Watched the All-Star fantasy draft thing last night... zzzzz... applaud the league for mixing it up but the game is meaningless and so the draft is meaningless despite all the media hype trying to convince us that the players were taking it seriously.
Back to hockey that matters... the big story from yesterday was that Sidney Crosby was cleared to begin working out as he is making progress in his recovery from a concussion. That's a good sign but he still could be a ways off from returning as they'll slowly increase the intensity of the workouts to see how he feels before he even gets a chance to get back on the ice.
Ray Emery has been doing some serious rehab after an operation on his hip back in April and he says he's now ready to resume playing. He's hoping to catch on with an AHL team but according to this article he says he feels like it's the start of training camp so don't expect him to be playing in the NHL anytime soon and I'd call it doubtful he plays in the NHL at all this year.
Elliotte Friedman tried to fire up the hype generator recently by making Merrimack sophomore Stephane Da Costa sound like the next great college free agent as apparently everyone is after this guy. He came onto our radar last year as there was talk that he'd sign after a solid freshman season at Merrimack (16+29=45 in 34 games) where he was the Hockey East ROY. This year it's been more of the same with 12+18=30 in 23 games and he already has some nice international experience having played at the past two World Championships for France. If he plays his cards right then he could be signed and in the NHL before this season is out but don't get too caught up in the hype, he's still a longshot.
One other NCAA note... we're loving what we're seeing from Ducks 2nd rounder (2008) Justin Schultz this year at UofWisconsin as the sophomore dman has 14+24=38 in 29 games which leads all dmen & all underclassmen (frosh & soph) and is 4th in the entire NCAA. With the Ducks needing help on defense, it wouldn't come as a shock to see him leave school for the NHL once his college season is over this year and he could be an NHL regular next season.
It's been a bit of a rollercoaster year for Erik Gudbranson, having been the 3rd overall pick, in a contract dispute with Florida, being sent back to Kingston, having issues with the coaching staff and now he's been suspended for eight games for a nasty hit. Read a few interesting articles on him yesterday, one from Litter Box Cats and the other by Scott Lewis that dug into what's going on with this dude. Bottom line for me, despite all the issues is that he's never shown a lot of offensive upside, so don't be fooled by the high draft position unless you're looking for the next Eric Brewer to build your team around.
As suspected, Ales Kotalik cleared waivers and has been sent to the AHL by Calgary... surely they'll find a way to ship him to the KHL for next season.