Concerns over the Canadiens defense corps, Jay Bouwmeester expects to step into a leadership role, an update on the ankle injury of Oilers blueliner Ryan Whitney, Jets forward Bryan Little on moving from anonymity in Atlanta to celebrity in Winnipeg, and Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson believes he’s ready for a leadership role.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Red Fisher considered the Canadiens hopes to win the Stanley Cup in 2012 are, at best, a long shot because of the major questions involving their defense. Fisher expressed concern over the ability of Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges to remain healthy following knee surgeries, though he suggested if they can stay healthy, the Habs could finish higher than sixth overall.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: They did play reasonably well last season with Markov and Gorges sidelined, but one has to wonder how much better they might’ve done had those two not missed most of last season to injury. Habs fans will be keeping their fingers crossed.
CALGARY SUN: Derek Van Diest of the Edmonton Sun reported Flames blueliner James Bouwmeester expects to take over the role of the club’s top defenseman following Robyn Regehr’s trade to the Buffalo Sabres in June.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bouwmeester has been a bit of a whipping boy for the Flames woes over the past couple of seasons, so there’ll be considerably more attention upon his performance this season.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: David Staples recently reported Oilers head coach Tom Renney said he’s optimistic defenseman Ryan Whitney will be healthy and ready to go in time for training camp. Whitney’s season was cut short last year to an ankle injury. Staple suggested without Whitney, the Oilers could expect to finish near the bottom end of the draft lottery once again.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t disagree with Staples assessment. The Oilers need a healthy Whitney if they hope to move up in the standings.
WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen reports Jets center Bryan Little admitted he’s going to have to adjust to losing the anonymity he enjoyed in Atlanta for the celebrity he’s going to face in hockey-mad Winnipeg.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: They’ll all have to adjust to it, and those who aren’t used to it should perhaps turn to teammates like Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien, who know what it’s like to play in a hockey-mad city.
OTTAWA CITIZEN: Ken Warren reports young Swedish defenseman Erik Karlsson remembers how well he was treated by countryman Daniel Alfredsson when he first joined the Senators, and is willing to do the same for the club’s Swedish prospects, like David Rundblad, Andre Petersson, Robin Lehner and Mika Zibanejad.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good to see Karlsson willing to help his fellow countrymen, even though he’s not much older than they are and only has a handful of NHL seasons under his belt.