Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Noon Preseason Notes (Sep 18)

One of those players who could be good for both points and penalty minutes (should the mini-game land on the wheel) is Antoine Roussel and it sounds like his debut for his new team, the Canucks, will be delayed by a concussion, which he had suffered in camp.  He is listed as out indefinitely at the moment, as there is no immediate timeline for a return and the coaching staff didn't have much of an update at this morning's skate, ahead of their preseason opener against Edmonton.  He may be one to avoid at the draft, possibly waiting for the Waiver Draft, if the penalty minute mini-game hits.

Last season, Roussel had 17 points and 126 PIM for the Stars.

The Montreal Canadiens did update the status of forward Nicolas Deslauriers, who suffered a facial fracture in a preseason fight on Monday night. He required surgery on the injury and the team now expects him to be out a few weeks, likely missing the start of the regular season. He was considered to be more of a fringe player in the projections, so this might not be the biggest news, but just in case you had him in as a sleeper, you may want to pass over him initially.

Morning Preseason Notes (Sep 18)

One of my projected forwards for the Montreal Canadiens, Nicolas Deslauriers, suffered a facial injury in Monday night's game against New Jersey, which gave him a trip to the hospital.  I have Deslauriers slotted into a projected roster spot among the forwards for Montreal, so this is something I will definitely keep an eye on and if there is anything beyond a day-to-day injury, it will certainly be updated.  I do only have him in at 20 points for the coming season, but I can't say how deep the draft is going to be.

Details are very limited here, but the Buffalo Sabres have announced that forward Conor Sheary has now been listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury and they have also updated the status of defenseman Matt Hunwick, listing him as out indefinitely with a neck injury.

For Sheary, he has been projected to be a decent option with rebuilt Sabres, I currently have him projected for 30 points, but not knowing the nature of the injury, nor the timetable for a return, has me hesitant to even consider him at the draft.  This will certainly be something to watch over the next 10 days.

Hunwick, who was acquired with Sheary from Pittsburgh in the off-season, hasn't been able to participate in camp, as he has been dealing with a neck injury.  An indefinite status is not a good sign either and I would probably avoid him now.

Last Night's Preseason Performers (Sep 18)

The Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers opened up an afternoon/evening doubleheader in Sunshine on Monday, a 1pm MT start for the afternoon game and it was the Predators who came out to play in this one, taking the contest, 5-0, in convincing fashion.

The scoring was well spread through the lineup with only one player picking up 2 points in this one, undrafted Czech defenseman Filip Pyrochta had a goal and an assist in this one, his goal of the shorthanded variety as well.  The blueline in Nashville is probably one of the hardest spots around the league to crack heading into training camps this year, but a couple points makes a good case early on.

The Buffalo Sabres went into Columbus and made the most of their visit against the Blue Jackets, topping the hosts, 4-1.  Youngsters Alexander Nylander and Tage Thompson were the notable players in this one, each picking up a pair of assists in the victory.  Nylander continues to look for a spot on the roster for the Sabres, while Thompson came over from the St. Louis Blues in the Ryan O'Reilly deal, also looking for more of a full-time roster spot.  Both certainly have excellent shots at it, so keep an eye on them.

Kevin Fiala, Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen dismantled the Florida Panthers in the second half of the doubleheader, as they combined for 12 points, the only points by forwards, in Nashville's 5-3 win.  Fiala had a goal and 4 assists, Forsberg had a hat-trick and an assist and Johansen was one and two in this one, a very productive game from this team's top line.  This bodes very well for a team that already has a stellar blueline and goaltender.

The Rangers and Devils engaged in their first preseason game each and it looked like it was a good one, as the Rangers came away with a 4-3 overtime win.

For the winning side, it was rookie forward Lias Andersson scoring a pair of goals, including a shorthanded beauty, while Pavel Buchnevich and Kevin Hayes walked out with 2 points each as well.

The Devils had representation of their own in the loss, with Nick Lappin scoring a pair of goals and rookie defenseman Ty Smith picking up a pair of assists in the loss.

Andersson has to be a strong candidate for a hockey pool spot this year for the Rangers, while Smith is a good bubble defender for the Devils, but he could end up being a 9-game tryout before heading back to junior as well.

The big guns were out for the Flyers and they were notching some points tonight against the Islanders.  Most notably it was Shayne Gostisbehere scoring a pair of power play goals, while Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek were dishing it out, picking up a pair assists each in the 3-1 win in front of the home crowd.  I don't think we have to ask many questions about this trio, they'll be popular guys, come draft day.

There wasn't a whole lot happening in Winnipeg with the Wild in town, as the two sides battled to a 2-1 decision for the home side on Monday night. The only notable player came from the home side, as the audition for backup goalie started with Laurent Brossoit, who played the entire game, made 39 saves and earned the victory all to himself.  That's not a bad way to endear yourself to the coaching staff and management, I'd say.  He was the favourite going in and I'd say he's done well to help cement his spot.

The Calgary Flames may have had most of their big names over in China, but the first of two squads left behind still put up some goals.  They did, ultimately, get thumped, 7-4, by their provincial rivals from Edmonton, but I would say it was a positive showing, considering.

The winning side first... the Oilers were led by rookie forward Kailer Yamamoto, who had a pair of goals and an assist in the victory, while Alex Chiasson, Tyler Benson, Ryan McLeod and Kevin Gravel all nailed down 2 points a piece.  Yamamoto, Benson and McLeod are all of the rookie variety, slugging it out for some bubble spots and they all made the right impression.

On the Flames side, rookie forward Dillon Dube picked up a hat-trick in the loss, even spotting the Flames a 3-2 lead with his hat-trick goal.  PTO recipient Buddy Robinson picked up a couple of assists, but I don't think I would be counting on many of the tryouts to earn spots in Calgary this year.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Oilers Re-Sign Nurse

With Josh Morrissey signing in Winnipeg yesterday, it seemed like only a matter of time before Darnell Nurse was going to get his deal, as they were very comparable in their numbers, age and position.  Indeed, that was the case, as Nurse and the Edmonton Oilers agreed on a 2-year, $6.4 million bridge deal on Monday.

The 23-year old defenseman was the last key restricted free agent for the Oilers this summer and with the deal done, he can finally join his teammates at training camp and get into some preseason action before too long.

Last season, Nurse finished with 26 points in 82 games for the club, good enough for 68th among all defensemen in scoring, well within the pool worthiness conversation.  He'll be welcome addition to the training camp roster and not having missed too much of camp, it shouldn't be much of a transition period for him to get back up to speed and catch up to the rest of the crew.

Cap-wise, the Oilers will now have to use some of the flexibility that Andrej Sekera's long-term injury affords, as they will creep around the salary cap ceiling, by my count.  The Oilers could avoid using the LTIR, if they were to only go with a 22-man active roster at the start of the season, so there are some workarounds that the team can do, but they are not in the worst of shape, as of today.  They can certainly manage with what they have in front of them.

Noon Training Camp Notes (Sep 17)

The Flyers have updated the status on defenseman Travis Sanheim, suggesting that he will miss at least a week with his upper-body injury, which he suffered against the Islanders on Sunday afternoon.  Of course, there were no real specifics given to the nature of the injury.

One other injury of note, which kind of slipped through the cracks, as Andrew MacDonald, another Flyers defenseman, suffered a lower-body injury in training, just a week before training camps were set to open and the original diagnosis was that he was to miss about six weeks.  Team management has come out and said today, that he was ahead of schedule and may only miss the opening week of the regular season.

Pittsburgh Penguins veteran forward Derick Brassard has been dealing with an illness over the last few days and has only been skating by himself, instead of with the group in camp over the weekend. There's no push to get him back into the group sessions or into a preseason contest right away, but he's considered day-to-day. It's only an illness after all.

Last season, the 31-year old had 46 points in 72 games and is projected to do pretty well in the 2019, according to my list... the Hockey News, not so much.  Take that for what it's worth.

Morning Training Camp Notes (Sep 17)

The Columbus Blue Jackets have yet to see sniping forward Artemi Panarin on the ice for workouts in training camp practices, as he is reportedly dealing with a sore neck.  There hasn't been much of an official update on his condition from the team, but not being able to practice is somewhat of a concern.  He is considered to be day-to-day right now, as we await further word from the club.

The Jackets open their preseason schedule tonight with a home game against the Sabres, where Panarin wasn't listed as part of the playing group, to no surprise.  He'll be one to keep an eye on, ahead of the draft, which is now less than two weeks away.

Last Night's Preseason Performers (Sep 17)

The North American preseason schedule kicked off on Sunday with a couple of afternoon games out east, but only one of them had any sort of notable scoring in it, as the Islanders shut out the Flyers, 3-0.  Rookie forward Kiefer Bellows made an impact on this game, scoring the opening goal and adding an assist on the 3-0 marker as well, making him the only notable skater in this game.  Of course, when teams split the goaltending duties, the keepers don't get mentioned at all, which is the case for Christopher Gibson and Robin Lehner, who each saw time today.

These two teams will go at it again on Monday night as well, likely dressing the other halves of their training camp rosters.

One injury note from this game, as Travis Sanheim was hurt, suffering an upper-body injury from a hit by Matt Martin, leaving the game, not to return.  There should be a more definitive update on his condition later on today.

The Vegas Golden Knights picked up right where they left off, dominating the Arizona Coyotes in each of their first preseason games of the 2019 campaign, 7-2, and as much as it was some of the familiar faces doing it for the home side in this game, their new faces were also able to help chip in for a big night as well.

Starting with those familiar faces, Jonathan Marchessault had a pair of goals, William Karlsson went one and one, while lesser known roster players last season, Tomas Nosek had a trio of assists and defenseman Brad Hunt had a pair as well.  Their prized acquisition, Max Pacioretty, made his debut with a goal and an assist, while potential rookies, forward Cody Glass and defensemen Nicolas Hague and Erik Brannstrom each had 2 points as well.

Young goalie Dylan Ferguson did actually play the whole game for the Golden Knights as well, making 25 saves for the win, vying for the backup job with a long shot chance.

Maybe the hangover from the first season won't be a thing in Vegas?

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Jets Bridge Morrissey in Training Camp

Great news for the Winnipeg Jets, as the last of their key restricted free agents is back in the fold after Josh Morrissey came to terms with the team on Sunday, signing a 2-year, $6.3 million deal.

The 23-year old defenseman came off his entry-level deal this July and was looking for a little bit more security, but ended up with more of a bridge deal, which will carry him through the 2020 season and he'll have arbitration rights, if he makes it to restricted free agency after this new deal.

Morrissey was ranked 66th among all defensemen in hockey pool scoring last season, finishing with 26 points in 81 games with the Jets, and his trend line is certainly on the upwards swing. 

As for current projections, the Hockey News has him in at 34 points, where I am thinking just along the same lines, shooting for the 35-point range for the coming season.  That should keep him in the top 60 defensemen in the league and there's certainly a chance that he can do better than those numbers and be a good bargain pick.

Morning Training Camp Notes (Sep 16)

Collecting some more injury news and notes, as we move through the early days of training camp, and we've found that St. Louis Blues number one goalie Jake Allen is currently dealing with some back spasms this week.  The word is that he is making some progress with the ailment and that he could be back on the ice very soon.  The initial reports were suggesting that he could be out 10-to-14 days, which was back on Wednesday, so the team is feeling confident in their keeper.

I am not worrying about his fantasy value just yet.  Once he makes his way to a preseason game, I'm sure he'll have all the kinks worked out.  It will be if he doesn't play in this preseason, where the real concern comes.

The Arizona Coyotes opened up training camp without three of their key young players this week: defenseman Jacob Chychrun and forwards Nick Merkley and Christian Dvorak.  Chychrun underwent surgery for his MCL back in April and still hasn't been cleared for camp and now the start of the regular season is now in doubt.  Prospect forward Merkley is dealing with a knee injury of his own and his participation level through camp is still very uncertain, while Dvorak has a lower-body injury, which is thought to be day-to-day, but there is no timetable for his return, according to the coaching staff.

Of the three, Chychrun probably is the most concerning for us poolies, as he was setting himself up to be a very good bargain pick in the late rounds, if he was to be healthy at the start of the year.  The kid has the offensive upside, but health concerns have been a nagging issue.  Adjustments may need to be made.

We're keeping an eye on defenseman Matt Hunwick of the Buffalo Sabres is dealing with an upper-body injury and is currently listed as out day-to-day. He is a fringe defenseman, who could work his way into the pool worthiness conversation, if the Sabres bring their game to another level this season. We'll be keeping an eye out for him in this preseason, seeing whether or not he dresses.

Currently, he's projected for a 20-point season on my list, which is just outside the conversation of a 25-team draft, but there could be more teams this year, so he might be one to consider.

The Colorado Avalanche blueline is full of question marks in this preseason, but it is only day-to-day issues today and they'll be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.  Let's focus on a pair of projected pool worthy defenders today.  Erik Johnson suffered a fractured patella at the end of last season and should be good to go for this preseason, we'll just wait for an appearance in a game for reassurance.  Nikita Zadorov had off-season shoulder surgery and is projected to be ready for the preseason, since the surgery was done at the start of the summer.  They might not get all the reps in the preseason, but they should get some before the start of the regular season.

The Avalanche are on the verge of really breaking out as a whole team this season and these two guys could be really big pieces to their success.

More news for full disclosure... Columbus' Zach Werenski had off-season shoulder surgery and that may have helped to explain some of his poor outings last season, especially in the playoffs.  I am expecting some big things from this kid and the Jackets will be a stronger team because of that, but for now, until he suits up in a preseason game, he's considered day-to-day.  I don't think there is anything to be too worried about right now, but if there are any setbacks, we at least know why.

A couple of notable day-to-days in the Washington Capitals camp, as defenseman John Carlson and forward Lars Eller are on the shelf with lower-body injuries.  Neither seem to be very serious, the team is just being very cautious with a couple of key cogs to their Stanley Cup winning machine last season.  One would have to believe that both are just going to patiently wait their turn for a spin in the preseason, but it may not come right away.  It's all worth noting, but nothing to panic about.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Last Night's Preseason Performers (Sep 15)

Believe it or not, it's finally hockey season!

The preseason officially kicked off with the first of two games in China, showcasing the talents of the NHL to the broad market over the Pacific Ocean and the NHL sent the Bruins and Flames as their show pieces.  It was a 12:30am MT start for the Calgary market, so for those who stayed up, it looks like you got a little bit of a game.

The Bruins didn't have their best squad out for this one, as injury, age and visa issues didn't allow them to take the roster that the league likely wanted them to have, but they were still good enough to get a 4-3 shootout victory over their travelling rivals on Saturday morning/night.

The Bruins leapt out to a 3-0 lead, just past the 15-minute mark of the opening frame, leaving the Flames to claw their way back, tying the game with under a minute to go.  Overtime solved nothing, but a 4-skater shootout, with Jake DeBrusk icing the game, got the job done for the Bruins and that was that.

As is tradition with the preseason posts, I pick out the multiple point players in the game as the notable players, which may or may not sway your projections, as we draw closer and closer to the hockey pool draft.  For the winning side, rookie forward Ryan Donato finished with a goal and an assist in the game and it was a sophomore forward, Peter Cehlarik drawing a couple of helpers as well.  Jaroslav Halak made 40 saves for the victory, standing tall against a more experienced Flames side.  For the Flames, Mark Giordano scored a pair in the 3rd period, including the late tying goal to lead the way for the Flames, while Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm each chipped in with a couple of helpers.

The second and last China game isn't set to go until Wednesday morning, a 5:30am MT start, which could be a little bit better for those who want to take the morning off to watch, before heading to work.