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Training Camp Buzz: Kesler takes ice with Ducks

Kovalchuk skates with Kings; Malkin joins Penguins practice

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Welcome to the 2018 preseason! Most teams opened training camps and hit the ice for their first skates Friday.

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

Here is the training camp news for Friday:

 

Kesler does drills on first day of Ducks camp

Ryan Kesler was on the ice for the start of Anaheim Ducks training camp Friday. The 34-year-old center had hip surgery in June 2017 and made his season debut Dec. 27 but played the rest of the season in considerable discomfort.

Kesler has not been cleared to participate in the main part of camp but said his offseason training went well and that he felt good while doing individual drills with a smaller group Friday.

"I've skated on my own all summer, so it's nice just to get some guys out there flying around me and just slowly integrate me with the team," he said.

Kesler, who is entering his 15th NHL season, had 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 44 games last season. He hasn't been given a timetable for joining the main group.

General manager Bob Murray said the plan is for the Ducks to be more cautious with Kesler than they were last season and better communicate.

"We were doing what the doctor suggested we did with him last year," Murray said. "In hindsight, it shouldn't have been done the way the doctor said it should have been done. We're going in a different direction." -- Dan Arritt

 

Kovalchuk skates on top line with Kings in return to NHL

Ilya Kovalchuk skated with center Anze Kopitar and right wing Dustin Brown on the Los Angeles Kings' top line Friday during the opening day of his first NHL training camp in six years.

Kovalchuk, 35, played the past five seasons for SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League before signing a three-year, $18.75 million contract with Los Angeles on July 1. 

"I know he's played over there now for five years. But from what I saw now in the last week, I don't think he's lost a step at all," Kopitar said. "If anything, I see him being really motivated to be here and really excited, so that's definitely a good thing for us." -- Dan Greenspan

 

Tarasenko on target to open regular season for Blues

Vladimir Tarasenko was on the ice for the opening of training camp with the St. Louis Blues on Friday, five months after dislocating his left shoulder April 7 against the Colorado Avalanche, the final game of last season.

The 26-year-old forward had surgery April 11 and is on track to open the season against the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 4.

"It's only the first day, but I feel good," said Tarasenko, who led the Blues with 33 goals last season. "I'm excited to practice with the team. I've practiced a little bit longer, so I'm really ahead of schedule. I'm just enjoying the time on the ice again."

Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester participated on the first day of training camp after he missed the final 16 games last season with a left hip injury. Forward Robby Fabbri practiced for the first time after tearing his left ACL for the second time in as many seasons last year during training camp. The 22-year-old has not played in an NHL regular-season game since Feb. 4, 2017 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. -- Louie Korac

 

Malkin full participant on first day of Penguins training camp

Evgeni Malkin fully participated in the first day of Pittsburgh Penguins training camp Friday after sustaining an apparent injury during an informal practice Tuesday.

The 32-year-old center skated between Phil Kessel at right wing and either Bryan Rust or Zach Aston-Reese to their left. He remained between Aston-Reese and Kessel throughout a scrimmage that followed practice.

Malkin appeared to take a stick to his face during a scrimmage at the end of the informal practice Tuesday. He dropped to his knees before skating off while checking his mouth about 15 minutes before practice ended.

Centers Derick Brassard (illness) and Riley Sheahan (lower body) did not practice. Defenseman Kevin Czuczman also didn't practice after having offseason shoulder surgery that will keep him out until December.

During the scrimmage, Malkin was matched against Sidney Crosby centering left wing Jake Guentzel and rookie right wing Daniel Sprong, who had 65 points (32 goals, 33 assists) in 65 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League last season.

"I just smiled," Sprong said of seeing he'd been placed on Crosby's line. "It's a good opportunity. You want to make a difference in camp and open eyes."

First-line right wing opened when the Penguins traded forward Conor Sheary to the Buffalo Sabres on June 27. Sprong, a 21-year-old who has five points (four goals, one assist) in 26 NHL games, could be the front-runner for that spot if he shows defensive improvement from previous camps.

"He's skilled," Crosby said. "He's got a great shot. That with a lot of youth and energy, I think it's a good combination. So he's got a great shot. He knows how to use it. He showed it today, making some plays out there." -- Wes Crosby

 

Lemaire hired by Islanders as special assignment coach

Jacques Lemaire and Lou Lamoriello have been reunited with the New York Islanders.

Lemaire, 73, has been hired as a special assignment coach, the Islanders confirmed Friday. Lemaire worked in the same capacity while Lamoriello was general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the past three seasons. Lemaire was coach of the New Jersey Devils from 1993-98, which included a Stanley Cup championship in 1995, and from 2009-11. Lamoriello was GM of the Devils from 1987-2015.

"I think it's obvious the experience he brings, the knowledge he brings, just the type of individual he is as far as how he communicates," Lamoriello said of Lemaire. "Whatever [coach] Barry [Trotz] wants to use him for, he'll be here for training camp and come back sometime during the year at different times." -- Brian Compton

 

Jets open camp without Morrissey

Josh Morrissey wasn't on the ice when the Winnipeg Jets began training camp Friday.

Morrissey, a restricted free agent defenseman, is unsigned. General manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said there isn't anything new to update on the stalemate.

"Again, [we are] in constant communication with his representatives and just remain hopeful the situation gets resolved soon," Cheveldayoff said.

Jacob Trouba, Morrissey's partner on Winnipeg's top defense pair, was in a similar situation two years ago and missed 15 games at the start of the 2016-17 season.

"Going through it, you make a decision and you stand up for what you believe in and I wouldn't expect him to take anything less than what he feels he's worth," Trouba said. "So I support him whatever way I can and how I can and I've got to take care of what I have to do to get ready for the season here."

 

Barrie sits out first practice with Avalanche

Tyson Barrie didn't skate Friday when the Colorado Avalanche held their first training camp practice.

The 27-year-old defenseman pulled a muscle during testing Thursday and was kept off the ice as a precautionary measure. Defenseman Nikita Zadorov, who had offseason shoulder surgery, skated in a non-contact jersey. The 23-year-old said the plan for him is to skate in Colorado's final three preseason games during the last week of September.

 

Pageau has surgery after tearing Achilles tendon at Senators camp

Jean-Gabriel Pageau will be out at least six months for the Ottawa Senators after he tore the Achilles tendon in his right leg during training Thursday. The Senators said the 25-year-old center had surgery to repair the injury. Pageau had 29 points (14 goals, 15 assists) in 78 games for the Senators last season.

"That one was a kick for us," center Matt Duchene said Friday. "He's such a special player for us. He's a guy that plays such a big role and does things that a lot of guys can't do out there, in terms of the grit and the role he plays. That's going to be a tough one. That's going to be really tough to replace."

Pageau's injury could move Chris Tierney into the second-line center slot. The Senators acquired Tierney on Thursday in the trade that sent defenseman Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks.

 

Murphy out eight weeks for Blackhawks

Connor Murphy is expected to be out eight weeks for the Chicago Blackhawks because of a back injury. The 25-year-old defenseman is expected to be sidelined for the first six weeks of the regular season and return in mid-November. He had 14 points (two goals, 12 assists) in 76 games last season.

Brent Seabrook will be out about one week with an abdominal injury. The 33-year-old defenseman had 26 points (seven goals, 19 assists) in 81 games last season. Defenseman Gustav Forsling , 22, continues to recover from July 31 surgery on his right wrist. -- Tracey Myers

 

Carlson, Eller sit out first day of practice with Capitals

Defenseman John Carlson and center Lars Eller each missed the first day of training camp with the Washington Capitals because of a lower-body injury. The Capitals said each is day to day and is being held out as a precaution.

Carlson, 28, led NHL defensemen in scoring last season with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists), and had 20 points (five goals, 15 assists) in 24 Stanley Cup Playoff games to help the Capitals win the Stanley Cup.

Eller, 29, had 38 points (18 goals, 20 assists) in 81 games last season and 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in 24 playoff games.

Forward Sergei Shumakov, who signed with the Capitals on Sept. 1, is in Russia because of a visa issue. 

 

McGinn out indefinitely for Panthers after back surgery

Jamie McGinn had back surgery and will be out indefinitely for the Florida Panthers. The 30-year-old forward had 29 points (13 goals, 16 assists) in 76 games for the Panthers last season. 

 

Lehner believes things will be different with Islanders

After Robin Lehner's first official skate with the New York Islanders on Friday, the goaltender Robin Lehner said he believes the structure coach Barry Trotz is putting in place will lead to better results. 

Lehner and Trotz arrive after the Islanders allowed 293 goals last season, the most in the NHL.

"We can't compare last year to anything," Lehner said. "Different coaches, different circumstances, different everything. There might've been some distractions here, I don't know. But I watched a lot of their games, I like to follow. It was open hockey last year. It was a lot of go-go-go offense, and it was nothing back. That's not going to be the case this year."

Lehner, 27, agreed to a one-year contract with the Islanders on July 3. -- Brian Compton

 

Ward gets training camp invite from Canadiens

Joel Ward received a professional tryout offer from the Montreal Canadiens on Friday. The 37-year-old forward had 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 52 games for the Sharks last season. He has 304 points (133 goals, 171 assists) in 726 NHL games with the Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, Washington Capitals and Sharks.

 

Roussel's debut at Canucks camp delayed by concussion

Antoine Roussel's debut at training camp with the Vancouver Canucks has been pushed back by a concussion.

The Canucks said Friday that Roussel was injured during an informal scrimmage before arriving in Vancouver. The 28-year-old forward in a "return to play protocol" and skated under the supervision of the team's medical staff.

Roussel signed a four-year, $12 million contract (average annual value $3 million) with the Canucks on July 1 after six seasons with the Dallas Stars. He had 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) and 126 penalty minutes in 73 games for Dallas last season.

 

Byron's shoulder feeling good

Paul Byron was on the ice for the Montreal Canadiens' first training camp practice in Brossard, Quebec. Byron had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder April 18, an injury he played through the past two seasons.

"We knew all about it and it was just about a matter of picking a time that I could be ready without missing games," said Byron, who played on the wing along with Nikita Scherbak on a line with center Nick Suzuki, who was acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights as part of the Max Pacioretty trade Sept. 10.

Canadiens coach Claude Julien said Byron has no restrictions. Julien said forward Andrew Shaw is skating every day and moving in the right direction in recovering from knee surgery, but has not been cleared to return from that, nor from the concussion that he sustained at the end of last season.

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