Roman Polak Finishes First in Strength Testing
Blues D-man Roman Polak finishing first overall in strength testing should come as no surprise. The Czech native has done so three consecutive years now. Polak is among the strongest players in the NHL and keeps himself in tremendous shape. Word is Andy McDonald finished 2nd overall with Ryan Reaves and Chris Porter also finishing in the top five.
The testing, which takes place at the beginning of training camp, consists of on-ice stamina testing, on-ice sprints, bench press, chin-ups, and shoulder rotator exercises.
Polak had no problem reaching the maximum 300 pounds bench press. Word is Ian Cole, Ryan Reaves, and Kyle Hagel also maxed out at 300 pounds.
Grachev Still Grieving….
Evgeny Grachev, a physical specimen at 6-4 224, continues to skate with a heavy heart after losing several close friends in the recent Russian plane crash that claimed the lives of 43 people.
Among the 43 was his best friend in hockey Artem Yarchuk.
Grachev is attracting plenty of attention in camp as his combination of size and skill makes him an intriguing prospect. Evaluating players in practice can be difficult. You can see an individual’s skill level but this is an NHL camp and basically everyone looks good in drills. How they handle themselves in games tells the organization whether or not they belong on an NHL roster.
Why were the Rangers so quick to move a young 21 year-old prospect with his upside for just a third round pick? Definitely makes you wonder. Did they make a mistake or does Head Coach John Tortorella know something the rest of us don’t?
We’re about to find out as the pre-season schedule is set to begin.
Grachev is expected to play Tuesday night Vs. Tampa bay on a line with two pretty good players in David Backes and Jamie Langenbrunner.
Other notables expected to play Tuesday include Jason Arnott, Alex Steen, Jonathan Cheechoo, Philip McRae, Matt D’Agostini, B.J. Crombeen, Brett Ponich, Kevin Shattenkirk, Roman Polak, Carlo Colaiacovo. Goaltender Brian Elliott has been announced as the starting goaltender.
The Lightning will not be sending Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, or Vinny Lecavalier. Eric Brewer will not make the trip either.
Armstrong tells me he won’t hesitate to use some of his younger CHL players in a pre-season game. There’s a decent chance we see a guy like second round pick Ty Rattie see a game or two before heading back to Portland.
I know it’s only practice, but if there is one player that’s stood out for me it’s Philip McRae. He has more skill than most realize and can shoot the puck. He uses his size to protect the puck and looks like a different player compared to this time last year. Having a little confidence can go a long way.
How good is Toronto D-man Luke Schenn? He’s being paid as if he’s pretty darn good. There’s no question Schenn played well in his rookie season but he certainly is being paid based on potential as opposed to performance. The former Kelowna Rocket just signed a five-year deal worth $18 million.
Blues GM Doug Armstrong has done a solid job of signing key players coming out of entry level. Erik Johnson, David Perron, Patrik Berglund, and T.J Oshie each signed either one or two-year deals. Will Don Meehan allow Alex Pietrangelo to settle for a short-term deal? Pietrangelo still has two years left on his entry level contract but as long as he stays on his current path of progression he’ll be in a position to least match the recent deals signed by Sabres D-man Tyler Myers and the Leafs Schenn.
Avs to Name Captain?
I’m told the Colorado Avalanche are expected to take a “Captain by committee” approach to this season with five players designated as “Captains”. Milan Hejduk, Jay McClement, Erik Johnson, and Paul Stastny are apparently four of the five.
A big welcome goes out to Brad Pascall who is taking in Blues training camp this week. Pascall is the Vice President, Hockey Operations/ National Teams for Hockey Canada and is staying with Doug Armstrong.
**Tease of the Day** A potential twist involving ownership could be in the works in the near future.
I would not expect Free agent D-man Bryan McCabe to land in St. Louis. The Blues would not have signed Kent Huskns if they were looking to bring in McCabe. Not to mention he’s looking to be paid more than the Blues would be interested in paying.
More to come,
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