NHL Buzz: Marner game-time decision for Maple Leafs


Welcome to the NHL Buzz. Throughout the 2021-22 season, NHL.com will have you covered with the latest news.


Toronto Maple Leafs

Mitchell Marner will be a game-time decision for the Maple Leafs in their season opener against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; SN, TVAS, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).

The forward took part in an optional morning skate after he left practice early Tuesday following a hit from Wayne Simmonds.

“It was a positive morning for Mitch,” coach Sheldon Keefe said. “The skate went well so we are encouraged by that.”

Marner had the puck in the slot and was trying to sidestep Simmonds, who caught Marner with a hit to the front of his body.

“Not really concerned,” forward Jason Spezza said Tuesday. “I think it was just precautionary, he probably wanted a rest. I think he’ll be fine, I haven’t talked to him so maybe I shouldn’t make light of it, but it did seem like it was a pretty minor thing.” — Dave McCarthy


Colorado Avalanche

Nathan MacKinnon will not play for the Avalanche in their season opener after the center tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.

MacKinnon will not be in the lineup against the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; TNT) but could return against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.

“He’s asymptomatic and feeling good … but hopefully he’ll be able to test out,” Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic said. “…We’re hoping for Saturday, but we’ll see.”

MacKinnon finished eighth in the NHL with 65 points (20 goals, 45 assists) and was plus-22 in 48 games last season. He finished third in voting for the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP.

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar was also placed in COVID-19 protocol and will not be with the team against the Blackhawks.


Vancouver Canucks

Brock Boeser has not been ruled out for the Canucks season opener at the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; SN, ESPN+, NHL LIVE) after the forward was placed on injured reserve Monday because of an undisclosed injury.

Boeser has resumed skating on his own but hasn’t practiced with the Canucks since Sept. 29. He led Vancouver in goals (23) and points (49) in 56 games last season.

Forward Alex Chiasson, who attended training camp on a professional tryout contract, signed a one-year, $750,000 contract Tuesday.

“Alex is an established veteran who plays a physical game and brings a valuable net-front presence to our team, particularly on the power play,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning said. 
“He’s a bigger player (6-foot-4, 208 pounds) that doesn’t shy away from the tough areas of the ice and has fit in well with the rest of our forward group so far.”

Benning also said defenseman Travis Hamonic will start the season with Abbotsford of the American Hockey League after clearing waivers Monday. He missed training camp and the preseason for personal reasons. — Kevin Woodley


New York Islanders 

Semyon Varlamov won’t be available when the Islanders play their season opener at the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, BSSO, MSG+, ESPN+, NHL LIVE). 

The goalie was placed on injured reserve and has been dealing with soreness, coach Barry Trotz said. Varlamov did not practice with the team during training camp; Ilya Sorokin is expected to start against the Hurricanes, with Cory Schneider as the backup. 

“I do not think it lingered any longer,” Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello said Wednesday of Varlamov’s injury. “We knew that we were going to give it as much possible time as necessary to be 100 percent, and that’s what we’re doing. But we’re extremely comfortable that it won’t be long.” 

Varlamov was 19-11-4 with a 2.04 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in 36 games last season (35 starts) and tied for the NHL lead with seven shutouts. He was 7-7 with a 2.56 GAA and .922 save percentage in 14 Stanley Cup Playoff starts. 

Sorokin is entering his second NHL season. He was 13-6-3 with a 2.17 GAA, .918 save percentage and three shutouts in 22 games (21 starts) last season. — Brian Compton

Edmonton Oilers

Colton Sceviour signed a one-year, two-way $750,000 contract with the Oilers on Wednesday.

The 32-year-old forward had been with Edmonton in training camp on a professional tryout contract. He had three assists in seven preseason games.

Sceviour scored 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 46 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins last season. He has scored 151 points (64 goals, 87 assists) in 500 regular-season games with the Penguins, Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars, and eight points (three goals, five assists) in 19 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

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