For more from training camp:
Camp Roster And 6 Battles To Watch >
Camp Opens With "The Test" >
Injury Overshadows Encouraging First Scrimmage >
Lines Provide Strong Clues To John Tortorella's Thinking >
Staal's Condition Growing Worrisome: Is A Veteran Defenseman Acquistion Coming? >
A week ago the biggest issue to be decided in training camp
would play left wing alongside Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik.
Oh, how times have changed.
The top-line left wing battle figures to continue getting
the most attention at camp, but Wojtek
Wolski has taken a strong hold of the position and suddenly the defense,
which figured to be one of the team’s strengths, is the unit surrounded by
Injury concerns have limited
Mike Sauer and Marc Staal and suddenly Coach John Tortorella has revealed
team is hunting for another blueliner.
Sauer has progressed nicely and seems like he’ll be fine to
start the season, but lingering post-concussion-syndrome symptoms have plagued
Staal all summer and he
was sent him today after reportedly not feeling well.
Losing Staal, the team’s No. 1 defenseman, for any amount of
time would be a crushing blow, but is it really time to be searching for a
Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh and Sauer should occupy three of
the top four blueline spots to start the season, which leaves Steve Eminger,
Michael Del Zotto, Tim Erixon, Brendan Bell, Pavel Valentenko and Tomas Kundratek
to battle for the remaining roster spots.
If Staal is indeed going to miss significant time, then as
many as four of those six players could be on the opening night roster. But Tortorella seems intent on adding a
veteran to the mix.
Tortorella has called
Steve Eminger the best defenseman in scrimmages thus far and it’s getting
harder to imagine him being left out of the lineup. Tim Erixon was a revelation
at Traverse City and has continued his strong play at training camp; he too
should make the team. But Tortorella’s
comfort level with Del Zotto, Bell, Valentenko and Kundratek may not be very
Zotto could use more time in Connecticut, Valentenko hasn’t been
as impressive in camp as he was last year and we’ve heard nary a peep from
Bell and Kundratek this week.
So even if Girardi, McDonagh, Sauer, Eminger and Erixon are penciled
into the lineup, the team could still need another defenseman or two.
Of course, the crucial component to the blueline formula is
Staal’s health. If Tortorella isn’t
satisfied with the play of his blueliners at camp, then bringing in a veteran
might be a prudent move. But if he’s
growing increasingly worried that Staal could miss a significant portion of the
season, it could become a necessity in a hurry.
here for our full Summer 2011 Archive >
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