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Tidbits — Preseason Edition: Boychuk, Carson And More

Here's a couple loose ends from around the league, including some comments from a couple of the Hurricanes top prospects following last Friday's preseason opener, and some eye-opening stats.

I had the chance to talk to defenseman Brett Carson and forward Zach Boychuk following the Canes' 4-2 loss to Nashville last Friday. Here's a what they had to say:

Brett Carson on...

Trying to make the team: I just want to show them I can be relied upon defensively. To play in this league, I’m not going to be the flashiest guy out there. I’m just out there almost trying not to get noticed.

On his offensive upside: There’s that offense I have to my game, but right now I’m worried about playing defense and making the reads. Once you get established like that in this league, your offense will come.

Zach Boychuk on...

Playing alongside Brandon SutterWe’ve been playing together for quite a few years with Team Canada, and we played together in Albany last year and a little bit for Carolina last year, so we’re definitely pretty familiar with each other. I think both our talents complement each other. He’s such a strong skater up through the middle who’s really solid defensively, and I like to use my speed and drive wide and all those types of things. It’s good to have a guy like that hopefully you have chemistry with and you can take it out here and have some pretty dominating shifts.

On his health after battling injuries last season: I feel 100 percent. It’s been great summer. My wrist healed exactly the way I planned. I had a good summer for training and good summer for some on-ice stuff. I’m definitely at 100 percent right now and trying to make this team.

* * *

Yes, it's the preseason — and the beginning of it, at that — but there are some surprises from the boxscores.

  • Patrick O'Sullivan, who was part of the three-team deal that sent Justin Williams to L.A. and brought Erik Cole back to Carolina, is trying to earn a spot on the Oilers' top line. So far, so good. The Winston-Salem native leads the league in preseason goals with four in three games, plus has registered a staggering 43 shots (14.3 per game, if these numbers are correct), which is more than twice what NHL shot leader Alex Ovechkin averaged last year (528 shots on the season).
  • Also out of Edmonton, Mike Comrie is making GM Steve Tambellini look smart for taking a flier on him. He leads the league in points and assists with seven. Not too shabby for a guy who many thought was close to being out of the league. He'll need to replicate it in the regular season to save his career, but right now he looks like a top-six or top-nine forward.
  • I think there's going to be a real battle for the starting goaltending job in Minnesota this year, even though Niklas Backstrom got a new four-year, $24 million deal right before the trade deadline. But with Jacques Lemaire gone and back in New Jersey, Backstrom will need to prove he isn't a system goalie. Rest assured Josh Harding will be hot on his heels. Both are proving a point in the preseason: Backstrom and Harding have each not allowed goal; Backstrom in 69 minutes of play, Harding in 30.
  • A dark horse rookie-of the-year candidate? How about Rangers forward Artem Anisimov. I thought he'd get a chance with New York last season, but only made it up for one game after tearing up the AHL last year in Hartford (37 goals, 44 assists for 81 points in 80 games). The Blueshirts are pretty good down the middle with Chris Drury, Brandon Dubinsky and Vaclav Prospal leading the way and Brian Boyle an option as a fourth-line pivot, but Prospal has played the wing a lot in his career and Anisimov could earn a job because of it. Through three preseason games, the 21-year-old Russian has two goals and two assists in three games and is making it hard for John Tortorella to send him back to Hartford.