Friday, December 31, 2010

Lapierre Dealt to the Ducks

2010/2011 NHL Statistics
To AnaheimPositionAgeGPGAPYearsCap Hit
Max LapierreForward25385381$900,000
To MontrealPositionAgeGPGAPYearsCap Hit
Brett FesterlingDefense2410001$525,000
2012 5th Round Draft Pick

The Montreal Canadiens have quickly made a move among some whispers that a player was unhappy in the roster.  The Habs have dealt Max Lapierre to the Anaheim Ducks for defenseman Brett Festerling and a mid-to-late round draft pick on Friday, just before taking to the ice against the Florida Panthers.  By the sounds of things, this trades looks to be something the Canadiens needed to do with an unhappy player and they took what they could get with a willing trade partner.

Lapierre is a bottom six player at the NHL level and the Ducks do like bottom six guys, but with the loss of Ryan Getzlaf to a possible long-term injury, maybe bottom six isn't what they should be looking for.

For the Habs, they have found some better bottom six support in Max Pacioretty of late, so that easily makes Lapierre expendable today.  I don't think this deal will have a big ripple effect, unless the rest of the Canadiens team feel a boost from the removal of Lapierre's presence.

Salary Cap
For the Ducks, they are the one's taking more of a salary cap hit on, as Festerling will likely be reporting to Hamilton of the AHL, now that he is property of the Habs.  Lapierre adds another $900,000 (annually) to their number, which works out to be about $489,000 in the end.  The Ducks, in an annual sense, have enough room to make this move, so I don't think there are any questions about cap space here.

None.  Lapierre was not a consistent scorer in 2010 to be a part of the selection sheet pool this year, nor was he good enough to have his name called in the draft this year.  Festerling is a career minor-leaguer, who doesn't have a great deal of fantasy value.  I have my doubts that we'll see either name called in the pools any time soon.

The Sheet Pool and the World Juniors

For the past couple of seasons, I've been trying to get the selection sheet pool ahead of the curve a little, trying to designate some of the top drafted young players onto the sheet and hope we get some real gems to breakout for lots of points. Since I've expanded the selection sheet to 32 boxes a couple of seasons ago, I had the chance to add young player boxes in Box 9 and Box 25 for forwards and Box 14 and Box 30 for defensemen, which has worked to varying success.

2011 World Junior Championships LogoWhat I have noticed, this year especially, that a good number of those kids who were picked for those young player boxes have gone on to represent their country at the World Juniors, the under-20 tournament, which is one of my favourites, around this time of year.  Well, the sheet pool has been well represented this year, mostly by Canada, of course.

Brett Connolly, Louis Leblanc, Ryan Ellis, Calvin de Haan, Brayden Schenn and Ryan Johansen are all figuring prominently for the Canadian side at this year's tournament and most of them were very close to cracking their NHL squad, with Schenn actually playing in eight games for the Kings this season.

Only one American was chosen on the sheet this year, as Kyle Palmieri of the Ducks was selected to represent the USA in their title defense.

Let's also not forget the Swiss speedster, Nino Niederreiter, who managed to get in his nine games with the Islanders this year.  He was awfully close to cracking the Islanders full-time roster, but his development was better served in the WHL and playing in this tournament.

The eight players that were chosen from this year's sheet is way up on the sheet from the 2010 season, where only Cody Hodgson, Jordan Eberle and Alex Pietrangelo were selected from the junior program.  It is definitely better to have less players play at the World Juniors if they are on the selection sheet, but at least you should have a keen idea of who should be good enough for the NHL eventually.  Plus, you will have already seen their names once or twice before they really break through.

It's just a little food for thought this year.

Bobrovsky the Odd-Man Out

Of course, with the return of Michael Leighton to the Flyers crease last night meant that one of the goalies that was manning the net to start the season would have to be a healthy scratch.  I don't think it should really come as a surprise that the Flyers went with the tested back-up, instead of the kid, as Sergei Bobrovsky was the healthy scratch for the evening, which may lead to a demotion before too long as well.  Bobrovsky would be the easiest to demote, as I don't believe he yet qualifies to have to pass through waivers in order to be demoted to the AHL.

A healthy scratch or a demotion is hardly the kind of thank you a kid like Bobrovsky deserves with such a great start to the season for the Flyers, but at the end of the day it is just business and the Flyers would like to keep all three goalies with the club for as long as possible, without the risk of losing one of them through waivers.  Bobrovsky has made 24 starts for the Flyers this season, amassing a record of 15-5-3 with 1 assist to his name as well, which works out to be 31 points on the season.  His starts have been limited as of late, having only two starts in the last two weeks.

ImplicationsIt was a definite gamble for Clayton C. to take Bobrovsky 1st overall in the first waiver draft of the season, knowing full well that Leighton wasn't too far away from coming back into the line-up, but the best goalie was the best goalie and the gamble had to be made.  Since the waiver draft, Bobrovsky has only figured into three games for the Flyers, winning only one of them for a grand total of 2 points in the last four weeks.  A failure of mass proportions.  A demotion will only make that situation worse.

Link to the Injury/News Page

Thrashers Go Without Kane

It was a little bit of a surprise to see Evander Kane on the scratches list and thanks to a fellow Twitter user, I was alerted to the fact that Kane was indeed injured with something undisclosed.  Some digging around suggests that his middle-body injury could be an arm injury, but it still doesn't sound like the injury is too serious and he shouldn't miss much more time at all.

It's been a bit of a breakout year for Kane and the Thrashers, as they currently occupy a playoff spot going into the New Year's Eve festivities tonight.  Kane has been a pretty big reason for a chunk of the Thrashers' success in the 2011 season, scoring 12 goals and 12 assists in 37 games, ranking him 100th in pool scoring after Thursday night's action.  He has since cooled off after a rocking start, but the team still seems to find some wins, which is the most important part these days.

ImplicationsOf course, wins are not the most important part in the hockey pool, which Stacey C. could definitely attest to at this point in time.  Stacey has slowly, but surely been trying to work his way deeper and deeper into the top 10, sitting in 9th place before the weekend of Week Thirteen, when he was 15th at the time of deciding the order of the waiver draft at the end of Week Eight.  That is some pretty good progress right there.  A hurried return for Kane would be optimal, so he could continue his chase.

Kane has been a real bargain for Stacey this season, picking him up in the 11th round, 217th overall.

Link to the Injury/News Page

Sheet Player News (Dec 31)

On Friday, the Devils officially sent Box 30 defenseman Mark Fraser down to the AHL on a conditioning assignment, as he is in the home stretch of recovering from a broken hand at the moment. Fraser has taken a little while longer than originally expected with his injury, but it looks like he is on the verge of returning. His conditioning assignment will last up to two weeks, so we should see him in mid-January.

The Philadelphia Flyers welcomed back the goaltender that helped backstop the team to the Stanley Cup Finals in the Spring, as Michael Leighton finally caught a break in the good play from the goaltenders ahead of him to get a start.  It was a bumpy return for the Box 31 keeper, as he still managed to win the game, but it was a barn burner at 7-4.

It turns out that the reason why Box 6 forward Martin Hanzal missed Wednesday night's game because of an upper-body injury and wasn't actually a scratch for the Coyotes. Hanzal is also listed as questionable for the New Year's Eve tilt against the Blues.  Hanzal has been just okay for the Coyotes this season, scoring 12 points in 29 games this season.

The Leafs allowed one of their top scorers, Box 21 forward Mikhail Grabovski, to take the night off to be with his family and a new addition to said family.  Of course, this is generally just a single night off for the new father and he should be back in the line-up on Saturday night, as the Leafs open the 2011 calendar year with a game against the Senators.

Link to the Injury/News Page

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Oilers Lose Top Defenseman

The Edmonton Oilers will begin a long stretch of games on Thursday night without their top defenseman and leading scorer Ryan Whitney, as he suffered a major ankle injury this week, which is expected to keep him out for at least a month. The reports are suggesting that it could be an even longer stretch of time, if Whitney's ankle requires surgery, which they won't know for a few days yet.

Whitney leaves the Oilers line-up in 7th place among defensemen in scoring this season with 2 goals and 25 assists in 35 games, which has him also ranked 85th in the league in scoring.  These were both big improvements to his career numbers, to which he was pace to smash his career-best numbers, which he set in 2010 with 39 points in 81 games.

The Oilers will now have to rely on Tom Gilbert and Kurtis Foster a little bit more, but neither of those defensemen have been close to posting Whitney-type numbers this year.

ImplicationsNot only are the Oilers losing their top defenseman for the long-term, so is Stacey C., who has Whitney in the draft this year.  Stacey's defense is in the bottom half of the pool this season and will likely only get lower with the loss of his top guy.  However, Stacey still sits in 8th spot in the standings, 25 points out of the money and with players dropping all around, he might not be affected too badly.

Link to the Injury/News Page

Getzlaf Placed on IR

The news for the Anaheim Ducks took a turn for the worse, as their captain Ryan Getzlaf, who left Tuesday night's game after taking a deflected shot to the face, has been diagnosed with multiple nasal fractures.  Getzlaf underwent a CT scan on Thursday to find any structural damage to his forehead/nose and indeed there was some evidence of fractures.  He has now been placed on the Injured Reserve and will see a specialist in the next couple of days to determine his expected shelf time.

It has been an up-and-down season for Getzlaf and the Ducks, as they have struggled to find much traction in the Western Conference standings, but they only sit one point out of 8th spot, which can't be bad since we're just coming to the midway point now.  In the first 40 games for the Ducks, Getzlaf has 13 goals and 24 assists (37 points), which is pretty good by most standards.  His hole in the offense may seriously have an impact on the team, but only time will tell.

ImplicationsIn the pool, this could be the absolute sinking point for Clayton C.'s team, as he has now lost his 2nd round pick in Getzlaf and his 1st round pick can't win a game to save his life.  Clayton is only 5 points up on 20th place going into Thursday night's action, but Derek has been losing players as well, so it'll be a slow race to the bottom for both teams, by the looks of things.

Link to the Injury/News Page

Shoulder Injury for Zidlicky

A shoulder injury suffered by Marek Zidlicky against the Sharks on Wednesday night will keep the Wild defenseman out for at least the next couple of weeks.  The Wild will call up a defenseman to fill the void in the next 24 hours, but you can admit that whoever replaces Zidlicky won't have the same kind of offensive prowess as the Slovak veteran.

In the 2011 season to date, Zidlicky has 4 goals and 15 assists in 30 games for the Wild, ranking him 185th in pool scoring, 24th among all defensemen in the league.  He has been one of the more reliable defensemen at both ends of the ice in the league over the past few seasons and his presence will be missed.

ImplicationsIn the draft, this comes as yet another blow to Derek W.'s team, that just can't seem to catch a break, being in last place and all.  If there was a major bright spot to Derek's team this season, it would be that his defense group is the 2nd best in the pool, but since it is only four players on the active list, it doesn't hold up very well against the forward position.  Also, Derek has also just lost Joni Pitkanen to a short-term injury, so his hold on 2nd place in this category is going to be short-lived.

Link to the Injury/News Page

Pavelski Sits Out from Sharks Road Trip

A lower-body injury forced Sharks' forward Joe Pavelski to stay at home in San Jose, while his team took off on a brief road trip to the Midwest.  It's unclear as to where and when Pavelski suffered the injury this week, but he was unable to practice earlier on this week and that led to the decision of just staying home and rehabbing the injury.  Pavelski missed Wednesday night's game in Minnesota and will miss tonight's game in Chicago, but the coaching staff remains hopeful that he can re-join the team in Los Angeles for Saturday's New Year's Day tilt against the Kings.  Of course, no confirmation will be given until closer to game day.

In the game against the Wild on Wednesday night, it was one of those offensive games where Pavelski might have made a difference in a 5-3 loss, since he has 27 points (9 goals and 18 assists) in 36 games this season.  Pavelski currently ranks 5th on the team in pool scoring and is one of seven Sharks in the top 100 of pool scoring this season, currently ranked 80th.  It will be very interesting to see how the Shark deal without Pavelski in their line-up against the Blackhawks tonight.

ImplicationsIn the draft, Pavelski is another body that has been lost to Stuart this week, who has also lost the services of Martin Erat and Jonathan Toews recently, but he still has an 11-point buffer in his 6th place position over 7th place, so he should be able to hold on for a little while longer.  Losing three key forwards is not going to help his cause though, especially through the dog days of the season.

Link to the Injury/News Page

Finnish Injuries in Carolina

The Carolina Hurricanes made a recall of a pair of players on Wednesday to help battle some injury problems that are now running through their locker room this week.  Forward Jon Matsumoto and defenseman Bryan Rodney were called up to take the places of Jussi Jokinen and Joni Pitkanen for the game against the Senators and it was like the team didn't miss a beat without their two regulars, beating Ottawa 4-0 in their building.  Jokinen and Pitkanen both suffered injuries in Tuesday's game against the Maple Leafs, Jokinen an upper-body injury and Pitkanen suffered a lower-body injury.  Both are currently considered to be out day-to-day.

Jokinen has been playing fairly well for the Hurricanes, despite their poor-ish record, still managing to pick up points this season.  In 35 games this season, Jokinen has 6 goals and 20 assists, which is 4th on the team in pool scoring, 87th in the league.  His pace is slightly slower than the 2010 season, but not by too much, so his presence in the line-up is considered to be rather important.

Pitkanen is currently 6th on the team in pool scoring this season with 2 goals and 16 assists in 33 games, which is good enough for 30th in pool scoring among all defensemen in the league.  His presence on the team is also thought to be rather important, even if they shutout the Senators last night without him.  Pitkanen's scoring pace is also down a shade from the 2010 season, but as a whole, I think Carolina isn't quite as offensive as they were a season ago.

ImplicationsAt the moment, these injuries shouldn't mean too much to the pool, since neither are suspected to be out of the line-up for very long.  Jokinen is held by Larry D. in the draft, who is in the middle of a tough battle in the middle of the standings, 9th place, 26 points out of 4th, while Pitkanen belongs to Derek, who is trying to fight his way out of the basement in the standings, sitting in 20th spot, 5 points out of 19th.  Obviously, one player means more to the money race than the other.

Link to the Injury/News Page

Sheet Player News (Dec 30)

One comes back in, another one comes out... we've seen this story a few times already this year. The Dallas Stars welcomed Niklas Grossman back to their line-up after missing a couple of games with the flu and Box 12 defenseman Matt Niskanen was the player who drew the shortest straw and had to come out. Niskanen hasn't been having a good season offensively, so he made it rather easy to choose who goes up to the press box.

The healthy scratches of regular forwards seems to be contagious in Phoenix this year, as Box 6 forward Martin Hanzal was the latest visitor of the press box on Wednesday night. Hanzal has been struggling to stay consistent with his scoring as well and it was likely only going to be a matter of time before his name was called.

Just like I pondered yesterday, I had a feeling Nazem Kadri was going to be sent down to the minors, since the healthy scratches kept piling up. Unfortunately for the Box 25 forward, he still has to serve a 2-game suspension in the AHL for an incident in November. It's hard to say whether or not Kadri will get called up after he serves his suspension or the most likely scenario, in my opinion, is that he plays 5-to-10 games to get his confidence back and then make his way back up to the big club.

Link to the Injury/News Page