Sunday, September 30, 2018

Broken Finger for Brown

The upper-body injury that Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown suffered last night has been confirmed as a broken finger and he is currently out indefinitely.  Broken fingers are somewhat inconsistent, when it comes to timetables for a return, some guys can return fairly quickly (a week or two), while others can be out upwards of a month.  It will depend on the kind of break and the pain threshold that Brown can withstand, which will determine how quickly he comes back.

Last season, Brown was quite the dynamo, picking up 61 points in 81 games for the Kings and the expectations for him were somewhat of a mixed bag.  The projections on this site were up around the 50-point mark, while the Hockey News saw a real regression coming up for him, giving him 40 points.  This injury certainly won't help his cause any.

Pool newcomer Jesse has a decision to make, as Brown is eligible for the preseason waivers, but the question becomes, is there anyone available that would be worth taking in Brown's place?  My own personal list suggests that there could be a few 40-point forwards still hanging around, so the decision is real.

Welcome to the 2018/2019 Hockey Draft Pool

We're ready to flip another page on the calendar over and that will finally bring us to October and we all know what that means... hockey season is starting!

Thanks to all that made it out for another great hockey pool draft on Saturday, a third straight year of 25 teams competing for that glorious trophy... and some cash, too.  Don't forget about the cash.  I will be working on the payout for prizes here in the next couple of days, first I want to be sure that the website is rolling for when the season starts on Wednesday and then we'll have the big money announcement shortly there afterwards.

Some new faces joined the pool this year, welcome to Jesse and Chelsea... and a hearty welcome back to John P. and Scott, John returns after a two year absence and Scott missed out on last year's pool, by way our a brief stint out in Ontario.  There were rumours that a few more people would have come to join, but that wasn't to be, but a return to 25 teams is just fine by me.

The mini-games are back and we have two new ones and a returning game this year, all of which should make things a whole lot of fun.

First, the returning game and it will be the rookies taking centre stage again in the pool.  We had 20 rookies taken during the draft and they are spread out over 15 of the 25 teams, four of those teams have multiple rookies, Clayton leading the way with three freshmen (Pettersson, Donato & Cholowski).

Next up on the list is the shootout goals, which is a brand new mini-game and I'm still working on how that will be presented on the website this year, but it is an interesting stat, which has no bearing on the overall scoring, since shootout goals don't count in the player stats, but they still decide wins and losses in the league, so there you go.

Talk about deciding wins and losses, game-winning goals, usually a playoff pool staple, will now be kept track of in the regular season and teams will be hoping for those clutch goals in-game for some mini-game points.  Last year, if this was a mini-game, our pool champion Stuart, would have won it with 52 game winners and that was 7 goals better than his nearest competitor.  I'm sure this will prove to be an interesting game.

Alright, that should do it for the welcome post... I better get back to figuring out how to track the shootout goals for everyone.  Good luck to all and have a fun hockey season!

Noon Preseason Notes (Sep 30)

The Detroit Red Wings blueline is going to be challenged even further, if Niklas Kronwall can't start the season on the right foot.  The Wings coaching staff have said that the veteran blueliner has tweaked something and his status for opening night, Thursday, at home to Columbus, is in doubt.  He's considered day-to-day for right now, but it doesn't look great for the Wings, who are already without Jonathan Ericsson and Trevor Daley.

The return of John P. to the hockey pool draft is a welcome one, but I'm sure the news of an injury on his team isn't.  Kronwall is his 13th round pick, 307th overall, so the expectations are not necessarily high for him, but no one wants to start the year with injuries.

The Los Angeles Kings are waiting for an update on forward Dustin Brown, who suffered an upper-body injury in Saturday night's preseason contest against the Ducks, leaving the game in the 2nd period, not to return. The initial reaction from the team didn't sound overly positive, so it seems somewhat unlikely that he will be ready to go for the team's opening night, Friday night, at home to the Sharks.

Brown is Jesse's 8th round pick in the draft and could certainly be a bargain pick in the pool, if he can stay healthy through the year and replicate the season he had a year ago.  If this is a long-term injury, Jesse would be eligible to flip him for someone healthy.

Morning Camp Demotions (Sep 30)

The Detroit Red Wings have decided that Filip Zadina could use a little more seasoning in the AHL, just to work on his game a little bit more.  The demotion to the AHL can happen for him, since he was a loaned player to the junior ranks from Europe, so the Red Wings are using that loophole to get him some pro reps down in Grand Rapids, rather than sending him to junior, where they can't pull him back out.  There's no timetable for his return, but he won't be active to start the regular season.

The announcement that players being sent down before the draft started was made for kids like this.  Benson picked up Zadina with his 14th round pick, so it isn't the biggest loss, but he is eligible to be swapped out in the preseason waivers.

The goaltending situation in Philadelphia was awfully rocky, with injuries happening left, right and centre to goalies for the Flyers and it looked like Carter Hart might be the recipient of some early season minutes with the team.  That doesn't appear to be the case now, as he was sent down to the AHL on Sunday, where he will likely end up being the number one guy for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.  The injury bug could certainly be back to bite the Flyers, which would give Hart his opportunity, but for now, he'll have to be patient.

Hart was Steve's 13th round pick, trying to sneak a goalie through in the late rounds, so if he was to swap him out before puck drop on Wednesday, he wouldn't be giving up a high draft pick to do so.  There are a handful of goalies left available to choose from, so Steve could likely find a suitable replacement.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Last Night's Preseason Performers (Sep 29, Draft Day Edition)

The Columbus Blue Jackets got a welcome return back to their lineup as defenseman Zach Werenski made his preseason debut against the Penguins in a good rivalry game on Friday night.  Werenski was one of three Jackets players to register 4 points in a 7-6 barn burner for the home side.  Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson were the other two with big nights, while Nick Foligno had a goal and an assist and Sergei Bobrovsky went the distance, making 23 saves for the win.

Six goals on the other side means that there was going to be some notable players for the Penguins and indeed there were.  Derick Brassard had a couple of goals and an assist, Bryan Rust went one and one and rookie defenseman Juuso Riikola had a pair of assists.  Brian Dumoulin was getting checked out by team medical officials after the game, looking at an upper-body injury, no concrete update was given about it, but we hope to see more today.

We're probably going to see quite a few players from both teams picked up later on today.

From Oshawa, ON, the Sabres and Islanders had themselves a neutral site game and they gave the non-NHL market a pretty good show, the Sabres taking this one 5-4 in regulation.  Jeff Skinner led the way for Buffalo with a pair of goals, Zemgus Girgensons and Rasmus Dahlin each had a goal and an assist and Carter Hutton made 27 saves for the win.  If the Sabres are indeed going to make big improvements over last year, we're going to see a lot of these guys through the year.

Anders Lee, Mathew Barzal and Nick Leddy all had 2 points each in the loss and it could be fair to expect some big things from these guys as well.

Lots of goals in Washington as well, as the Hurricanes and Capitals went back-and-forth all night and into overtime, but the extra frame didn't last too long, as Sebastian Aho scored his 2nd goal of the night only 19 seconds in to end it in favour of the visitors, 5-4.  Aho also added an assist for a 3-point night, outdone by Teuvo Teravainen, who had a goal and 3 assists for a 4-point night.  Let's also tack on 2-assist efforts from both Warren Foegele and Jaccob Slavin, 25 saves from Petr Mrazek and you have yourself a complete effort.

Alex Ovechkin had a couple of goals and Evgeny Kuznetsov had a couple of assists, keeping the Caps in it, but unable to finish the job in the end.  Devante Smith-Pelly returned to the lineup from a club imposed exile from action, as the reports out there suggest that he was held out due to some poor conditioning coming into camp.  He was back in the lineup and got some playing time in of his own.

On the shoulders of their special teams, the Toronto Maple Leafs gave a good lickin' to the Detroit Red Wings at home on Friday night, 6-2.  Three power play goals and a shortie in the 2nd period paved the way to a big victory and you can see their confidence is riding pretty high.  Frederik Andersen made 23 saves for the win, Josh Leivo had 3 assists, Jake Gardiner scored a pair, Patrick Marleau went one and one and then Connor Brown and Auston Matthews had a pair of helpers each.  The Leafs have some decisions to make still, which could hinder picking up a good sleeper from Toronto, but you can probably make some good educated guesses by now.

Red Wings rookie defenseman Dennis Cholowski continues to make a solid impression, picking up a couple of assists in the loss and he may have found his way to the opening night roster as well.

Toronto defenseman Travis Dermott returned to action from his shoulder injury, just in time to get some reps in before the season started, just in case you had him penciled in on your projection list somewhere.

With all of these teams making big changes and doing some good things in this preseason, the St. Louis Blues didn't want you to forget that they made some changes too, but it's going to be a lot of the same ol' St. Louis scoring touch that gets them their wins.  On Friday night, it was a lot of the familiar faces on the scoresheet, like Jaden Schwartz (goal and 2 assists) or Vladimir Tarasenko (goal and an assist), getting the job done in a 3-1 win over the Dallas Stars.  Jake Allen already appears to be rolling his way into form, making 21 saves for the win and even adding an assist as well.

The Central Division is going to be chalk-full of goals this year and the Avalanche beating the Wild, 4-3 in overtime, is a good indication of that.  Philipp Grubauer got the nod for the Avs last night, making 21 saves for the win, but it was sophomore forward Alex Kerfoot making waves, scoring a goal and adding a pair of assists to lead the way.  Tyson Barrie also got a nod from the blog for his 2 assists on the night as well.

Jason Zucker was in on all three Wild goals on the night, scoring one of them himself, which was a shorthanded marker to send the game to overtime, late in the 3rd period.

Vegas finally got to insert defenseman Shea Theodore into their lineup on Friday night, as he was finally made available to play after a long-ish holdout for a new contract.  The move paid off, as Theodore did register an assist in the Vegas' 2-0 win over the Kings, highlighted by Marc-Andre Fleury's 26-save shutout.

I wonder how many skeptics there still are about Vegas and their success.

Sure, there's still a few more days left of the preseason to go, but this was indeed, the last of the preseason performer posts, as my hockey pool draft is today and that's all I'm really gearing up for.  Have your lists ready and properly adjusted, because it's showtime!

Friday, September 28, 2018

Noon Preseason Notes (Sep 28)

More injury problems in Montreal, as David Schlemko has been ruled out of action for the next six weeks to a knee injury, suffered Wednesday night against Toronto.  Schlemko was on the projected roster, considered to be more of a fringe defender, but with how the roster was shaping up, he could have seen the minutes to be a bit more than a fringe guy early on.  Now, with this injury, he may only find his way to the hockey pool through the Waiver Draft in Week Nine.

Noon Camp Demotions (Sep 28)

The New York Rangers have unofficially sorted out their 23-man roster on Friday, sending a handful of players down to the AHL and placing another handful on waivers in order to assign them as well.  Going down includes projected roster forwards Lias Andersson and Peter Holland and in their place sit Brett Howden, Filip Chytil and Vinni Letteri.  On defense, Neal Pionk was among those staying up and there were no real surprise demotions.  In goal, Alexandar Georgiev came away with the backup spot behind Henrik Lundqvist and Marek Mazanec was the odd-man out, among those goalies sent down.

Injuries to Matt Beleskey and Boo Nieves will keep them with the team, but they won't be on the active roster to start the season.

Adjust all your projections accordingly.

The goaltending decision has been made official in Edmonton, as the team placed Al Montoya on waivers for the purpose of assignment on Friday.  It was somewhat expected in the off-season that this would be the case, when the Oilers signed Mikko Koskinen to a much larger contract to come over from Europe, but Montoya did have the chance to play his way back into the spot, but it doesn't appear that happened.  The Oilers are getting the waiver situation out of the way now, as they head to Europe to start the season with the New Jersey Devils, taking waiver-exempt goalie Shane Starrett with them for the trip.

Morning Camp Demotions (Sep 28)

The Ottawa Senators are still currently trying to figure out their muddled madness of a roster, keeping Zack Smith around after he had cleared waivers, but late on Thursday night, they opted to send down forward Filip Chlapik and defenseman Christian Wolanin after their game in Chicago.  This opens the door for Max McCormick to take the last forward spot on the roster and there's still a battle for the last blueline spot between Christian Jaros and Max Lajoie, both having played well against the Blackhawks.

The Senators have one more preseason game to play, Saturday against the Canadiens, where that last decision will likely take place.

The Vegas Golden Knights sent down the last of their 2017 1st round picks that were still in camp, defenseman Erik Brannstrom, after a fairly strong preseason, one could say.  The 19-year old looked pretty strong on the ice and on the scoresheet for the Golden Knights and one could have thought that a roster spot was going to be his.  Nevertheless, he's still a teenager and very few make it to play a blueline spot in the NHL, so a little more seasoning it will be for him.  Brad Hunt, Jake Bischoff and Zach Leslie will battle for Nate Schmidt's vacated spot, due to suspension and they'll have two more preseason games to do it in.

Morning Preseason Notes (Sep 28)

It sounds like the start of Marian Gaborik's season is on-hold still, after back surgery in April to repair a herniated disc still hasn't fully recovered and he's still not ready to go.  There hasn't been much for updates since his surgery in April, a small update in August suggested that Gaborik could start the year on the LTIR, which is a really bad sign for the continuation of the 36-year old's career.  You will be best to avoid Gaborik this year and heavily take down, if not remove, his overall projections for the season.

Of course, the Senators don't need to use the LTIR, since their budget lineup, even with Clarke MacArthur and Jean-Gabriel Pageau counting against, still has over $10 million in cap space.  The youth movement in Ottawa is a real thing and it's starting right away.

The Philadelphia Flyers are erring on the side of caution in regards to a police investigation in Finland, which involves one of their forwards, Jori Lehtera.  Lehtera's name has been involved with an investigation with a major cocaine ring back in his home country and the 30-year old has removed himself from the team while this investigation takes place.  Lehtera maintains his innocence, but the distraction needed to be taken away from the team and that is what has been done.  He is, at best, a fringe player for the hockey pool, but we could be going deep this year and his name pop up.

24-year old forward Boo Nieves was certainly penciled in to take a roster spot for the New York Rangers, completing 28 games last season and picking up 9 points, but a preseason concussion has sidelined him and his availability for opening night does seem to be in question.  The sophomore has been projected for a 20-point season on this blog, but now that does seem a little murky going forward, since he'll probably need to get some conditioning done down in the minors before coming back up for a full-time role.

We're collecting all kinds of good tidbits here this morning, the day before the hockey pool draft... Derek Forbort of the Kings is back at practice with the team, but a back injury suffered near the end of last season has really taken a long time to heal up, but it looks like he's getting close.  The 26-year old came very close to being relevant in the hockey pool last season, ranking 111th among all defensemen in scoring with 18 points in 78 games, so his return could make for another body worth looking at in a really deep pool draft.

The Dallas Stars still have two preseason games left to play, but it doesn't seem likely that defenseman Stephen Johns will be made available for them, as he is dealing with an undisclosed injury.  He's currently listed as day-to-day and it sounds like it is a very precautionary measure to keep him out of the lineup, ensuring that he will be ready for opening night, so he should be okay to pick up as your last defenseman, if you're still in need of one late.  If you're looking for him and he's not on a lineup sheet, this is why.

Last Night's Preseason Performers (Sep 28)

The Philadelphia Flyers got a boost to their blueline before their match-up with the New York Rangers on Thursday night, as they saw both Andrew MacDonald and Travis Sanheim both returned from injury and they got some much-needed reps before the season started.  Two more healthy bodies didn't do the Flyers much good, as the Rangers were the better team on the night, winning 4-2.

Prospect goalie Alexandar Georgiev got the job done for the Rangers, making 26 saves in the victory and on the scoresheet, it was Kevin Hayes, Vladislav Namestnikov and Kevin Shattenkirk all had 2 points.

The Flyers did have a couple of bright spots in James Van Riemsdyk and Mikhail Vorobyov each had 2 points in the loss.  Vorobyov appears to have made his mark on this roster and could be a good sleeper pick this year.

From Orlando, FL, the Panthers and Lightning squared off in a neutral site game, bringing the ice cold action to another one of those hot spots in the south.  Lightning, too, brought the heat on the evening, lighting up the Panthers, 6-2, and raking in the points, even without Nikita Kucherov or Tyler Johnson in the lineup.  Mathieu Joseph led the way for the Bolts, scoring a pair of goals and adding an assist and it was a collection of Lightning players with 2 points a piece, including Alex Killorn, Brayden Point, Anthony Cirelli, Victor Hedman and goalie Louis Domingue.  Tampa is running hot and they'll be hard to stop.

A fairly solid offensive outing between the Devils and Jets at the Bell MTS Centre in Winnipeg last night, as the visitors kept some of their 2018 mojo going with a 5-3 win.  Keith Kinkaid, the projected starter for the Devils on opening night, made 21 saves in the victory, Kyle Palmieri and Sami Vatanen each had a goal and an assist and Taylor Hall and Marcus Johansson each had a pair of assists.  These Devils could still be the real thing with that kind of lineup.

On the other side, both Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele had a pair of assists on the night, but they just couldn't squeeze any more out of their lineup.

The lowly Ottawa Senators went into Chicago on Thursday night and actually came away with a 2-1 win over their hosts on the night, probably surprising many.  Both teams had very close to completed rosters on the night and the Sens buckled down and got the win.  Mike Condon, the favourite for the Senators backup spot, made 27 saves for the win and in a low scoring game like this, he was the only notable player to speak of.

There are 82 games for every team this season and the Senators are bound to surprise us in a few of them, right?

The Coyotes and Oilers tangled at Rogers Place and this one needed overtime to settle and it was Connor McDavid, scoring his 2nd of the night, winning it for the home side, 3-2.  Mikko Koskinen has the leg up on the backup job now in Edmonton, after a 25-save effort for the victory, not to mention the bigger dollar value on his contract.

Both Clayton Keller and Alex Goligoski each came away with 2 points in this one as well.  The Coyotes have shown some flashes in this preseason, it is certainly a looming question, as to whether or not they'll be able to string it all together in the regular season.

Finally, in the late, late game at the Shark Tank, the Flames used four straight goals in the early part of the game to put their lead together, enough for them to hold on and win away, 4-3.  Mike Smith made 23 saves for the win for Calgary, Elias Lindholm and Travis Hamonic each had a goal and an assist and Mikael Backlund continued a good preseason with another pair of assists in the win.

24-year old undrafted prospect Antti Suomela may have cracked this San Jose roster through a strong preseason, which continued on Thursday night, as he potted a pair of goals in the loss.