NHL Rumors: Oilers, Flyers, Blackhawks, Blues, More

In today’s NHL rumor rundown, there is news out of the Philadelphia Flyers camp that goaltender Carter Hart left practice and could be dealing with a back issue. Is it serious? Meanwhile, in Edmonton, it appears one forward may have lost his chance to impress the coaching staff but it’s not a given he’s lost that chance for good. The St. Louis Blues will have to prepare for the exit of one of their forwards after play-ins get going and the Chicago Blackhawks are getting hit hard by the “unfit to play” designation.

Carter Hart Having Back Spasms?

Flyers goaltender Carter Hart exited Tuesday’s practice unexpectedly and as per NHL protocols of talking about injuries or absences, the team couldn’t reveal what the issue was. There was immediate concern that perhaps there was more to it than simply being “unfit to play”, which for most players thus far has been minor issues.

Carter Hart Philadelphia Flyers
Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

John Clark of NBC Philly writes, “Carter Hart had some minor back spasms and it locked up a little during skate today. Nothing major or Covid related. I would think he’d back on the ice in a day or two”

If true, that’s a silver lining for the Flyers who played calm saying Brian Elliott could take the net and teammates suggested missing a camp day here or there isn’t the end of the world. Hart is a big piece of the Flyers puzzle.

Andreas Athanasiou Off Draisaitl’s Line

Andreas Athanasiou was given a shot early in camp to impress and it appears he might not have done enough to warrant staying with Leon Draisaitl and Kailer Yamamoto on the Oilers second line. While nothing is concrete and things may still move around, Athanasiou was skating with Riley Sheahan and Josh Archibald at Sunday’s practice.

Andreas Athanasiou Edmonton Oilers
Andreas Athanasiou, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

He was replaced by Tyler Ennis on that line and head coach Dave Tippett said of the move, “We’re just looking for that chemistry on lines and to see where everything fits. Those guys were here for a little bit but there’s still some uncharted waters for them.”

Tippett added:

“Ennis is a veteran player who’s been around the League a long time,” Tippett said. “Plays the game smart, plays the game efficient, he knows when to make the right play and he knows when to move on and find something simpler. He plays off people very well, reads off people and has good skill. Top players like to play with guys like that because they are good complement players. 

Related: Brothers in the NHL

Blackhawks Being Hit Hard

Speaking of players being deemed “unfit to play”, the Chicago Blackhawks have been hit with more bad news in that department. First, goaltender Corey Crawford was deemed unfit to play, then he was joined by defensemen Olli Maatta and Connor Murphy. Now, captain Jonathan Toews has been deemed unfit to play after leaving practice on Monday.

There was speculation Toews might have gotten injured. He snapped his stick in frustration during power play drill and the thought was he might have had an equipment issue, but he didn’t return to the ice. Coach Jeremy Colliton said it was because they’re “just trying to keep him fresh. Nothing other than that.”

It will be a situation worth watching, as it seems a lot of these absences are.

Blues Will Lose Barbashev

The St. Louis Blues will start with Ivan Barbashev in their lineup as the round-robin play gets underway, but they won’t have him for long. Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Barbashev will be leaving after one or two games for the birth of his child.

Ivan Barbashev St. Louis Blues
Ivan Barbashev, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

While he’s only expected to miss a couple of games, the key for Barbashev getting back quickly is testing negative for COVID-19 four times in four days upon returning to the bubble. If there are delays, he could potentially miss the start of the first round depending on timing.

Head coach Craig Berube said on how Barbashev reacted to the process:

“He was great about it. Barbie knows about the situation and when he’s back, he’ll be available to play and he’s going to play. At the same time, he’s not going to be available for a bit so we’ve got to prepare for guys in his spot.”

source – ‘Blues preparing to play without Barbashev for one or two round-robin games’ – Tom Timmermann- St. Louis Blues Dispatch – 07/21/2020

The safety of the players is the most important thing and leaving the bubble means jumping through hoops to get back in.

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