The final week of the preseason has teams are finalizing their rosters (with some notable moves made by Pittsburgh, and Chicago), some teams (such as Ottawa, Detroit, and Edmonton) are scrambling to fill in holes in their lineups due to injuries to key players.
The end of training camp has teams trimming down their rosters to the final 23 players they will use for the season, the Pittsburgh Penguins released two players familiar to most Washington Capitals fans: Sergei Gonchar and Steve Oleksy. The 41-year old Gonchar, who played six seasons with the Capitals before being traded to Boston, was on a try-out contract with the Penguins this preseason after being let go from Montreal last year. Pittsburgh also placed Steve Oleksy on waivers, cleared them, and will be playing for Wilkes-Barre in the AHL.
Another player that was recently placed on waivers was Chicago’s Bryan Bickell. In a move that seems to be salary cap related, the Blackhawks placed veteran winger on waivers in order to clear up space. Bickell was a key contributor in the Blackhawks’ run to the Stanley Cup last year.
Speaking of key contributors, the Ottawa Senators are scrambling in crease literally and figuratively after it was announced that Andrew Hammond will be out at least two weeks with a groin injury. The Hamburgeler, as he is affectionately known as, helped backstop the Senators to a highly unlikely playoff berth last year after posting a 20-1-2 record with a 1.79 GAA in 24 games last year.
Detroit is also grappling with an injury to a key player of theirs in Danny DeKeyser. DeKeyser , who is in his third full season with the Red Wings, injured a ligament in his left foot while playing against the Penguins. He is expected to be out 3-4 weeks. His injury leaves a big hole in Detroit’s defense that sees former Capital Mike Green hobbling already with a groin injury, and has first year head coach Jeff Blashill scrambling to find the right defensive pairings.
While Detroit is scrambling to find the right defensive pairings, the Edmonton Oilers are going to have to find scoring from different sources. The Oilers announced that Jordan Eberle will be out at least 4-6 weeks with a shoulder injury. Eberle, who led the Oilers in scoring last year, injured his shoulder after being hit by the Coyotes Kyle Chipchura. This will be a big test for a young Oilers team, which has had either the worst or second to worst record in the Western Conference the last two years, and are looking to improve upon this with the additions of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl through the draft.
With that being said, this final week of the pre-season has flown by. The puck drops on a new season in just a few short days, and many more twists, turns, and stories will be coming out of the league.
By Andrea Sobolik