While no decisions have been made yet or will be made in the coming weeks, Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville split his roster in practice, with the core of the team on one side and the fringe players on the other. One notable name on the wrong side of the ice was veteran defenseman Keith Yandle, who was working with the fringe players, according to FloridaHockeyNow’s George Richards.
Quenneville said those groups can change throughout this week, but he said he wants to see some of the team’s younger defensemen for a while. While it might be easy to dismiss a move like this, the team is trying to develop a better defense-first attitude, something that the highly-paid Yandle can struggle with at times. The 34-year-old blueliner still has three years remaining on his contract at $6.35MM per season, meaning there is a chance that Yandle may sit from time to time this season. Yandle’s playing time dropped last season under Quenneville after years of averaging more than 20 minutes. He averaged 19:42, almost three minutes less than the previous year.
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman points out that this is worth keeping an eye on, especially since he is currently the top active player in the league in consecutive games with 866 and is fourth all-time.
- The Vancouver Canucks are expected to sign and begin playing 2019 first-round pick Vasili Podkolzin later this season after his contract with KHL’s SKA-St. Petersburg expires on April 30. Of course after being a healthy scratch by SKA Saturday, rumors began that the 19-year-old Russian could be heading to Vancouver sooner than later. However, TSN’s Rick Dhaliwal reports that there is no truth to the rumor. According to his sources, the plan remains to leave the forward with SKA for the remainder of the season.
- Despite an injury prone season last year, New York Islanders forward Casey Cizikas was hoping for a healthy season in 2021. Cizikas missed time with a left leg laceration and then suffered a detached retina in the postseason bubble last season. However injuries keep hitting the fourth-line forward. Newsday’s Andrew Gross reports that Cizikas went down Sunday in a team scrimmage. Linemate Matt Martin and Cizikas sandwiched defenseman Thomas Hickey along the boards during the scrimmage and Cizikas went down in pain. He was attended to on the ice, then on the bench and taken into the locker room after the game. “He’s getting checked out,” coach Barry Trotz said. “The first indication may be more positive than negative. But I don’t have a firm update.”
- Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said he expects goaltender Philipp Grubauer to be the team’s starting goaltender entering the season and expects him and Pavel Francouz to split games 60/40, according to The Athletic’s Peter Baugh. Bednar is confident that Grubauer, who missed the first three days of camp, will be ready for opening night.