Hungry as we are for news in this hockey wasteland that is the late summer, even a few tidbits or comments will do, and correspondingly Elliotte Friedman of CBC has provided a couple of interesting nuggets to digest as we round the corner into August.
He has a few comments from Jim Nill that tip their hand on possible line combos if you wade through his other thoughts, including some interesting speculation about what's going on in the San Jose locker room and a commentary on the value of defensive UFA's, but first this about the Stars and a division rival..
39. If Jason Spezza had waived to Nashville, the package to Ottawa was going to be similar (if not exact) to what the Predators gave up for James Neal.
That return for Pittsburgh was noted pest and so-so offensive talent Patric Hornqvist, and his buddy Nick Spaling. The Stars, of course, parted with Alex Chiasson, prospects Nicholas Paul and Alex Guptill and a second-round draft pick in 2015.
Senator fans will no doubt have their opinions on which they'd have rather seen. For Stars fans it's simply enough that Spezza was the Predators' first choice- and Dallas got him. Whether or not James Neal can produce at past levels without an elite centerman or otherwise gifted forward to play with remains to be seen.
Of course, they did sign Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy, so it's a reunion of sorts over there. How nice.
Then there was the meat of the Stars-related tidbits...
40. The Stars' plan for Ales Hemsky is to start him with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. "They are shooters," GM Jim Nill said. "We need a passer with them." Asked who Spezza gets, Nill first mentioned Valeri Nichushkin. After living with a local family much of last year, he is now on his own. Nill expects a similarly big step on the ice in the player's second season, and lining up with Spezza could do that.
There's a lot of information in a little bite there. Mainly this...
Whether that's Cole or Garbutt/Roussel... it's still fun to think about, and Nill's comments to Friedman are indicative of at least his thought process in acquiring Hemsky. The quick analysis (and why not?) was to point at Hemsky and Jason Spezza's brief-but-profitable history in Ottawa last season and then jump to a fairly obvious conclusion. Nill has other ideas.
Hemsky's versatility could join Seguin's and Benn's. Both carried the puck and both shot last season to great effect. He can do likewise, making for a trio that is going to be a bit of a nightmare to defend.
Forget all of that, actually, and consider merely this: "They are shooters. We need a passer with them." --The comments of a man who thinks he can get even more out of those two with a better mix. More. Out of Seguin and Benn. Yeah. That is happening.
Spezza and Nichushkin could need a bit of a pit-bull with them to create some room and retrieve pucks- But big Val could be more bullish in his sophomore year, so that mix will probably be tweaked on the fly. Lord knows Lindy is not averse to a little line-combo roulette. It says that Nill thinks Val will take a big step forward. We're hoping the same.
The other note confirms what we already thought we knew- That Val is living solo after his time with a foster family to being his North American journey.
When he orders chinese on the phone and they ask for a name does he say... well, you know. #iamvalnichushkin