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Training Camp Buzz: Letang cleared to participate for Penguins

Defenseman had surgery for herniated disk in neck April 13 @NHLdotcom

Welcome to the 2017 preseason! Several rookie camps opened across North America on Friday. Veterans report next week, for the most part hitting the ice Sept. 15.

This is a busy time, with rookies looking to make a name for themselves and veterans looking 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:


Letang cleared to take part in camp

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang has been cleared to participate in training camp, general manager Jim Rutherford said Saturday.

Letang last played Feb. 21. He had surgery for a herniated disk in his neck April 13.

"I would expect a regular workload and I'm sure that's what he expects," Rutherford said. "He wants to play 40 minutes a game, but I think the coaches will just take it a day or a week or a game at a time and see where it goes. I would suspect that he would probably ease his way into the preseason and then go from there."

Letang, 30, did not play during the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, when the Penguins won their second consecutive championship. He had 34 points (five goals, 29 assists) in 41 regular-season games.

"Letang is healthy now and he makes up for a lot, even with the loss of [Trevor] Daley and [Ron] Hainsey," Rutherford said, referencing two defensemen who left the Penguins this offseason.


Nylander injured for Sabres at Prospects Challenge

Buffalo Sabres forward Alexander Nylander, the No. 8 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, will miss the remainder of the Prospects Challenge because of a lower-body injury.

Nylander did not play in a 7-4 win against the Boston Bruins on Saturday due to the injury that might have occurred in a 4-3 overtime loss against the New Jersey Devils on Friday. The Sabres play the Pittsburgh Penguins in their final game of the challenge on Monday (7 p.m. ET).

"He got dinged up," said Chris Taylor, coach for Rochester of the American Hockey League. "He just didn't feel right [Saturday] morning. It's precautionary; we're just going to hold him out the rest of the tournament. We want to make sure he'll be back for training camp. But we'll get evaluated on Monday and Tuesday, but it's just precautionary. We just want to make sure he's healthy."

The Sabres will begin training camp on Thursday and will be on the ice for the first time on Friday. Nylander, the brother of Toronto Maple Leafs center William Nylander, is in competition with fellow young forwards Justin Bailey, Nicholas Baptiste, and Hudson Fasching for a spot on the Sabres roster.

-- Joe Yerdon, correspondent

Athanasiou situation with Red Wings remains unclear 

The Detroit Red Wings still don't know whether forward Andreas Athansiou will join them when training camp opens Friday.

Athanasiou, 23, is a restricted free agent and has yet to agree on a contract with Detroit for this season. According to The Athletic, a Kontinental Hockey League team recently extended a contract offer to Athanasiou, which he is considering.

Athanasiou does not hold arbitration rights yet.

"I'm not sure what's going on with Athanasiou, whether he wants to play in the National Hockey League or wants to play in the KHL," Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament on Saturday. "That will be determined over the next period of time."

Athanasiou, whose speed can be overpowering at times, had 29 points (18 goals, 11 assists) in 64 games last season, which was his first full NHL season.

According to, the Red Wings have 11 NHL forwards signed, but that includes Johan Franzen, who spent last year on long-term injured reserve. Franzen is expected to be placed on LTIR again.

Should Athanasiou not play in Detroit, it would create opportunities for either prospects or veteran free agents. The Red Wings have invited veteran forwards David Booth and PA Parenteau to camp on professional tryouts, and Holland will be looking closely at prospects Tyler Bertuzzi and Evgeny Svechnikov.

"We're going to give an opportunity to Tyler Bertuzzi, to see what he can do in training camp, and we're giving an opportunity to [Evgeny] Svechnikov, to see what he can do in training camp," Holland said. "We haven't made a ton of changes to our team. Really, it's [defenseman] Trevor Daley [joining] the back end, and we haven't really done a whole lot up front."

-- Brian Hedger, correspondent 


Devils expect to re-sign Severson 

The New Jersey Devils expect to re-sign restricted free agent defenseman Damon Severson before the start of training camp Sept. 14, general manager Ray Shero said Saturday.

"It's just a matter of finding the right length, and whether it will be a shorter- or longer-term deal," Shero said. "If it's long-term, the structure is really important. If it makes sense shorter term and we do some sort of bridge deal, I'd do that too."

Severson, 23, had an NHL career-high 28 assists and 31 points last season, his third. He was third on the Devils with 73 blocked shots and averaged 20:21 of ice time.

"Damon has a lot of upside to his game and it's important for him to be at training camp; he wants to be there," Shero said. "I just think at this point, it's time to make a deal, and as of [Friday] both sides were making a real concerted effort to really try to make a deal. We're closing in on that, so we'll see what happens over the next couple of days."

-- Mike G. Morreale

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