Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Oiler Rumours

With the Craig Conroy deal done yesterday (Monday), it seems to me, we're only moments away from Kevin Lowe making one of his one-upmanship moves to acquire new talent for the Oilers. Lowe, who has a history of doing deals purely out of spite of the Flames organization, should be pulling the trigger on something pretty big in the near future.

Personally, I'm kinda tired of all the hype that has been surrounding all these potential trades for future unrestricted free agents, but it's the nature of the beast. Darcy Tucker, Rob Blake, Brad Stuart... just three names (all pool related) that have floated through the webpages and newspapers in the last few weeks, all having the Oilers attached to them somehow.

At last count, the Oilers should still have some room left to manuevre under the cap and they'll have to do something to keep themselves in contention for a playoff spot. The $50,000 question though is... at what cost? There will be some picks moved... possibly a quality prospect, depending on how many other teams want to jump in on the sweepstakes for a player like Rob Blake, whom the Oilers are in desperate need of.

I would imagine a guy like Robbie Schremp would come up a lot if talks are progressing as one might assume and for the Oilers... I would say that Schremp has a snowball's chance in hell of making into MacT's system of play and would be more suited to play in the Eastern Conference, which could spell a deal with Boston for Brad Stuart.

TSN has Senators' defenseman, Joe Corvo, listed as a possibility for the Oilers for players like Joffrey Lupul or Raffi Torres. Lupul for Corvo could be an interesting pool development, for all of those still invested in a guy like Lupul. With Spezza relegated off the Heatley & Alfredsson line, I would imagine that would be a mighty fine fit.

I'm fairly confident Kevin Lowe is going to sell the farm this month... but is it necessarily going to be to the highest bidder?

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Conroy Back To Cowtown

He's baaaaaaack!

I was pretty sure it was only a matter of time, but Craig Conroy has finally made his return to Calgary. There is now two Box 2 centres in Calgary (the other being Daymond Langkow). One has 52 points... the other has 16. Can you guess which is which? Langkow is the one with 52. Conroy will be employed to play with Jarome Iginla, which may or may not work out in terms of numbers, but Langkow will be supporting Kristian Huselius in a secondary scoring role.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

Going Into The Weekend...

Well, with the All-Star Weekend, Week Seventeen has been reduced to 26 games. Needless to say, the awards in the newsletter will probably be a lot harder to recognize, due to the lack of points, but hopefully we'll see some sort of lopsided explosion for easy distinguishing.

Now coming out of the All-Star Break, we should see a rash of players coming back from injury, be it right away or next week. I'll see if I can pick out a few of note, just in case you were wondering.

The big name on everyone's lips is Jarome Iginla. He did start skating on his own on Thursday, but he didn't accompany the team on their two game road trip over the weekend. He's now sitting six points behind box leader, Teemu Selanne and Selanne will only play once over the weekend, so his lead will only increase slightly, if at all. The Flames (and everyone who has Iginla on their team) are hoping that the captain returns on Tuesday against the Kings, but even that seems like a bit of a long shot at the moment. Remember, it is a sprained ligament in his knee and those sort of injuries do take a while to repair. The race in the Northwest is tight, but you'd hate to rush your best player back too soon and risk further injury.

The Dallas Stars will have quite a few players return to their line-up tonight against Pittsburgh. Sergei Zubov (taken 3 times) and Phillipe Boucher (taken once) will play tonight and give a few teams some needed offense, including the Stars themselves.

Despite going 11-2-1 in Jason Spezza's absence, the Senators (and the 7 teams that still have him), will welcome Spezza back to the line-up tonight when they take on the Bruins. Reports are indicating that Spezza will play on the third line and will probably see some power play time. Spezza and Heatley will eventually be put back together to see if their chemistry can be found again, but I've heard that won't be rushed.

Toronto suffered a setback with Darcy Tucker (taken twice)... he'll remain out of the line-up for at least another couple weeks after what was discovered to be a re-aggrevation of his foot injury, which has now placed him in a cast and on crutches.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Schedule of the Coming Weeks

January 29 .... Week 18 Begins
February 5 .... Week 19
February 12 ... Week 20
February 19 ... Week 21
February 26 ... Week 22 (Trade Deadline is February 27)
March 5 ....... Week 23
March 12 ...... Week 24
March 19 ...... Week 25 (Playoff Pool Selection Sheet will be released)
March 26 ...... Week 26
April 2 ....... Week 27 (April 8 is the final day of the regular season)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Week Sixteen Newsletter

Week Sixteen has brought us a new leader. Don has made his move and has created a four-point lead for himself over the slumping Dieter. Don and Dieter are a tale of two teams… in Box 1, Dieter’s Rick Nash has been out with back problems over the last few weeks, while Don’s Markus Naslund has put up 9 points in that time. Dieter has Iginla… Don has Selanne in Box 3. That’s a difference of 8 points in the last 3 weeks. Those are two of the biggest difference as to why Don has done so well over the last little while. Injuries as a whole have decimated Dieter’s squad… Beauchemin, Giguere and Brian Muir have all been out for a while now, on top of who else have been named. It’s been so bad for Dieter that even Jeff has been reeling him in as well.

There is a 34 point gap between third and fourth, but Dale has had a few great weeks of late to start reeling in the Top 3. Fourth to fifth had a gap increase of 13 points last week, so the gap is now 14. Fifth to sixth was tied going into the week and Marcus pulled 2 more points out of Week Sixteen to have that small gap going into the break. Sixth place isn’t safe… Larry pulled 3 more points towards the money in seventh. Even seventh place felt a shadow fall on it… Trevor pulled 2 more points closer to Larry in eighth. Ninth and tenth are certainly not out of the race yet… Dan and Suzanne are 9 points out of eighth and 26 points out of the money.

Isn’t it great to have a race like this at the All-Star Break? There will be some more separation come the second half of the year, which will increase the desire to see what the Playoff Pool looks like and let me assure you… the process is on the go to get it together. If you’ve had a lot of fun with this one, you may want to tell a few more people about the fun you had and get them interested about the Playoffs. The format will be relatively the same and if you were in the Playoff Pool last year, you’ll know that it was quite a bit of fun.

Consistent weeks with a gain (Hot, hot, hot!):
Stuart: +6 positions in the last 4 weeks
Scott: +4 positions in the last 3 weeks

On an elevator goin' down:
Ryan: -2 positions in the last 3 weeks

Let's see what happened in Week Sixteen...

Player of the Week

This week’s Player of the Week isn’t the highest scorer in the pool… he’s just the highest scorer of the players taken. Evgeni Malkin finished the week with 8 points, one behind Predators centre, David Legwand. Malkin finished up the week before the All-Star Break with a 5-point performance in the rout of the Maple Leafs.

In three games this week, Malkin tallied eight points... and then the NHL corrected his statistics from the previous week to give him nine points "gained" in the week. Stupid NHL and they're correcting ways.

Watch Malkin on Tuesday during the Skills Competition and the YoungStars game.

Well, this is where the new shading lines on the Standings will hold true. Tim L. had himself a pretty big week with 79 points and he moved up the Standings, a whole 4 places. Tim is now only 2 points away from the Top 20 and only 23 points away from the Top 15. Another M&S kind of week for Tim and he could make it that far up.

Tim benefited from the Player of the Week, Malkin, and his 8 points, while taking advantage of eight players with 4 or more points in the week. Marty Turco had 7 points, Patrick Marleau, Ray Emery and Martin Brodeur had 6 points, while Daniel Briere had 5 points.

This is Tim’s best position since Week Seven, when he was in 21st then. Tim’s peak position during the season was 15th, back in Week Five. “The Whiz” hopes to keep their hot streak going through the break to get back up to that previous high or higher.

Injuries and a lack of games scheduled really hurt Brian M. in Week Sixteen… his team only mustered a lowly 30 points. Since Brian was already down in 36th position, where there is a lot of separation between the bottom part of the Standings, he didn’t move anywhere on the list. It’s just that his 30 points was quite low… and here’s why.

Mike Modano… out. Chris Pronger… out. Jose Theodore… lost the starters job. J-S Giguere… out. Sean Burke… just got moved to Los Angeles. There were a total nine active players on his roster that didn’t register a point in Week Sixteen. With two trades remaining, it may be an idea to make some moves.

Martin Brodeur – 74 points
The Top 3 players in scoring for the pool all had 6 points in Week Sixteen, so Martin Brodeur remains on top with a 2 point cushion on Sidney Crosby. Brodeur’s 29 wins and 8 shutouts have been huge… both in the pool and in the league itself. Deservedly so, Brodeur will take his act to the All-Star Game in Dallas.

Long-term Injuries and Pool Trades
Just a reminder, since it’s All-Star week, the technical “puck drop” for Week Seventeen will be on Friday evening. All through All-Star week, you are free to study your team and make some trades to improve your team for your run to the playoffs.

The top teams in the pool have made a few trades, the leader, Don, has made all of his trades for the year. A couple long-term injuries could be devastating… but that’s the nature of the beast. Both Dieter and Jeff are down to one trade remaining… as has Dale and Marcus, who are both considering his last one to continue reeling in the leaders.

The wild card of the bunch is sixth place, Paul. Paul has only made one trade this year and he’s in the money. He has made quite a few great picks at the beginning of the year and the only deal he made was to drop Andrej Meszaros for Mike Van Ryn. There could be a couple more defensemen who could be dropped or a couple forwards he could improve with… but it looks like he’ll let his patience do the talking.

I suppose some of the biggest news was that Sean Burke was picked up from the Tampa Bay Lightning on re-entry waivers by Los Angeles, since the goaltending situation for the Kings became very bleak. Burke, the journeyman goaltender of Box 24, was taken twice in the pool, will get some starts for the Kings and will try and turn their injury-plagued season around.

After the All-Star Break, we should see a whole raft of players come back from injury, taking the 5 or so days off to heal their wounded bodies. Players like J-S Giguere, Jarome Iginla and Frank Kaberle; should all be close to returning from their major injuries after the break. For guys like Peter Forsberg and Jaromir Jagr, they won’t be taking part in the All-Star classic in hopes that their minor injuries will feel better for when the season restarts on Friday.

The Minnesota Wild have been hit some key injuries in the past week and will look forward to resting some bodies. Kurtis Foster will be out for up to 6 weeks with a knee injury, Todd White will be out until after the break with a knee injury and now Manny Fernandez will have his knee re-examined after injuring it on Saturday night.

The San Jose Sharks will be without defenseman, Kyle McLaren, for about another week after the break after undergoing some knee surgery this past week. McLaren, who has been taken a few times in the pool, should come back with a lot less irritation in his knee and may have his production increase.

Hockey Night In Canada this week...

Well, let’s not forget about the All-Star Game… hell, I’ve been goin’ on about it throughout the newsletter. Tuesday night, we’ll have the Skills Competition and YoungStars Game and then on Wednesday, it will be the big game… and there should be quite a few pool players participating. There’s a small chance that there could be a webpage to show off which team saw the most All-Star points… but it doesn’t count for much.

On Saturday, the All-Star shortened week's showcase will see another storied battle between the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs in the early game... and the late game we'll see Sean Burke in Kings' colours, taking on the Oilers at Rexall Place in Edmonton.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Week Fifteen Newsletter

Well, my friends, we are now better than halfway through the season... the All-Star Break is lurking around next week... and the races remain nice & tight. How's this for a good point in the pool? It's kind of exciting, if you ask me... and I'm not even close to the money.

The Top 3 are now neck-in-neck through this halfway period with Don coming out of nowhere to make the charge for first place. Just when everyone thought it was impossible for any team to catch Dieter, Don has strung together some pretty awe-inspiring weeks to make his move. So, if anyone is in doubt, there is still time to put some weeks together to make a Don-like move into a respectable position.

Consistent weeks with a gain (Hot, hot, hot!):
Randy: +3 positions in the last 3 weeks

On an elevator goin' down:
Ernest: -8 places in the last 3 weeks
Derek & Nicole: -4 places in the last 3 weeks
Jim: -3 places in the last 3 weeks
Dan W.: -3 places in the last 3 weeks

Let's see what happened in Week Fifteen...

Player of the Week

This was a pretty good four-horse race to the finish… and at the line… it’s Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings. Datsyuk, taken three times in Box 3, was tied with a pool high 9 points, edging out the Sens’ Daniel Alfredsson (9 points), Miikka Kiprusoff (8 points) and Dany Heatley (8 points). Datsyuk's limited selections garnered him the award, plus the fact that before the audit on Monday morning, it looked like he had 10 points, but scoring changes with the league said otherwise.

Well, I’ve got to make the top scoring team in the pool the Mover & Shaker this week, because of the money implications in the Top 6. Don has been one of the hottest teams in the last few weeks, scoring 231 points in the last three weeks. He caught up to the uncatchable Top 2 of Dieter and Jeff and has almost made a mockery of their teams of the last few weeks. Don is only mere points away from the lead, which would shake the pool up a little bit… I know Dieter and Jeff were sort of sweating it out a bit… and for good reason too.

Despite a few of Don’s trades have been counter-productive thus far in the season and a couple injuries to his current roster, his team has become hot as of late and he has capitalized on players like Daniel Alfredsson, Miikka Kiprusoff, Alexander Ovechkin, Ray Emery and a few others who notched 3 or 4 points last week. It was a great week and it doesn’t look like it’ll stop any time soon. We may just have a new leader by the end of next week.

Still 11 points up on the worst week of the pool, previous award winner, Brydon, fell four spots (a pool low) in Week Fifteen. In the tight races of the middle part of the Standings, you don’t want to be the one to have your players find a cold snap. Injuries have ravaged Brydon’s team… Rick Nash, Jarome Iginla, Chris Pronger… all out on his squad. Alexander Radulov, Brent Sopel, Sergei Samsonov, Ruslan Salei and Hannu Toivonen all didn’t manage to get points either. Quite the shame. That’s eight players that came up with a goose egg. Fortunately for Brydon, he isn’t too far out of where he was last week… nothing that a good M&S week couldn’t fix.

Martin Brodeur - 68 points
We have ourselves a new leader. The hottest player in the pool of late has now overtaken Sidney Crosby for the scoring lead. Martin Brodeur picked up another couple wins during the week for 4 points, while Crosby only had 2 and now the Devils’ goaltender has a two point lead over the Penguins’ phenom.

There are now six players who have topped the 60-point plateau this season…
Martin Brodeur (NJD) – 68 points
Sidney Crosby (PIT) – 66 points
Alexander Ovechkin (WAS) – 62 points
Dany Heatley (OTT) – 61 points
Martin St. Louis (TAM) – 60 points
Vincent Lecavalier (TAM) – 60 points

Three of these players (Ovechkin, Heatley & St. Louis) all occupy Box 15, so it would be impossible to capitalize on all their successes at once.

Long-term Injuries and Pool Trades
I don't really think that this is the best idea, but the Chicago Blackhawks are in desperate need of some playoff hockey. I know I reported last week that Martin Havlat would be out for roughly two weeks with his groin pull, but the Hawks have pushed him along quickly to get back into the line-up. The question is, was it too early to do so and how long is it going to be until he re-injures that area again? Something to consider, despite his production. Adrian Aucoin is another player who hasn't done well with injuries this season... he is now on the shelf indefinitely with a groin problem as well. Someone check the ice in Chicago!!

Defenseman, John-Michel Liles will remain out of the Avalanche line-up for four weeks after breaking his foot. Liles was not picked in the pool, but if a defenseman in Box 4 goes down, you may not want to consider him as your replacement.

Mike Modano and Sergei Zubov should both be ready to come back to the Stars line-up after the All-Star break. There is even a small chance that Modano could be back before the break to test out his hip and groin.

A goaltending crisis in Los Angeles... both Box 6, Dan Cloutier and Box 12, Mathieu Garon, will be out indefinitely from the Kings line-up with separate injuries. Cloutier wasn't much of a consideration for picking, but Garon has been picked in the pool and it is unclear who will drop him for someone else.

Injuries are plaguing in Columbus... Rick Nash was put on the IR this past week, Sergei Fedorov has an elbow injury, Adam Foote has back spasms... they are not a healthy squad. Nash and Foote are pool picked, so there may be some more consideration amongst those still with trades to move them for some more productive players.

Hockey Night In Canada this week...

Sid the Kid will make his return to Hockey Night In Canada this Saturday, as the Maple Leafs will go to Pittsburgh to face the Penguins. And in Game 2, it will be another rendition of the Battle of Alberta, this time, taking place in Edmonton.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Week Fourteen Newsletter

Well, the newsletter is a little late this week, but nothing terrible. Celebrations of the Canucks winning streak was enough for me not to feel too keen on doing the write up yesterday. Ha ha. Go Canucks!

The lead continues to shrink up at the top... Jeff gained another two points on Dieter, while Don gained 11 points on Dieter. The race for the lead now is getting very interesting and it should be only a matter of time before the Top 3 really start jockeying for position.

For the rest of the money positions, there is only 8 points separating 4th place from 9th place... so if you're gonna make a move into the Top 10, you'll be in the hunt for some dough at the end of the season.

Consistent weeks with a gain (Hot, hot, hot!):
Caterina: +15 places in the last 7 weeks
Larry: +11 places in the last 6 weeks

On an elevator goin' down:
Trevor: -4 places in the last 3 weeks
Sean: -3 places in the last 3 weeks
Dale #2: -3 places in the last 3 weeks

Let's see what happened in Week Fourteen...

Player of the Week

A 4-0 record in Week Fourteen brought Roberto Luongo up to a tie for the Box 6 lead in points for the season. Wins against Calgary, Dallas, Edmonton and Florida gave the Vancouver netminder 8 points for the week, which was more than enough to give him the honours for the week.

Only taken four times in the pool, Luongo has proved to be one of the better unique picks in the pool, but remarkably, none of the Top 6 teams have the Canucks netminder. Luongo doesn't show up in the pool until the 12th spot.

Luongo and the Canucks only play twice in Week Fifteen, so there's very little chance that you'll see a repeat performance... unless there's a pair of shutouts in the works.

Week Fourteen had a pretty tight race in the Mover & Shaker department... and you have to remember, just because you get the most points in the week (as highlighted in green on the Standings page), doesn't necessarily mean you're gonna get this distinction. But with 76 points and movement of 3 places up in the pool, Benson wins the award for Week Fourteen. It was so close, in fact, that there were two other teams who had moved up 4 places and had 71 points a piece... but I wasn't gonna give out a shared award. Where's the bragging rights in that? Instead, more points with almost as much movement upwards was good enough for me.

Players that were key to Benson's success... Brodeur (8 points), Thornton (7 points), Marleau (7 points), Garon (6 points), Crosby (6 points), Ovechkin (6 points) and Straka (6 points).

Speaking of ties, there was an epic battle to become the Basement Dweller for the Week. Two teams struggled their way down the Standings by six places... but one deserved to be the worst by a difference of 4 less points. With 52 points in the Week, Ernest takes home the award, which will be proudly displayed on his page.

There were eight counting zeros on Ernest team, which kept him from making waves in the upward position this past week. If there is any tell-tale sign to most Dwelling teams is that there are quite a few zeros... not something to brag about.

Sidney Crosby & Martin Brodeur - 64 points
The Eastern Conference is now putting the best part of the scoring race together of late. Martin Brodeur came out of nowhere to catch up to Sidney Crosby for the pool lead in scoring. A few more wins with a shutout against Montreal for good measure gave Brodeur six more points than Crosby in the week, which was enough to catch him.

Long-term Injuries and Pool Trades
With Chris Pronger going down with injury, Week 15 sees the first trade to get rid of him... and it's Trevor, who is in the race for a money position, to be the first one to drop him for Stars defenseman Phillippe Boucher. It will be interesting to see if anyone else is going to move him.

Hawks winger, Martin Havlat, has been lost to the team again for what could be a couple weeks with another groin strain. Still with only one team having picked him the pool, Caterina may want to consider using her last trade for the oft-injured winger, despite his scoring ways.

Hockey Night In Canada this week...

It's here! It's finally here! Hockey Day In Canada has finally arrived! The all-Canadian tripleheader, preceded by a few hours of stories and tales from across the country about hockey. 14 hours of solid hockey coverage. Set the alarm, get the beer in the fridge and have a whale of a day! Coverage starts at 10am with the coast-to-coast look at volunteers in the hockey community and then at Noon, the Canadiens are in Ottawa to play the Senators. In the second game, the Canucks are in Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs at ACC. Finally, to close off the telecast, the Oilers are here in Calgary to continue the Battle of Alberta against the Flames.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Flames Facing A Brisk Breeze... Into the Weekend

Ahead of the Flames match-up against the Stars on Saturday night, it looks like they will be without Box 3 leader, Jarome Iginla and Box 9 winger, Chuck Kobasew. Iginla, who has powered his way into the Top 10 in scoring in the pool, has suffered an MCL injury in his left leg and will be re-evaluated in a week's time. 22 of 41 teams require his services in the pool, so this means it will be a heavy loss to lots of teams. Don is the only team in the Top 3 to not have Iginla, rather Selanne as his Box 3 winger. This could be a good time to make up some ground on the Top 2, provided that the Duck isn't lame.

Kobasew, on the other hand, is tied for 10th in Box 9. He hasn't provided much of an offensive spark for the five teams who have him in the pool. He is a far cry away from the leaders Rolston and Sykora.

A feel good story is nearing it's glorious end. Bruins rookie, Phil Kessel, was assigned to Providence of the AHL for a small conditioning stint after recovering from his surgery to remove his bout of testicular cancer. It will be quite the triumph to see him back in the line-up, which could happen as early as next week. Especially good news for the three teams that have him in the pool still.

The oft-injured Peter Forsberg returns to the list. Aren't you glad that there was a small guy named Sidney in that same box? I'm not, personally, but there are quite a few of you who are. Forsberg will be down at least 10 days, more like a couple weeks before he touches the ice and gets injured again.

Did you notice... the new colours on the webpage? I thought it would be good to highlight the high & low teams (in points) during the week. They won't necessarily be award winners in the Newsletters, but it gives you a good idea of how good and/or how bad you're doing in the week, compared to the leaders.

Mover & Shaker Candidates:
Rob A.: +3 positions, 38 points
Dale C.: +2 positions, 39 points
Stuart: +2 positions, 38 points
Caterina: +2 positions, 35 points
Bryan: +2 positions, 33 points
Randy: +2 positions, 33 points

Basement Dweller Candidates:
Ernest: -4 positions, 22 points
Chris M.: -3 positions, 28 points
Jim: -2 positions, 24 points
Scott: -2 positions, 30 points
Brydon: -2 positions, 30 points

Player of the Week Candidates:
Box 1 - Ryan Smyth, 5 points
Box 15 - Dany Heatley
Box 15 - Alex Steen
Box 18 - Andrew Raycroft
14 players with 4 points

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