Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Kings Acquire O'Donnell

The Anaheim Ducks continued cleaning house by dealing veteran defenseman, Sean O'Donnell to the Los Angeles Kings for a conditional draft pick. The Ducks have been trying to clean up some of the space around the salary cap ceiling to ensure they can field a full squad come opening night. The Kings, on the other hand, have been looking to acquire some more veteran talent for their blueline, as they have been rumoured for some of the other high profile veterans that have been moved of late.

2007-2008 Stats2009Point Projections
To Los AngelesAgeGPPointsCap HitTHNHTMScore
Sean O'Donnell, D37829$1.25 millionN/AN/AN/A
To AnaheimAgeGPPointsCap HitTHNHTMScore
2009 Conditional Pick

This is a pretty good deal for the Kings, as they pick up a lot of experience for their youth and it's a good deal for the Ducks, as they already picked up Ken Klee for a little less than O'Donnell. O'Donnell doesn't bring a lot of fantasy value to the Kings, but his teachings may help kids like Jack Johnson and Drew Doughty progress a little bit faster.

Ouellet Waived to the Minors

It looks as though Michel Ouellet won't be starting the season with the Lightning, as he played himself into the minors. Ouellet cleared waivers on Tuesday and should be reporting to Norfolk in the AHL.

Ouellet was signed on in Tampa last summer to a 2-year deal after a breakout year in Pittsburgh, but all that has been shorted by some sub-par efforts. At $1.25 million against the cap, he was an easy choice to demote and bring the team comfortably below the salary cap ceiling before their season starts on Saturday.

Blues Lose Woywitka

The Blues defense corps took another hit on Tuesday, as the team learned that they will now be without Jeff Woywitka for at least a month with a broken foot.

Woywitka, 25, had a good shot at filling in some ice-time needs for the team, as they learned they will already be without Erik Johnson for an extended period of time. Woywitka played in 27 games last season, registering 2 goals and 6 assists and was looking to join the top six after toiling for a few years in the minors.

He only looks to be out a month, but that doesn't help his immediate fantasy value. You may want to see how he is doing outside of his injury for a mid-season pick-up now. Drafting him right away may not be too beneficial, unless you're in a really deep draft and need defensemen that will produce more than 10 points in a season.

Kings Cut Bernier

Anyone thinking they will be clever by selecting Jonathan Bernier as a goalie in their draft, may want to re-consider (or kick themselves, if done already), as they Kings have sent him down to the AHL for a season of conditioning.

Bernier was thought to be getting a good shot at the number one job for the Kings this season, but a season in the minors should be more help for conditioning and training.

As of right now, Jason LaBarbera, Erik Ersberg and Jonathan Quick have the line on the goaltending situation, but the rumours of Nikolai Khabibulin surfacing in LA are still rampant. Keep an eye on the first three until further notice.

One Week Away

Well, we're one week away from the Draft, teams and players are falling into place, injuries are already starting to pile up and intrigue is starting to build about what the season will bring. I, for one, am very excited. The four teams playing in Europe are already starting their small pre-season tour there and preparing to get going on the season this weekend. Hockey pool drafts have already begun, I've seen the posts, but thankfully, I'll be waiting for most rosters to be complete for those who want the sleepers and late bloomers to the line-ups.

In my last poll, that finished this morning, Evgeni Malkin was a runaway third pick overall (if Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby were taken 1 & 2) in a theoretical draft. Malkin has been one of the sharpest players thus far in the pre-season and should be back in fine form for the regular season. In the running for the honour, both Vincent Lecavalier and Joe Thornton were thought to be running neck-and-neck for the lead for most of the poll's duration, but it was Malkin who picked up a late surge and powered by both of them. There is really a good argument to think that Lecavalier and Thornton will go four and five (not in any particular order) in the draft as well.

Still we wait to find out.

In the week leading up to the draft, I thought I would post two new polls. The first poll, who is your top rated goaltender to be taken in the draft? The second, who is your top rated defenseman (especially now that Gonchar & Whitney are down in Pittsburgh)?

Are you ready yet?

Gaustad Out 4 Weeks

The Sabres look to be without forward Paul Gaustad for a minimum of 3-to-4 weeks after undergoing surgery to repair his right thumb. Gaustad had a torn ligament in his thumb, which required surgery.

Last season, Gaustad appeared in all 82 games, scoring 10 goals and adding 26 assists, which did make him a candidate for a late forward pick in some pools. Missing the next (or more) will hurt his numbers somewhat, so you may want to wait for a mid-season period to make any moves for him.

Torres Out 6 Weeks

A name I had forgotten to mention in my 'Weeding Out the Injured' post last month, Raffi Torres, has seemingly come back to haunt me. Torres missed 50 games last season while with the Oilers and now his tenure with the Blue Jackets has started on an equally rocky road. Torres had his evening finished, in the 7-1 romp over Chicgao, with a shoulder injury that should keep him out of the line-up for six weeks.

Torres separated his shoulder in a fight during the second period with Hawks' forward Ben Eager. Torres is also part of the Selection Sheet pool, situated in Box 8, so you may want to skip over him for the time being.

Last Night's Pre-Season Recap (Sep 29)

It was an offensive outburst in Columbus, as the Blue Jackets rout the Blackhawks, 7-1. Rick Nash, Kristian Huselius, Fedor Tyutin and Rostislav Klesla all managed three points in the game, a solid mix of old and new faces to the line-up. I don't know if this is something to bank on for the entire season, but it is sure good to see that the Jackets might be a halfway decent spot to get points from. We all know that Nash will be a solid source of production, maybe even Huselius, but the defensemen will be a definite bonus this year.

Plenty of questions surrounding Michael Nylander and his effectiveness in the Washington line-up this year. The Capitals have a couple good centres already in place for the first and second lines, but Nylander put his best foot forward, setting up the game-tying and winning goal for Washington in a 3-2 win over New Jersey. Rumours are abound that he could be moving before too long and if he is this healthy, teams could be knocking sooner rather than later. He should be a keeper.

The Maple Leafs got a big boost from new faces as Niklas Hagman scored a pair of big goals that helped the team to the shootout, while Luke Schenn scored the shootout winner. Hagman, acquired as a free agent in the summer, was placed on a line with a couple other new faces, Nikolai Kulemin and Michael Grabovski to score his second goal, so it will be a season of new faces and new combos in Toronto. Pick Leafs with caution, it's gonna be a crap shoot at the ACC this year.

The Coyotes are looking ready to be contenders for the last couple playoff spots after a big 5-1 win over their division rivals, the Sharks. Peter Mueller led the way with a hat-trick in the game, while new teammate Mikael Boedker scored the other two goals for the team. The desert dogs will be relying heavily on their youth to power them through this long season, but they'll have enough youth to always have at least one going, you'd think.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tarnasky to the Predators

In a small deal on Monday afternoon, the Predators acquired gritty forward Nick Tarnasky from the Lightning for a conditional pick in 2009. Tarnasky is more of a valuable player if your pool has points for penalty minutes, but otherwise, the Predators have just added more stock to the grit department.

2007-2008 Stats2009Point Projections
To NashvilleAgeGPPointsCap HitTHNHTMScore
Nick Tarnasky, F238010$525,000N/AN/AN/A
To Tampa BayAgeGPPointsCap HitTHNHTMScore
2009 Conditional Pick

Gonchar Update

The news for poolies concerning Sergei Gonchar gets worse today, as he and the team has elected to go for surgery to repair his injured shoulder, which should put him out of the line-up for 4 to 6 months. This news should suggest that his fantasy value is now zero for just about the entire season, but he could very well be ready to go for a playoff run, suggesting that the Penguins have enough talent on the blueline to accomodate that.

You can now strike Gonchar off your pool lists, hoping that you haven't drafted him already.

Islanders Claim Pock

The Islanders claimed defenseman Thomas Pock off the waiver wire from the Rangers on Monday. Pock had to clear waivers in order to be moved to the minors today, but the Islanders thought he would be a good fit for their system right away.

Last season, Pock only appeared in one game for the Rangers, not registering a point. The Islanders already have quite a few defensemen in their stable, especially those who could play right away. Right now, Pock would be eighth on the depth chart (roughly) and likely isn't going to be a good fantasy pick-up.

Khabibulin Waived?

It looks like the Blackhawks are having trouble moving the big contract of Nikolai Khabibulin. Things are coming to a boiling point in Chicago, as they have reportedly put the 35-year old keeper on waivers, in order to off-load his $6.75 million cap hit for nothing. This shouldn't come as a big shock to anyone, as it is an expensive contract to pick up for a goaltender that hasn't put up great numbers since his Stanley Cup win in Tampa Bay.

The Hawks need desperately to clean off this cap burden or else they won't be able to stay below the cap ceiling come the beginning of the season. The Blackhawks may have to settle with putting Khabibulin through re-entry waivers, taking on half of his salary cap hit. That could be enough to keep themselves afloat. Teams won't be looking to shell out the full hit on Khabibulin, it wouldn't be surprising if no teams would take on half, so the Hawks may have to buy him out, which will also be a tough pill to swallow.

Rangers Land in Europe

The Rangers have also touched down in Europe, carrying 26 players on their roster. Before October 4th, they will have to cut two from their team, but they do get two more exhibition games against SC Bern and Metallurg Magnitogorsk before having to make any more decisions.

The new looking team has quite a few options when it comes to scoring, which comes from a lot of the new faces. The projected top line of Naslund-Gomez-Zherdev does have quite a bit of expectations coming into the year, but they should be accented well by a good offensive blueline and a number of options for a decent second line.

The Rangers look like they will be a good team to choose from for your hockey pool draft. The possibility of a big breakout year for Nikolai Zherdev is very tempting on paper, but how high can he go? If the Rangers get the scoring they are looking for, there is no reason why Henrik Lundqvist couldn't win 40 games, which makes him a bluechip keeper for the year.

Scott GomezMichal RozsivalHenrik Lundqvist
Nikolai ZherdevWade ReddenSteve Valiquette
Chris DruryDan GirardiMiika Wiikman
Markus NaslundPaul Mara
Brandon DubinskyMarc Staal
Nigel DawesDimitri Kalinin
Dan FritscheBrian Fahey
Fredrik SjostromCorey Potter
Patrick Rissmiller
Petr Prucha
Aaron Voros
Ryan Callahan
Blair Betts
Colton Orr
Lauri Korpikoski

With the 26 players they have currently in camp, their salary cap number only sits at $57.3 million, a mere $600,000 over the salary cap ceiling. Likely cuts to Brian Fahey, Corey Potter and Miika Wiikman will have them safe from salary cap troubles in no time. The thought of picking Mats Sundin should have moved past the memory of Rangers fans, as this should be the go-forward line-up through the season. It would have been one mess of a puzzle to figure out who would be on the way out if Sundin came to town.

Sunday's Notable Pre-Season Players

The Hurricanes have their back-up goalie in fine form. Michael Leighton made 21 saves against the Philadelphia Flyers, keeping a young Flyers team at bay. Leighton's worst foes were likely Jeff Carter and Joffrey Lupul, only stopping two shots between them. A good effort from the Hurricanes all around.

Chris Osgood played all 60 minutes, stopped 14 shots and earned the shutout against the Atlanta Thrashers. Henrik Zetterberg scored a goal and an assist and Jiri Hudler had a couple of assists in the win.

It was a good debut for Antti Niemi, who made 28 saves in a win for Chicago against Dallas. Niemi was put into the game on the heels of a rumour that Nikolai Khabibulin is on the move to the Eastern Conference in the near future. Stay tuned for that news. On the scoresheet, Brian Campbell led the way with four assists, while Jonathan Toews scored a pair and added an assist as well.

The Habs kept on rolling in the pre-season, beating the Panthers 3-2 in the shootout. Tomas Plekanec was the top forward, dishing out a pair of assists in regulation time. Young defenseman, Yannick Weber, scored his first goal of the pre-season as well.

It was another shootout in Buffalo between the Sabres and Wild, which the Wild took 2-1 with Andrew Brunette's shootout winner. Brunette was also the Wild's goal scorer in regulation time. 2:57 remaining in regulation to be exact. His return to the Wild seems to be a good idea for success for the regular season, so you might want to keep his production numbers about the same for your pool team.

Shootouts a plenty after a 4-4 draw in regulation in Anaheim, but it was the Canucks winning after five rounds. On the winning side, it was Sami Salo who opened up his offensive skills for a goal and two assists, while a trial of the new 'big line' of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Steve Bernier seemed to be a success. The line combined for 6 points.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Selanne Signs With Ducks

It was inevitable. Teemu Selanne has signed on with the Anaheim Ducks, but it was surprising to see that the deal was for two years and not just one. The deal is supposed to be worth about $2.625 million against the cap each year.

The addition of Selanne improves the Anaheim offense considerably and now they haven't to worry about whether or not he'll be on the opening night roster or not. The only question remaining will be, who will be the next one on the roster to go, because they are already hugging the cap ceiling from the wrong side, but only by $1.5 million or so.

Ryan GetzlafChris ProngerJean-Sebastien Giguere
Corey PerryScott NiedermayerJonas Hiller
Chris KunitzSteve Montador
Brendan MorrisonFrancois Beauchemin
Teemu SelanneKent Huskins
Todd MarchantKen Klee
Rob NiedermayerSean O'Donnell
Samuel Pahlsson
Bobby Ryan
Travis Moen
George Parros
Brad May

So, where does Selanne rank on your list? Does his age take his numbers down at all? Last season, he managed 23 points in only 26 games, so he could be in line for 72 points if he can play at that pace for 82 games.  That's a lot of points to pick up from a guy like Selanne.  You should probably consider him dangerous.

Thrashers Send Esposito to Juniors

The Thrashers made cuts on Saturday, including a bit of a shock, seeing Angelo Esposito (Box 25 on the Sheet) head back to juniors for the year.  Esposito looked to be having a very good camp, but it was all not to be this season, as he'll spend another year in Montreal in the QMJHL.  It is fairly obvious to say, stay away from Esposito on the Sheet pool and don't draft him otherwise.

Lightning Playing in Germany

The Lightning opened their European pre-season schedule on Sunday, as they played in Berlin, winning 4-1 over Eisbaren Berlin. The Lightning were led by veteran Gary Roberts, scoring a goal and adding an assist, while German-born Olaf Kolzig was in net for the win.  The Lightning are carrying a new looking team into the season and they do have some injury concerns before it all starts as well.  Players below in red are currently unavailable for the team, but are likely to return to the line-up soon and are considered part of the line-up.

Vincent LecavalierAndrej MeszarosOlaf Kolzig
Martin St. LouisPaul RangerMike Smith
Vaclav ProspalShane O'BrienKarri Ramo
Radim VrbataMatt Carle
Ryan MaloneMike Lundin
Mark RecchiAndrew Hutchinson
Jeff HalpernVladimir Mihalik
Jussi Jokinen
Michel Ouellet
Chris Gratton
Gary Roberts
Jason Ward
Nick Tarnasky
Adam Hall
Steven Stamkos

With everyone in the line-up, the Lightning are touching the salary cap ceiling and will have to make all their necessary cuts when they come back to North America. The team won't be in any salary cap trouble, but they won't be able to make many moves at the trade deadline.

The big pool question will be about who will get the nod as the number one in the Tampa net.  If there is a true number one in Tampa, he could be a good source of points for your fantasy team.  Keep an eye on that situation.

Penguins Flown to Sweden

The Penguins cleaned up their roster before heading to Sweden this weekend and now the team looks to be ready for their opener in a week's time. The blueline will be hurting, since they will be without Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney.

Gonchar will now be out for up to six weeks with his separated shoulder, while Whitney will be out for up to five months.  It will be up to Kristopher Letang and Alex Goligoski to pick up some of the offensive slack from the back end.  Letang will be a good player to pick up in your draft, while Goligoski could be a late round defender that does you some good.

Thankfully for the offense, both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are healthy and ready to go, so they will be a tough team to defend on any given evening.  If you're looking for another sleeper pick, have a look at Janne Pesonen's numbers in their pre-season games against Jokerit

Evgeni MalkinSergei GoncharMarc-Andre Fleury
Sidney CrosbyRyan WhitneyDany Sabourin
Petr SykoraHal GillJohn Curry
Miroslav SatanKristopher Letang
Ruslan FedotenkoBrooks Orpik
Jordan StaalDarryl Sydor
Pascal DupuisRob Scuderi
Maxime TalbotMark Eaton
Matt CookeAlex Goligoski
Tyler KennedyPaul Bissonnette
Eric Godard
Jeff Taffe
Bill Thomas
Janne Pesonen

The team is allowed to carry 25 players to Sweden and will have to make one more cut, for an NHL exception 24 players for the European games, while they will have to cut down to 23 players before they start their North American regular season.  The Penguins are in good shape financially, since they will have Gonchar and Whitney's salary numbers cut substantially from their final total.  There will be no concern about movements when they finalize their roster.

Saturday's Notable Pre-Season Players

The Flyers played one last game in the Spectrum in Philadelphia and leading the memory march was forward Mike Richards, who made the most of the game with two shorthanded goals.  Richards, who also played on a line with Daniel Briere and the recovered winger, Simon Gagne, should be leading the charge for the Flyers and should generate a lot of interest in the higher picks of the late first round or early second round. Richards shouldn't disappoint this year.

The Devils upended the Rangers in pre-season play on Saturday, 4-2, led by enigmatic winger, Patrik Elias, who sported a pair of goals and added an assist.  Elias has been one tough nut to crack for poolies, as he hasn't provided a very consistant career to analyze.  Last season, he did appear in 74 games for the Devils, scoring 20 goals, but he has been better.  It is probably best to keep your expectations low on Elias when drafting him, because there is a good chance he won't see 80+ points again.  There are several reasons why he possibly could, but his own numbers suggest that it would be a major bonus if he does.

Capitals forward, Chris Bourque, scored the winning goal against Boston and added an assist in the game to be the most notable player in the 4-3 Washington win.  Bourque, 22, played in four games for the Caps last season, not registering a point, is looking to finally crack the team on a full-tiime basis this year.

The New York Islanders continued their tour of Eastern Canada against a Florida team that has been on the road for this whole pre-season as well.  The Islanders dominated the game, winning 4-2.  Frans Neilsen was the most notable player for the Islanders scoring two goals and adding two assists.  A very impressive outing for the youngster.  Nielsen played in 16 games for the Islanders last season, scoring two goals and adding an assist.  He could be a good addition to the Islanders this year.

The Senators used everyone in their win against the Canadiens on Saturday, as they close out their North American pre-season.  The Sens cleaned up their roster after the game and were heading off across the pond.  Of note, the Sens were not afraid to put the big three (Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza) back together for a shift or two, where they actually scored the insurance marker in the third period.

The Sabres snuck past the Maple Leafs on Saturday night, 3-2 in overtime, as Maxim Afinogenov was the catalyst of the win, with three assists.  Afinogenov is coming off an injury-plagued season, where he only saw 56 games and scored a sub-par 10 goals.  The Sabres will need him to pick his game back up to a place where he was before to be completely successful.  It's hard to say whether or not he'll have a full rebound season, so try and make him a sleeper pick in your pool, rather than trying to bank on his old form.

A name to look for in your hockey pool draft would be Patric Hornqvist from the Predators. Hornqvist, 21, is a name that the Predators have wanted to get in their line-up for some time now and it looks like they will try and insert him in their line-up for a couple more pre-season games to make sure he's ready for the big time.  His career projection, according to the Forecaster, is a top six winger, so keep an eye out for him.  He'll be a good sleeper pick.

The Canucks had a bright spot in their pre-season game, as Jannik Hansen made a push for a forward spot in the line-up with a goal and an assist in the game against San Jose. The Canucks won 3-2. Hansen, a late round pick in 2004, has had a long look in the past couple training camps, but has fallen short in each of them.  On a team that needs some offense, it's Hansen's time to pick up his game.