Waiver Draft Starts Today
Well, I'll clarify the headline a little bit... the Waiver Draft kicks into high gear today. Technically, I got the Waiver Draft started last night with a couple of picks, since Doug and Stuart had their positions locked in.
Doug surprised no one by taking Josh Harding of the Minnesota Wild and Stuart followed up with a goalie of his own, Kevin Poulin of the New York Islanders. The audit was completed last night and it was Mike S. who ended up with the third pick, where he took Phoenix Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal, who has been hot of late.
With the copious amount of injuries this season and the thin talent outside of what has already been taken in the pool this year, I am seriously considering a third round to the waiver draft, time-permitting. If I can get to the weekend and complete the first two rounds, I will likely allow for an extra drop, if need be. I know a few teams could probably use it and with how close the pool is after Week Seven, I would prefer to keep it that way.
Keep your heads on a swivel... I'll be coming at you for your pick before too long!
Jersey Prize for the Week Eight Leader
Week Eight is a busy week in the pool and it will all finish with a bang, because we have our first prize to hand out.
In one week, we'll have ourselves the winner of the first 8-week segment of the season and that means I get to give away one of the Toronto Maple Leafs Winter Classic jerseys that I have picked up as prizes. It will go to the overall leader of the pool, who had the best team in the first eight weeks and then I will also give away jerseys for the best team in the second segment and one more for the final 10-week segment. The jersey is not for the overall leader at the end of those segments, rather the team with the most points in each segment, so everyone gets reset back to zero next week for the segment prize.
Brand New Leader
Seven weeks now in the books and we have our fourth end-of-week leader in the pool, as the prizing positions got a good shake-up in Week Seven. Allan S. has now taken over as leader of the pool, passing the duo, Kristy & Don, who in turn, dropped down to 3rd place. Brenda F. moved back into 2nd place, also leapfrogging the duo in the week.
After the first three, it gets all kinds of wild, as there was all kinds of jockeying for position and Grant S. moved up from 8th to 4th in the week, but his gap below is only 3 points to Dale B. and 5 points to Chris M.. Stacey M., who was in 4th after Week Six, dropped down to 8th place, now 9 points out of 4th.
With the Waiver Draft order being decided at the end of Week Seven, it was not really a bad thing to drop down a few positions, since it improved your picking position in the draft and since everyone is so close in the standings near the top, giving away a few points for a better player doesn't seem like such a bad thing.
Preparing the Scoring Trends to Skyrocket
There were a number of players that returned from injury in Week Seven, like Lee Stempniak, David Booth, Brandon Prust, Patrik Elias, Daniel Briere and Jannik Hansen, but it just wasn't enough to push the games collected from our skaters up in the week. There were still players lost and we almost broken even to Week Six's numbers. I don't think there is any way we get much better in Week Seven, but with the Waiver Draft replacements going ahead, Week Nine should see some real good jumps in scoring.
Between Week Six and Week Seven, each having 47 NHL games in the week, we only dropped 4 skater games, increased by 18 goalie minutes, but dropped 9 points in total. I would call that breaking even for the most part.
From all 24 pool teams, we collected 502 points, an average of 20.9 points per team. Our Mover & Shaker had 31 points and our Basement Dweller finished with 10 points. The biggest gap between the two distinctions this season was 27 points, so it was a tighter week than most.
It will likely get worse before it gets any better, but Week Nine should be a better week for most!
I don't think it is unfair to have thought that the Los Angeles Kings may have been heading down Shit Creek without a paddle, when Jonathan Quick went down with injury. Not the case. The replacement they acquired in the deal that sent the goaltending controversy away (or Jonathan Bernier to Toronto), Ben Scrivens, has been more than just adequate in relief of the injured number one.
After taking over in overtime on Tuesday against the Sabres and losing in the shootout, Scrivens took it upon himself to make the best of these starts, going 3-0 in his three starts and he is now running on back-to-back shutouts. Three wins and two bagels makes for 10 points in the pool and Player of the Week honours.
A quick recap of the week... Scrivens played 1:20 in overtime on Tuesday in the overtime loss, not having to make a save in the extra frame, but losing in the shootout. Thursday, it was a 23-save win on Long Island for the win, followed up by a 26-save shutout in New Jersey on Saturday and then another shutout, 37 saves, in Madison Square Gardens against the Rangers. 3-0-1 in the week is good enough.
With 14 points now on the season, Scrivens is now ranked 106th in pool scoring, 21st among all goalies.
The Mover & Shaker is a good honour to have, no question, as it means you're really moving up in the world of the hockey pool, but Week Seven and Week Fifteen are not exactly the best weeks to be being the best team, since it means that if you're looking to substitute one of your worst players for a better player, so you'll compete a bit better against those teams around you, you don't necessarily want those teams to get better picks than you. It's a vicious catch-22.
Someone has to be the Mover & Shaker though and in Week Seven, it was Grant S., who ended up dominating the week, 4 points better than the next best team in the pool. Grant took his 31 points and moved up from 8th to 4th, which was somewhat outlined already in the newsletter, but worth repeating. His Waiver Draft pick went from 17th overall to 21st and with how thin the talent is to pick from, it could be a difference maker, given how few points there are separating teams at this point.
Grant was fortunate enough to cash in on the Player of the Week, Ben Scrivens, in Week Seven, picking up a quick 10 points, followed by Alex Steen, who had 5 points, Derek Stepan, who had 4 points and then five players with 2 points a piece. Only four players on Grant's team failed to pick up points and one of those players were in the minors and the other was injured for most of the week, so it was respectable.
Grant is one of the four teams that has led the pool at the end of a week this season, so 4th place isn't his peak position this year, but he is in good shape to make a run for the top again, especially with the Waiver Draft upon us.
With 237 games collected from his skaters, Grant's team ranks 4th for healthy teams, but his goaltending has suffered, playing only a collected 756 minutes, which is 22nd in the pool. Of course, his goalies have made the most of those minutes, ranking 1st in points per 60 minutes played (1.587).
Going into Week Eight, Grant is only 4 points out of 1st place, which means he's in the mix for that jersey prize at the end of the week. Stay tuned!
Unfortunately, not in the mix for the jersey prize in Week Eight, is our Basement Dweller of the Week, Leo M., who's team only finished with 10 points.
Leo's best players were not good players this week, as his forwards suffered a real power outage, scoring 4 of his team's 10 points. Andy Greene, Fedor Tyutin and Antti Niemi were his best players with 2 points each and that makes for a pretty sad state of affairs.
News didn't get much better for Leo, as one of his best players, Evgeni Nabokov, was lost to injury this week and it sounds like he could be away for a little while now.
On the plus side, Leo now picks 4th in the Waiver Draft, thanks to tanking in the week and his team is only 26 points out of the top 10, which is somewhat manageable, especially if he can make a couple good swaps and the rest of his team wakes up. A couple of injuries did his team in early, but he could work his way back and get into a jersey race, at the very least.
NEWS AND NOTES
Word out of Carolina Hurricanes camp is that goaltender Cam Ward is ready to return to the line-up and not only is he returning to the line-up, he is starting on Monday night against the Boston Bruins. Ward has been out since the end of October with a lower-body injury, which was scheduled to be about four weeks on the shelf and it has been just about that. This could be pretty big news for the Hurricanes, who haven't found much consistency in the 2014 season yet.
The Colorado Avalanche have called upon defenseman Tyson Barrie, who has been toiling in the AHL since he had a slow start to the NHL regular season. Barrie gets the call, as Ryan Wilson has been placed on the Injured Reserve, due to a nagging back problem, which has hampered him for the past couple of weeks. Barrie has 1 assist in five games with the Avalanche this season and should get a good opportunity to build on it.
This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, as Jason LaBarbera has been placed on waivers by the Edmonton Oilers for the purposes of sending him down to the AHL, making room for Ilya Bryzgalov. Being a back-up goaltender has meant that there was even less room for LaBarbera and it seems highly unlikely that he will be claimed, so his fate should be all but sealed.
Just in the nick of time, wouldn't you say? The New York Rangers are expecting to have power forward Rick Nash in their line-up this week (projected to play Thursday), as pool teams decide who to keep and drop in the Waiver Draft. Nash has missed the last few weeks with a concussion and has now been given the green light to play again, but he will be on notice, that his head is soft. Nevertheless, this should keep him from the chopping block for now, but I'm sure Wyllie would have preferred him to be back weeks ago.
The New York Rangers are also in the midst of a conundrum of what to do with defenseman Michael Del Zotto, as he has fallen out of favour with the coaching staff. The scoring prospect from the blueline has not been producing and hasn't made any fans out of the coaches, which has meant that he has spent the last couple of games in the press box as a healthy scratch. There is a chance that Del Zotto may find himself on the trade market, as he would be an attractive piece to add to a lot of teams, so this will be a storyline worth watching.
For the most part this season, the St. Louis Blues have been fairly fortunate, when it comes to the injury bug. Unfortunately, it did bite one of their players, as Patrik Berglund has been shelved with an upper-body injury. It doesn't sound like the injury is serious at all, but he did miss Sunday's game in Washington and his status for the rest of the week is still not clear yet. He will be considered out day-to-day.
Link to the Injury/News Page
HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA
Only two games again on Saturday night for Hockey Night In Canada... and surprise, surprise... the Toronto Maple Leafs will headline the early game, this time hosting the Washington Capitals. In the late game, it's another HNIC favourite, as the Vancouver Canucks host the Chicago Blackhawks in a big rivalry game.
51 players have been highlighted in this broadcast between the four teams... 15 Maple Leafs, 13 Blackhawks, 12 Capitals and 11 Canucks... which includes two players on the IR, two players in the minors and two back-up goalies. The top point-getter in the bunch... Corey Crawford of the Blackhawks, who ranks 3rd overall with 27 points this season.
Out of the four teams atop the standings, 16 picks have been highlighted, including the two injured players and one of the players in the minors. There is also one goalie, who has a 50/50 shot at playing on Saturday, but we won't know for sure until Friday. This race will come down to the wire!