Mihalik earns praise and Schneider still a Duck
I am very interested on Thursday to watch Vladimir Mihalik in training camp's first scrimmage. The 6-foot-7 defenseman got raves from coach Barry Melrose after Wednesday's practice.
"He skates well. He passes the puck well. He's gigantic," Melrose said. "I told him, 'You can play in the NHL if you compete and do the things necessary because you've got all the physical tools."
Mihalik can make a bit of a name Thursday, and it makes sense he will play in Pittsburgh Saturday as Melrose said he will take a "young" team because he wants to see of the group who is an NHL prospect and who is going to AHL Norfolk.
If Mihalik plays well, he will force his way into the conversation about Tampa Bay's best blue-liners. Right now, you can probably put him No. 9 after Andrej Meszaros, Matt Carle, Paul Ranger, Shane O'Brien, Andrew Hutchinson, Mike Lundin, Janne Niskala and maybe Ty Wishart.
That conversation could change after this week.
"I have to compete, just like he said," Mihalik said.
Other odds and ends: As mentioned in previous posts, center Vinny Lecavalier and defenseman Paul Ranger will not play in this week's scrimmages since neither are cleared for contact. Lecavalier had noticeable trouble changing a jersey during Wednesday's practice, which indicates some lingering pain in his surgically repaired right shoulder. He did, however, look good taking slap shots. ... Wednesday was a long day of practice as the 42 players were split into two groups. Quite a difference from the two days of testing under former coach John Tortorella. ... Practice was delayed a short time while goaltender Riku Helenius got treatment on his left, middle finger, which was hit by a puck. Helenius said he is fine.
Wrote a lot about Mathieu Schneider yesterday for nothing. Nobody claimed him off waivers, and even though he cleared, he was not sent down to the minors. Appears his being put on waivers perhaps was nothing more than a fishing expedition. But let's keep an eye on it and see what the Ducks do.