GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Old hands and new faces.
Besides the topic of Henrik Lundqvist’s workload, among the players coach Alain Vigneault discussed during his 40-minute news conference Thursday were veterans Rick Nash, Marc Staal and Dan Girardi, restricted free-agent signees Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes and J.T. Miller as well as young newcomers Jimmy Vesey, Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich.
Here’s some excerpts:
Defensemen Staal and Girardi, who took steps back last season: “I can tell you what I’ve seen so far [at workouts], you can tell when you talk to them they’ve turned the page on the past and they’re focused on right now. They seem to be in a good space mentally. These guys have played a lot of games, big games, important games, big minutes. This is the first time in a long time that they’ve had a chance to recover from some of the bumps and bruises and train, a good summer of training. They just seem anxious for this opportunity that the team has in front of them. They know that they’re important parts for us having a successful season, and I sense that they want to prove that they’re very good players.”
Nash, with 15 goals in 60 games last season: “I don’t like going in the past, but if I look at his season last year, he was out almost two months with a broken leg. I believe that Rick is a complete player, both ends and a scoring touch . . . I firmly believe that’s there. He came to New York early, has been on the ice for a long time, and understands that he needs to continue to work at his skill and has been doing that. He’s come here in great shape. There’s no doubt as a team that we need that good two-way player. Part of him being a good two-way player is also giving us that offensive production. We need that from him. I believe he knows that . . . we expect that from him, he expects it from himself and I’m confident we’re going to get that.”
Kreider, Hayes and Miller: “I do expect more. If we’re going to get better as a group, those players have to get better individually. Our organization has shown a lot of confidence in them by giving them those contracts and we gave it to them because we know there’s upside there and we know that those players want bigger roles, want more minutes, want to prove that they can be impactful players with an important role in helping a team win. There’s no doubt that those three players, they want that. They want to be counted on.”