Training camp opens for a few teams today & the rest will be starting later this week...
Atlanta is going to open training camp with Erik Christensen as their #1C, he'll line up with Ilya Kovalchuk and Jason Williams on his wings. GM Don Waddell knows skill when he sees it, "We certainly are going to give him that opportunity, he’s got the skill level and the skill set to play with guys like that." So this is a big boost for EC and JWIll to get the only plum assignment on the team, that is playing with Kovy. We have Christensen ranked as Atlanta's best breakout candidate and #35 overall in the Breakout Bible. This isn't great news for Bryan Little, who was one of the candidates to play on the 1st line but will have to wait his turn.
Philly backup goalie Antero Niittymaki had hip surgery late last week and will be out of action for the next 4 to 6 weeks. Philly doesn't have an experienced backup so this means that Marty Biron should see pretty much all the games at the beginning of the season until Niittymaki gets back. Philly has invited free agent Maxime Ouellet to training camp... he's a former Philly 1st rounder who never really made it to the show and played in the ECHL last year.
Philly coach John Stevens is toying with the idea of playing Danny Briere on the wing with Mike Richards and Simon Gagne. This would mean Jeff Carter centers the 2nd line with Joffrey Lupul and maybe Claude Giroux getting into the mix? We like Carter to be the biggest benefactor here as he should be in for a nice bump this season... but in the end this shouldn't matter too much as Stevens tends to spread the scoring around (see our Coach Rankings for more of our fantasy hockey man-crush on John Stevens).
Toronto coach Ronnie Wilson is talking big about training camp...
"If there's one area where I think we're fairly deep, or relatively strong, it's on the back end, these guys are going to compete and there's probably going to be a shock or two at the end of training camp as far as who's not going to be here, and Cliff is going to have to make some decisions as far as where people play."
But then he went on to say that the top two or three spots on defense are pretty well spoken for, with Tomas Kaberle, Pavel Kubina and Jeff Finger safe bets and that another newcomer, Swede Jonas Frogren, has the inside track for spot No. 4. So Cliff's master rebuilding plan starts by bumping kids like Carlo Colaiacovo, Ian White and Anton Stralman in favour of giving top 4 spots to 28 year old newcomers like Finger and Frogren.... nice.
Distraction of the Day
What's distracting us today... Champions League football starts today... you'll hear us talking about that a lot as its one of sports greatest competitions as teams take a break from their domestic leagues to compete against all the best clubs in Europe. Maybe someday the NHL will do something similar with the best teams in the KHL, SEL,... AHL? I guess its just wouldn't be the same in hockey... alright, bad idea.