Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Draft Player News (Nov. 30)

On Tuesday night, the Buffalo Sabres lost the services of defenseman Jordan Leopold to an upper-body injury. Leopold was hurt in the 1st period and didn't return to the game. On Wednesday afternoon, the Sabres have said that he has been ruled out of any action on the weekend. I would imagine that he will be re-evaluated on Sunday or Monday and a further update will be provided, but for the time being, he'll be listed as out day-to-day.

Leopold has played in 24 games for the Sabres, scoring 5 goals and 4 assists, currently ranking 270th in pool scoring.

This is one of two hits to Scott G.'s blueline, the other being a little bit further down in this post.  A few games away from action won't hurt Scott too badly, but if there is anything more significant, I'm sure he'll be hoping for news before the waiver draft ends.  Scott currently sits in 10th spot, 27 points out of 3rd place, going into Wednesday night's action.

The Flames squeaked past the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night, but they did pay a small price for their win, as defenseman Marc Giordano left the game with a hamstring injury. There was mention on Wednesday that the injury could be somewhat significant, but there was no official word, so he'll be on the list as day-to-day for the time being, but it sounds fair to assume that he'll miss a couple weeks worth of action.

Giordano has not been terribly productive for the Flames early on this season, only having 4 goals and 4 assists in 23 games, ranking 297th in pool scoring to this point.

It has not been a good waiver week for Munden G., who has yet to pick up a point in the first two nights of action.  Munden has dropped down to 18th spot and is in real danger of dropping even further down in the standings.  It's good timing to have the waiver draft for him, as he should improve his team, but will it be too late?

There is a new coaching regime in Carolina, but that doesn't appear to have stopped the cycle of scratching defensemen, as Jamie McBain made his return to the press box under new head coach, Kirk Muller.  It's hard to say what the actual rotation will be like in the end from the new coach, but it hasn't gotten off to a good start for one player, at least.

McBain has not been tearing up the Southeast Division by any means, picking up only 6 assists in 21 games this season, good enough for 394th in pool scoring.

This will count as another hiccup in the season for Allan S., who continues to struggle into Week Nine with only 2 points in two nights worth of action.  Allan is down in 14th spot at the moment, but fortunately for him, the teams around him are off to slow weeks as well, but the waiver draft will likely help him out greatly as well, with a pretty good spot to pick from.

The Florida Panthers lost the services of defenseman Dimitri Kulikov on Tuesday night to a deep laceration on his leg, which was just above the boot of his skate.  There was no word as to what any further evaluation has determined, as to the severity of the injury or how long it will keep the Russian defender out of the line-up, but I imagine it could be a while, given that it is considered a deep laceration.

Kulikov had been enjoying a pretty good start to the season, scoring 1 goal and adding 14 assists in his first 23 games this year, providing a good start to many Panthers rushes up the ice or quarterbacking the power play.  He begins action on Wednesday night in 131st in pool scoring.

This is a sizeable ding to Peter H.'s foreseeable future, as Kulikov has been his best defenseman in the early third of the season.  Peter currently ranks 19th with 152 points, already falling behind quite rapidly to the money leaders.  He already sits 53 points back of 4th place.

The Penguins decided to send Kristopher Letang home to Pittsburgh after he was complaining that he couldn't breathe on the ice through his broken nose. There has also been some rumblings that Letang may have also suffered a concussion when he was hit by Max Pacioretty on the weekend, a hit that cost the Habs forward three games. Letang will be re-evaluated in Pittsburgh, but it may be a bit before the official word gets out.

Letang has been very good this season, even with the early absence of Sidney Crosby, scoring 3 goals and adding 16 assists, tanking among the best defensemen in pool scoring this year.  As of Wednesday afternoon, he was sitting in 70th spot.

This is the second hit that Scott has taken in this post, both hits going to the blueline.  Scott's defensemen have been doing well, making up for 43 points or 24% of his total points this year.  That's a pretty good number to be at.  Unfortunately, both injuries will put a dent in that number.

Finally, in this all-defenseman edition of the draft player news, Alex Pietrangelo sat out of the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night, thanks to a flu bug. Pietrangelo will likely be ready to go for the team's next game, which goes on Friday night, so there is some good news to this little bit. He's just day-to-day for right now.

The young defenseman hasn't quite put up the numbers that some may have expected from him yet this season, scoring 4 goals and 5 assists through 23 games, but those numbers are not too bad, ranking him 278th in pool scoring to date.

The 11th place team belonging to Benson G. missed out on a Pietrangelo start, which is somewhat disappointing, since he is in the thick of the top 10 race going into Wednesday night.  As for the money, he only sits 27 points back of 4th place.

Sheet Player News (Nov. 30)

On Tuesday, it was announced that Box 24 forward Andreas Nodl was claimed off of waivers by the Carolina Hurricanes, picking him up from the Philadelphia Flyers, who were looking to send him down to the minors. Nodl has been a healthy scratch on a number of occasions and has also had some troubles with some minor injury knocks, limiting his season to 12 games with the Flyers, but this claim should provide a new lease on life and he was in the line-up for the Hurricanes right away on Tuesday night, so he's already off to a good start.  I don't think he will be a good pool pick-up though, having only 1 assist in 13 games now this season, he should be avoided.

Box 28 defenseman Zbynek Michalek was one of two Penguins defensemen sent home on Tuesday, after he suffered an undisclosed injury on the weekend against the Canadiens. Michalek has already been injured once this season and now a second injury will certainly put a dent in the rest his season, beginning on Tuesday night against the Rangers.  Michalek currently sits near the bottom of his box in scoring this season and if you haven't traded him away, there is a pretty good pick-up in his box, if you so felt the need to improve there.

The defenseman carousel may have stopped for the time being, as Box 14 defenseman Justin Braun has been sent down to the Worcester Sharks of the AHL, after what was reported as a fairly disastrous flub against the Kings on Monday night. Braun has been on a cycle with Jason Demers in the sixth defenseman spot, but with this recent demotion, it appears that Demers will likely get to remain in the spot for a little while or the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hall Expected Out For 4 Weeks

Bad news from the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night, as it was announced around their game with the Predators that forward Taylor Hall is expected to be out of the line-up for 2-to-4 weeks with a shoulder injury, following an MRI on Monday afternoon. Hall was hurt early in the 1st period against the Avalanche on Saturday night, leaving the game for a brief period, tried playing with it for a shift, but then gave up for the night.  Fortunately, the shoulder will not require surgery and his time on the shelf will be limited to rehab.

Hall has had a very good start to the 2012 season, scoring 7 goals and 11 assists in the first 22 games for the Oilers, slotting him in 69th in pool scoring after Monday night's action.  He had certainly found some new chemistry with his linemates in Edmonton and he was a big reason for the Oilers' early season successes in the standings.  His spot will be a tough one to fill, but it is all part of the game and Edmonton has plenty of young talent to help ease the burden left behind.

ImplicationsBetween Hall's scoring rate and the possibility of only being out for a couple of weeks will likely see the young winger stay on Clayton C.'s team through this week's waiver draft, especially since there are a couple of other players who have worse injuries and far worse scoring rates to speak of.  If you're hoping that Hall might be dropped, you may want to look elsewhere for someone to gamble on this season.

Pacioretty Given 3 Games

On Monday, the NHL Department of Player Safety came down on Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty for his hit on Penguins defenseman Kris Letang over the weekend, a hit you can see below.  Pacioretty was handed a 3-game suspension for the hit, as it was cited that he could have made a better attempt to hit Letang's body when he came across the ice to hit him, catching his head in the process.

The Canadiens will certainly miss his presence in the line-up over the next week, as Pacioretty has been putting up some excellent numbers in the 2012 season, 10 goals and 9 assists in 24 games.  He currently ranks 55th in pool scoring to this point in the season and will likely drop a little this week, due to this league-enforced absence.

ImplicationsThe biggest effect on the draft that this will have will be the games missed, as this isn't big enough for Allan S. to consider dropping Pacioretty, as he has been one of his best players this season.  Allan has his pick coming up shortly in the waiver draft, as he had a meteoric fall in the standings last week and dropping one of his best players for the next week will not help his team bounce back from the fall.  Allan's team goes into Tuesday's action in 14th spot, 34 points out of 4th place, the last money spot in the standings.

Draft Player News (Nov. 29)

The defenseman carousel continued to turn in San Jose and the results haven't turned out to be any more positive for the Sharks, as they suffered another loss to a division opponent on Monday night.  Jason Demers was again a healthy scratch for the Sharks, as he traded places with Justin Braun again, but the 2-0 loss will likely signal another change in the guard, since there wasn't enough defense and certainly no offense to speak of in this contest.

Demers has 1 goal and 2 assists in 11 games for the Sharks this year, a far cry from some of the scoring paces he has had in the previous couple of seasons.  But he's been on the blog enough times already this year, that you know that already.

Fortunately, thanks to some of the results from the early part of the waiver draft, we know that Derek W. will be dropping Demers for Marc-Andre Bergeron, so there will definitely be an upgrade in both games played and in scoring production for Derek.  I'm sure for Derek, not to mention most people in the draft, he cannot wait for Week Ten to start and have his new prize dress for his pool team.

Sheet Player News (Nov. 29)

On Monday, the Anaheim Ducks decided to send Box 8 forward Brandon McMillan down to the AHL to put some extra work into his game. McMillan only has 3 points in 23 games and the team feels that he has a bit more to give, so some AHL time should help get his game back in order and possibly renew some of his confidence.  I wouldn't expect him back up too soon, but I would imagine that he would be one of the first names on the list, if an injury was to occur to a scorer in the line-up.

After spending a couple games in the press box as a healthy scratch, Box 7 forward Blake Geoffrion returned to the Predators line-up for their game against the Oilers, but his return was only to be marred by an upper-body injury.  Geoffrion was hit by Ryan Jones and had to leave the game with the injury and the post-game comments suggest that the injury is a little more on the serious side. Geoffrion only has 2 assists in 19 games this season, so this may open up a brand new opportunity for someone else in the Predators' depth chart to possibly give the team some offense.

Sharks Box 7 forward Michal Handzus didn't travel with the team to Los Angeles for Monday night's game against the Kings, as the checking forward was feeling under the weather after practice.  It doesn't sound like it will be anything too significant for Handzus, but no one really would like to be ill or be responsible for passing it around to his teammates, so that was the primary focus of leaving him behind.  I don't think there is any reason to think that will be the only game that he'll miss.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pronger Set to Miss a Month

I'm sure the speculation is probably out there already, but it could be possible that age is catching up to Chris Pronger.  The 37-year old defenseman has opted to undergo another surgery, this time to his knee, which will now keep him out of the line-up for upwards of four weeks.  Pronger has been out of the line-up a couple times already this season, first to an eye injury from an errant high stick and lately, he's been out with a virus and that will carry over into this knee surgery, making it an awfully rough start for the veteran blueliner.

Pronger's age isn't showing in his production, having 1 goal and 11 assists in 13 games played for the Flyers, which is good enough to rank him 195th in pool scoring and he's missed a boatload of time already.  Pronger has been solid in most of the situations he's been put in, picking up points at even strength and on the power play, but the Flyers will have to wait for a month before he can get back to doing what he does best, leading this Flyers team by example.

ImplicationsNow, I couldn't see Pronger really being a candidate for being dropped in the waiver draft, despite the fact that he will miss around three of the next 9-week segment, but this will likely be a brief pondering point for Scott G., who has him in the draft this season.  Scott currently sits in 9th spot in the standings and hasn't had the best bit of luck with his Flyers players, having Jaromir Jagr and James Van Riemsdyk already on the shelf.  Scott will be an interesting case to watch in his first waiver draft.

Week Eight Newsletter

Newsletter Header

Well, here we are.  The home stretch of the first 9-week segment of the year, which means that we will have a voucher for a jersey to give away, since I haven't quite bought them yet.  It also means, the draft pool will begin the proceedings of changing up players to make teams a little bit better, it's waiver draft time!

It looks as though Wayne H. will have a jersey to lose this week, as he goes into the final week of of the first segment with a 15-point lead.  Wayne has had back-to-back weeks of 30 points or more, so his team is running quite hot, but he has also run into some injury problems, which will make the end of this race a little more interesting.  There are three teams within 20 points of Wayne and all it takes is one cold week from our leader and one of these teams to suddenly catch fire.  Can it happen?  Sure.  Anything is possible.

As for the waiver draft, we have already gotten started, as the standings were pretty much sorted from the early parts of Sunday evening.  Darren S. led the way by picking up Joffrey Lupul, who was the best player available, so he'll be able to pick up some extra points from a brand new forward, trying to close the gap on some of the teams ahead of him and possibly give him a chance to get a jersey prize in the second or third segment.  Ryan M. made his selection shortly after, taking Kris Versteeg out of Florida, who has been having a monster start to the year and will be a great add to Ryan's team, trying to keep Darren down in last place.  The last pick made on Sunday night belonged to Derek W., who took the best defenseman and arguably the best player available, Marc-Andre Bergeron, trying to shore up his blueline to start the waiver draft.  Bergeron has been a machine in Tampa and was well worth the selection this early.

Next up in the waiver draft is Peter and I am going to run a bit of a clock system, giving teams 24 hours from the last selection, as a worst-case scenario.  Derek's pick was made at 11pm on Sunday evening, so Peter has until then on Monday night to get his pick in or else he will pass.  This will go for every team and I will make my best effort to get a hold of you to make sure you get your pick in.

I would definitely like to get everyone's two selections in before the end of the week, so hopefully everyone plays along.

PhotobucketThe title of "the year of the back-up goaltender" has been used in a number of spots in the media this season, when describing what we've seen in the creases across the NHL, but we had yet to see it in the hockey pool, until this week, where we have seen our first back-up goalie taking a Player of the Week nod. In Vancouver, it is the actual coming out party for goalie Cory Schneider, who lit up the box scores with wins and shutouts, picking up 10 points and a clear win for the title.

Schneider and the Canucks were on the road for three games in Week Eight and Schneider got the start in all three, thanks to an injury to Roberto Luongo and then a very hot hand kept him in the net, when his number one returned to the line-up and was healthy enough to be his back-up.

The week started on Wednesday in Colorado, where Schneider made 24 saves in a 4-0 win over the Avalanche, then it was a 22-save effort in Phoenix on Friday night for a 5-0 shutout victory and then the coaches decided to ride him into San Jose the next night, where he stopped 43 shots in a 3-2 victory over the Sharks.  3-0-0 with 2 shutouts in the week is good enough for 10 points.

This brings his overall total up to 6 wins and 2 shutouts on the season, good enough for 16 points, 113th in pool scoring, 25th among all goalies this year.  Niesa S. picked him up in the draft this year, but hasn't quite seen the returns she was hoping for, as she picked Schneider 84th, but at least it is much closer than he was at the beginning of the week.  I would imagine that he will continue to get starts, as long as he continues to win now.

PhotobucketIt was a record-setting week in the draft for Stacey C., who absolutely dominated the weekly standings and cruised up the overall standings, making everyone notice him on the way.  Stacey bested the next two teams in the week by 12 points, taking the week with 47 points, moving up from 7th place to 2nd, which was absolutely mind-blowing to a lot of teams in the pool this week.  It may not have been the best weeks to do this exactly, as he his waiver draft pick fell from 15th to 21st, but he will still get to improve his team and try to stay among the money teams from here on in.

Having a big weeks in the pool for Stacey were Jordan Eberle and Jimmy Howard, who each had 6 points in the week, while Valtteri Filppula had 5 points and Sam Gagner, Ryan Getzlaf, Michael Grabner, John Carlson and Ian White each had 4 points.  This was amazing outputs, especially when you consider he had one zero and a couple of 1-point weeks as well, he took the weekly record by 5 points with this great combination.

Stacey also has the new pool scoring leader in Howard, who now has 32 points, best among all players in the league, by a single point, thanks to three solid weeks in the pool.

Stacey's team is a great combination of all three positions in the pool, not one is a leader in their category, but he's getting some good production from all three, forwards, defense and goalies.  Likely, the most impressive output on his team is coming from his defense at the moment, which currently makes up 23.9% of his points to this point in the year, which is nicely above average, but isn't overwhelming.

He'll now start Week Nine, the last week of the weekly competition, 15 points back of 1st place, for the jersey race, but he'll also have to fend off a couple of teams for his position, as he is only 1 point up on 3rd and 4 points up on 4th.

Stacey will also have a tough decision to make, when it comes to the waiver draft, how will he try to improve his team, which is firing on all cylinders at the moment?

PhotobucketOn the low end of the spectrum, it was a disastrous week for Allan S., who was sent tumbling down the standings, faster than Stacey moved up them this week.  Allan's team took a weekly low of 11 points, which dropped him from the money race in 6th place, down to 14th and scrambling to gain some traction.

Allan didn't get some of his relied upon production from players like John Tavares or Martin Havlat, who were healthy and had zeroes, while injuries to David Legwand, Tyler Myers and Evgeni Nabokov certianly didn't help his cause at all.  His best player in the week was Ilya Kovalchuk, who had 3 points, so you can see where the problems were across the board.

Allan's pick in the waiver draft did improve greatly, but his decision process of who to drop may be a bit difficult, as there is still some quality talent in there.  Will one of his injured players get the boot?  I could see Nabokov going, since the starts have been spread out on the Island, but he is also trade bait, which would likely still be intriguing, seeing him go to a contending team and then picking up points.  So difficult.

PhotobucketOn the sheet pool, the pool leader remained the same and he took a little bit more of a lead through Week Eight.  Jeff E. had a monster week, taking 85 points and opening up the gap between himself and 2nd place to 27 points.  The gap is still rather manageable, but does look very daunting, no matter how early it is in the season.  Zac H. still sits in 2nd, while we have a new face in 3rd place, as Chris G. stormed his way up with one of the three top weeks in the pool.

Helping out towards the big week for Jeff was Brian Elliott and Tim Thomas, who each finished the week with 8 points each, while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had 5 points and then picking up 4 points a piece for him were Jiri Hudler, Ian White, Joffrey Lupul and Johan Hedberg.  Jeff had made five trades at the beginning of the week, shoring up some of the healthy players on his team and all five of those players picked up points for him, which was absolutely clutch.

Moving up the most in the standings were Wendy C. and Don C. #2, each team moving up five spots, thanks to making some clever trades in the week.  Wendy moved up from 17th to 12th, while Don's second team moved up from 28th to 23rd and both teams still have plenty of room to move up.

The 2nd place team of Zac H., led the pool in goals scored in the week with 25 and now has the overall lead in the first tie-breaker as well, now having a combined 150 goals from all of his players this season.


A minor groin injury was enough to keep back-up goalie Dan Ellis from getting dressed on Sunday night against the Maple Leafs, which led to the team calling up Jeff Deslauriers from the minors to give support to Jonas Hiller.  I don't believe that Ellis missed out on a start on Sunday, but if you were wondering why he was not in the line-up this is why.  Ellis has not been a great pool player this season, only picking up 2 points in the season, to date.  It's hard to say how long he'll be out, but if it's a groin injury, I would imagine the Ducks will take their time with him.

Just coming off a minor injury of his own, Brendan Morrison was back up in the press box on Sunday evening, as his team, the Flames, took on the Wild in Minnesota.  Morrison came off another knee injury in the week and there is likely a chance that his return was somewhat premature, which is reasonable, since Morrison is a pretty good team player and likely wanted to help get the Flames back on track as soon as possible.  Morrison has 1 goal in 10 games this season and hasn't been a terribly productive member of the team, so it the scratch could have been for those reasons as well.

The Hurricanes were able to welcome Joni Pitkanen back to their line-up on Sunday, as they took on the Senators, which meant a player had to come out of the line-up as a healthy scratch.  The underachieving Tomas Kaberle was the pick of the coaching staff, as he was a healthy scratch for the second time this season.  Kaberle only has 5 assists in 24 games with the Hurricanes this year, which is far below the expectations of a   top notch offensive defenseman and the Hurricanes are hoping that he can turn his season around or else he'll likely be trade bait before too long.

Link to the Injury/News Page


The last Hockey Night In Canada broadcast of the first segment of the pools will be a tripleheader, with a very early West Coast start and two storied rivalry games, which should make for some entertaining hockey on the day. And since we are looking at the first waiver draft in the draft pool this coming week, I will point out the best player available from each game and they will get their picture posted for posterity.

In the afternoon game, the Montreal Canadiens will make an appearance in Hollywood to take on the Los Angeles Kings.  Both teams are hitting the one-third mark of the season outside of the playoffs and both teams are in desperate need of finding some offense before too long.  There may not be a great deal of history between the two teams, but since they will have to scratch and claw their way back into the playoffs, this could make for a decent game.  The top player available for the waiver draft between these two clubs in David Desharnais, who currently has 13 points in 24 games for the Habs and has played some fairly good hockey for the club.  He currently ranks 23rd among players available, so there is a chance he is taken this time around.

In the 5pm MT game, it looks as though we'll see the return of the Maple Leafs to our television sets, as they visit Boston to take on the Bruins.  This Original Six match-up hasn't disappointed yet this season, as there is plenty of emotion in this one.  Both teams are currently fighting for the top of the Northeast Division standings and both are close to the top of the Eastern Conference.  There are also a couple of old storylines still to be looked over again, but I don't think I'll have to do that here.  This should be a pretty good game.  The best player available for the draft pool this time around is goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, who has taken most of the minutes since the loss of James Reimer and he has done well with those minutes.  Gustavsson ranks 6th among players available with 17 points and he will more than certainly be gambled upon this season.

The late game will see the Battle of Alberta get renewed for the second time out of six meetings this season, the first one going to the Flames in Calgary, but the second go around will be in Edmonton, where the Oilers have been great this season.  The young kids will have a bone to pick with the old boys, showing them that there is a new game in town and it isn't for the slow and aged.  I think we'll see a pretty good tilt between the two clubs, especially if the Flames can get their act together, but you'll know that they will bring their A-game to a rivalry match-up like this.  The top player available for the draft in this game is Shawn Horcoff, who ranks 9th among available players with 16 points.  Horcoff has started to find his scoring touch, playing with a couple of the young bucks on the club, which makes him a pretty good pick-up.