Some of the top prospects for the 2011 NHL draft will be treated as guinea pigs next week.
Thirty-three of the top draft-eligible players will gather in Toronto for the NHL's research, development and orientation camp Aug. 18-19. The young players will act as the test subjects as the NHL tries to figure out if a number of potential new rules, ice markings and strategies are worth a further look.
Of course, it also gives NHL scouts a chance to watch many of the players they'll be following closely all winter. And, with the exception of two over-age juniors, the players will all be roughly the same age, something the scouts are going to like since it gives them the chance to see how they stack up against their peers.
Drummondville Voltigeurs center Sean Couturier and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Red Deer Rebels, two potential two-five picks next summer, will be among the group that skate in four game-like sessions over the two days. Thirteen players from the summer Canadian under-18 team have been asked to take part.
"This camp has the bonus element of giving general managers and their staffs an early season look at many of the players whose names they will be calling out as their teams' top-round selections in (the 2011 draft)," NHL Central Scouting director E.J. McGuire told NHL.com. "These are some of the most talented players available to execute the unique skills and strategies which the camp is designed to test and evaluate."
Ken Hitchcock and Dave King will act as coaches during the camp.
Unrestricted free agent forward Eric Belanger is set to re-sign with the Washington Capitals, according to French language newspaper Le Soleil.
The deal apparently is for one year at $1.85 million.
Apparently all that is holding up announcement of the signing is a trade the Caps are in the process of making. Could be forward Tomas Fleishmann on his way out and a defenceman coming in. But, no, Tomas Kaberle is not involved.
STAN, MEET JIMMY
The Stanley Cup and Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane will be wastin' away with Jimmy Buffett Saturday in Chicago.
Kane will bring the Cup to his South Buffalo home Friday, make a few stops with it around familiar haunts, then hop on a private plane to take Stanley back to Chicago, according to NHL.com.
In the Windy City, the Cup will pay an on-stage visit to Buffett during his show at Toyota Park. During his performance of Margaritaville, no less.
To Parrotheads who love hockey, that's probably as good as it gets.
BACK IN BLACK
Veteran defenceman Nick Boynton will re-sign with the Blackhawks.
A number of Internet reports are saying the 31-year-old has inked a one-year, $500,000 deal with Chicago.
Boynton was traded from Anaheim to the Blackhawks just before the trade deadline last season. He had one goal and seven assists in 49 games.
SABRES HIRE HEAD PIRATE
Former NHLers Kevin Dineen and Eric Weinrich will be behind the bench with the Buffalo Sabres AHL affiliate for another year.
Dineen, the AHL's top coach in 2005-06, was re-signed Thursday to run the Portland Pirates. He has been the head coach in Portland for five years while Weinrich has spent two years on Dineen's staff.
Portland finished with a 45-24-7-4 record and fell one win short of the AHL final last season.