NHL News – September 29, 2009

Thrashers release Legace, Fritsche

Avs keep 18-year-olds Duchene, O’Reilly on roster

Under Lemaire, Devils Are Pushing Offense

Dallas Stars’ Brunnstrom could face demotionThrashers release Legace, Fritsche

Chris Vivlamore

The Thrashers released goaltender Manny Legace and forward Dan Fritsche on Monday, cutting the training camp roster to 25 players. Legace and Fritsche were both in camp on pro tryouts.

The release of Legace leaves the Thrashers with three goaltenders – Johan Hedberg, Ondrej Pavelec and Kari Lehtonen, who is several weeks away from returning from offseason back surgery.

The Thrashers still must trim their roster by two players before Wednesday’s 3 p.m. NHL deadline for opening day rosters.

Players were off on Monday and the team holds its annual golf tournament Tuesday. The event is a fundraiser for the Atlanta Thrashers Foundation and last year raised more than $100,000. The annual Face Off event for season ticket holders will be Thursday.


Avs keep 18-year-olds Duchene, O’Reilly on roster

Terry Frei

The Avalanche apparently is taking this “rebuilding” and “youth movement” business very seriously. On Sunday, in solidifying its roster for the opening of the 2009-10 season, Colorado committed to keeping not one, but two highly touted 18-year-old centers — Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly.

Before its Sunday practice, Colorado announced it had reassigned goalie Tyler Weiman, defenseman Derek Peltier and center Chris Durno to the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League.

That left the Avs with 24 players, one over the limit, but defenseman Tom Preissing will be placed on the injured list. He is expected to be out at least until late October with a knee injury.

It wasn’t much of a surprise that Duchene, the third overall choice in the June draft, will be with the Avalanche at the start of the season. But going into camp, O’Reilly, the 33rd overall choice, was a longshot.

As it turns out, the Avalanche is keeping both of the centers rather than returning them to the major junior teams in the Ontario Hockey League.

There’s no guarantee they’ll be in Denver for the entire season, but if they’re with the Avalanche for the 10th game of the regular season, they will be considered pros for the entire season for contract purposes in such matters as progressing toward free agency. So while they could be sent back to their major junior teams — Duchene to the Brampton Battalion and O’Reilly to the Erie Otters — after the 10-game mark, it’s considered such an ill-advised move in the NHL, most teams treat that as the absolute cutoff point.


Under Lemaire, Devils Are Pushing Offense


There are those who think Jacques Lemaire almost ruined the N.H.L. back in 1995, when he installed the neutral-zone trap for the Devils and coached them to their first Stanley Cup.

Now that Lemaire is back coaching the Devils after an 11-year absence, people are asking whether the Devils will return to the antihockey that worked for them a decade and a half ago.

And that clearly irritates Brendan Shanahan, the veteran Devils forward who dismisses the notion that Lemaire teaches stultifying, defense-first hockey.

“Once one junkyard dog starts to bark, they all start to bark,” Shanahan said. “They don’t know what they’re barking at. But that’s the way it works.”

Shanahan is not alone. Other Devils express frustration at a perception of Lemaire they say is outdated or just wrong. Several said that the emphasis during training camp and preseason had been on offense.


Dallas Stars’ Brunnstrom could face demotion

MIKE HEIKA / The Dallas Morning News

Fabian Brunnstrom is at an interesting point in his career.

Just 24 and in his second season in the NHL, Brunnstrom has skills that could make him a lineup regular. In fact, when Stars training camp started, he was penciled in as the right wing on the top line with Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro.
Dallas Stars / NHL

But as early as it is in Brunnstrom’s career, it’s also getting late enough that the team has to make a tough decision on him. Brunnstrom was passed by rookie Jamie Benn in the preseason and could be looking at some healthy scratches if the Stars have a full lineup. That starts the debate on whether it would be best for the winger to spend time in the minors to work on his game.

The problem with that option is there is an expiration date. Brunnstrom has played 55 NHL games, and when he hits 60, he will require waivers to be sent to the minors. The Stars would not send Brunnstrom through waivers because they would probably lose him. That means the Stars have to decide soon whether a stint in the minors might be good or be forced to develop Brunnstrom at the NHL level.

“I think we just need to be patient with him right now,” said Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk. “We have 23 players on the roster, and there’s no need to rush that decision. I think we have time to look at things.”

Nieuwendyk said it’s tough to get a good read on Brunnstrom because he was the only player in the lineup who had to play four games in five nights in the preseason. He also said Brunnstrom could continue to learn and assimilate even if he is a healthy scratch.

Brunnstrom was a late bloomer in Sweden, so he went undrafted. The Stars signed him as a free agent last year, and in recruiting him, former GM Les Jackson said Brunnstrom would only go to the minors if he approved it.


One Response to NHL News – September 29, 2009

  1. FlamingHomer says:

    "Lemaire pushing offense." Riiiiiiight.

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