In today’s roundup of Canadian NHL team news: Continued concern over the health of Canadiens defenseman Andrei Markov…Canucks defenseman Keith Ballard hopes for a fresh start…Leafs are healthy in net…Kyle Wellwood hopes to fill a variety of roles for Jets…Five potential difference makers for the Oilers…The Senators hold cautious expectations for this season…Flames first rounder turning heads.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: reports a setback in Andrei Markov’s rehabilitation from knee surgery will limit his participation when the club hits the ice tomorrow for training camp. His potential absence could create problems for the Canadiens to start the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Habs GM Pierre Gauthier also acknowledged he took a calculated risk in re-signing Markov, knowing full well the possibility he could continue to be hampered by his knee. As for creating a problem, it may be too early to make that assessment, as we don’t know how well the younger blueliners like Yemelin and Weber will perform.
VANCOUVER SUN: reports defenseman Keith Ballard, who struggled in his first season with the Canucks last year, is hoping for a fresh start this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Injuries were a contributing factor in his struggles. If he can stay healthy, Ballard should play a more significant role for the Canucks this season.
TORONTO SUN: reports the Maple Leafs are healthier in next this season compared to recent years thanks to young goalie James Reimer, who spent the summer getting in shape to handle the heavy workload this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’m no worried about Reimer’s physical conditioning, but his mental conditioning to handle the heightened expectations he’ll face this season.
WINNIPEG SUN: reports new Jets forward Kyle Wellwood hopes his versatility will allow him to play a variety of roles with the club this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I might be wrong about this, but I have a feeling Wellwood is going to be a good fit with the Jets.
EDMONTON SUN: Robert Tychowski offers up five potential difference makers for the Oilers this season. Among them: rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and veteran additions Ryan Smyth, Cam Barker and Ben Eager.
OTTAWA CITIZEN: reports the low-budget Senators enter this season with cautious expectations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: All season predictions by hockey analysts predict the Senators will miss the playoffs.
CALGARY SUN: reports Flames first rounder Sven Baertschi turned some heads with his strong play at a recent prospects tournament.