First, the good health news: Kane believes he’s ahead of schedule after undergoing nerve release surgery last month. He feels as long as he’s patient in his recovery, being ready for training camp shouldn’t be a problem.
Kane also weighed in on the departure of Jets centre Alex Burmistrov to the Kontinental Hockey League.
“To be honest, being Russian and going into a contract year, you have another option and that can be an advantage to you, if that’s what you desire,” said Kane. “(Burmistrov) is a great guy. He has a ton of skill, he’s a hell of a hockey player.
“He made the decision that was best for him and I don’t think you can really be mad at that. Hopefully, maybe he’ll come back to the NHL in a couple years and he’ll be a better hockey player.”
Kane also lauded the Jets’ additions of Devin Setoguchi and Michael Frolik, calling them “two big pieces to add to our team.”
“We have dialogue from time to time but it’s been very, very slow moving,” said the Vancouver-based Gurney. “Restricted free agents without arbitration rights are in a classification all their own. There doesn’t seem to be any urgency right now but, eventually, we’ll make progress.”
He added: “Typically, by the middle of July, you’re 15-16 days into free agency but because of the lockout and the July 5 starting date instead of July 1, the market is very slow,” Gurney added. “We’re only 10 days in.”
HEXTALL FOLLOWS GUT BACK TO FLYERS
CSNPhilly.com indicates Ron Hextall will be rejoining the Flyers as assistant general manager and director of hockey operations. He had been an assistant GM with the Los Angeles Kings.
“Obviously I’m excited about it,” Hextall said. “Quite frankly, it came together in a very short period of time here. I had a brief conversation with Homer at the draft and then it just kind of steamrolled toward the resolution that happened today. It’s obviously a little bittersweet for me, I had a great time in L.A. … In this decision, I’m sure you guys were going to ask what it was all about. I don’t have anything earth shattering except to say it was a gut feeling.”
“There were a lot of little things,” he added, “… but in the end, I’m following my gut here to what I think is the right move.”
He also noted: “They say the more people you work for, the smarter you become. And I think it’s absolutely true.”
MARKSTROM’S GROWING PAINS WITH PANTHERS
The Miami Herald notes Panthers goaltender Jacob Markstrom will have a two-way provision — allowing him to be sent back to the minors — in the first year of his contract. Markstrom gets a one-way deal in the second year.
“This is the deal that works for both sides,’’ assistant general manager Mike Santos said after announcing the Markstrom signing.
“Jacob is, obviously, still a top prospect. As a goaltender sometimes it takes a little longer to develop. I think this was the right deal for him and for us. He’s by no means the complete goaltender we hope he will be someday. But, again, he’s young.’’
So excited to be back with the @FlaPanthers and can't wait for the season to start! lets start #BUZZIN
Santos said he expects a starting goalie to emerge during training camp and that Markstrom won’t be handed the job. Scott Clemmensen is under contract for another year. The team hasn’t been in contact with Jose Theodore since the end of the season. The Panthers, as of now at least, are not actively looking for another goalie to come in.
“The biggest thing I see is that he plays the game at a high tempo,” Rutherford said. “To come into the National Hockey League and play at the pace these guys play at, that’s very important and makes it that much easier. The opportunity is there to start with the Hurricanes. I would be shocked if he doesn’t based on all the reports and what I’ve seen.
“We do have to be careful. We do have to recognize how old he is and the fact he’s going to move to a new country and there’s going to be an adjustment. But he doesn’t have to light it up from day one. We all know that with a healthy team, we have a good team going into (training) camp and he can just be a part of that and go at his own pace.”
COYOTES HAPPY DOWN THE MIDDLE
The Arizona Republic observes that as their roster stands now, the Coyotes depth chart up the middle reads Mike Ribeiro, Martin Hanzal, Antoine Vermette and Kyle Chipchura. And General Manager Don Maloney is just fine with that look.
“I like our center now,” he said. “Obviously we lose a Boyd Gordon, but we signed Kyle Chipchura. He’ll fill a role. We’re still looking. I feel we could still use a scoring winger. I think that’s more our focus right now, but I like where we’re at. We still have all our options in regards to our current players, and I like the look of our draft picks. So we have different things we can do moving forward. It may be training camp before you see the next move.”
BAILEY LIKES ISLES’ TIGHT-KNIT GROUP
Newsday points out that Josh Bailey was part of the first phase of the Islanders’ major rebuilding project, spending the last five years with the team. With the Islanders on the upswing, he’s hoping for five years of prosperity.
Bailey agreed to terms on a five-year, $16.5-million deal Monday, just the latest homegrown Islander to lock in on a long-term contract.
“We’re all such good friends, it’s a tight group . . . It’s something I want to be a part of,” Bailey told Newsday. “I want to see it through. We all want to keep getting better and want to find ourselves where Chicago was last month, raising the Cup with the same guys who were here when we were struggling a bit.”
PENGUINS EMPHASIZE PROSPECT CAMP’S IMPORTANCE
Penguins assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald tells The Pittsburgh Tribune Review he believes the prospect camp is of significant importance to the entire organization, the grooming of young talent something that can’t be underestimated.
“This camp is huge, a big deal,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s an introduction to what the Pittsburgh Penguins are all about. This is how we work. This is how we prepare our guys. This is where they find out how important video is. This is how they learn. And that, to me, is so important.”
On-ice performance is crucial, but isn’t the only tutorial the NHL prospects will receive this week.
“It’s all about learning to prepare for all kinds of different things,” Fitzgerald said. “We help these kids with their nutrition. We help them with social media, which gets more important all the time. We use sports psychologists. The mind is so important in hockey. They need to learn about all kinds of different things, and they will.”
“In pro hockey, you have to play safe; young players need to learn that,” Holland said. “He plays physical, plays with an edge, can fight. Sometimes when you compete, it backfires and the other team has a chance to score. We think he can develop into a top-four defenseman. He can be a minute-muncher. The coach has a lot of confidence in him.”
The Red Wings hope the former Wisconsin star, selected in the first round of the 2007 draft (27th overall), will quarterback their power play one day.
“Somewhere down the road Mike Babcock will give him time on the power play,” Holland said. “For now, Mike wants him to do more things on the defensive side of the puck.”