The NHL offseason is officially in the books, with training camps opening across the league on Wednesday. Players, coaches and general managers will be speaking to the media as the excitement for the 2023-24 campaign ramps up.
Here are the biggest storylines from the first day of camps.
*Editor's note: This article will be updated throughout the day
Stamkos displeased over lack of contract talks this summer
Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos wishes he had an extension signed by now and voiced his displeasure to reporters Wednesday morning.
“To be honest, I’ve been disappointed in the lack of talk in that regard,” Stamkos told reporters, as per Erik Erlendsson.
Stamkos didn’t rule out the possibility of negotiating during the season, but his frustration with the situation was evident.
“I’m ready whenever, so I guess that was something that I didn’t see coming but it is what it is,” Stamkos continued.
— Kyle Burger (@kyle_burger) September 20, 2023
Drafted first overall in 2008, Stamkos is entering the final year of an eight-year, $68-million contract he signed two days before free agency opened in 2016.
The two-time Stanley Cup winner has accumulated 515 goals and 1,056 points in 1,003 career games. Over the span of his current deal, Stamkos has tallied 203 goals and 494 points in 434 games.
The Markham, Ont., native is hoping the Lightning will be the only NHL team he ever plays for.
“Like I stated at the end of last year, too — I would love to extend and play here and finish up my career here. But that’s out of my hands. I can’t write the contract myself,” Stamkos said.
Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brad Treliving provided some clarity on a pair of injured players.
Jake Muzzin hasn’t played since suffering a neck injury on Oct. 17 in a game against the Arizona Coyotes. The 34-year-old left-shot defenseman is in the final year of a four-year, $22.5-million contract. Muzzin’s $5.625-million cap hit will likely be placed on long-term injured reserve (LTIR).
Goaltender Matt Murray is expected to be out for the foreseeable future as well. The news of a "significant surgery" shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as the Leafs announced back in late July that Murray would start the season on LTIR. Treliving was unable to provide a timeline for Murray’s return.
Murray is coming off an injury-riddled 2022-23 campaign, with the 29-year-old netminder suffering abductor, ankle and head injuries. Murray recorded a .903 save percentage in 26 games with the Leafs last season.
In Toronto, GM Brad Treliving said Matt Murray will be undergoing a “significant” surgery (details undisclosed). And, Jake Muzzin will not play this year.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) September 20, 2023
Senators hoping to resolve Pinto situation shortly
Senators GM Pierre Dorion told reporters Wednesday that he’s been in daily contact with Pinto’s agent.
“We hope to have him in camp as soon as we can,” Dorion said, according to TSN reporter Claire Hanna.
As it stands right now, the Senators only have $120,000 in cap space to work with. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported on Tuesday that the Philadelphia Flyers offered to acquire Mathieu Joseph — who carries a $2.95-million cap hit for the next three seasons — to alleviate their cap concerns.
“That’s part of the job of being a GM. In the salary cap era, you need to get creative,” Dorion said. “It’s more than agreeing to a contract.”
Habs without Dvorak until November
Dvorak, who hasn’t played since March 7, is still recovering from knee surgery. The 27-year-old recorded 28 points in 64 games before being shut down last season. According to The Athletic’s Arpon Basu, Dvorak was partaking in an informal skate at Montreal’s practice facility on Thursday.
Dvorak has two years remaining on his six-year, $26.7-million contract. Given the injury timeline, the Canadiens will likely place Dvorak and his $4.45-million cap hit on LTIR to start the season.
Paul Byron retires, joins Canadiens front office
After missing the entirety of the 2022-23 season with a hip injury, Paul Byron announced his retirement ahead of this upcoming season.
Byron last played in an NHL game in April 2022. In a letter released on the Montreal Canadiens website, the 34-year-old explained that the decision to retire became clear after extended attempts to treat his hip ailment with rehabilitation, therapy and speaking to different doctors.
“For a long time, I held up hope that I could do it one more time, which in turn has made this decision so difficult," the speedy forward said. "But the reality is, I can no longer train, skate or push myself to the level required to be a professional hockey player due to injuries suffered during my last game and seasons prior.”
Byron recorded 208 points in 521 career NHL games.
Jets have “moved on” from head coach Rick Bowness’ post-elimination rant
The Winnipeg Jets are turning the page on the public contention between the teams’ coaches and players at the end of last season.
“We put everything on the table and we moved on,” Bowness said Wednesday afternoon.
After the Jets were eliminated by the Vegas Golden Knights in five games, Bowness didn’t mince words when asked about his overall thoughts on the game. The bench boss said he was disappointed and disgusted by his team's performance, while also voicing his frustration over how badly the Jets crumbled in the second half of the regular season.
"As soon as we were challenging for first place and teams were coming after us, we had no pushback," Bowness said during a jaw-dropping press conference that lasted less than one minute. "This series we had no pushback. Their better players were so much better than ours, it's not even close."
Several Jets players criticized Bowness’ assessment, including Blake Wheeler – who was stripped of his captaincy ahead of the 2022-23 season, and ultimately bought out the following offseason.
"We could have had those discussions behind closed doors,” Wheeler said. “So I didn't agree with how he handled himself after that game."
Heading into the 2023-24 season, Bowness made it clear that he wants his players to demand more from themselves.
“We've got to expect more from ourselves and that's what we're going to be pushing here in training camp,” Bowness said.