Monday, October 31, 2011

Red Wings Extend Kronwall

On Monday morning, the Detroit Red Wings announced the signing of a new contract extension for defenseman Niklas Kronwall, reportedly for 7 years, worth $33.25 million, a $4.75 million cap hit per season.

Kronwall is to assume the duties of the franchise defenseman when Nicklas Lidstrom retires in the near future and is being groomed by the captain to do so.  Kronwall is known for his physical defensive play and has been able to kick in a very respectable amount of offense in his career, something the Red Wings have prided themselves in with Lidstrom in the line-up.

So far in the 2012 season, Kronwall is off to a bit of a slow start defensively, only scoring 1 goal and adding 1 assist in his first nine games of the year, but he has topped out at 51 points in the 2009 season, so you know that he is good for some good numbers.  In the 2011 season, he had 37 points in 77 games, which ranked him 223rd in pool scoring, 31st among all defensemen, which made him into a valuable commodity at the hockey pool draft this year.

At the draft, Kronwall was taken in the great blueline panic, 86th overall in the 4th round by Ryan M..  So far, he hasn't panned out well as a 4th round pick, but he may even it out down the stretch, as he was one of five top defensemen taken in the round.

Week Four Newsletter

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Happy Halloween!  Hopefully you've seen some more treats than tricks from your pool team in the last week, or even the month, for that matter.  October is a very scary month for a number of players and teams, so we should almost be expecting some turns in fortune, which could/should make these pools a little more interesting for the stretch runs.

The schedule is panning out quite well now, Week Three saw 46 games in the NHL, Week Four saw 47 and we'll be seeing another 47-game week in Week Five, so the games will be plentiful and hopefully the points will be too.

In the draft, we've seen back-to-back weeks of 500+ points collected, averaging over 11 points per NHL game played in the week, so hopefully your team is collecting in on the bounty that is before us.

In Week Five, I should finally be announcing what the prizes are for the pools, I haven't quite gotten around to it, but I should be getting it done soon.  Please be sure to get all of your monies in to me when you can, I would sure like to pay everyone out when the season ends.  I know, there is lots of time, but let's be sure.

Let's have ourselves a fun week in Week Five, but first, let's see who did all the damage in Week Four!

PhotobucketIt's great to see a fresh face on the Player of the Week, instead of the same old superstars that do magnificent things, week in and week out.  In Week Four, it was a marvelous week from the Flyers' Scott Hartnell, who managed to hit the scoresheet a number of times in a .500 week for the club.  Hartnell picked up 9 points to lead all players, one of the best weeks from a skater this season.

The Flyers played in four games in Week Four and Hartnell managed to post at least a point in each of the games, which has started a new 4-game point streak, not carrying over any games from Week Three.

On Monday against the Leafs, Hartnell posted a couple of goals, including the winner, and an assist for a 3-point effort and a good start to the week.  Wednesday in Montreal, the Flyers were not very good, dropping a 5-1 decision to the Habs, but Hartnell did pick up an assist on the only goal for the club.  Thursday at home to the Jets, it was the barn burning 9-8 loss, where Hartnell only picked up a goal and an assist in the loss.  Would have thought he would have picked up more in a big game and week, eh?  Finally, on Saturday night in a 5-1 win over the Hurricanes, Hartnell had a goal and 2 assists, capping off a very good week.

With the big week, that brings Hartnell's season totals up to 11 points in 11 games and has jumped into the top 30 in pool scoring.  At a point-per-game pace early on, Hartnell is looking like a very good bargain pick-up this year and may continue to be a bargain, as he is playing on a line with Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr.

PhotobucketLast season, it was the third week of the season when the draft pool first broke the 40-point barrier, so we're a week behind in that regard, but it was Week Eleven last season when we had our second team to do it, where as we had two teams break the 40-point mark in Week Four, making the race awfully close through Sunday's action.  That's fairly impressive.  In the end, it was Clayton C.'s team that took the weekly mark and made some impressive gains up the standings, thanks to a 43-point week in Week Four, jumping up in the standings, from 7th to 2nd in the process.

Clayton's team enjoyed a lot of goal scoring success in Week Four, leading the pool with 13 markers in the pool and also took the pool lead in scoring from the forwards, now having registered 74 points through four weeks of the season.  Clayton's team is doing well, despite being in the middle of the pack in games played by skaters and being on the low end of minutes played from his goaltending, but some high scoring rates, including a pool-best 0.84 points-per-game from his skaters is making up for that.

Having a big week for Clayton in Week Four were Claude Giroux (7 points), Brad Boyes (5), Patrick Marleau (5), Joe Pavelski (5), Thomas Vanek (5), Taylor Hall (4), Erik Karlsson (4) and Antti Niemi (4).  It was an extraordinary week for a team that actually has two significant injuries and one player who hasn't been able to crack the everyday line-up for his team, so the guys that are playing were able to make up for that, scoring in bunches.

One more comparison to last season, the fourth week of the year was also the same time that teams eclipsed the 100-point mark and with two more teams in the pool and 28 more players taken, we actually had one more team than last season at this time click over into triple-digits, which is something else.  Lots of points are being collected by the best teams, creating a great race.

PhotobucketIn the basement of the draft this week, Leon G. was having a hard time finding some traction with his team and he was only able to register 12 points, dropping his team down from 8th spot to 16th, with a total of 71 points at the end of the fourth week.

Leon saw a week-low in games played by his skaters at only 26 appearances and only 139 minutes played by his goaltenders, which was below-average for the week.  Those are certainly two leading factors to his poor week, where injuries to Mikael Backlund, Brayden Schenn and Mike Green have all added up and now with Tim Erixon in the minors, things do not appear to be getting much better.

Leon's goaltending has been one of his saving graces, but there is only two potential starts for each goaltender and I would imagine that Tomas Vokoun will probably split those starts with Michal Neuvirth this week, so that will also add up a little bit, which doesn't appear to be very good for Leon at all.  Leon has a pool-low 27 projected players games this week, so there is a very good chance that we may see him in this spot again in a week's time.

PhotobucketIn the Sheet pool in Week Four, we kept the same leader from Week Three to Week Four, as Wes M. continued his reign on the pool, now having 212 points and an 8-point lead to this point in the season. The rest of the pool did quite a bit of shifting, including the immediate spots behind Wes, as Zac H. and Chris G. each moved up a couple of positions to be 2nd and 3rd, while Don D. moved up five spots in the standings to hit 4th spot.

Top spot in scoring in Week Four belongs to Scott G.'s second team, as they picked up a pool-high, 66 points.  Scott's team moved up a grand total of nine positions after making some early trades, moving from 29th spot to 20th spot in the week and the team made some good ground (13 points) on top spot in the pool, so a few more weeks like that and we could have a new leader.  Scott's team was led by Scott Hartnell (9 points), Jaromir Jagr (7), Steven Stamkos (4) and five players that had recorded 3 points a piece.

The biggest gains in the pool were made by Wendy C., who moved up 10 positions in the pool, going from 19th to 9th with a 61-point effort in the week, followed by a gain of nine, which we know, a couple fives and a four.  A couple of teams shared the biggest loss in positions, dropping six spots each, while six teams remained static in the week, not moving at all.


Only one new injury to report from Sunday night's games, as of right now, as Oilers defenseman Cam Barker was not able to go for the team on Sunday night against the Blues, thanks to a shoulder injury. There wasn't a large degree of details given as to what Barker is actually dealing with, so he's currently listed as day-to-day, until some more details are released. Barker has 1 goal in the first 10 games of the season, so he hasn't been a great option in the pool this point of the season.

The Oilers are pleased to see winger Ales Hemsky back on the ice in practice these days, as he has been recovering from a shoulder injury and he is now thought to be a week away from returning to the line-up now, as he just works on the strength of the shoulder. Hemsky was pleased with his progress of late and so has the team, so there could be a little added offense coming back to an already dynamite team.

An injury update from the Panthers, as they don't expect to have Mikael Samuelsson in their line-up for at least another week, maybe two, as he struggles to return from some post-surgery soreness in his lower-body. Samuelsson has been out since before the deal that sent him from Vancouver to Florida, but the Panthers are confident that he isn't too far away and that he will be a big help when he arrives.

The Montreal Canadiens are now expecting to have defenseman Andrei Markov back at practice in 1-to-2 weeks, as he has been slowed by complications of a surgically repaired knee. There was some hope that Markov would be back in time to start the season, but that hasn't gone to plan, now already a month into the season, he's still three weeks away from joining the team in game action... in theory.

The Sidney Crosby watch has not gained any steam, as the current report on Sunday morning has the coaching staff saying that they don't expect their captain to dress during this West Coast swing, which starts on Thursday in San Jose.  The Penguins will also play in Los Angeles on Saturday, but even with five days between games for Pittsburgh, Crosby is not expected to be ready.  This time leading up to the West Coast swing should give him plenty of practice, hopefully with contact, but if we're going by the word of his agent and team, it still doesn't sound very good.

Link to the Injury/News Page


After a tripleheader in Week Three, I'm usually quite disappointed when Hockey Night in Canada only broadcasts a doubleheader, but what can you do? Enjoy whatever they give us, that's what we can do.

I think with four games scheduled for the 5pm MT time slot, I think it is fair to assume that the national game will be the Maple Leafs hosting the Bruins.  Sure, the Leafs have been far more exciting to watch early on this season, but I'm really hoping that they do make an exception and make the national game one of the other three Canadian teams going at the same time for a change.  Nevertheless, we'll concentrate on this Northeast Division battle, as the defending Cup champs, who are mired in the bottom of the Eastern Conference travel to Toronto to take on the division leaders, which is quite the table turn in this early part of the year.  This week's feature player is the leading defenseman in points between the two teams and going into Week Four, we have Dion Phaneuf, who has 2 goals and 9 assists in 11 games this season for the Leafs, ranking third in the defenseman scoring race.

In the late game, it is the new darling team in the NHL, the Edmonton Oilers, invading the desert and taking on the NHL-owned Phoenix Coyotes.  The Oilers are off to one hell of a start, taking the early lead in the Northwest Division with some solid scoring from their prized youth and some excellent goaltending from their tandem.  The Coyotes have struggled to find their identity in the early part of the season, but early struggles are usually met with some clever adjustments and the dogs should be back in the mix before too long.  Leading the way from the blueline in this game is Keith Yandle, who has picked up 1 goal and 6 assists in the first 10 games for the Coyotes, ranking in the top 20 among blueliners this season.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Penguins Now Without Staal

It's almost uncanny how many injuries the Pittsburgh Penguins have suffered over the past few seasons and they just continue to roll on with them. This wasn't necessarily the case with Jordan Staal, as he was an afternoon scratch from the team's game against the Maple Leafs, a game they lost, because of a lower-body injury. Most reports are saying that the injury is considered minor and Staal is said to be day-to-day, but an actual timetable is not yet known for the injury and it has created a new cloud to hang over the team.

By the way the CBC had worded it on Hockey Night in Canada, Staal is out indefinitely, but the team hopes that he'll return soon, which suggests he'll miss at least one more game, but their next game isn't until Thursday, so there is plenty of time to recover, if the injury is indeed minor.

Staal has had a pretty good start to the season, playing either as the number one or the number two centre in his first 12 games of the season, scoring 6 goals and adding 3 assists, but it is his two-way game that earns him the greatest deal of respect, as he is such a solid player, especially in his own zone and the faceoff circle.  The absence of Staal in the Penguins line-up was evident against the Leafs, as the depth struggled to keep up with the speed of the opposition.

ImplicationsIn the draft, Staal belongs to Wes M., who hasn't gotten off to the best of starts in the regular season, going into Sunday's action in 20th spot, 9 points up on 21st.  Wes is only 2 points back of 16th, so there is a small group that he is jockeying with and with two skater games to be played, he could find himself in a little better shape when the weekly numbers are tallied.

Staal is Wes' best forward to this point in the regular season, which is a group mired in injuries to start the season.  If Staal only misses one more game, then the overall impact of this injury remains minor, but if it stretches any further, Wes will have to rely on his goaltending, which is among the best in the pool early on in the season.

Erixon Sent Down

As any Flames supporter will gleefully tell you, New York Rangers defenseman Tim Erixon has been sent down to the minors, following the team's 5-4 shootout loss to the Senators on Saturday afternoon. Erixon was supposed to start the season in the minors, but the post-concussion symptoms of Marc Staal forced the team to use the young Swede, but as the early part of the season has worn on, the Rangers have used Erixon less and less and with the loss, a shake-up was obviously needed to help spark the Rangers. Erixon, being one of the easiest to send down, was indeed sent down on Saturday evening.

In nine games played this season, Erixon has yet to register a point and like it was mentioned earlier in the post, his ice-time was dwindling, going down from 18 minutes, only a few games ago, down to just over 7 minutes in the loss to Ottawa.  Confidence in the rookie obviously dwindled from the coaching staff and with a couple of poor performances at home, something had to happen to the line-up.

ImplicationsThe news is understandably bad for Leon G. in the draft, but with no points registered in the regular season to date, how much is he really going to miss Erixon going forward?  Well, you can't get points from a player if he's in the minors, so he'll definitely miss that point potential, as low as it might be.

Leon's team is in a bit of a rut in Week Four, in line for the Basement Dweller nod this week, the team has dropped down from 8th spot in Week Three to 15th spot going into Sunday's action, where he only has one skater game to play in the week.

Minor Draft Player News (Oct. 30)

The Los Angeles Kings went into Saturday night's game against the Phoenix Coyotes without forward Simon Gagne, who was held out because of an undisclosed injury. Gagne was also held out of Friday's practice, but the first suggestion was that it was because of a maintenance day, but after being out on Saturday, some questions are being raised. Gagne is currently listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Avalanche, which could go either way, but the lack of explanation keeps this situation under the strange heading.

In nine games this season, Gagne has 3 goals and 4 assists and is off to a pretty good start with the club.

Gagne belongs to the 10th place duo of Kristy and Don, a team that currently sits 16 points out of 3rd place at the moment and with the way that Gagne has been scoring, missing out on more than one game could start to be rather detrimental, especially since it is so close around the top 10.

The Senators already know that their captain Daniel Alfredsson will be taking a number of maintenance days this season, but there is going to be real concern when he suffers an actual injury. Alfredsson was hit by an elbow from the Rangers' Wojtek Wolski on Saturday afternoon, which forced him out of the game in the 3rd period on Saturday afternoon and is now listed as doubtful for Sunday's appearance against the Maple Leafs. The details have been few and far between, but it doesn't sound too good.

The team has recalled forward Nikita Filatov on Sunday, which could be to take the place of Alfredsson on Sunday, if the captain cannot go.

In 10 games this season, Alfredsson has 4 goals and 3 assists, which is a very respectable start for the veteran winger.  Many of those points have come in very important situations in the team's current winning streak.

In the draft, Alfredsson belongs to Clayton C., who has the hottest team in the pool in Week Four, locked in for a Mover and Shaker nod.  Alfie's contribution to the hot week was somewhat minor, with only 2 points in the week, but moving forward, Clayton will want a notable scorer in his line-up, in case someone else goes cold.

Very few details have been released on the upper-body injury that Daniel Briere is dealing with at the moment, as it was somewhat of a surprise note on Saturday afternoon that the diminutive winger wouldn't be dressing for the Flyers against the Hurricanes.  We'll consider Briere as out day-to-day, but this is the third injury that the Flyers have some real concern about from this week, as he is added to the list, which already has Chris Pronger and Brayden Schenn.

Briere has been a very productive player for the Flyers in the early part of the season, as one of five pool players on the team that have averaged a point per game or better this season.  In 10 games played, Briere has 4 goals and 6 assists.

There's no question that Briere has been a huge part of the recent success of Brenda F.'s team in the last couple of weeks, as her team has rocketed up the standings, going from 21st at the end of Week Two to 7th going into Sunday's action.  Of course, the early part of the season still has plenty of movement with all the teams still so close, but that's still quite a big jump.  Brenda's most impressive source of points is her goaltending, as her team shares the pool lead in scoring from the crease.

Nabokov Suffers Injury

On Thursday night, the New York Islanders had to make a surprise goaltender change in their shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, just before the shootout itself. The Islanders had to take out the starting goaltender, Evgeni Nabokov, for Rick DiPietro, who made his season debut, due to a lower-body injury. Nabokov reportedly suffered the injury in the overtime period and was not good enough to go in the one-on-one competition.

On Saturday night, Nabokov was on the shelf, as Al Montoya backed up DiPietro for their game against the San Jose Sharks.  Currently, Nabokov is listed as out day-to-day, without many more details than that.

In four appearances this season, Nabokov has a 1-2-0 record, with a 2.23 GAA and a .927 save percentage, which are pretty decent numbers for a sub-.500 record.  It certainly suggests that Nabokov is keeping the Islanders in some close games, but lost a couple of them.  His record has given him 2 points this year, which is not blowing the doors off the season, already four weeks in, but he could still be sought out as a trade deadline goalie later on.

ImplicationsFor Allan S., this isn't the best time to have an injury problem, especially in net, but this appears to be the case.  Allan has dropped down to 3rd place in the pool and is on the verge of dropping another position, having given up a pretty good gap in Week Four to a couple of streaking teams and an injury won't help a great deal.

Allan's team was among the pool leaders in games played by skaters and minutes played by goaltenders in Week Four, which suggests there was a bit of a power outage in the team, which is normal for a team once and a while.  There is still plenty of time to bounce back and take back some positions.

Sheet Player News (Oct. 30)

The Boston Bruins had to dress Box 25 forward Jordan Caron on Saturday night against the Canadiens, due to an illness to Box 24 forward Benoit Pouliot. Pouliot was held out of his bottom six role for the first time this season due to an illness, but is expected to be ready to go when the Bruins go next, Tuesday, at home to the Senators.  Pouliot has no points in his first eight games this season and hasn't panned out to be a good fit on the selection sheet.  You can thank a lot of the new depth in Boston for his inclusion.

In the first three regular season games of Andy Miele's NHL career, he wasn't able to find the back of the net or the scoresheet at all, for that matter, so on Saturday night, against the Los Angeles Kings, he was made into a healthy scratch.  Miele had a pretty good training camp in September, but was a late cut and an early recall this season, so there was some expectations on the Box 9 forward.  The Coyotes coaching staff isn't necessarily the most patient with their kids, so he'll have to produce quickly or else it'll be back to the minors soon.

As a whole the San Jose Sharks have been picking up the pace in the Western Conference race, but the coaching staff is obviously thinking that the bottom six and their last defensive pairing could be much better, trying to give the team the air of dominance, but that has been a struggle. The shake ups continued on Saturday night against the Islanders, as Box 9 forward Benn Ferriero and Box 14 defenseman Justin Braun were healthy scratches. Obviously, the top six has been ticking away like a Swiss watch, but some moves in and out have still been made, which leads me to suspect that they could be in the market for a bottom six deal before too long.