News: The Hawks have apparently fielded speculative trade calls about Patrick Kane from more than five different teams, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. There is no indication the Hawks would trade him, but the team is extremely image conscious and there are suggestions they feel "disrespected" by Kane's alleged actions this summer. Analysis: No charges have been laid in the investigation into an alleged rape of a woman at Patrick Kane's home. The team has largely remained quiet on the issue, but it was already displeased that he used the Hawks' Stanley Cup rally to proclaim he intended to act like a fool again while celebrating the Cup win. Optics matter to the Hawks and the team may be forced to do something to maintain its image. Others have been quick to distance themselves from Kane. He has been quietly removed from the cover of EA Sports NHL '16 video game and his former OHL squad (London Knights) dropped the moniker "Team Kane" from its annual training camp agenda. Camp is only a few weeks away and things could change dramatically for Kane and the Hawks before then.
News: Valeri Nichushkin missed most of last year after an early-season hip injury, but is expected to be healthy for the start of the season. In an update at the Stars' site he said, "Everything feels so good now. I don't feel pain anymore." Analysis: The promising young winger played only four games before getting injured, then played just four of the team's final five games after coming back. If healthy, he is expected to get top six minutes this season playing wing for either Tyler Seguin or Jason Spezza, which should make the big winger a potential fantasy sleeper.
News: Kings GM Dean Lombardi said that Anze Kopitar and the team are "not even in the ballpark" when he was asked if the two parties were close to reaching agreement on a long-term extension, Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider reports. Analysis: Anze Kopitar, who is entering the final season of a seven-year, $47.6 million pact, has been eligible to sign an extension with the Kings since July 1, but the team's unfavorable cap situation coupled with the star center's justifiably high salary demands have made negotiations difficult. While a deal isn't likely to be finalized in the near future, the Kings are still likely to hammer out a deal with Kopitar before he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer.
News: Brad Marchand revealed Tuesday that he's recovering from an offseason procedure to repair torn tendons in his elbow, CSN New England's Joe Haggerty reports. Analysis: The Bruins were initially tight-lipped regarding the nature of Brad Marchand's surgery earlier this summer, but the winger relayed that he'd been playing through the injury since before the team's playoff run in 2014. While the elbow issue was never severe enough to sideline him for significant stretches of action last season, it may have been responsible for the decline in scoring he noticed, despite a nearly full-minute uptick in average ice time. Marchand said he's still rehabbing the elbow following his surgery, but he expects to be fully recovered by the time training camp opens.
News: Tuukka Rask, who appeared in 70 of the Bruins' 82 games last season, believes he can withstand the rigors of a similar workload in 2015-16, Joe Haggerty of CSN Boston reports. Analysis: The 70 appearances matched a team record and represented a career high for Tuukka Rask, who was called upon so frequently due to both the Bruins' tenuous presence on the bubble of the Eastern Conference race and the lack of a reliable backup behind their star netminder. Last year's understudy, Niklas Svedberg, has since returned to Russia, but new backup candidates Jeremy Smith, Malcolm Subban, and Zane McIntyre are likewise unproven at the NHL level, likely putting pressure on Rask to bear a heavy slate of starts. The 12-game increase in appearances from his Vezina-winning 2013-14 campaign saw Rask notice a fairly significant drop in both his GAA (2.04 to 2.30) and save percentage (.930 to .922), which could temper enthusiasm about a bounce back if coach Claude Julien is unable to scale back the goalie's workload.
News: Joel Ward is expected to slot in on the Sharks' second or third line during the upcoming season, CSN Bay Area's Kevin Kurz reports. Analysis: Joel Ward occasionally saw time with Alex Ovechkin and Niklas Backstrom last season, but with Joe Pavelski locked in as the Sharks' top-line right wing, such a favorable role won't await the winger in San Jose. That said, a gig next to second-line center and rising star Logan Couture would be a good consolation prize for Ward, whose reputation as a clutch scorer and power-play asset may be enough for him to leapfrog the team's other uninspiring depth forwards.
News: Wild coach Mike Yeo said Charlie Coyle would open training camp as a center, Chad Graff of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Analysis: Charlie Coyle is the leading candidate to pivot Minnesota's third line, with Nino Niederreiter and Justin Fontaine expected to join him at either wing. The 23-year-old has tallied 30 and 35 points in each of his full two seasons in Minnesota, but he'll likely need to find himself in a top-six role before a more notable breakout comes to fruition.
News: Ryan McDonagh (foot) has resumed skating at 100 percent and began his normal training regimen in August for the upcoming season, NHL.com reports. Analysis: After spending six weeks in a walking boot upon breaking his foot in the Eastern Conference Finals, Ryan McDonagh rested up for another month before taking the ice again. Since he's only been healthy for a few weeks, it could take McDonagh until the middle or latter portion of training camp before he gets back to full speed. In addition to the broken foot, McDonagh dealt with a separated shoulder for much of last November, which may have explained his 10-point drop in scoring from the season prior. McDonagh has historically done well to avoid the injury bug, so it wouldn't be a surprise if he returns a 40-point scorer with a better run of health likely on the horizon.
News: Scottie Upshall signed a professional tryout offer with the Blues on Tuesday, Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Analysis: After totaling 37 points in 76 games for the Panthers in 2013-14, Scottie Upshall saw both his minutes and scoring tail off considerably last season, finishing the season with just 15 points while averaging 12:41 of ice time. Upshall's decline was accelerated by a number of younger forwards claiming bigger roles, and aside from a bump up in plus/minus rating, the 32-year-old's situation isn't likely to change for the better if he's able to claim a spot on the Blues' roster. The Blues iced one of the league's most productive attacks last season, and probably wouldn't have room for Upshall in anything more than a fourth-line role, where he'd receive few opportunities to generate points.
News: Nikolaj Ehlers is expected to contend for a 23-man roster spot with the Jets during training camp, the Winnipeg Sun reports. Analysis: Nikolaj Ehlers, the No. 3 overall pick by Winnipeg in 2014, cemented himself as the team's top prospect -- and one of the best under-20 players in any organization -- after turning in a scintillating 2014-15 campaign for QMJHL Halifax. For the second straight season, he tallied over 100 points, showcasing the necessary tools to become one of the NHL's top scorers in due time. The Jets don't appear to have any immediate openings in their top-six ranks, so Ehlers would likely have to fight for a third-line role out of training camp, while potentially seeing time on the team's second power-play unit. Those types of duties won't lend themselves to premium offense, but if Ehlers can score at a high clip in limited minutes, it might not be long before the Jets carve out an even larger role for him.