Having been to all three exhibition games, and a couple of the intra-squad scrimmages, I don't think Hlavac is yet what they were looking for in a second line winger, but they probably weren't expecting it this soon. He buzzes around a lot but doesn't get much done.
Ouellet has been hurt but he didn't set the camp on fire either. Darche has looked at least as good as either of them, and Karlsson has been far better - my guess is that he will be one of Brad's wingers.
Smaby to me has been a bit of a disappointment. He hasn't looked appreciably better than Lampman or Lundin, and is well behind Janik.
John Tortorella said he full expects to field his opening night lineup Saturday night in Dallas. If that’s the case, here’s what things looked like in practice Friday....
Blue line was Vinny Prospal-Vinny Lecavalier-Marty St. Louis
Red line was Jan Hlavac-Brad Richards-Michel Ouellet
Green line was Andreas Karlsson-Chris Gratton-Jason Ward
Yellow line was Andre Roy-Craig MacDonald-Nick Tarnasky
And the white line, which might as well be the Norfolk line, was Justin Keller with Mathieu Darche and Kyle Wanvig. My guess is that these two guys either have already been placed on waivers or will soon be in order to assign them to Norfolk. That final decision will be announced on Sunday.
The defense pairings were:
Shane O’Brien and Filip Kuba
Brad Lukowich and Paul Ranger
Doug Janik and Mike Lundin
Matt Smaby and Bryce Lampman
One other note, Tortorella expressed some displeasure with some of his veteran defensemen, and I believe that might be Filip Kuba. Torts mentioned how he wasn’t happy with how some have carried themself on and off the ice. Not to mention that Tortorella made Kuba and his partner, O’Brien, do laps after not doing a drill right as their teammates watched.
Saw the lastest insider report on the team web site and it shows that Bryce Lampman, Kyle Wanvig and Mathieu Darche have all been placed on waivers with the intent of sending them to Norfolk of the AHL. So what’s that mean? Well, it appears that the team will keep 21 players, and according to the web site, Doug Janik is the extra defenseman meaning that Matt Smaby and Mike Lundin are in the top six on the blue line. Interesting developments to be sure. Guess we’ll find out after we get to the rink for the morning skate.....