recovery. The key Anaheim Ducks defenseman is aiming to start the season on the active roster despite undergoing knee surgery less than four months ago. ACL repairs can sideline athletes for six months or more. “I'm right where I want it to be because that's the same timing I had when I hurt my other knee,” he told NHL.com. “I came back playing at 4 1/2 months, and I think I’m right on time to do that now.”
Dany Heatley’s comeback. He is in the walk year of his contract with the Minnesota Wild. He is coming back from shoulder surgery. He had to spend a lot of time in the gym over the summer rehabbing his injury, so he reported to camp in top shape for a change.