Rejoice, friends, for hockey hath finally returned unto our lives…
The NHL opens its 2013-14 season training camps this week. Earlier, we gave you a look at the Eastern Conference and its new friends in Detroit and Columbus.
Now it's time to focus on the West, home to the Stanley Cup champions, Teemu Selanne and now the Winnipeg Jets, too.
Chicago Blackhawks (Training Camp Roster)
Where: Notre Dame’s Compton Family Ice Arena (100 Compton Family Ice Arena, Notre Dame, IN)/ United Center
The Storyline: Second line center. Brandon Pirri, who led the AHL in scoring last season, is going to be given a solid audition as the Blackhawks' No. 2 behind Jonathan Toews. Should he fail to grab the brass ring, last year’s rookie sensation Brandon Saad might get a shot, with Hobey Baker winner Drew LeBlanc lingering as the darkest of dark horses.
The Subplot: Ben Smith vs. Jeremy Morin. With Michael Frolik in Winnipeg, there’s competition to fill his role on the fourth line and on the PK. Smith gained fame as an emergency fill-in for Marian Hossa in the playoffs. The Daily Herald sees Morin as his chief competition, with a combination of offense and grit.
Dude Most Likely To Fight In Camp: Kyle Beach once had two fights during prospects camp.
Colorado Avalanche (Training Camp Roster)
Where: South Suburban Family Sports Center in Centennial, CO.
The Storyline: Ryan O'Reilly’s big shift. Jeff Marek’s favorite player moves from the middle to left wing this season, skating with Matt Duchene at center and P.A. Parenteau at right wing. It was necessitated when Nathan MacKinnon was taken first overall; will O’Reilly thrive on the wing in the last year of his offer-sheeted contract (thanks, Calgary)?
The Subplot: Camp Roy. It’s Saint Patrick’s first NHL training camp as a head coach; what discernible differences will become apparent in the preseason between a Patrick Roy Avs team and what preceded it?
Dude Most Likely To Fight In Camp: Guillaume Desbiens had 118 penalty minutes for the Chicago Wolves last season and will look to make an impression in camp.
Dallas Stars (Training Camp Roster)
Where: Fort Worth Convention Center (1201 Houston St, Fort Worth, TX)
The Storyline: Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn get positional. Seguin was a winger with the center-laden Bruins, but was acquired to become the Stars’ No. 1 pivot. Jamie Benn was a left wing in juniors but played center for the Stars, and now he’s shifted back to the wing -- at least for the moment.
The Subplot: Valeri Nichushkin was a “man child” at the Traverse City Prospects tournament, and the 2013 No. 10 overall pick is going to have “every opportunity to be on our team,” assistant GM Les Jackson told NHL.com. Don’t underestimate the importance of Sergei Gonchar on the roster to help facilitate this offensive dynamo’s transition to the NHL.
Dude Most Likely To Fight In Camp: If super pest Antoine Roussel channels his boundless energy the wrong way, someone could pay the price.
Minnesota Wild (Training Camp Roster)
Where: Xcel Energy Center.
The Storyline: The youth movement up front. Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Jason Zucker, Nino Niederreiter and Erik Haula will all be given chances to make an impact on the team. Coyle, Granlund and Haula are all going to be vying for the No. 2 center spot behind Mikko Koivu. And let’s not forget Matt Dumba on defense, too.
The Subplot: Dave Steckel wins faceoffs. While the Wild have Zenon Konopka on the roster, Steckel is a big body they don’t necessarily have up the middle.
Dude Most Likely To Fight In Camp: Carter “The Sandman” Sandlak is an OHL camp invitee who had two fights at the Traverse City tournament.
Nashville Predators (Training Camp Roster)
Where: Centennial Sportsplex (222 25th Ave N, Nashville); Bridgestone Arena.
The Storyline: Seth Jones is the storyline. The Predators’ top pick in the 2013 draft enters camp with a world of hype and expectations, but also with some practical questions about where he fits on this team. If the defenseman wants to play in the top four, it’d have to be on the left side; as Smashville 24/7 notes, it’s not the side he’s most familiar with as a right-handed shot.
The Subplot: Hey, breaking news, the Predators need to score more. That means some solid opportunities for young players who find the back of the net in the preseason to crack the lineup in the regular season. The Preds have roughly $4.6 million in cap space to add scoring in the preseason should they see fit.
Dude Most Likely To Fight In Camp: Joonas Jarvinen is a fighter in the AHL with a name that sounds like something John Carter would have encountered on Barsoom.
St. Louis Blues (Training Camp Roster)
Where: Scottrade Center.
The Storyline: Who plays with Derek Roy? The Blues’ new center, in on a 1-year deal, is a playmaker unlike the team’s other two primary centers in David Backes and Patrik Berglund, who take it to the net more than dish it. Which wingers will click with Roy?
The Subplot: Without Alex Pietrangelo in camp due to contract negotiations, the Blues turned to veteran Ryan Whitney. Is he simply a place holder for Petro, or someone that could stick with the team when the star defenseman returns?
Dude Most Likely To Fight In Camp: We’re not entirely sure, but we’d like to see David Backes tune up a Canadian teammate to kick-off his pre-Olympics Inglorious Backes spree.
Winnipeg Jets (Training Camp Roster)
Where: MTS Centre and MTS Iceplex.
The Storyline: Are the kids finally ready? The Jets have been waiting for 20-year-old center Mark Scheifele and 19-year-old defenseman Jacob Trouba to be ready to snag significant ice time. In the case of the former, the team desperately needs more scoring from the center spot. Is he a true No. 1 in the waiting?
The Subplot: Dustin Byfuglien is so … fit? Gary Lawless believes the defenseman is 30 pounds lighter than when he arrived at camp last season. Wonder why oh right he wants to make the Olympics.
Dude Most Likely To Fight In Camp: Evander Kane. Oh, wait, are we talking about traffic tickets?
Anaheim Ducks (Training Camp Roster)
Where: THE RINKS - Anaheim ICE (300 West Lincoln Avenue in Anaheim)
The Storyline: Life without Bobby Ryan. The forward, traded to the Ottawa Senators during the offseason, was a key offensive weapon whether he was skating as a three-headed monster with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry or starring on the second line. So who replaces him?
Kyle Palmieri probably has a job to lose. Sniper Jakob Silfverberg, acquired from Ottawa, will be given a chance to win a top six job. But could a strong camp elevate Emerson Etem into a prime time role in his sophomore season?
The Subplot: Hey, remember Kyle Cumiskey? The former Colorado Avalanche defenseman played for MODO last season in Sweden, and comes to camp with the Ducks anticipating that Sheldon Souray will miss several months of the regular season. Added to the intrigue: Cumiskey was actually Ducks property through the 2011-12 season, played 57 games in the AHL, didn’t see any NHL action and then signed with MODO with the Ducks still having his rights.
Dude Most Likely To Fight In Camp: Oh hi, Zach “Huggy Bear” Stortini.
Calgary Flames (Training Camp Roster)
Where: Winsport, 88 Canada Olympic Road SW, Calgary
The Storyline: For the first time since 2003, there’s an actual goalie competition in Calgary thanks to the retirement of Miikka Kiprusoff. KHL vet Karri Ramo (of the notorious YouTube lowlights) could have the inside track, but NHL journeyman Joey MacDonald will be in the mix along with Swiss goalie Reto Berra, who came over in the Jay Bouwmeester trade. If this group inspires thoughts that the Flames might add a goalie in the preseason, it’s probably because they should.
The Subplot: Post-Iginla, who gets the ‘C’? Mike Cammalleri, who is captain material? A veteran like Curtis Glencross, who wore the ‘A’? Or perhaps someone like Mark Giordano that’ll be in Calgary for a bit?
Dude Most Likely To Fight In Camp: If Brian Burke is your new head of state, best that you all fight in camp. #Truculence
Edmonton Oilers (Training Camp Roster)
Where: Millennium Place in Sherwood Park/Rexall Place
The Storyline: Taylor Hall to center. With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins injured, the Oilers appear primed to move Hall to center to start the season if RNH can’t answer the bell. The Copper & Blue spells out why this might not be a temporary move.
The Subplot: The rest of the defense. With Ladislav Smid, Jeff Petry and the Schultzes taking up the top four spots and Andrew Ference filling the fifth, the Oilers have one hole to fill on defense. Jonathan Willis sees it as a competition between Denis Grebeshkov, Anton Belov, Corey Potter and Philip Larsen, with Larsen in a ‘make or break’ camp.
Dude Most Likely To Fight In Camp: IDK, Ben Eager seems the type.
Los Angeles Kings (Training Camp Roster)
Where: Toyota Sports Center.
The Storyline: The return of Willie Mitchell. The veteran defenseman with the long stick returns to the Kings after missing all of last season with knee issues. Can he make it back for LA, which could use a stay-at-home D-man after Rob Scuderi left for the Penguins?
The Subplot: Someone is going to back up Jonathan Quick. Will it be Ben Scrivens, acquired in the Jonathan Bernier trade? Will it be veteran camp invitee Mathieu Garon? Will it be some minor leaguer you’ve never heard of?
Dude Most Likely To Fight In Camp: Daniel Carcillo is cray-cray.
Phoenix Coyotes (Training Camp Roster)
Where: Jobing.com Arena.
The Storyline: Who wants to be Mike Ribeiro’s friend? The Coyotes are hoping they signed a No. 1 center that’ll have instant chemistry with Mikkel Boedker and Shane Doan.
The Subplot: As the Arizona Republic notes, there is exactly one spot on defense open with Michael Stone, David Schlemko, David Rundblad, Chris Summers and Brandon Gormley in the mix to play next to Rusty Klesla. Trade winds a-blowin’?
Dude Most Likely To Fight In Camp: Hey, it’s preseason for Paul Bissonnette’s fists, too.
San Jose Sharks (Training Camp Roster)
Where: Sharks Ice at San Jose (1500 S 10th St., San Jose).
The Storyline: Where does Tyler Kennedy fit? The former Penguins winger could slot with Joe Thornton and Brent Burns, or could end up with Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture, or drop down to the third line. It’s really up to Kennedy, and his performance in the preseason.
The Subplot: Who’s behind Antti Niemi? Thomas Greiss is now in Phoenix. Alex Stalock would seem to have the inside track for the gig, but CSN Bay Area notes that Harri Sateri (great name) will battle for the job.
Dude Most Likely To Fight In Camp: We’ll go ahead and assume that Matt Pelech, of the 238 PIMs in 58 games in the AHL last season, is a feisty one.
Vancouver Canucks (Training Camp Roster)
Where: Rogers Arena.
The Storyline: John Tortorella’s bite. The volcanic coach takes over a Vancouver Canucks team with a simple mandate: Make them tougher and tougher to play against. He says the team needs “more bite.” What, having Alex Burrows on the roster isn’t enough?
The Subplot: No. 3 center. It’s Jordan Schroeder’s job to lose, but watch out for Bo Horvat, whom the Canucks would love to make the big roster, showing an immediate payoff for the Cory Schneider trade.
Dude Most Likely To Fight In Camp: Maybe Zack Kassian knocks someone out off the faceoff to play to his new coach’s affinities.