The St. Louis Blues got some good news today as goaltender Jake Allen, who has been out with back spasms and was expected to miss the first 10-14 days of training camp, said that he’s already feeling better and could return to the ice ahead of schedule, according to Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“It’s progressed way better than when it first happened,” he said. “It’s a lot better than I thought it was and I’m feeling really good right now. I’ve made some significant progress the last couple days. It looks like I’ll be on the ice earlier than that.”
The team needs a big season from the 28-year-old after a rough season last year. The veteran posted a career-low 2.75 GAA and a poor .906 save percentage as the Blues missed the playoffs. Allen changed his training routine this summer and was primed for a big year as the Blues redesigned their roster this offseason.
- St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko has been a solid defenseman in St. Louis for years, but after agreeing to a five-year, $27.5MM contract a year ago, the team was hoping that he might have a breakout season last year. While that didn’t happen, Parayko might get that opportunity this year, according to Fox Sports’ Andy Strickland, who reports that Parayko has come to camp in great shape, finishing near the top in off-ice testing. If he’s in the best shape of his career, a big year could follow.
- Scott Powers of The Athletic (subscription required) writes that Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Henri Jokiharju has looked good early in training camp. The 2016 first-rounder played alongside veteran Duncan Keith and was both aggressive and helped create chances on offense. The team, desperately in need of defense, could get a huge boost if the 19-year-old proves that he’s indeed ready for the NHL. He scored 71 points in 63 games with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL last season.
- Sean Shapiro of The Athletic writes that one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Stars’ addition of new head coach Jim Montgomery will likely be young defenseman Julius Honka. The 22-year-old has regained his confidence after losing last season and has already impressed his new head coach, who hopes the 2014 first-rounder might be ready to make a significant impact in the Stars’ defense.
- BSN Denver’s AJ Haefele writes that Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said Saturday that he wants defenseman Samuel Girard to start this season with veteran Erik Johnson after the way Girard finished the season last year. The 20-year-old finished the season with four goals and 23 points between Nashville and Colorado and showed the ability to develop into a top-four defenseman. However, there is still a lot of time in camp before that decision becomes permanent.