For Leafs, Raymond's in ... and Clarkson is too?
September, 24, 2013
By Pierre LeBrun | ESPN.com
TORONTO -- Like a long list of free agents this summer, Mason Raymond didn’t have a job when August turned into September, so like some of those UFAs, the left winger accepted a camp tryout.
It’s a pride-swallowing moment to be sure.
But he also knew that Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis, who drafted Raymond in Vancouver, would give him a fair shake given their past relationship. By last weekend, the Leafs already had seen enough and before Sunday night’s preseason game, a one-year, $1 million deal was agreed upon and officially signed Monday.
"For sure it’s a relief," Raymond said Tuesday after the morning skate. "It was an odd summer, different for myself and my family. It’s something that you have to patient with. ... I’m glad everything worked out like it did."
With David Clarkson suspended for the opening 10 games of the regular season, there’s a chance Raymond might have to play some right wing, which isn’t totally foreign to him.
"I think I played about every position in Vancouver," Raymond said with a chuckle. "But yeah, I played some right. The majority on the left, I played center for a while as well."
Clarkson to play
Clarkson was suspended for 10 regular-season games but not for the preseason. So the Leafs intend on giving him more action before his ban begins next week.
"Yeah, we feel that it’s probably best that he plays as many games as possible, actually, with the extended period of time that he’ll be away from it," Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said Tuesday morning, confirming that Clarkson would play in that night’s game versus Ottawa. "We think that it’s important for him to get some games in."
Clarkson didn't speak with the media again Tuesday morning because he was still considering his options regarding an appeal. Hence, as a player you wouldn't want to fall on your sword with the media before you decided whether you’re going to appeal the suspension. If he does decide to appeal, commissioner Gary Bettman would hear the appeal, and if Bettman upheld the 10 games, then Clarkson would have the right to have an independent arbitrator hear his case as well.
Meanwhile, Sunday night's brawl still had some buzz Tuesday morning, Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul taking a swipe at Sabres tough guy John Scott.
"You don’t expect one of the top-five toughest guys, biggest guys in the NHL, to do something like that," Lupul told assembled Leafs media. "I’ve never seen that in all the years I’ve played. It’s pretty embarrassing for him and I’m sure he doesn’t feel well about it now.
"The thing about a guy of that size, it’s not like Phil [Kessel] could possibly fight him and get out of it unhurt. The guy's outweighing him by close to a 100 pounds. It’s not possible. So what are you going to do? You're going to whack him with your stick. I think it’s a whack in the shin pads, a hard whack. But it could've been a lot higher and with a lot of players it might've been a lot higher. [For] a lot of guys in the league, if Scott drops their gloves and comes at them like that, he might be missing his front-row teeth. You can say it’s a hard whack and I know they’re upset about the whack but it’s in the shin pads."
Phil Kessel had a 4:45 p.m. ET disciplinary hearing Tuesday with the NHL for his slash to Scott.
Drouin goes back and forth
He played wing most of his junior career but the Lightning have tried out Jonathan Drouin at center during camp and preseason. Then Monday at practice the 2013 third overall draft pick was back at wing, alongside Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. He also was slated to play wing in a preseason game Tuesday night but he should get other looks at center as well over the next week.
"I believe he can play all three forward positions with his style of play," Tampa GM Steve Yzerman told ESPN.com last weekend.
What’s intriguing is that often 18-year-old centers are put on the wing early in their NHL careers in order to minimize their defensive responsibilities. But in this case, Tampa has tried the opposite, putting a winger at center.
"We just like him in the middle, he’ll have the puck more, with his vision and playmaking ability, he’s strong on the puck, we just like that he would have the puck more," Yzerman said. "He’s perfectly fine on the wing, but his style of play, I just think he’s more suited playing in the middle. Nothing is set in stone, it’s not like he won’t ever play on the wing. But he’s fine and comfortable with it."
The Sharks suffered a blow before the puck even dropped on the season, losing Raffi Torres to a right knee injury.
Sharks GM Doug Wilson told ESPN.com Tuesday morning that it wasn’t known yet whether Torres would just rehab the injury or need surgery. Obviously the latter would keep him out longer, as long as 3-4 months.
In any case, the veteran winger -- who was solid as a Shark after being acquired late last season -- is out for at least the opening month of the season and possibly longer. All of which opens up an even bigger opportunity for rookie forward Tomas Hertl, San Jose’s first-round pick, 17th overall, in 2012. By all accounts Hertl has looked very good so far in camp/preseason and he’s going to open the season in a top-six role, perhaps on a line with Joe Thornton.
Keep that in mind, fantasy players!