The Odyssey begins. The 2023-24 NHL regular season begins today with the Pittsburgh Penguins hosting the Chicago Blackhawks. The Penguins added an edgy defenseman via waivers Monday, then set their final 22-player roster. The Winnipeg Jets shocked everyone by taking a pair of big names off the NHL trade market. They splashed the cash on Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Sheifele. Matt Murray had major hip surgery, and the Maple Leafs will face a pressure-packed make-or-break season.
I’ve had quite enough of the long car rides and late-night drives for games that didn’t matter, split practice sessions, waiting until after the second to talk to coach Mike Sullivan, which usually fell after 2 p.m., and talking with guys who expressed earnest desperation to make it to the NHL but are on the wrong side of that puck.
Don’t get me wrong, those guys fighting for their careers are usually great humans, and we had some interesting conversations, but knowing most of them were going to fail in their quest isn’t fun. And, for the record, after Sullivan corrected me for saying there were two or three players plus Jansen Harkins for two Penguins roster spots, there were, indeed, only two spots open, but they only filled one for the moment.
But no, there isn’t news on Austin Wagner, which itself is the news. His PTO has expired, and no news means no player.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: The Penguisn snagged John Ludvig on waivers from Florida. Our folks in Florida had just done a story and analysis on him. Get the scoop and scouting report on the new Penguins defenseman.
The Penguins opening night roster is finalized. There was a nearly 50% turnover from last season. Here are your Pittsburgh Penguins.
Penguins president of hockey operations/GM Kyle Dubas gave a thoughtful press conference. There were the standard cliches, but he also seemed to answer the question. He’s the full summary of the Kyle Dubas presser.
PHN+: One of those answers was an honest criticism but bold prediction of Alex Nylander.
Steelers radio analyst Craig Wolfley thanks Steelers fans for their support after the death of his brother — Steelers news.
Alan Saunders opines that we should credit Kenny Pickett for not making the big mistake — Steelers analysis.
I’m not sure what to make of this — Byron Leftwich is open to helping the Steelers offense.
Pittsburgh Baseball Now:
PBN+ This offseason will be very different with security. Bryan Reynolds is already looking forward to 2024.
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NHL Trade Talk, News & National Hockey Now:
Boston Hockey Now: The NHL trade chatter got hot in Boston as Jimmy Murphy reports GM Don Sweeney is working the phones to KEEP a defenseman. The latest Bruins trade talk.
Sportsnet: Take two off the NHL trade block. The Winnipeg Jets signed Connor Hellebuyck and Mark Scheifele to identical (and expensive) seven-year deals.
The CP: Matt Murray is out for six to eight months and will not play this season after major hip surgery.
Buffalo News: The Sabres signed Rasmus Dahlin to an eight-year contract. No pressure, but that makes him the new face of that franchise.
Montreal Hockey Now: Last year’s No. 1 overall pick has been under fire in Montreal. Should they send him down, bump him up in the lineup, or just not start the season and criticize him for eternity? Our Montreal colleagues went inside the numbers, and Juraj Slavkovsky was fire.
NYI Hockey Now: Alas, Ross Johnston, it was a valiant camp and good effort, but Johnston became the last cut for the New York Islanders.
Philly Hockey Now: We’ve got Sam Carchidi back for a limited engagement while our beat writer Chuck Bausman heals up from a lower-body injury. The Flyers set their final roster — and I know some Penguins fans are jealous — with four rookies in the Philadelphia Flyers lineup.
Washington Hockey Now: And–more moves are coming in Washington. The team set the final roster, but new coach Spencer Carberry said more moves are coming. So, watch the Washington Capitals today.