Canadiens name Max Pacioretty as their new captain, plus the latest on Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Russell, Chris Neil and more in your NHL Canadian Corner.
NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens yesterday named Max Pacioretty as their new captain, following a vote by his teammates.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kudos to the Habs brass for letting the players decide. The news was widely praised by Montreal fans and pundits. Pacioretty earned it with his strong two-way play and lead by example style.
WINNIPEG SUN: Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien said he’d like to spend his career with the Jets, but isn’t letting his contract status affect him. Byfuglien is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency, which has prompted considerable speculation during the summer over his future.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets could re-sign him, but it will be expensive. He’s making $6 million in actual salary this season and could receive more lucrative offers if he hits the open market next July. Given the front office’s budget-conscious mindset, Byfuglien will likely remain a frequent fixture in this season’s rumor mill.
CALGARY SUN: Underrated Flames defenseman Kris Russell is also eligible next summer for UFA status. Like Byfuglien, he claims he’s unconcerned about his contract status. It could prove difficult re-signing Russell. Flames first-line winger Jiri Hudler is a UFA, while rising stars Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau are restricted free agents.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: If the Flames opt to pass on re-signing Hudler, who could command a big raise, they’ll have enough room for Russell as well as Monahan and Gaudreau. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.
OTTAWA CITIZEN: Having slimmed down by 14 pounds this summer, 36-year-old veteran forward Chris Neil intends to stay in the Senators lineup this season. He’s entering the final season of his contract and missed time last season to injury.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: The Toronto Maple Leafs drew a huge crowd of Maritime fans for the opening day of training camp in Bedford, Nova Scotia. Many fans spent overnight waiting in line to see the players put their paces by coach Mike Babcock.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: For the veteran Leafs who spent most of last season being booed by fans in Toronto, the reaction of hockey-mad Maritimers made a welcome change.
EDMONTON SUN: The Oilers were put through their paces for the first time by new head coach Todd McLellan on Friday.
THE VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks hopeful Sven Baertschi hopes to earn a permanent roster spot after washing out last season with the Calgary Flames.