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Training Camp Buzz: Laine gets look with Scheifele, Wheeler

Forward playing left wing on Jets' top line

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 Monday:

 
Jets give Laine look at left wing on top line with Scheifele, Wheeler

The Winnipeg Jets are giving Patrik Laine another opportunity to play left wing.

Laine, 19, has spent the early days of training camp on a line with Mark Scheifele at center and Blake Wheeler at right wing as coach Paul Maurice evaluates whether they can find chemistry ahead of the Oct. 4 season opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"I don't want to be checking this line out in the last preseason game to see if I like it," Maurice said Monday. "I want to see early on if there's something there that will work."

The Jets play the Minnesota Wild at Bell MTS Place on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NHLN [joined in progress], TSN3).

Laine was at left wing with Schiefele and Wheeler to begin last season, his first in the NHL after being selected with the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, but was moved off the line and to right wing in an effort by coach Paul Maurice to help simplify the game.

"It's nice to be able to play with those guys," Laine said. "[Scheifele] last year had 82 points, and Wheeler had a lot of goals (26), a lot of points (74) also. It's awesome to play with [Scheifele] and with the captain, so there's a lot of potential with that line."

Laine, a right-hand shot, was part of several line combinations last season and said he is fine playing either side.

"I'm going to play where the coach wants me to play," Laine said. "I have no problem playing left wing. I played that almost the entire last season when I played in Finland, so I'm comfortable over there. I don't really care."

Laine had 64 points (36 goals, 28 assists) in 73 games last season and finished second to Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs in Calder Trophy voting as the top rookie in the NHL.

Here is the preseason schedule for Monday: 

Hurricanes at Sabres, 7 p.m.
Canandiens at Bruins, 7 p.m.; RDS, NHL.TV
Islanders at Rangers, 7 p.m.; NHLN, MSG, NHL.TV
Capitals at Devils, 7 p.m.; CSN-DC, NHL.TV
Maple Leafs at Senators, 7:30 p.m.; SN, NHL.TV
Wild at Jets, 8 p.m.; NHLN, TSN3, NHL.TV
Flames at Oilers, 9 p.m.
Oilers at Flames, 9 p.m.

 -- Scott Billeck

 
Hischier to center Quenneville, Hayes for Devils in preseason debut

Center Nico Hischier, the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, will play between forwards John Quenneville and Jimmy Hayes when the New Jersey Devils open their preseason against the Washington Capitals at Prudential Center on Monday (7 p.m. ET; CSN-DC, NHL.TV). 

 

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Hischier, 18, is looking forward to working on areas the coaching staff has stressed during training camp.

"We went over a couple of things [at practice] today; we were working on our neutral zone forecheck and I think the coaches want to see how that looks," Hischier said. "I'm 100 percent ready and really excited."

Hischier had good chemistry with Quenneville at the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo earlier this month.

"He's a great passer and he always has his head up, looking around the ice trying to find guys all the time," Quenneville said. "He's fast and he can be a defender and then move it. He's exactly the kind of center any winger would want to play with."

Defenseman Will Butcher, 22, who signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Devils on Aug. 27, will begin the game at left point alongside Dalton Prout.

"We're going to use [Butcher] at left and right point," coach John Hynes said. "We know what he can do offensively and on the power play, but 5-on-5 he's played the past two seasons primarily on the right side at the University of Denver, so I know he's comfortable there. We'll let him get his feet wet, and talk to him and see how things go and see where he feels most comfortable and put him in a position that will help him succeed."

Center Marcus Johansson, whom the Devils acquired in a trade with the Capitals on July 2, will play between Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri. Hynes said the Devils will audition several players in that role in the absence of injured Travis Zajac, who will miss at least four months after having surgery to repair a torn left pectoral muscle on Aug. 17.

The Devils-Capitals game is one of nine on the schedule for Monday and one of five available on NHL.TV. 

-- Mike G. Morreale

 

Bouwmeester of Blues sustains lower-body injury

St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester sustained a lower-body injury during a scrimmage on Sunday and is expected to see a doctor on Monday or Tuesday to determine the severity.

"We'll have more of an update after Wednesday's game (against the Columbus Blue Jackets)," said Blues coach Mike Yeo.

Asked if he thought the injury was serious, Yeo didn't want to speculate.

"It's serious enough that he has to go see a doctor and serious enough that it kept him off the ice," Yeo said. "I definitely don't want to try to get into any kind of time frame right now, especially knowing [Bouwmeester]. He's a pretty tough customer."

Bouwmeester has been a mainstay on the Blues' top defensive pairing with captain Alex Pietrangelo; he played in 81 games last season, had one goal and 14 assists and averaged 22:24 ice time per game.

-- Louie Korac 

 

Hornqvist back on ice, Aston-Reese impresses for Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist skated on his own Monday after missing the first three days of training camp with a hand injury.

Hornqvist, who had surgery on his right hand during the offseason, skated for more than a half hour on the secondary rink at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex with his teammates practicing on the main rink. He hasn't practiced with them since participating in an informal skate on Sept. 7.

On Friday, Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said he expected Hornqvist to join training camp for full workouts at some point.

With Hornqvist absent, forward Zachary Aston-Reese, 23, has moved to second-line left wing with center Evgeni Malkin and right wing Phil Kessel. That looks to be the only spot open on the top two lines, with Sidney Crosby centering Jake Guentzel and Conor Sheary.

Hornqvist, normally a right wing, could be relegated to the bottom-six if Aston-Reese remains there.

"[Aston-Reese] potentially has the skill set to play there moving forward," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "That's not etched in stone."

Hornqvist missed six games with an upper-body injury sustained in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final. He returned in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final against the Nashville Predators and scored the winning goal with 1:35 remaining in the third period of Game 6 to clinch Pittsburgh's second consecutive championship.

In 19 playoff games, Hornqvist had nine points (five goals, four assists) after finishing with 44 points (21 goals, 23 assists) in 70 regular-season games.

-- Wes Crosby

 

Benn, Bishop to play in Stars preseason opener

Forward Jamie Benn and goalie Ben Bishop will play for the Dallas Stars in their first preseason game against the St. Louis Blues at American Airlines Center on Tuesday.

"It's important that we play really good lineups at home, and we're going to do that," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "The reason for that is we owe the people who pay the money to watch us play, we owe them a good lineup and we're going to do that."

Benn, the Stars captain, didn't play until the final two preseason games last season. For Bishop, who signed a six-year, $29.5 million contract with Dallas on May 12, this will be his informal debut for the home fans. 

The plan is for Bishop to play the first two periods. Mike McKenna will play the third. 

Forwards Mattias Janmark and Nick Caamano will also play. Janmark missed the entire 2016-17 season with a knee injury and Caamano is a prospect that has impressed Hitchcock in training camp. Caamano is expected to play with Flint of the Ontario Hockey League this season, but had a standout performance with two goals in a scrimmage Sunday. 

"He's earned it, just by his good play at Traverse City and his even better play here," Hitchcock said.

Center Jason Spezza won't play Tuesday, but Hitchcock said he is in the group of players that will play at the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday. 

-- Sean Shapiro

 

Rookies Andersson, Chytil could break camp with Rangers

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- The New York Rangers could have an 18-year-old on their roster for the first time in 16 years. They could have two, in fact.

Rookie centers Lias Andersson and Filip Chytil, each first-round picks at the 2017 NHL Draft, are legitimate candidates to make the Rangers out of training camp, coach Alain Vigneault said Monday.

The Rangers haven't had an 18-year-old play in a regular-season game for them since goalie Dan Blackburn in 2001-02. They haven't had an 18-year-old skater play a game for them since Manny Malhotra in 1998-99.

"I expect both those guys to compete for a spot on the team," Vigneault said of Andersson and Chytil.

Andersson, who was selected with the No. 7 pick in June, will play in his first NHL preseason game against the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden on Monday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, MSG). Chytil, the No. 21 pick, will likely make his preseason debut against the New Jersey Devils at the Garden on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; MSG, MSG+).

The Rangers have openings on their center depth chart behind Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes. J.T. Miller is starting training camp as the No. 3 center, but Vigneault has said his preference is to play Miller on the wing.

Vigneault said he especially likes Andersson's skill set, his energy and how he interacts with his teammates.

"He's always in there asking questions," Vigneault said. 

Vigneault said Chytil's skating has stood out to him so far in camp.

"He's real good," Vigneault said.

-- Dan Rosen

 

Tkachuk to sit out Monday for Flames

Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk will not play in either preseason opening split-squad game against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday because of a hip injury.

Tkachuk, who had 48 points (13 goals, 35 assists) in 76 games as a rookie last season, participated in part of practice Sunday, but left early for precautionary reasons.  

"He had a maintenance day today," Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said. "He's got a little hip flexor. It's nothing serious. He'll be out today."

Tkachuk could return to the lineup when Calgary hosts the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday.

"We've been very fortunate here, even through last year, with some of our guys," Gulutzan said. "We got ahead of this. We've got tons of groin and hip [injuries] right now, especially after the first three days with all the skating we've done. We've got ahead of this. We just said, 'There's no point in having you skate today if it's bugging you a little bit,' and we can probably play him again on Wednesday."

-- Aaron Vickers

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