Washington Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny is on the mend. Kempny has yet to play this season due to a concussion – one he doesn’t even remember suffering – after ending up on the receiving end of a high hit from the St. Louis Blues’ Robert Bortuzzo. Bortuzzo was suspended for the Blues’ opening night match-up, but is already back in action for St. Louis. Kempny hopes to follow suit, telling NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti that he hopes to make his season debut on Wednesday. Kempny practice in full today and was feeling good, but admits the final call will come from head coach Todd Reirden. The Capitals have fared fine without Kempny, winning in blowout fashion against the Boston Bruins before falling in overtime to the rival Pittsburgh Penguins, but Kempny would be a welcome addition back to the Washington lineup. The 2017-18 trade deadline acquisition found instant chemistry on the team’s top pair with John Carlson and brings high expectations into the new season.
- The Bruins bounced back well from their beating at the hands of the Capitals on Wednesday, shutting out the Buffalo Sabres the next night with a rearranged forward lineup. However, WEEI’s Matt Kalman reports that the team is still not content with the play of Sean Kuraly as the third line center. The Bruins gave youngsters Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic, and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson – all recent high draft picks – the chance to win that job in training camp, but none could seize the opportunity. Kuraly began the year in the top nine by default, but has underwhelmed playing with both Ryan Donato and David Backes and Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork. As a result, Kalman states that the team is prepared to move Backes back to center, a position he has played infrequently since arriving in Boston two years ago, but almost exclusively played during his years in St. Louis. Kalman spoke to head coach Bruce Cassidy, who seemed optimistic about transitioning Backes back down the middle and his fit with Heinen and Bjork. It may not be a long-term solution, but should improve the contributions of the third line while the team continues to evaluate their options. The move would presumably return Kuraly back to the fourth line, where he and Noel Acciari starred last season and should again find success lining up with new additions Chris Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom.
- New Jersey Devils prospect goaltender Akira Schmid has reportedly had enough of North American junior hockey already, early on in the new campaign. Schmid, a fifth round pick in June, had joined the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes this year after developing in his native Switzerland. However, after failing to win the starter’s job and his first, disastrous appearance – Schmid allowed seven goals on 27 shots – he appears to be ready to move on. European news source “Sonntagsblick” reports that Schmid is set to return to the SCL Tigers of the NLA in Switzerland, the program in which he developed. Schmid is likely to make most of his appearances with Langnau, the team’s top junior program. The question now, after such a rough experience in North America, is how long it takes Schmid to return. The Devils hope that this setback doesn’t stunt the growth of their promising goalie prospect.