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preseason

Training Camp Buzz: Koivu to play first game since February with Wild

McAvoy will make preseason debut with Bruins; Samsonov gets audition for backup goalie spot with Capitals

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

Welcome to the 2019 preseason! 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 Saturday:

 

Koivu to play first game since February for Wild

Mikko Koivu is expected to play his first game since Feb. 5 when the Minnesota Wild host the Colorado Avalanche at Xcel Energy Center (6 p.m. ET; FS-N+, NHL.TV).

The center had surgery three days later to repair a torn ACL and meniscus in his right knee

"I haven't played a game in eight or so months, so that's why I want to get out there and play and see how it feels," Koivu said Friday. "There's still a lot of steps to take or to feeling 100 percent. But it's a step you have to make, and I think it's a good time for that right now."

Koivu will likely be on a line with Jordan Greenway and Luke Kunin.

 

McAvoy to make preseason debut with Bruins

Charlie McAvoy will play his first preseason game when the Boston Bruins play the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center (8:30 p.m. ET; NBCSCH+, NHL.TV).

The defenseman missed the start of training camp as a restricted free agent but signed a three-year contract Sept. 15.

"It really doesn't take long to get back into it," McAvoy said. "Once you get back into it, it comes back quick and then you just start feeling comfortable again.

"I've been having a fun time this week. Excited to finally get out on the road with the guys."

 

Samsonov starts in goal, auditions for role with Capitals

Ilya Samsonov will get a full-game audition for the Washington Capitals backup goalie position in their preseason game against the Carolina Hurricanes at Capital One Arena (7 p.m. ET; NBCSWA, NHL.TV).

Coach Todd Reirden has said there is an open competition for the job to back up starter Braden Holtby among incumbent Pheonix Copley, Samsonov and fellow rookie Vitek Vanecek. 

Samsonov played the second half of Washington's 3-2 preseason win against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday and made 12 saves on 13 shots. 

"Now, we get a chance to see him start a game and see the whole game through," Reirden said of the 22-year-old. "I think it's a good challenge for him tonight. We have a pretty young lineup in there. Just the composure and some of the things he's shown in his growth in Hershey (in the American Hockey League) will be on display tonight. This is the challenge he wanted and the opportunity he wanted, so let's see how he does with it."

Center Lars Eller participated in the morning skate, continuing his recovery from an upper-body injury he sustained in practice Tuesday. Reirden said Eller's next step will be to take part in a full practice Monday.

Tom Gulitti

 

Johansson may play center for Sabres in preseason debut

Marcus Johansson could be at center when he plays his first preseason game for the Buffalo Sabres against the Toronto Maple Leafs at KeyBank Center (7 p.m. ET; SN, MSG-B, NHL.TV).

Johansson, who signed with Buffalo as a free agent July 6, started his NHL career as a center with the Washington Capitals but has since shifted primarily to left wing with the Capitals, New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins.

"I've played pretty much every position in my career so it's not that hard," he said. "I've been in the League long enough to figure it out pretty quickly. I like playing center, too; it gets you involved a lot in the game. Looking forward to it."

He's one of nine players at Sabres training camp with varying experience at center: Jack Eichel, Dylan Cozens and Casey Mittelstadt each plays the position full time, and Johansson, Evan Rodrigues, Vladimir Sobotka, Johan Larsson and Zemgus Girgensons each has alternated between center and wing.

Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen will also make his preseason debut and is expected to pair with Rasmus Dahlin

Heather Engel

 

Juolevi still recovering from surgery, among Canucks' cuts

Olli Juolevi was among six players assigned to Utica of the American Hockey League by the Vancouver Canucks.

The 21-year-old defenseman, who was the No. 5 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, has been unable to play in preseason games while recovering from knee surgery in December that limited him to 18 games with Utica last season.

The Canucks also released forward Landon Ferraro from his professional tryout contract (PTO).

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