Six teams keeping an eye on their Stanley Cup windows, NHL cracking down on goalie pads, plus updates on Kris Versteeg, Braydon Cobourn, Viktor Stalberg, Dustin Penner, Wade Redden, Eric Belanger and more.
SI.COM: Allan Muir believes the Stanley Cup window of opportunity has opened for the St. Louis Blues, Washington Capitals and Ottawa Senators, while the window is closing for the Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks and NY Rangers.
OTTAWA SUN: Kay Whitmore, the NHL’s Senior Manager of Hockey Operations and Goaltender Equipment, is prepared to travel around the league this season to ensure goaltender pad meet the new reduced measurements. Violators will be automatically suspended for two games and the club and general manager will be fined.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league seems serious this time about cracking down on illegal pads. Time will tell how long they’ll continue enforcing this rule.
CBS SPORTS: The Phoenix Coyotes will open their parking lots to tailgating parties before their weekend home games this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a good idea which could not only help increase attendance but also the revenue generated from parking fees.
SUNSENTINEL.COM: Florida Panthers forward Kris Versteeg has returned from knee surgery six months ago, feeling rejuvenated and inspired by stories of pro athletes who overcame serious injuries.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Versteeg was a key contributor to the Panthers surprise playoff appearance in 2012. If he remains healthy and regains his scoring form it will certainly improve their playoff hopes this season.
PHILLY.COM: Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn put the summer’s trade rumors behind him and is focused on a better performance this season. One reason he wasn’t bothered by the rumors was due to the floods which ravaged his hometown of Calgary in June. Coburn’s home fortunately escaped damage.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: During the draft it appeared Coburn was headed to the Edmonton Oilers but the deal fell through on the draft floor. Since then, Andrej Meszaros has become the focus of Flyers trade speculation, while all trade talk about Coburn has died off.
THE TENNESSEAN: Predators forward Viktor Stalberg will be sidelined 3-4 weeks with a shoulder injury. Stalberg signed with the Predators as a free agent this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators added Stalberg in hopes he can bolster their offense.
WASHINGTON POST: It’s too soon to tell which team – the Capitals or Predators – “won” last season’s trade deadline swap of Martin Erat-for-Filip Forsberg.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forsberg has yet to fully establish himself as an NHL player, but he has youth and time on his side. If he blossoms into the star the Predators believe he can be – and the Capitals once believed he could be – the deal will tilt in Nashville’s favor.
ESPN.COM: Dustin Penner is struggling to adjust to a new coach, new system and new teammates in his return with the Anaheim Ducks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This season could be Penner’s last chance to prove himself as a worthwhile NHL power forward. If his struggles continue, this season could be his last in the NHL.
KELOWNA DAILY COURIER: Free agent defenseman Wade Redden continues to wait for an NHL contract and has no plans to retire.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Redden could have no choice but to retire or continue his playing career in Europe. I have my doubts he’ll get another NHL contract.
NBC SPORTS PRO HOCKEY TALK: Former NHL veteran Eric Belanger has announced his retirement following a short tenure in the KHL.