Monday, October 05, 2015

Oilers Demote Draisaitl

You can paint me surprised... the Edmonton Oilers finalized their roster on Monday morning and on his way to Bakersfield is forward Leon Draisaitl, who couldn't quite make the cut down the middle for the upstart Oilers and instead, will likely get some top line minutes with their AHL affiliate, the Condors.

The Oilers already using Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Connor McDavid as their top two centres and there is likely the thought process that they didn't want to limit Draisaitl's role and/or minutes down in the bottom six, so the next best thing would be for his development to continue in the AHL.

There's little doubt that the 20-year old German will eventually make his way back up to the big club, but the when and why is yet to be determined.

Remarkably, this yet another 14th round draft pick that is being sent down to the minors, as newcomer Eric picked up the young forward with a clever little pick.  That was immediately snuffed out by the Oilers on Monday and now Eric will have to wait until either Draisaitl returns to the lineup for the Week Nine Waiver Draft for the change.

Tokarski On the Wire

Another goalie is heading down to the minors, if he isn't claimed on waivers, as Dustin Tokarski has hit the wire on Monday morning (or Noon ET), as Mike Condon has earned the opening night back-up spot behind Carey Price after training camp.  Tokarski was last season's back-up, but wasn't able to keep his spot after a fantastic camp from Condon.  If Tokarski is to clear waivers, he will report to St. John's in the AHL for the time being.

Clayton will go into the season with only one goalie to keep him alive in the goalie survivor pool to start the year and may have to go those first nine weeks of the season with that one goalie.  Clayton took Tokarski with his final pick in the 14th round, so there wasn't a great deal of hope pinned on the back-up keeper, but anything is definitely better than the minors.

Click here for the updated injury/news page on the website

Morning Player Notes in the Draft (Oct 5)

On Sunday night, we saw an update from the Tampa Bay Lightning, in regards to a couple of pool forwards, only a few days before the regular season gets started. Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn are currently dealing with undisclosed injuries and are both considered to be day-to-day.  Another pool forward, Nikita Kucherov, was lifted in Tampa's last preseason game and is expected to be in practice on Monday, not to mention should be ready to go on Thursday night, when they face Philadelphia on their opening night.

Neil, Tony and Ryan (respectively) shouldn't have any concerns with their current Lightning players, but they all get nods in the blog, just for the sake of.

There appears to be some genuine concern for the well-being of Ottawa forward Clarke MacArthur, who was lifted from the Senators' last preseason game on Saturday after a collision on the ice.  MacArthur left the game with an undisclosed injury and there hasn't been much for an explanation, but according to one report out on Monday morning, his injury has had an impact on the decision making process for cuts for the opening night roster.  Final rosters have to be in tomorrow (Tuesday) and if MacArthur is not ready to go, one of those potential cuts gets a new life for the duration of the injury.

This is also a concern for Stuart, who has a whole bunch of side bets going on this season and this puts him off to a poor start, if one of his players is on the shelf for an extended period of time.  We'll have to wait and see what the diagnosis is before we get too crazy though.

Click here for the updated injury/news page on the website

Welcome to the 2015/2016 Draft Hockey Pool

We're only a couple short days away from the start of the 2015/2016 NHL regular season and I couldn't be anymore excited.  Before the draft even started, I think it was already shaping up to be a pretty great year, with the inclusion of some new elements to the season and NHL teams making some very interesting moves and new and exciting players joining the league as well.

The draft was a complete success, as the 27 teams got down to business on the weekend and we all have our teams ready to rock and roll.  Yes, you read that correctly, a pool record of entries, three teams better than the previous record and four teams better than the 2015 season.  378 players were taken in three and a half hours, working some record time, thanks to a good wireless network at the VooDoo Lounge, our spot for the draft this year.

If you haven't been on the website yet, all of the teams have been loaded up on the standings page and you can check out your team, as well as everyone else's.  We have, what looks to be, a very competitive looking pool and with the talent pool being picked apart like it was, we hopefully will see some very tight races down through the year.

If for some reason (mostly a bad draft strategy), a team doesn't have a shot at the big money this year, we have some mini-games, which I had outlined before we started drafting this year.  Here is a small preview of what we can expect in those games.

The real headline mini-game is the rookie pool, but surprisingly, there were not a lot of teams that jumped in on this one to start the season.  Not even to give themselves a chance.

Only 10 teams featured rookies out of the 27 in the draft, which is far less than I had expected.  One team blew everyone else away at the draft, as Ryan M. ended up taking four rookies, including the cream of the crop, Connor McDavid, as he prepares to finally win something after so many years in this pool already.

Of course, other teams will have a shot at this competition, if Ryan's bad luck continues through the year and other teams take advantage of some up-and-comers through the Waiver Draft this year.

Win and you stay in.  That's the mantra of the goalie survivor pool this year and this one is a pretty interesting pool, as it was outlined through the year in the newsletter last year.  As long as your goalies won one game between Monday to Sunday, your team stays in.  Of course, goalies are going to be a hot commodity, if scoring stays down in the NHL.

For the purposes of getting an idea of what might happen in this part of the pool, we'll look at the number of teams that picked both their goalies in the first three rounds.  39 of 54 goalies taken in the pool were taken within the first three rounds, a massive rush to the crease this year.

Brenda & Seward, Dale B., Dale C., Derek W., Grant S., Jeremy, John R., John S., Kristy & Don, Mike, Scott, Stacey M., Stuart and Troy were all fortunate enough to grab all those goalies early on and these could be the teams that are in the race until the bitter end.  Of course, the Waiver Draft could play a part for some of those other teams, but that's a long shot, if you've only got one big starter to start the year.

According to my projections through the off-season, I would give Dale C.'s tandem of Tuukka Rask and Kari Lehtonen the edge in this competition, as I have that tandem locked in for 150 points this season.

Finally, the penalty minutes pool.  The goon show.  The stat that has absolutely nothing to do with the scoring races, something completely separated from winning the big money.

In order to win this pool, your team, as a whole, including the goalies, needs to spend the most time in the penalty box, period.

Looking at last year's statistics, the favourite to win this pool is Wes M., who's team racked up a total of 614 PIM last season, 50 minutes better than the next punished team, which belongs to another pool newcomer, John R..  Wes' team is highlighted by Travis Hamonic, Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan Kesler, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Marco Scandella and Mike Ribeiro, who each spent over 50 minutes in the box last season.  If his goaltending doesn't work out, he should be able to race for the PIMs in fine fashion.

I am currently working on the prize structure for the coming year and I am hoping to have a post done in the next week or so. I know Stuart was polling the audience for some side bets this year, something that we'll track on the website and the blog, so if you're in on those, you can at least keep him honest and take his money away this year.

Stay tuned to the blog for all your updates... and a hearty welcome to everyone involved in the pool this year!

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Scrivens Demoted to AHL

The Edmonton Oilers goaltending situation was pretty cloudy heading into training camp, but it was hard to see the clouds through the smoke.  For the most part, most people knew when the team acquired Cam Talbot from the New York Rangers at the draft, that he was aiming to be the number one guy in the 2016 season, unseating Ben Scrivens for the job.  The Oilers also picked up a non-household name during the off-season in Anders Nilsson, who was also going to be gunning for a job and to the surprise of many, he won one.

On Sunday morning, the Oilers announced that they had placed Scrivens on waivers for the purpose of assignment, which means that if he clears, he will be heading to the minors to start the season, but it also means that he and his $4.8 million cap hit are now available to be scooped up by any team for nothing, assuming that they want to take on that big cap hit and a goalie that may have gotten another raw deal in Edmonton.

With salary cap issues prevalent in the NHL right now, any team that is looking to pick up talent is not looking for a big name player, rather they are looking to just puddy over some cracks with some cheap talent, trying to work out their opening night roster for competitiveness purposes.

The Oilers, who were able to bury non-pool defenseman Nikita Nikitin over the last 24 hours, combined with the possibility of burying Scrivens' deal, will have $7.45 million against their cap ceiling this year in the AHL, potentially.  I'm sure they are going to be shopping both players through the year, looking for teams desperate for help, but there is also a chance that either/or could come back and help the Oilers before too long.

ImplicationsWith goalies being a hot commodity in this year's draft, lots of top end talent went pretty early, but not Scrivens.  No, Cindy's team couldn't get two goalies right away, so she waited until the very end to get her second keeper, taking Scrivens with the 370th overall pick, in the last (14th) round of the draft.  Cindy will now have to rely upon Jonathan Bernier to keep her team alive in the goalie survivor pool, at least for the first nine weeks.

Click here for the updated injury/news page on the website

Player Notes in the Draft (Oct 4)

Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg was the unwilling victim of Raffi Torres' unceremonious return to the carpet at the NHL Department of Player Safety.  As we hear that San Jose's Torres is getting the call, we now await the news about Silfverberg, who clearly took a shot to the head from Torres in a very frowned upon fashion.  Torres was ejected from the game for the hit and Silfverberg had to leave the game, likely with a head injury.

Pool newcomer, Eric W., picked up Silfverberg in the 9th round, in what could be a very bargain basement pick, but that all depends on how bad this injury is to start the season.  At first glance, it looks like it will be a pretty rough injury.

The Calgary Flames shut down forward Jiri Hudler earlier than expected in their game against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night, their final preseason tilt, before they get going on Wednesday against Vancouver. The team is quoted to say that it is just a minor injury and that he was shut down for precautionary reasons. There is no reason not to believe them at this point, so he'll just be on watch for opening night.

Hudler, a 4th round pick in yesterday's draft, taken by last season's 2nd place finisher, Grant S., should be ready to go for opening night, but it still isn't something you want to see, before the season even starts.

One of last year's huge playoff performers, Tampa Bay's Tyler Johnson, was also lifted from Saturday night's preseason finale for the Bolts against the Florida Panthers with an undisclosed injury.  In all likelihood, this is somewhat of the same kind of situation as Hudler above, as there are very little details about the injury and one would assume that a major injury would warrant an explanation, while cautionary moves don't.

For Neil B., he may have lucked out a little bit as well, thanks to the rush of goalies and defensemen in the first few rounds, as Johnson dropped all the way down to 62nd overall in the draft, taken in the 3rd round.  As long as Johnson is ready for opening night, Neil will have a great pick here.

Finally, one more minor injury note to report this morning, as the Winnipeg Jets lost the services of forward Mathieu Perreault in Saturday's game against the Flames,  The team reported that he suffered a lower-body injury and that should come as no surprise to the pool, as he is a member of the Injury Prone List since 2014.  His status for opening night will likely be updated before the games start, so if there is anything major, we'll be right on top of it here on the blog.

It really didn't look like Mike had much luck or did a great deal of homework before the draft, as his team is dealing with injuries from top to bottom and adding Perreault to that list is just bad luck.  If he's back before the start of the year, it won't hurt nearly as bad.

Click here for the updated injury/news page on the website

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Morning Camp Demotions (Oct 3 - Draft Day Edition)

The young players of the Vancouver Canucks are already coming along and there was a push that sent one player that stuck around late last year, as forward Ronalds Kenins was demoted on Friday night, along with forward Brandon Gaunce. These guys didn't exactly have the worst camps out of the bunch, but they were falling just a bit short of some of the other youthful players in camp.

Kenins was projected in the 25-point range a couple of times in these preseason projections, so there was some upside to his game, if he was going to play full-time.  I would think he would get a bit more time through the season, but it appears that he's dropped in the depth chart in camp.

As expected, the call-ups by the Columbus Blue Jackets yesterday, did indeed head back to the AHL on Saturday morning, even though some of them had an excellent showing against the Buffalo Sabres in preseason play on Friday night.  Oliver Bjorkstrand and Sonny Milano headline the group heading back to the minors on Saturday morning, both should be early call-ups, if there are injuries, but for now, they'll stay down in the minors, working on their craft.

If you're looking to Columbus for some rookie help, Kerby Rychel and William Karlsson have been good for the team thus far and still might make it into the lineup this season.

The Edmonton Oilers raised a few eyebrows this morning, as they placed defenseman Nikita Nikitin on waivers for the purpose of assignment on Saturday morning.  Nikitin carries a $4.5 million cap hit, which wouldn't all be buried in the minors, but a good portion of it would be, $925,000 to be exact, much like Bryan Bickell of the Blackhawks.  Nikitin, however, does have a little bit of an upside to his game, so if someone is willing to take on that contract, he could certainly help out a team's depth.

Unfortunately, for draft purposes, we won't know if he's minors bound or picked up until tomorrow.  This would be a huge gamble on your blueline, if you were to pick him up.

The Pittsburgh Penguins made some sweeping cuts on Saturday morning, bringing their roster down to the 23-man limit, putting two bodies on the Injured Reserve (Eric Fehr & Tom Kuhnhackl), releasing one from their PTO (Sergei Gonchar) and demoting a few.  Included in those demotions was defenseman Derrick Pouliot, who couldn't quite make the opening night roster, despite a few outlets projecting him to do so.  He'll start the year in the AHL and he'll likely be an early call-up, when needed.

Click here for the updated injury/news page on the website

Morning Injury Updates (Oct 3 - Draft Day Edition)

Clearing up some of the latest injury reports before we draft this morning, there is one that was missed all training camp, as San Jose Sharks forward Melker Karlsson has only just started practicing with the team, after missing all of camp and preseason action, to date.  There is no detail on the injury that he is suffering from, but reports are suggesting that his participation in the opening night roster for the Sharks is now heavily in doubt.

Karlsson's absence does open the door for someone else to have a shot to impress, but he should be back before too long, one would imagine.

Click here for the updated injury/news page on the website

Last Night's Preseason Performers (Oct 3 - Draft Day Edition)

This is the last edition of the preseason performers, as we draft this afternoon! How exciting, am I right?

The Columbus Blue Jackets brought a number of prospects to the party in Buffalo and they crashed it pretty well.  Although going up 5-0, they almost let a preseason result slip through their fingers, but still winning the game 6-4 in the end.

William Karlsson led the way for the Blue Jackets, scoring a goal and adding 3 assists for a 4-point night, while one of the called up prospects, Oliver Bjorkstrand, made a good push to be kept on with the big club, scoring a pair of goals and adding an assist.  Matt Calvert and Markus Hannikainen each had a couple points for the Jackets in the win.

This year's back-up, Curtis McElhinney revived his coach's faith in him, turning away 24 shots for the win.

On the losing side, newcomer Jamie McGinn potted a pair of goals for Buffalo.

James Wisniewski had a big game for the Carolina Hurricanes, as he scored the winning goal and added an assist in a 2-1 victory over the powerhouse of the Metropolitan Division.  The newly added defender is going to try and make an impression on his new team, who can provide him with lots of minutes, if necessary.

The start for this one was given to Cam Ward, who made 34 saves for the Carolina victory, helping his cause to be the number one for the Hurricanes.

Between the Flyers and the Devils, there wasn't much.  A 2-2 game, which made it through the overtime periods and went to the shootout, where the Devils took it by only going 1-for-3 in the skills competition.

In regulation, the Flyers were the only team with a multi-point player and that was Claude Giroux, who had a couple of assists in the loss.  It looks like he's ready to go this year.

Cory Schneider made 21 saves in regulation and overtime and then another three stops in the shootout to earn the win.  The word is that he wants to start a bunch of games this year, maybe even an obscene amount, which could be a dangerous proposition.

It was the grand return of Mike Babcock to the building he called home for so many years, as the Toronto Maple Leafs visited the Detroit Red Wings for some preseason hockey on Friday night.  The Red Wings got the better of their old coach, taking the game 4-2 in the end, leading into the last weekend of the preseason.

Henrik Zetterberg was in fine form on Friday, picking up a goal and an assist in the win, while Jimmy Howard was given the start for the Red Wings, making 31 saves for the victory.  The Red Wings will still be a formidable force this year, I figure... just got to make sure you know who's the starting goalie.

In the last game of the night (and the last of my preseason games coverage), the San Jose Sharks traveled to the Arizona desert to take on the lowly Coyotes and there, it was a pretty sound thumping through 60 minutes, as the Sharks bested their division rivals, 3-0.

Martin Jones only had to make 18 saves for the shutout, which would have been good for 4 points, while Joe Pavelski scored a pair of goals and Tomas Hertl had a goal and an assist in the win.

Maybe with Jones in net, this team has a strong sense of confidence to their game.  He now becomes a very interesting option in the pool this year.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Afternoon Injury Updates (Oct 2 - Draft Day Eve Edition)

The Detroit Red Wings were able to update the status of defenseman Dan DeKeyser early on Friday, as he is now expected to miss the next 3-to-4 weeks with a sprained ligament in his foot. With a week before the start of the regular season, the expectation is that he misses the remainder of the preseason and upwards of three weeks of the regular season.  DeKeyser has some very reasonable projections this season, so if you can stomach missing a few weeks, at worst, instead of taking a healthy, less productive defender, then I say do it.

I have adjusted my projections of him down to about 25 points for the year.

There was also an update on Senators goalie Andrew Hammond, as he is now expected to miss the next couple of weeks with a groin issue. This will take him into the start of the regular season and the question marks are now abound about the Ottawa crease and teh distribution of minutes.  This could mean very good things for the Craig Anderson camp, as he'll get a good head start on Hammond, while Matt O'Connor gets the early look as the team's back-up to start the season.

The update came on Joe Colborne's injury and it's in the "not great, but could've been worse" variety, as he has suffered a broken thumb on his right hand and he is now listed as out week-to-week for the time being.  The Flames are still dealing with some questions about what direction they are going to go with a number of their young players, but with an injury like this, it does provide them the opportunity to give someone a little bit more ice, even into the regular season.

The trouble with this falls upon us poolies on trying to decide where he would land on our lists.  This injury could cost him upwards of a month on the shelf, give or take a week.  My projections for him will take a dip, but it shouldn't be too great.

Click here for the updated injury/news page on the website

Afternoon Camp Demotions (Oct 2 - Draft Day Eve Edition)

According to the early season projections, the Chicago Blackhawks made a big move, sending forward Marko Dano down to the AHL on Friday afternoon.  Dano, acquired in the deal that saw Brandon Saad move to Columbus, was thought to be having a very good preseason.  Unfortunately, his $925,000 cap hit may have been part of the consideration about why he isn't staying up, as they are in a serious cap crunch again this year (and for years to come).  There is a fine chance that he'll return at some point in the season, but uncertainty will hurt his draft value.

The Blackhawks were not done there either, as they also placed Bryan Bickell on waivers on Friday, trying to offload his $4 million cap hit, one way or another.  If Bickell was to be picked up on waivers, that NHL team would have to assume his entire hit, but if he was to clear, the Blackhawks could send him down to the minors at minimal cap relief, thanks to a clause in the CBA, where teams can't bury entire cap hits or they keep him up with the team and demote someone else.  There are rumblings that Bickell may warrant a stop on the Long Term Injured Reserve, but that seems unlikely, given they tried to waive him.

Nevertheless, Bickell's days appear to be done in Chicago, so adjust your projections for him accordingly.

The New York Rangers moved a little bit closer to their opening night roster, as they placed Raphael Diaz on waivers on Friday, likely for the purposes of sending him down to the AHL. Diaz was having a decent camp, but it looks like the team is moving with Dylan McIlrath as their seventh defender out of camp, which is good news for him, as he has been in the organization for a few years now.

The Rangers still have one more cut that they need to make before the end of camp, so they're pretty darn close to finishing up and prepping for the start of the season.

Click here for the updated injury/news page on the website

Morning Camp Demotions (Oct 2)

Friday afternoon, the Boston Bruins made a few more cuts, as Alex Khokhlachev was one of the key cuts, as he really hasn't shone through training camp or the preseason, not long after publicly coming out saying that he needed a better chance at it.  There was some hope that Khokhlachev would make it through, adding to the rookie race this year, but that just wasn't to be the case.

Khokhlachev did have some solid projections in the low-20's, so it wasn't like he was going to be expected to do much, but if he made the roster, there was some likelihood that he was going to give a boost to that Bruins offense.

It's been done a few times already this preseason, a team recalls some players already sent down from camp, but a couple players I have been keeping an eye on, makes their return on Friday for a preseason game. Oliver Bjorkstrand and Sonny Milano, a pair of Columbus rookies, return for a game tonight against the Buffalo Sabres.  I am not really optimistic that they'll stay up with the team, rather they'll get one more look to fill out the roster tonight and then be sent back down tomorrow morning.  I guess we'll see, now won't we?

Click here for the updated injury/news page on the website

Morning Injury Updates (Oct 2)

Joe Colborne, who is returning from wrist surgery in the off-season, suffered another wrist injury, although not re-injuring his repaired wrist, suffering a new injury to his other wrist.  Colborne left the game against the Jets after taking an Andrew Ladd shot to the his right wrist and he was not to return to the game.  There was no early indication, as to the extent of the injury quite yet, but he was going to be a main fixture in the Flames offense, assuming that he remains healthy.

If you have him high on your list, I would sit tight until the updates come.

It sounds like Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd was lifted from the game against Calgary on Thursday night with an undisclosed injury, but comments after the game say that the coaching staff pulled him for precautionary reasons.  With a week before the regular season opens for the Jets, there's no need to play too much at the moment.  Unless the Jets go down to their official 23-man roster before the start of the season, I would imagine that Ladd won't see much more preseason action and he'll be on the list as out day-to-day.

There is also some concern on the blueline for the Detroit Red Wings, as both Dan DeKeyser and Kyle Quincey are hurting at the moment.  DeKeyser is waiting on some MRI results on his leg, while Quincey is dealing with a lower-body injury of his own, both are currently listed as day-to-day and DeKeyser is the one to watch for, as his update should be coming up soon and could very well go either way.

On the plus side for Detroit, it sounds like Mike Green will play again in this preseason, as his groin problem seems to be a thing of the past.  It's not all bad news here today.

In a post-game presser, the Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper updated the injury status of Nikita Kucherov, who left Thursday night's game against the Dallas Stars with a lower-body injury. The coach suggested that the injury is minor and he doesn't have much concern that he will miss opening night.  Kucherov may be held out of the rest of preseason action, but I wouldn't be too concerned, especially if I have him targeted as a top end draft pick this weekend.

Click here for the updated injury/news page on the website