The New York Rangers have been trending upwards as they look forward to the upcoming season. However, one troubling aspect of training camp is the fact that their team leader and MVP Mika Zibanejad has missed the entirety of training camp with no explanation for his absence (standard league policy).
However, The Athletic’s Rick Carpiniello (subscription required) writes that Zibanejad did skate Saturday before the team’s practice, suggesting he might be close to returning to the team. Head coach David Quinn said that Zibanejad has “had a couple of good days.”
The 27-year-old center had a breakout season last year, scoring 41 goals in 57 games and will be looked upon to lead the team once again.
- The New York Islanders and general manager Lou Lamoriello signed Mathew Barzal to a three-year deal early Saturday, but there was hope that the two sides could agree to a six-year pact instead, according to The Athletic’s Arthur Staple (subscription required). The two sides were discussing a deal similar to the six-year, $9.25MM contract that Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen signed last year, but the Islanders could not make that work. The hope was the team could unload the contracts of Leo Komarov and/or Thomas Hickey to free up the necessary cap room, but no team was willing to take either contract.
- The New Jersey Devils could be looking the trade route to fill its backup goaltending spot on the roster after veteran Corey Crawford announced his retirement. The Athletic’s Corey Masisak (subscription required) writes that they might be looking towards the Arizona Coyotes, who have quite a bit of goaltending depth, including Adin Hill, who Arizona would have to pass through waivers to get on the taxi squad. That could give New Jersey a chance to trade for Antti Raanta, who is in the last year of his contract and is earning $4.25MM.
- Philadelphia Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault is completely focused on a long playoff run this season and has sent a message to veteran Jakub Voracek, who was moved off the first-team power play in practice and was told to step up, according to Philadelphia Enquirer’s Marcus Hayes. Voracek scored just 12 goals during the regular season, but especially struggled during the Flyers’ seven-game playoff series against the New York Islanders in which he had just one point. “I talked to Jake about this. I challenged him about this season. There’s a man who’s been in the league for a long time,” Vigneault said. “Basically, he’s won two playoff rounds.” Other young players are ready to take bigger roles on the team, including Oskar Lindblom, Nolan Patrick and Joel Farabee, which could put even more pressure on Voracek.
- Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand, who is coming off sports hernia surgery, left practice early Sunday, according to Boston Globe’s Matt Porter. The 32-year-old was given a four-month recovery window in September, but Marchand returned early from that prognosis. While there is no word on why he left practice early, head coach Bruce Cassidy said he was getting treatment and doesn’t believe the injury is serious. He is a game-time decision for Monday’s scrimmage.