Thursday, January 31, 2008

Tootoo Train Tootin' Two More

The Predators announced on Thursday that they had signed Jordin Tootoo (non-pool) to a two year extension worth $1.95 million. The little wrecking ball is not necessarily your scoring forward when it comes to pool value, rather he's one of the better, consistent players for penalty minutes, if your pool allows for that.

Tootoo, this season, has 13 points (7G, 6A) in 41 games for the Predators this season.

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News from Vancouver

The Canucks have done a recall of Luc Bourdon (Box 11), Jason Jaffray (non-pool) and Mike Brown (non-pool) before their game against Tampa Bay tonight. Bourdon is expected to make his 10th start of the season during his second call-up.

All of these roster moves are in lieu of injuries now that Sami Salo (Box 5) is now doubtful for tonight's match against the Lightning after tweaking his groin versus Dallas on Tuesday night. It's another big blow for the team, which had already lost Willie Mitchell (non-pool) to a stress fracture in a vertabrae in his back last week.

On another note, Kevin Bieksa (Box 4) will resume skating at the end of the week and he's aiming for a return sometime in February. He has been out with a lacerated calf muscle for the last two months.

Tonight in Tampa Bay, Roberto Luongo (John B.) is expected to get the start.

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Devastation in Atlanta

All of Blueland (what they call themselves down in Atlanta, if ya didn't know) is collectively holding their breath at the moment as they await the results of some tests in regards to their leading goal scorer.

Last night versus the Penguins, Ilya Kovalchuk (Peter) took a knee-on-knee hit from super-pest Jarkko Ruutu (non-pool) in the second period. The collision itself didn't seem to look overly devastating, but when Kovalchuk returned from the dressing room to try it out, the anguish in his face told you a different story.

Kovalchuk still managed to score the game-winning goal in the contest, but if this injury is severe, the Russian winger may not have a chance to catch fellow countryman, Alexander Ovechkin (Clayton) for the goal scoring title.

Going into the game last night, Kovalchuk had actually been pretty cold, when it came to production. He was suspended for the game before the break, but before that, he was being held pointless over the four previous games.

If there is some severe ligament damage, he'll be looking at upwards of 6 to 8 weeks without surgery, which may make him a prime candidate for being dropped in the Waiver Draft next week.

Stay tuned!

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Theodore a Spaz

This may not be too much of a concern right now, but in case you were looking at adding some goaltending to your draft team next week, you may want to consider this tidbit of news coming out of the Avalanche dressing room.

Jose Theodore (Box 12) left the Avalanche's game after two periods last night with what was described as back spasms. The former Hart Trophy winner has been playing a lot as of late, making 11 straight starts for the Avalanche (including last night), going 6-4-1 in those games.

Peter Budaj (Dale B.) came in for relief in the third period last night, but now may get a few starts under his belt and make the goaltending situation a little bit more interesting heading down the stretch.

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Waiver Possibility Out

Well, just in case you had ideas of adding the top available defenseman to your line-up next week, Niklas Kronwall (non-pool) injured his shoulder in the game against the Coyotes last night. If you've been paying attention to the news, then you'll know not to pick him next week. I think this is fair warning.

Also in Detroit, they not only lost a defenseman last night, but they didn't have one of their blueliners at all to start the game. Brett Lebda (Box 11) missed the game with a sore wrist. The early indications don't point to any major amount of time missed, but a discomfort in the wrist would be quite hindering to any hockey player. I would imagine they won't rush him back to the line-up right away.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Fanning the Flames in Ottawa

The Senators can thank their amazing run at the beginning of the season for their position they're in at the current junction of the season. The Sens remain 6 points on top of their division rivals in Montreal for the division and conference lead, no thanks to their 5-5-0 record in their last 10.

Now with a long-term injury to Dany Heatley (Jeff) and a few smaller injuries, the Senators will have to rely on their goaltending a little bit more, which probably doesn't sit well with many Sens fans at the moment. The goaltending has been everything but reliable of late, with Martin Gerber (Chris) inconsistent and Ray Emery (Box 24) a constant soap opera of late. GM Bryan Murray seems to have a "wait and see" approach on the go at the moment, but you could argue that the status quo was what kept them one game away from winning the Cup. I don't know how much of an argument you could have, but I'm sure you could re-hash it a bit.

Dany HeatleyJason SpezzaDaniel Alfredsson
Dean McAmmondMike FisherPatrick Eaves
Randy RobitailleChris KellyShean Donovan
Brian McGrattanAntoine VermetteChris Neil
Nick Foligno
Wade ReddenJoe Corvo
Andrej MeszarosChristoph Schubert
Chris PhillipsAndrei Volchenkov
Luke Richardson
Martin Gerber
Ray Emery

The current roster above has Heatley out indefinitely and once he's missed his tenth game, the salary number opens a tad and a little more room is given. The Senators have already missed enough man games from Anton Volchenkov (non-pool) and Patrick Eaves (non-pool), which also opens up the room a little more from their projected annual total of $49.2 million.

With that little bit of space, could the Sens sure up their goaltending? Who is really available? The Sens are not in the market for a high priced keeper and the one's in their price range are either not starters or unavailable because of potential. The Sens are also in the mix "allegedly" for guys like Mats Sundin (John P.), Rob Blake (Box 5) and Marian Hossa (Dale C.)... but who isn't?

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Big Apple During Trade Days

The New York Rangers are a team who will need some creative work done to their salary structure if they are going to move and shake their way through the trade deadline again this year. The team has benefitted from some pleasant surprises in Nigel Dawes (non-pool) and Brandon Dubinsky (non-pool) up front this year. Both players have been somewhat of a constant in the line-up for the Blueshirts this year. Back on the blueline, Marc Staal (Box 23) has been a mainstay and a rock, whcih makes him an absolute bargain at his entry level contract.

But despite these young mainstays in the line-up, the Rangers have a lot of top heavy contracts, most of which are due to end at the end of the season. Jaromir Jagr (Wes) is the biggest thorn in the side of management, between whether he wants to play or not at his pay scale. Jagr has an option that would kick in if he and the Rangers hit certain performance standards. Unfortunately for Jagr, the point plateaus seem a tad far off, which should leave him to be an unrestricted free agent come July 1st. Saying that, the Rangers have been rumoured to be shopping the big Czech around to see if they can off-load him for something, but no one really wants his big salary at the moment or the prospect of a big salary in future with no certain guarantees.

Brendan ShanahanScott GomezJaromir Jagr
Sean AveryChris DruryPeter Prucha
Nigel DawesMartin StrakaBrandon Dubinsky
Ryan HollwegBlair BettsColton Orr
Marcel Hossa
Michal RozsivalDan Girardi
Paul MaraFedor Tyutin
Marc StaalJason Strudwick
Marek Malik
Henrik Lundqvist
Steve Valiquette

The current roster viewed here is worth approximately $50.4 million for the whole year, but there was some relief as Martin Straka (Don) missed a string of games that was greater than 10, so there was some relief there. If the Rangers are able to move Marek Malik (Box 22), that would free up the remaining games worth of a $2.5 million contract, which is also very helpful.

The Rangers have been attached to some names like Peter Forsberg (Wes), Rob Blake (Box 5) and Marian Hossa (Dale C.).

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State of Flyer Nation

Coming down to the deadline, the Flyers are an interesting specimen of a team. Thanks to the marvels of "average salary cap hit," they have managed to smooth over the current long-term, front-loaded deals with a long-term average-type deal that looks better against the CBA. Still, the Flyers are damned with existing red numbers that they are obligated to pay against the cap or else this team would have some real room to play with. Instead, Keith Primeau (retired) still has nearly $3.2 million against the cap to be paid out this season and they have yet another million to payout on a buyout and a waiver deal, so in essence, the whole she-bang of it all is that the Flyers have roughly $638,000 in cap room to deal with. Apparently, the Flyers have been selected to be on the Peter Forsberg (Wes) shortlist, if there actually is one, and then all sorts of stress would ensue, as management would have to squeeze some more room by dealing a lacky away.

I thought I would include their current roster, just in case you were curious and you could mull over (if you are a Flyers fan) who could go and who could stay. Especially if the Forsberg sweepstakes actually heat up.

Daniel BriereMike RichardsMike Knuble
Simon GagneJeff CarterScottie Upshall
Scott HartnellR.J. UmbergerSami Kapanen
Riley CoteJim DowdSteve Downie
Joffrey LupulJesse Boulerice
Kimmo TimonenBraydon Coburn
Randy JonesJim Vandermeer
Derian HatcherJason Smith
Lasse Kukkonen
Martin Biron
Antero Niittymaki

With Joffrey Lupul (Don) sitting on the shelf with a concussion, the Flyers are replacing his $2.5 million salary with a much lower $0.475 million of Jesse Boulerice (non-pool) for the time being. That's a big help to the bottom line and depending on how long Lupul is out, that missing salary could open some more space for someone a little bit bigger.

The real downside to the Flyers situation is that the assets that they could more or less part with would be assets that are not highly sought after, like Sami Kapanen (non-pool) who is worth $1.25 million this year.

The big rumour sitting out on the wire sees Jeff Carter (Box 19) being available in a deal, which would open up the centre position and lessen the burden of negotiating his restricted free agent deal out of his entry level contract. Carter would garner much attention around the league, but he would have to leave to either empty a gap to be filled in by Forsberg or be in a deal that would see Mats Sundin (John P.) head to Philly.

No matter what the Flyers want to do to improve their product on the ice, they will have to move an asset or two in the process to free up the space. It's going to be a regular occurance in the salaray cap age.

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Wednesday Morning Injury Update

I have done a little bit more research into the volume of traffic coming to the site and there are some looking for some injury information, so I thought it would be best for them if I handed out a little update for a few players (or more). Hell, it's be nice if these people would come back for their news, right? Right.

Maxim Afinogenov (Box 14) has been a popular guy on the search engines of late. His nagging groin injury has been the focus of much speculation before and now after the All-Star Break. The last report the Sherpa had read was that despite a small tear in his groin, he has returned to the ice and is now only days before returning to the line-up. Now, it doesn't seem likely that he'll be going tonight against the Panthers or Thursday against the Thrashers, but after a week's worth of skating, I will speculate that he could possibly return when the Sabres return home to face the Devils on February 6th. Again, it only seems logical for him to stay in Buffalo while the team is on the trip and maybe have an extra day or two to prepare. Don't expect to see him on this road trip and don't necessarily expect him back on the 6th until the coach says so.

In Chicago, the Jonathan Toews (Chris) watch continues, but it could still be a while before they'll have a sighting. Head coach Denis Savard mentioned that they will be very cautious with their future superstar centre. They don't want to rush Toews back from his knee injury and he could be an extra couple weeks from the initial 4 weeks that they had quoted him being out. Rest assured Toews holders, if you are able to hold out a couple more weeks, you probably should. But if you have the ability to activate someone else in his spot, you best be doing so.

The Kings have now missed star forward Mike Cammalleri (Dale B.) for the last 15 games with a rib cartiledge problem. No real news has stemmed from this injury in the last couple weeks, which doesn't bode well for the winger or his pool owners. Obviously, the winger is in way too much pain to have started skating again, since there has been no word about him doing so. He's been on the IR since Boxing Day and with no real word as to a return date or a return to the ice date, he shall remain on the list indefinitely.

The Sherpa has had David Legwand (John P.) listed as out day-to-day with his leg injury for some time now. He has been on the IR for just over a week now, which means he could be activated at any time now. But upon further review, the Predators have him listed as out between 1 to 3 weeks, which again could be any day. For the purposes of this report, however, he'll remain out for 2 more weeks on the injury page until further reports.

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Sharks Get Tougher

On Tuesday night, the Sharks acquired tough guy, Jody Shelley (non-pool) from the Blue Jackets for a sixth round pick in 2009.

It looks as though the Sharks want to follow the model set-up by the Anaheim Ducks last season in having a boatload of toughness for down the stretch. The Sharks players may have been in need of a little more protection from their fourth line goons, which they really didn't have.

The Sharks have been shorthanded only 198 times, but are tied for the best penalty kill in the league with Dallas at 86.9%. Maybe the thought process is that they can afford a few more penalties to scare the opposition, because they know they can kill the penalties off more efficiently.

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Alfredsson Stayed Out

The Senators kept Daniel Alfredsson (Clayton) off the ice for the third period against the Islanders on Tuesday night. Alfredsson took a couple low-riding hits in the game and experienced soreness in his hip. Alfredsson, who has been hot of late, doesn't have a timetable for return as of yet, but when the extent of the injury is known, it will be posted on the injury page on the website.

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Langenbrunner Sick

Well, it isn't so much as an injury as it is the flu. Jamie Langenbrunner (Jeff) sat out on Tuesday night because of the illness. The Devils play again on Friday versus the Rangers and I would imagine he'll be good to go for that game.

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Tuesday's Scratches

Plenty of scratches in the first games back from the All-Star Break. Instead of an individual post for each team, I thought I would wrap them all up in one post and get it all over and done with.

The Sabres sat defender Nathan Paetsch (Box 23) in their game against the Lightning. Paetsch only has 7 points this season in 46 games, so he was the odd man out last night. Since the Sabres won on Tuesday night, you may not see Paetsch until there's an injury or a loss.

Adam Foote (Box 10) was surprisingly not in the line-up for the Blue Jackets on Tuesday versus the Coyotes. Foote missed his first game of the year for an undisclosed reason, so he'll be listed as a scratch for the time being. He has 13 points (1G, 12A) in 51 games this year.

Two players sat on Long Island for the Islanders against the Senators on Tuesday. Both Ruslan Fedotenko (Box 21) and Andy Sutton (Box 22) missed the game from the press box, more than likely due to a lack of production. Fedotenko has stalled in his scoring, only having 2 assists in his last 7 games, while Sutton only has 1 assist in his last 13 games.

Looks like Fredrik Sjostrom (Box 8) earned his way back to the press box again on Tuesday night. Sjostrom hadn't scratched since November 28th, amassing 14 points (6G, 8A) in that span, but that didn't seem to be enough for him to play after the break. He was the odd man out for the league's PIM leader, Daniel Carcillo (non-pool).

Christian Backman (Box 10) returned to the press box on Tuesday night against the Leafs. Backman has sat 4 of the last 8 games for the Blues and when he is playing, his ice-time has seemingly gone down from the earlier part of the season. This could be a sign that the Blues defender may be on the trading block.

Finally, Roberto Luongo (John B.) stayed an extra day in Florida with his wife and will meet the team down the road from his Miami home in Tampa Bay for their next game against the Lightning. He skipped the All-Star Game to be with his pregnant wife and obviously it didn't make sense for him to fly all the way to Vancouver and then all the way back to Florida for one game. He'll now get the bulk of the starts down the stretch for the Canucks.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Souray Back on the Shelf

The league's 27th best power play won't get much help in the coming week as their biggest free-agent acquisition in the off-season will be shelved again for the first week back from the All-Star Break.

Sheldon Souray (Marcus) who has been trying to play through the pain of his shoulder injury of late will hang up the skates for a week and have some more recovery time for his sore shoulder.

Souray has already missed 26 games because of his shoulder injury this season, which is a huge blow to an Oiler team who signed the defenseman to a 5-year deal in the summer. On the bright side, the Oilers will only play two weeks in Week Nineteen and if that is all Souray is going to miss, he won't be missed too much on a fantasy level.

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Bone Spurs Connolly

The Sabres are finding themselves deeper in injury trouble than when they left for the All-Star Break. Injuries are not healing as quickly as the team had hoped or in one case, they are getting worse.

Tim Connolly (Chris) will play again this season, but unfortunately, he'll have to play through some pain. Doctors have found a bone spur in Connolly's hip, which will likely be removed after the season, unless the pain is way to great to play.

Connolly was a big part of Chris' early season success in the Draft having scored 29 points in 34 games this season. Connolly has missed 14 games so far this season and has currently missed the last 7 games with a groin injury before the discovery of the bone spur. The team will continue to list him as out day-to-day as they test him until the pain subsides to a playable amount.

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A Few Trade Rumours

Well, the countdown after the second Waiver Draft will be for the February 26th trade deadline in the NHL. The trade deadline ranks up there for excitement with Draft Day in June and the Free Agent Frenzy on July 1st. Players move... picks are swapped... teams get better... others throw in the towel. So much fun!

So, just for fun, I've been reading around the websites and I thought I would drop a few good rumours that I've picked up over the last few weeks and the Sherpa will decipher whether or not it'll actually happen.

Obviously, the most sought after rumour is that of Mats Sundin (John P.). Sundin is rumoured to go anywhere and everywhere before the deadline including Philadelphia and Vancouver. Philadelphia has been rumoured to be offering a guy like Jeff Carter (Box 19), while the Canucks have offered up a prospect like Luc Bourdon (Box 11) and some picks. In all honesty, I believe the reports that Sundin desires to stay in Toronto, but if GM Cliff Fletcher comes to him and says he's got all sorts of good coming back for his services, which way will Sundin want to help the team? The price will undoubtedly be high from Leafland, but even if you throw a team like Detroit into the mix, a deal could very well go down.

The Sherpa's odds on favourite for Sundin... he stays with the Leafs.

One of the better bets to move before the deadline will be Rob Blake (Box 10). Blake has reportedly agreed to move to another team in a similar type situation that will have him back in Kings' colours after July 1st. Blake wants to remain a King, but sees the upside of the rental loophole that the league currently has and agrees that the team could be much better next season, if they throw in the towel this season. The number one suitor again for services is Detroit, but I would imagine that Blake is their number one priority. The Ducks already have (arguably) the best defense corps in the league, but the addition of Blake could rival the Ducks down the stretch. Let's not count out other teams though. Beyond the Motor City, I would wager that there are a few teams that will be out for his services or jack up the asking price that the Wings will have to pay to gain his services.

The Sherpa's odds on favourite for Blake... the Red Wings for the farm, left testicle and right arm in futures.

Since the All-Star Game was in Atlanta, a hot topic of discussion was the future of Marian Hossa (Dale C.) with the Thrashers in years to come. It is understood that contract talked have stalled with the winger and a trade opportunity has been batted around the grounds a little bit in the last couple weeks. Offense depleted teams like the Canucks and Bruins have been the most interested teams knocking on the Thrashers door, but with that much talent on the table, other sides like Colorado, Ottawa and Detroit are reportedly interested. Hossa should not be considered a rental player, however. Any team that manages to snake his services into their line-up will likely look to sign him long-term. That's a $6 million price tag, per season, for the services of the older Hossa... theoretically. This may open the door a little wider for a team like the Bruins, who could manage a top-heavy deal for a top-quality sniper... and let's not forget, he's played with Marc Savard (John P.).

The Sherpa's odds on favourite for Hossa... going off the board and saying Colorado. Better prospects cinch it with cap room to spare.

A player well noted here for his being shopped around of late is Rangers defenseman Marek Malik (Box 22). Malik has been a healthy scratch way too often of late for the Blueshirts and has had episodes of not having his gear in his locker before practice. The buzz is that there is interest in Malik from other teams, but GM Glen Sather is asking way too much for a guy who is a healthy scratch all the time. Malik will likely move and if a team loses out on the Blake sweepstakes, they may turn their attention to the hulking Malik, who will be a free agent at the end of the year and provide a $1 million cap hit towards the end of the season.

The Sherpa's odds on favourite for Malik... going back to the Northwest Division in Denver. The Avs will lose the Blake sweepstakes and need more depth on the back-end.

He may not be a name that is thrown around too often, but Sergei Fedorov (Box 7) does have all the components of a trade deadline day deal attached to him. He's an aging veteran in the last year of a deal that will see him unrestricted in the summer on a team that is struggling for a playoff spot. This being said, the number of teams looking to fill the top six forward role is quite huge and the price tag could be quite reasonable to unload his high-priced salary onto a contending team. The notion I will entertain the most would be a move to Pittsburgh where the Russian quotient is quite high and they are missing their number one asset in Sidney Crosby (Benson). The Penguins have a few young assets to move and they could find themselves in great shape with a guy like Fedorov. There isn't a source for this kind of rumour, I am just throwing this one out there.

The Sherpa's odds on favourite for Fedorov... he moves and hopes that Ray Shero sees a good point here.

If you asked me a couple weeks ago, Alex Tanguay (John B.) was already out the door in Calgary and off to Montreal for Alexei Kovalev (Clayton). Granted, Tanguay's play has gotten a bit better in the past few weeks, he has 10 points in his last 16 games, but he may not be clicking as first-line material. Unfortunately for the Flames, they are in a playoff race with the intention to pick up more scoring for down the stretch. In all likelihood, if the Flames were to deal Tanguay, they'd want someone of equal value coming back, that has a more condusive style of play than Tanguay's free skating and passing style. Obviously, the Habs are the leading candidate (as style points dictate) and they do have players that could come back in a deal.

The Sherpa's deal that sends Tanguay out would look like this... Tanguay and Rhett Warrener (non-pool) to Montreal for Guilliaume Latendresse (non-pool) and Mark Streit (Dale B.).

Rumour has it that forward Erik Cole (Ryan) is being shopped around for some depth players to help Carolina in their special teams. Carolina currently leads the Southeast Division heading into the post-All-Star Break portion of the season, but also has one of the worst penalty kills in the NHL (30th at 77.1%). The coaching staff must be screaming for some help for their penalty kill and since Cole is worth about $4 million, they may be able to unload some cap money to do it. Cole seems to the Sherpa to be more of a guy who will appeal to a bubble team with plenty of grinding players and plenty of cap space. Since there wasn't much for actual teams or names being batted around, he'll make his own.

The Sherpa's deal for Cole would look a little bit like this... Cole would head to Nashville for the return of Martin Gelinas (non-pool) and two picks.

In what could be the biggest deal before the deadline, Olli Jokinen (Dieter) could be moved out of Florida for no less than a Kings ransom. Jokinen has the same career qualities of Fedorov above, but the only difference is that Jokinen has more years and more of a scoring upside than Fedorov, which makes him the Peter Forsberg (Wes) of 2008. Forsberg went to Nashville for the proverbial farm in picks and prospects and if Jokinen is to leave Miami, it would be something relatively similar. Jokinen suggests that he doesn't want to move, but when the Panthers are falling out of the playoff race faster than they can bail out water, why not use parity to their advantage and get what they can out of their marquee man?

The Sherpa's odds on favourite for Jokinen... the Dallas Stars. His brother is there... cap room... and a couple prospects with blue chip written all over them.

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