As many expected, the Buffalo Sabres would be without their top goaltending prospect, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, at the Prospects Challenge and now Sabres assistant general manager Randy Sexton revealed that the prospect, who underwent hip surgery in April, will miss training camp as well, according to Buffalo News’ Lance Lysowski. However, Luukkonen could be ready to play games as soon as the beginning of the season.
The 20-year-old goaltender was impressive in his one year North America, posting a .920 save percentage in 53 games with the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL and now is ready to join the Rochester Americans of the AHL. However, he was given a six-month recover time after the hip surgery, but Sexton said he was “on track” and continues to work with Sabres goaltending coach Seamus Kotyk to get ready for the regular season.
“He’s doing very well,” Sexton said. “He’s right on track, which is great. … No pain, no soreness. A little bit of fatigue but you would expect that. He’s on track. He’ll be around here in Buffalo for a while because he’s obviously not ready to play, but we’re really encouraged by the progress he’s made and we have every expectation, barring a setback, he’ll be ready to play when the schedule starts.”
- The Athletic’s Adam Vingan (subscription required) writes that the reason why the Nashville Predators haven’t locked up defenseman Roman Josi to a contract extension yet is due to the restricted free agent market in which a group of top players are holding out for big-time paydays. While Nashville doesn’t have any restricted free agents at the moment, the team is in a holding pattern as the team awaits the outcome of the signings. Among the restricted free agents, there are a number of unsigned defensemen, including Boston’s Charlie McAvoy, Philadelphia’s Ivan Provorov and Columbus’ Zach Werenski. While Josi, who will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, is a much more established player, it’s likely that he and his agent are waiting to see how those three players fare before agreeing to any contract. Josi has expressed a desire to remain in Nashville.
- St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jim Thomas writes that with Pat Maroon signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the St. Louis Blues must find a replacement for their veteran leader in the bottom-six. The scribe believes that player to be Mackenzie MacEachern, who has the size (6-foot-3) and will to hit players and was the forgotten man during the team’s playoff run, scratched for the final 10 games of the regular season and he never saw the playoffs. The 25-year-old played 29 games for St. Louis last year, scoring three goals, five points and 49 hits and could establish himself as a solid replacement for Maroon and might be even better than Maroon was in the regular season. Other possibilities might include Sammy Blais and prospect Klim Kostin.