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Training Camp Buzz: Blackhawks try new center with Kane

Schmaltz impressing on top line at practice; Varlamov plays first game since hip surgeries

NHL.com @NHL

Welcome to the 2017 preseason! 

This is a busy time, with preseason games underway, rookies looking to make a name for themselves and veterans aiming to lock down roster spots. Each day, we will have all the updates of note right here.

Here is the training camp news for Sunday:

 

Blackhawks try new center with Kane

Patrick Kane might have a new center when the Chicago Blackhawks open the season.

During the first three days of training camp, Kane has played with forward Nick Schmaltz instead of Artem Anisimov as the center of his line. Anisimov could end up centering the third line.

"[Schmaltz] skating the way he has the past couple days, it certainly gets your attention, and I think that line certainly could get your attention," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I think it gives us a deeper look and a little more balance in our lineup. Those guys [Schmaltz and Kane] read off each other really well, and [Schmaltz's] speed can really back people off him through the middle of the ice. [Kane] and whoever's on that [left] wing could be a nice fit for him."

Schmaltz worked on faceoffs in the offseason, and has played well in his new role. He scored two goals in a scrimmage Sunday, playing with Kane and rookie forward Alex DeBrincat.

Anisimov, who set an NHL career high last season with 45 points (22 goals, 23 assists), said he isn't disappointed in the change to start camp.

"My mindset was [to] be ready for anything in this camp," Anisimov said. "I came to it in good shape, and [ready to] play the game. I'm just going to go out and play, and try to score goals and make plays."

-- Brian Hedger

 

Varlamov plays first game in eight months with Avalanche

Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov played in a game for the first time in eight months on Sunday, after missing more than two months at the end of last season because of hip surgeries.

Varlamov, 29, said he has fully recovered from the surgeries he had, one on each hip four weeks apart, in hopes that it will put an end to the frequent groin injuries that have plagued his NHL career. He last played an NHL game Jan. 17.

"I felt good physically," said Varlamov, who allowed five goals on 28 shots in the Avalanche's Burgundy and White intrasquad game, a 6-2 White win at the University of Denver's Magness Arena. "Even if I give up five goals, of course I'm not happy about it, but physically I feel good. I'm not even tired, so conditioning is good. I just need to get back into game shape. I feel good in practices and it's time to play in the real games.

Varlamov was 6-17-0 with a 3.38 goals-against average and .898 save percentage last season, the worst numbers of his nine-season NHL career, and the Avalanche finished last in the League with 48 points.

"He says he feels good and healthy and strong," coach Jared Bednar said. "We know he's put a lot of work into his conditioning to get back. I expect him to keep progressing. We have to get him back in the net and seeing some pucks in game situations."

The Avalanche open preseason play against the Vegas Golden Knights at Pepsi Center on Tuesday, but Varlamov said he expects to play against the Dallas Stars on Thursday.

-- Rick Sadowski

 

Flyers hire Lombardi

Former Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi was hired by the Philadelphia Flyers, GM Ron Hextall told the Philadelphia Inquirer on Sunday.

Lombardi won't work in a scouting role but will assist Hextall on special projects. 

Hextall, who worked for Lombardi with the Kings as an assistant GM for six seasons (2006-13), spoke with him about a possible job with the Flyers in May. During their time in Los Angeles, the Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012 and reached the Western Conference Final in 2013. Hextall left for the Flyers the following season and the Kings won the Cup in 2014.

Lombardi was fired by the Kings after 11 seasons on April 10. He was a scout for the Flyers from 2003-06.

Tweet from @BroadStBull: Hexy confirms Lombardi hire.

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