Montreal Canadiens captain Saku Koivu is optimistic the lingering effects of his eye injury won't keep him from playing in the 2006-07 NHL season. ((Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press))

Montreal Canadiens captain Saku Koivu is hoping he'll be ready to play the 2006-07 season despite some lingering effects from an eye injury he suffered during the Stanley Cup playoffs last April.

The 31-year-old forward, who underwent surgery in the off-season to repair a detached retina in his left eye, says he has a blind spot in his peripheral vision that likely is permanent and has since developed a cataract.

Koivu said it's common for cataracts to develop after injuries or surgery to the eyes.

There is a chance that Koivu may need to have minor surgery to repair the small cataract, but he's hoping to postpone that until after the season.

Koivu told the Canadian Press that the cataract has caused his vision to be "not as sharp as a month and a half ago.

"Right now, the doctors think it's in an early stage," he said as the Canadiens completed pre-camp physical exams at the Bell Centre. "I'll try to play with a contact lens, but if it gets worse, then we're going to have to do something about it during the season.

"Obviously, the best scenario would be to get it done at the end of the year, but right now, we're going to wait and see how it will progress."

Koivu suffered the injury in Game 3 of Montreal's first-round playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes when Justin Williams's errant stick got under Koivu's visor and hit his left eye.

The Habs captain had to spend two nights in hospital until the swelling came down and doctors were able to diagnose the injury.

Koivu, who was second in team scoring last season, will see an ophthalmologist this week and hope to wear a corrective contact lens to help his vision until he can have the cataract removed after the season.

He says he's been feeling fine in informal skating this week, but the true test will come Friday when scrimmages begin and next Tuesday when the Habs take on the Bruins in exhibition action.

"I'll have more answers in a week to 10 days, but if there are no setbacks, I expect to be in the lineup for the first regular season game [Oct. 6 in Buffalo]," he said.

Koivu says he will sport a larger visor this season.

The native of Finland has 137 goals and 460 points in 569 career games in 10 NHL seasons, all with Montreal.

With files from the Canadian Press