The latest on Phil Kessel, the Sedins, Jason Spezza, Dustin Byfuglien and Ryan Smyth.
TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs winger Phil Kessel believes he’s a different player now than he was when he played for Team USA in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, where he saw only limited ice time. He’s also hopeful teammate Nazem Kadri will be re-signed.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Over the last two seasons Kessel has emerged among the NHL’s elite scorers. I anticipate he’ll be a significant factor this time around for Team USA.
VANCOUVER SUN: Love them or hate them, the Sedin Twins are hoping to re-sign contract extensions with the Canucks before training camp opens in two weeks. Should the Sedins depart next summer via free agency, the Canucks will be forced to engage in a full-scale rebuild.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I understand the concern over investing too much for too long on ageing superstars like the Sedins, but the Canucks also have no one in their system who can step up and replace the Twins if they depart next summer. The Twins still rank among the league’s elite players and worth retaining if an affordable deal can be made. I’ve also never understood the ongoing criticism aimed at the Sedins in recent years. It was understandable early in their careers when they were still adjusting to the physical NHL style, but over the last six years they’ve been among the game’s top players. Without them, the Canucks wouldn’t have become one of the NHL’s top teams.
OTTAWA CITIZEN: Senators star Jason Spezza isn’t concerned by not receiving an invitation to Team Canada’s orientation camp, and instead is focused on a healthy, productive season with the Senators.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sure, Spezza’s publicly saying the right things, but being snubbed by Team Canada could provide him with additional motivation this coming season.
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: American Jets Dustin Byfuglien, Blake Wheeler, Zach Bogosian and Jacob Trouba are taking part in Team USA’s Olympic orientation camp.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Ryan Smyth or Ryan Jones could get a major opportunity for power-play time with the Oilers this coming season.