Training Camp Storylines 6

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·8 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Editor’s Note: Get an edge on draft day with our NHL Draft Guide – available in our EDGE+ Roto tier for $3.99/mo. (annually) or $9.99/mo. (monthly) – and gain access to immense value with rankings, projections, tiers, mock drafts, expert columns and much more. And don't forget to use promo code SAVE10 to get 10% off. Click here to learn more!

Throughout training camp, we’ve been highlighting and discussing many of the league’s biggest stories. There certainly hasn’t been any shortage news over the last few days, so we have plenty to go over.

Don’t forget, for everything NHL, check out NBC Sports EDGE's Player News, and follow @NBCSEdgeHK and @CoreAbbott on Twitter.

1. Carey Price enters NHL/NHLPA player assistance program

In a surprising development, Price voluntary entered into the player assistance program and he will be away from the Montreal Canadiens indefinitely. We wish him the best and hope to see him back between the pipes as soon as he feels ready to return. Montreal GM Marc Bergevin spoke to the media on Thursday and said the Canadiens netminder would be gone for at least 30 days, but quickly added that Price's absence could be longer than that. Every program is different and the timetable is set by the doctor in charge, so it is unclear when Price will be back on the ice.

He started training camp on the sidelines following offseason knee surgery and was unavailable to skate this week because of a non-COVID illness. Montreal was already preparing for the possibility that Price was not going to be ready to play when the regular season begins. However, this situation came as a surprise.

Jake Allen will go into the year as the No. 1 goalie for the Canadiens. In his first season with the organization in 2020-21, he posted a record of 11-12-5 with a 2.68 goals-against average and .907 save percentage. Montreal claimed Sam Montembeault off waivers from Florida on Oct. 2, which puts him in line to be Allen’s understudy. The team also has prospect Cayden Primeau as a potential fill-in, assuming the team doesn’t add someone else to the picture via a trade or another waiver claim.

2. Pavel Francouz will miss three-to-four weeks with a lower-body injury

Francouz was forced to leave Tuesday’s preseason game against Vegas because of a lower-body injury. Coach Jared Bednar stated after the contest that the injury was unrelated to the hip problem that sidelined Francouz for the entire 2020-21 season. Unfortunately, the news wasn’t all good, as he will be unavailable for the start of the year.

This will likely result in a heavier workload for Darcy Kuemper, which will be good for his fantasy value and at the same time a bit concerning for his health. Kuemper has been limited to 56 games over the past two seasons because of injuries, so the Avalanche probably intended to avoid overworking him. He has topped 30 starts in a season just once before in his career.

Jonas Johansson, who was acquired from Buffalo last campaign and signed to a one-year contract in the offseason, is projected to be Kuemper’s backup until Francouz can return. Francouz still could bring some value to the table for fantasy managers, but his recent injury woes make him a riskier pickup. Still, he could be a strong spot starter once he recovers.

3. Quinton Byfield out indefinitely after fracturing his left ankle

Byfield was having a strong preseason and he was going to begin the 2021-22 campaign in the NHL with Los Angeles. However, he will start the year on injured reserve with a fractured ankle after he was hurt in Tuesday’s exhibition match against Arizona. Byfield is slated to be re-evaluated in the coming weeks.

The Kings have plenty of players within the organization who are capable of filling in up front and the team will decide the best fits. Arthur Kaliyev certainly made a good impression with a hat trick and an assist in Wednesday’s preseason win over Anaheim. Jaret Anderson-Dolan, who had two helpers versus the Ducks, and Alex Turcotte, who produced one goal and one assist, are strong candidates as well despite being returned to the minors on Thursday. Kaliyev was also briefly sent down before being recalled later in the day.

4. Charlie Coyle performs well in exhibition debut

Coyle played for the first time in the preseason on Wednesday night against Washington after he was limited to start camp because of offseason knee surgery. He registered one goal and one assist, while centering the second line between Taylor Hall and Craig Smith. Hall scored in the contest, while Smith had two assists.

Coyle modestly said after the contest that the line still has some work to do going into the regular season. Chemistry will be built up over time and it won’t be easy to replace David Krejci, who has been all over the scoresheet in the Czech Republic this year, but Coyle did well in his first test.

He has sleeper value in deeper leagues going into the 2021-22 season, but potentially playing on the second power-play unit could hold him back somewhat.

The App is Back! Don’t forget to download the NBC Sports EDGE app to receive real-time player news, mobile alerts and track your favorite players. Plus, now you can check out articles and player cards. Get it here!

5. Ottawa and San Jose set to move on without star players

Brady Tkachuk remains an unsigned restricted free agent with the start of the regular season less a week away. Coach D.J. Smith has been forced to shift his focus on the players he has available. He is preparing to not have Tkachuk in the lineup for the beginning of the year. His absence would leave a big hole in the Senators lineup. Alex Formenton has been skating alongside Josh Norris and Drake Batherson during training camp, but Tim Stutzle got a look on that combination late in the preseason.

Evander Kane hasn’t been at training camp either, but his situation is much more complicated than a contract dispute. He was barred from camp because of two pending NHL investigations. If the findings prove that Kane is guilty of falsifying a vaccination card or of domestic violence then he could facing a lengthy suspension from the league. It is also unclear how long this process will last and what the Sharks will do until it is completed. However, it was indicated by coach Bob Boughner that the team is preparing to play without Kane for the start of the season.

6. Colin White sidelined for four-to-six months with a shoulder injury

White sustained a dislocated shoulder in Monday’s exhibition match against Toronto. He will undergo surgery and is expected to miss most of the 2021-22 season. White was facing competition from Shane Pinto for the second-line center spot. This injury puts Pinto in a prime position to have an elevated role going into the year.

Pinto recorded one goal, six assists, 11 shots, nine blocks and 11 hits in 12 games with Ottawa last campaign. He averaged just 12:31 of ice time per contest. Pinto, who was named the NCHC Forward of the Year and the NCHC Best Defensive Forward, has plenty of scoring upside and could be a very good fit on a combination with Connor Brown and Nick Paul.

7. Blake Coleman will have to wait to make his Calgary debut

Coleman was suspended for Calgary’s preseason finale as well as the first game of the regular season for boarding Winnipeg’s Jansen Harkins in an exhibition meeting on Wednesday.

He won’t be eligible to return until the home opener of the Flames on Monday, Oct. 18 versus Anaheim. Coleman was signed in the summer to a six-year contract after he helped the Tampa Bay Lightning win back-to-back Stanley Cups. He is expected to take on a larger role with Calgary, as a top-six forward. Coleman has been skating alongside Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk.

8. Injury concerns?

Auston Matthews has been making progress at training camp. He has been brought along slowly after undergoing wrist surgery, but he has been doing more and more. Matthews skated with Mitch Marner and Nick Ritchie at Thursday’s practice. He hopes to be ready for the start of the regular season and it appears as though that goal is achievable.

Semyon Varlamov is questionable for the season opener of the New York Islanders. He hasn’t practiced yet because of a nagging issue that the team has referred to as “soreness.” Coach Barry Trotz hopes that Varlamov will be ready for Carolina on Oct. 14, but if the 33-year-old netminder isn’t available then Ilya Sorokin will be called upon to fill in between the pipes.

Nicklas Backstrom has been rehabbing his ailing hip during training camp. He hasn’t been skating and he is still listed as week-to-week. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Backstrom was on the sidelines when the Capitals begin play in the regular season.

Brock Boeser has been dealing with an injury for just over a week. However, he is expected to be back on the ice soon and the Canucks remain hopeful that the 24-year-old winger will be ready for the start of the year.

Shea Theodore was hurt in a preseason game on Sept. 26. He returned to the ice a week ago for practice, but he left a team session on Monday and was listed as day-to-day. Vegas coach Pete DeBoer was confident that Theodore would be ready for the regular season, but it is currently unclear if that outlook has changed since then.

Phil Kessel wasn’t ready for the opening of training camp because of a foot injury. However, he was back on the ice for Wednesday’s practice. The Coyotes hope that Kessel will play and there is time for him to be available for Oct. 14 versus Columbus.

Jack Hughes has been back practicing, but he sat out the final two preseason matches for the New Jersey Devils. However, coach Lindy Ruff indicated that the team was simply being cautious, so it wouldn’t be a shock if Hughes was good to go for the team’s opener next week against Chicago.