Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hossa Update

Good news for all you Marian Hossa owners, including John P. in my Draft... Hossa has been diagnosed with only a strained neck and not a concussion. Hossa was checked hard into the boards earlier in the week and it was feared that he would have a concussion, which could be more devastating to his season than any strained muscle. He is listed as out day-to-day, but there was no immediate indication of when he would return to the line-up.

Click here to see an updated injury page.

Heading Into Saturday's Action

Here we are, heading into Saturday's action in Week Twenty-Two and the race at the top of the Draft has tightened up, yet again. Our leader, John B., has dropped on his lead, which was 19 points coming into the week and heading into Saturday's schedule, it's down to 9 points. Marcus has made a huge leap, leading all teams with 24 points heading into action today, jumping over both Clayton and Jeremy to take second place. Clayton managed to keep his third place standing through the week, also watching Jeremy slip down into fourth, but it's all still very tight there. Between Marcus, Clayton and Jeremy (2nd, 3rd & 4th), there is only 2 points separating them. The gap has opened up between 4th and 5th, however, as Peter has dropped from only being 5 points back to 11 points back, but that certainly isn't unattainable at the moment.

It doesn't look like Week Twenty-Two will feature 500+ points, as heading into Saturday, the pool has only accumulated 256 points heading into Saturday, where last week, the pool was already at 353 points and had the same amount of games remaining in the weekend, 17. So, saying that, it is unlikely that a team will challenge the weekly record here, but that should bare no meaning on the money race. Last season, with 17 teams as well, Week Twenty-Two was the record week in points, with only 508 points, so we have a more offensively gifted set of players this year.

To compare last year and this year, through Twenty-Two weeks, the 2007/'08 season was already up to 9,159 points in total, while our current edition sits at 8,968 points. Maybe, I was a tad hasty in saying we have a better set of teams this season. Granted, this weekend would only need 192 points to eclipse that mark, which doesn't seem to be a problem with this crop of players. Hopefully, we see a lot of goals this weekend, right?

Last season's leader, Stuart, had a point total of 630 points after Week Twenty-Two, which is highly unlikely for John to reach, as he only sits at 589 heading into Saturday. A 41-point weekend is pretty well impossible. John will need to pick up his socks, if he's going to eclipse last season's high total at the end of the season, which Stuart finished with 820 points. John's team will have to average over 35 points a week to make it there. Unfortunately, his team average this season is only 26.8 points a week, which means they'll have play out of their skin to make that record.

Getting back to the week at hand, our leaders for the Player of the Week... Tim Thomas leads all pool players heading into the weekend with 7 points, followed closely by Marc-Andre Fleury with 6 and then a logjam of Mike Cammalleri, Jeff Carter, Jarome Iginla and Michael Ryder all with 5 points. Amazingly, none of these players are playing on teams that have two games this weekend, so they'll all have a single chance to improve their standing. Dallas, Florida, New Jersey and Washington all go twice this weekend, so don't be surprised if you see a player from those teams surprise.

Well, that's where I'll leave it at this point. We're still about a couple hours away from the first couple games to get started, so good luck all!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Play Underway Notes

Well, it's about time. Jack Skille, a Box 9 forward on the Sheet, has finally been called up to the big club, as he's toiled in the minors all year. Skille, who was thought to be one of the good young players to watch this season, will finally get a chance to prove himself with the other young kids tonight against the Penguins. That should be a good game tonight.

Going the other way, to the AHL, the Avalanche wanted to give T.J. Hensick a conditioning stint in the minors to see if he can raise his game down there for the stretch run. Hensick is also a Box 9 forward on the Sheet and will likely get called back up in a week or two. Just enough time to find himself and be the better player on his return.

The Habs and Flyers are already in the second period when I'm writing this up and Kyle Chipchura, the Box 25 forward, was scratched from the line-up with the arrival of Glen Metropolit in the line-up... from across the hall. Chipchura may find himself heading down to the minors before long, especially if the Habs can secure another forward in a deal or two this weekend.

Click here to see an updated injury page.

Injury Problems in Beantown

Word on the street is that the Boston Bruins are reeling a bit after their tough game against the Ducks last night, losing both Marc Savard and Milan Lucic to upper body injuries. This could be a pretty big blow to the Bruins, if they are out for any long stretch of time, thankfully, they put a lot of distance between themselves and second place in the East.

It would be interesting to find out that Savard got injured in his tussle/wrestling match with Scott Niedermayer, as it would be one of Peter's players taking out another. Peter is hoping that Savard's injury isn't severe, as he would then be losing his best forward on his team. Savard has 67 points in 62 games this season and that's a massive hole to fill, which cannot be filled voluntarily. I have a feeling that Peter will send Niedermayer a memo saying that he'll have to make up for any of Savard's lost production.

Lucic, on the other hand, was not picked in the Draft or either Waiver Draft, so he's just considered a Sheet player. Lucic was also laying waste in a fight and he may have injured his hand in the process. It's likely that there will be a better update either later today or tomorrow before the action starts.

Click here to see an updated injury page.

A Question for the Sherpa II

Nobody is physically going to ask me questions it seems, so I head back to my keywords to get to the site and think of that as someone asking me a question. I think that's fair... and not a bad idea, either! This next question comes from Toronto, "Jakob Markstrom or Chet Pickard?" I am going to assume that this is going to be in regards to a keeper pool and who you may want to pick up as your picking for the future.

Both goalies were taken this past summer in the Draft, Pickard was the first goalie taken in the Draft by Nashville, 18th overall. Markstrom was projected to be a first rounder, but ended up going as the first pick in the second round to Florida. Both players represented their country in the World Junior Championships over the Christmas holidays, Pickard for Canada and Markstrom for Sweden.

If I was to wager a guess as to who is going to make an impact earlier than the other, I would have to say it's Pickard, just because of the team he was picked by and the situation there. Pickard, chosen by the Preds, will be looked at on a team that is never quite sure about their goaltending situation from one year to another. They've been through Tomas Vokoun (who is in Florida, holding up Markstrom's progress to the pros), Chris Mason, Dan Ellis and now Pekka Rinne. The Predators do have a lot of talent in their prospective nets, with Jeremy Smith waiting in the wings as well, so all it takes is a good camp to really make that jump.

Markstrom will be joining a Panthers outfit that is quite content on riding Vokoun and Craig Anderson for a while. Markstrom will likely stay in Sweden until the Panthers are ready for him to take on a big role and he may have to overcome that black eye he gave to himself (in the eyes of the North American viewership) when he was diving around the ice against Canada in the World Junior finals.

Take Pickard, solely on the fact that the Preds like to give opportunities to young goalies when their current crop is struggling.

Waiver Claims Out of Philly

With the impending return of Daniel Briere, which I have now read isn't going to happen tonight, the Flyers had to waive a couple of players to clear up some cap space. Well, those players were claimed on Friday and I thought I would wrap it up in one post. It's just easier that way, especially since they both don't figure into the pool as such.

The Canadiens decided to claim Glen Metropolit off the wire, likely to immediately take over the job that Steve Begin left behind (in the press box) as a depth forward on the roster. With the Flyers, Metropolit has 14 points in 55 games and still carries another year on his current contract, worth $1 million against the cap in 2010. The move does spark more curiosity of what the management team in Montreal is planning for the deadline, as they made cap room with Begin's trade to Dallas, but take up more of it with this acquisition. Are there more trades on the horizon?

In Vancouver, it was decided that they will take on Ossi Vaananen from the Flyers by claiming him on Friday. Vaananen is a future UFA in July and he has an annual cap hit of $1 million this season, which translates well in the big picture. Vaananen has 10 points in 46 games with the Flyers and will now push a bit more competition on the Canucks' back end.

Click here to see an updated injury page.

Friday Morning Pick-Up

Flu season continues in Boston, as it claimed Aaron Ward for Boston's game against Anaheim on Thursday night. Ward, a Box 29 defenseman, will likely be a game-time decision for the Bruins' next game, which is a Saturday matinee, at home to Washington.

Well, I don't know about you, but I'm a tad shocked. Last night, Sergei Samsonov, a Box 21 forward, missed his first game of the season... his first game. The oft-injured forward in years past, has had himself a pretty good year so far, but he is now sidelined with an upper body injury. The injury is still rather hush-hush, so we don't know what the extent of it is, as of yet.

Fueling the trade rumour fire, Marek Svatos was a healthy scratch for the Avalanche on Thursday night. Svatos, a Draft pick of Benson's, could be considered to be having an underachieving season, but with no usual number one or number two centre in the line-up, it should be pretty difficult to have the regular season a winger like Svatos is known to have. If he isn't traded soon, he should be back in the line-up right away.

Well, with a little digging, I still came up empty as to why Joel Lundqvist was out of the Stars' line-up on Thursday night, so we'll have to call it a healthy scratch. Lundqvist has been a healthy scratch in games previous, so it isn't terribly out of the question. Does this enrage the trade rumour fire as well? The Box 8 forward is scheduled to be a UFA this summer... I thought I'd throw a log on.

Reports out of Panthers camp is that Cory Stillman took a puck off his ankle in yesterday's morning skate and the ankle was hurt badly enough to keep him out of the line-up against the Rangers on Thursday night. Stillman, a Draft pick of Chris', has seen some time on the shelf already this season and will likely be re-evaluated today to see how long he'll be out for with this new injury.

The Predators decided to scratch Ville Koistinen yet again on Thursday night, as the disgruntled defender waits for a trade out of Nashville. The Predators did reportedly try to play him as a forward in practice, but that likely didn't go over too well with Koistinen. Expect him to be dealt in the next few days.

After claiming Mark Bell off of waivers this week, the Rangers have yet to insert him into the line-up. Bell, a Box 24 forward, was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive Rangers game since being claimed and it looks as though the Rangers are contemplating putting him on waivers again, in order to send him to the minors. If that is the case, the Leafs will have first crack at Bell on the wire.

The Penguins continued their roster shuffle, as they sent Janne Pesonen back down to the minors, while placing Chris Minard on waivers to head back down and called up Tim Wallace to take their place. Pesonen is the only pool player among the three and he didn't figure into the Penguins' last game that he was called up for. There is no word yet as to whether or not Sidney Crosby will be ready to go tonight in Chicago.

By now, I think you would have seen the devastating elbow that Islanders defenseman, Brendan Witt, gave to Niklas Hagman last night. It's on YouTube, go look it up. Anyways, Hagman crumbled to the ice, early in the third period and didn't return with what looks to be a concussion, but we'll just call it an upper body injury for now. Hagman's bell was certainly rung and Witt should be disciplined after the fact.

The Capitals were happy to see the return of Viktor Kozlov to the line-up on Thursday night, except for maybe Michael Nylander, who found himself watching the game from the press box to make room for Kozlov. Nylander has also been mentioned in a number of trade rumours out of Washington, as the team feels that they are already stocked up well with centres. He is a certain possibility of moving out before March 4th.

Click here to see an updated injury page.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Notes Into Thursday Night

The Sabres' goaltending situation is getting cloudier and cloudier, as now Patrick Lalime may be designated to the bench, as he is suffering from a bout of the flu. If this is the case, he'll be backing up Jhonas Enroth, a highly-touted European prospect, that has been in the system this season. It would be his NHL debut tonight, if he does go.

On Thursday, the Oilers activated forward Fernando Pisani, a Box 8 forward on the Sheet, from the Injured Reserve. Pisani was out since November with an ankle injury and will figure back into the Oilers' line-up tonight, as they take on the Blue Jackets at home. This season, Pisani has 6 points in 16 games for the Oilers before the injury.

The Flyers are expecting to have Daniel Briere back in the line-up on Friday night, as they take on the Canadiens at home. Briere has only played in 9 games this season and was a mid-season drop for Don in the Draft, but he still remains pool-eligible on the Sheet in Box 17. To make cap room for Briere, the Flyers placed non-pool players, Glen Metropolit and Ossi Vaananen on waivers, in order send them to the minors.

On Wednesday night, Jeff Finger blocked a slap shot with his arm and had to leave the game against the Rangers, not to return. Although the injury isn't considered serious, he looks to be out of the line-up for the next game or so, which means that Anton Stralman should figure back into the line-up. The Leafs don't play again until Saturday and there is a small chance that Tomas Kaberle and/or Mike Van Ryn could figure back onto the blueline for the game.

Click here to see an updated injury page.

Small Deal

In a non-pool inclusion trade, the Canadiens acquired defenseman, Doug Janik, from the Stars for forward, Steve Begin. This looks to be a deal to open up a little more cap space for the Canadiens, as they save half of a million in annual cap space with this deal. Both players have been healthy scratches, more often than not, in recent games.

2008-2009 Statistics20092010
To DallasPositionAgeGP/MINPointsCap HitCap Hit
Steve BeginF304210$1.057 millionUFA

2008-2009 Statistics20092010
To MontrealPositionAgeGP/MINPointsCap HitCap Hit
Doug JanikD28131$500,000UFA

Kings Could Sell

This season, I still believe that one of (if not the) savviest deals made was when the Kings claimed Kyle Quincey from the Red Wings off the waiver wire, as they had significantly improved their already potential-filled blueline. As the league approaches the trade deadline and the Kings are only 4 points out of the playoffs, the embarrassment of young riches will have to be looked upon for a touch more improvement for down the stretch.

The team does hold an unlikely chance of making the playoffs, with the number of teams in the thick of things, also having four teams share the last two spots in the race, the Kings could very well be sellers at this time, but for the most part, all they are unloading are aged figures that may be able to give some chance to another Cup contending team. In the UFA crop from LA this year, Kyle Calder has to be guy that teams are calling about, offering up some mid-round Draft choices, while Sean O'Donnell and Denis Gauthier would likely be passed over as anchors, rather than motors to any team's success. Thankfully for the Kings, both players don't have to be back next season, regardless.

You have to believe that the Restricted Free Agents like Jack Johnson and possibly Erik Ersberg, will have to be addressed right away, Johnson especially. Ersberg may find himself to be a good bit of trade bait, since the Kings do have Jonathan Bernier seasoning in the AHL, possibly for a good shot at the big job in 2010.

As of right now, heading into the 2009/'10 season, the Kings have 15 valuable players (see below) signed on for next year (if not beyond) and they have them all at a reasonable price.

Anze KopitarKyle QuinceyJonathan Quick
Dustin BrownDrew Doughty
Alex FrolovPeter Harrold
Jarett StollMatt Greene
Patick O'SullivanTom Preissing
Michal Handzus

Wayne Simmonds

Oscar Moller

Raitis Ivanans

These 15 players have a salary cap hit value of $36.5 million, thanks in part to Anze Kopitar's new deal, which lifted them past any doubt of not making the salary cap floor next year. There are even a few names in the junior or minor league ranks that could possibly make the jump here right away and would greatly improve the team further (like Thomas Hickey and Colton Teubert).

If the Kings can trim their current UFAs from their roster, they do become a younger team, which will need some seasoning before they accomplish too much, but there should be a few veteran characters on the free agent wire that can help the team mature a little faster and come at a reasonable price as well.