In today’s roundup of notable Canadian NHL team news: The Maple Leafs sputtering top line…Oilers lose Gagner to injury…Byfuglien the Jets biggest star so far…Canucks play benchwarmers in loss to Ducks…Senators Robin Lehner on a learning curve…Canadiens Swiss prospect Diaz learning NHL game…Two Flames prospects continue to turn heads.
TORONTO STAR: reports the Maple Leafs top line of Tim Connolly, Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul have only one point among them in their first two preseason games. Lupul said they’re still a work in progress and are still getting used to playing with each other.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It can take some time for new linemates to gel. I’d say by the end of October we’ll have a good idea if these three will gel offensively or not.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: reports Oilers center Sam Gagner injured his left ankle in last night’s Oilers- Calgary Flames game when he crashed into the end boards in the second period. It doesn’t appear to be serious, but he’s now listed as day-to-day.
WINNIPEG SUN: reports Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is getting the rock star treatment in Winnipeg, which was only heightened by his strong performance in the club’s first preseason home game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: “Big Buff” could easily become the Jets most popular player, especially if he has more games like that preseason home opener.
VANCOUVER PROVINCE: reports Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault iced a roster primarily composed of “benchwarmers” in a 4-1 loss to Anaheim in order to see how some of those players, especially center Cody Hodgson, would perform against the Ducks top players.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those who are criticizing Vigneault for doing this seem to be forgetting that it is preseason, and part of preseason hockey is seeing how well your prospects, bubble players and benchwarmers will perform against tough competition. It’s how to gauge their development and potential improvement.
OTTAWA SUN: reports Senators goalie prospect Robin Lehner doesn’t agree with having to spend another season in the minors to develop his game, but understands why management has made the decision.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehner is keen to make the NHL, but another season in the minors won’t hurt him, plus it’s also possible he could get called up if starter Craig Anderson or backup Alex Auld become sidelined by injury or illness at some point in the season.
LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL: reports Canadiens Swiss blueliner Rafael Diaz is adjusting to the pace of NHL hockey after several seasons in the Swiss Elite League.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Diaz will likely start the season in the minors, but he could become the next in a string of defensemen (Mark Streit, Yannick Weber) whom the Canadiens have plucked out of Switzerland.
CALGARY HERALD: reports Flames top prospects Sven Baertschi and Max Reinhart played well in the Flames 2-1 loss to the Oilers on Saturday.