While he was quickly cast aside in recent years by Montreal and Minnesota, winger Thomas Vanek is still full of confidence and motivation heading into the season, writes MLive’s Ansar Khan. After the Wild bought him out in June, Detroit quickly snapped him up, signing him to a one year, $2.6MM deal. Vanek noted a big reason for signing with the Red Wings was their belief that he can fill a key role with the team:
“The way they described my game and how they see my fit here, it’s something I wanted to hear because I still feel I can score 20-plus goals.”
Vanek is expected to start the season alongside speedy center Darren Helm although the opposite winger has yet to be determined. Head coach Jeff Blashill also stated that Vanek should play on the top power play unit, where he will be expected to get to the front of the net instead of playing on the perimeter as much as he has in recent years.
[Related: Red Wings Depth Chart]
Elsewhere in the Atlantic Division:
- Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly left Wednesday’s preseason game – his first since returning from the World Cup of Hockey – with back and midsection spasms, notes John Vogl of the Buffalo News. However, the injury doesn’t appear to be series with head coach Dan Bylsma classifying it as a day-to-day issue. The team already is missing right winger Kyle Okposo plus blueliners Zach Bogosian and Dmitry Kulikov with various bumps and bruises, although none are believed to be too serious.
- Bylsma also expects the team to reach an agreement with a contract with RFA defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen before the start of the season next week. The 21 year old is in camp with the team and is taking part in practices (unlike the other restricted free agents around the league) but has not yet suited up in the preseason.
- Canadiens left winger Paul Byron is battling pneumonia, reports TVA Sports’ Renaud Lavoie. He’s expected to miss at least a few days which at least puts his availability for the beginning of the season into question. Byron had a career high 11 goals with Montreal last season, earning himself a three year contract in the process.
- Boston center prospect Austin Czarnik has made a significant impression in training camp which has allowed head coach Claude Julien to experiment with an all centers second line comprised of Ryan Spooner, David Krejci, and David Backes, notes CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty. However, Julien suggested that the team may yet experiment with Czarnik on the wing which would force one of the other centers (likely Backes or Spooner) back to the third line.