News: Head coach Barry Trotz said "all indications" have Nicklas Backstrom (hip) skating by training camp, but it's "up in the air" as to whether he will be cleared to play at the start of the season, Alex Prewitt of The Washington Post reports. Analysis: Nicklas Backstrom underwent successful arthroscopic hip surgery in late-May, but there have been rumblings since that he may not be cleared to play by opening night, including speculation from Backstrom himself that the timeframe for his recovery might extend into the start of the 2015-2016 season. Backstrom's health is the biggest question mark for the Capitals this offseason. and should he miss the start of the season, Evgeny Kuznetsov should see a significant boost in fantasy value. Similarly, the uncertainty surrounding Backstrom could send him sliding on draft day making him a better value pickup. Continue to monitor the situation as the offseason moves on.
News: Sonny Milano added 15 pounds of muscle to his frame this offseason and feels that he can now both skate faster and shoot harder, the Columbus Dispatch reports. "Definitely one of the concerns last year was my weight and my strength, so I really focused on that this year," Milano said last week at the Jackets' development mini-camp. "I think when [training] camp comes along we'll see a difference this year." Analysis: The 2014 16th overall pick is probably ticketed for AHL Lake Erie to open the season, even after the Jackets' cleared away some roster competition in the Brandon Saad deal, but Sonny Milano is intent on making the decision to send him down a difficult one. After scoring 22 goals and 68 points in 50 games last season for OHL Plymouth, the highly-skilled winger added five assists in 10 AHL games in his pro debut at the end of the regular season. It may take him a year or two to nail down a regular spot in the NHL lineup, but Milano figures to be a big part of a very bright future in Columbus.
News: Zach Boychuk agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with the Hurricanes. Analysis: The 25-year-old Zach Boychuk split 2014-15 between the NHL and AHL, tallying 30 combined points in 70 games, with just six of those coming in his 31 NHL appearances. He'll figures to compete for an NHL roster spot during training camp.
News: Brandon DeFazio signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Bruins on Monday. Analysis: Brandon DeFazio, who played two games for the Canucks last season, gives the B's organization some added depth up front and the 26-year-old could compete for a fourth-line role with the big club in training camp.
News: Anders Nilsson signed a one-year (one-way), $1 million contract with the Oilers on Monday. Analysis: It didn't take long for the Oilers to lock up Anders Nilsson after acquiring him from the Blackhawks on Monday. The one-way nature of the deal suggests that the Oilers are confident Nilsson can slot in as the team's backup goaltender. Ben Scrivens may be the odd-man out in Edmonton.
News: Julian Melchiori signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Jets on Monday, Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports reports. Analysis: Julian Melchiori will provide the Jets with depth at defense, which is important for Winnipeg, as the team's defensive corps was banged up early and often last season. He registered one goal and five assists in 70 games with AHL St. John's in 2014-15.
News: Evgeny Kuznetsov signed a two-year, $6 million contract extension with the Capitals on Monday, Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington reports. Analysis: The "bridge deal" is close to what Evgeny Kuznetsov's camp and the Capitals had been rumored to be working on in previous days. Considering that the 23-year-old figures to be a fixture of Washington's offense next season, the cap hit is more than reasonable. After a slow initial adjustment to the North American game upon his debut in the second half of 2013-14, Kuznetsov's production ticked up down the stretch late last season. With Nicklas Backstrom recovering from offseason hip surgery, the Capitals will count on Kuznetsov for a breakout campaign in 2015-16.
News: Rich Clune signed an AHL deal with Toronto over the weekend. Analysis: Bought out of the final year of his contract by the Predators before free agency started, Rich Clune will head north to continue his career after recording 17 points in 62 games for AHL Milwaukee last season while making one appearance with their parent club in Nashville. Clune, who recently opened up in The Players' Tribune about his prior struggle with drug and alcohol addiction, has been sober for five years and could reemerge as a fourth-line option for the Maple Leafs at some point in 2015-16 if he first excels with their farm team.
News: Colin McDonald signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Flyers on Friday. Analysis: The right winger made 18 appearances during the regular season and two in the playoffs for the Islanders, providing two goals and six assists. He'll compete for a fourth-line role with the Flyers in training camp.
News: Leo Komarov is facing four criminal charges in his native Finland in relation to a 2014 traffic accident, Lance Hornsby of the Toronto Sun reports. Analysis: Leo Komarov is alleged to have been responsible for a "traffic hazard" and for "falsifying information to police," among other accusations. The 28-year-old could spend up to nine months in jail if found guilty of the charges during his August trial. For their part, the Leafs are standing by Komarov and expect the matter to be resolved before training camp opens, but the charges still cast a dark cloud over the forward. Komarov is under contract with the Leafs for three more seasons after accruing 26 points in 62 games in 2014-15.