Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lehtonen Suffers Mild Concussion

In Monday night's game between the Panthers and Stars, Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen was removed from the game in the 3rd period after suffering a mild concussion.

Lehtonen will have to go through the NHL concussion protocol, which should keep him out for at least a week, but there is a very real chance that he could miss more time than that.  The early reports on Tuesday morning was that Lehtonen was feeling good, which is a good sign, but those concussions are a tricky thing.

Lehtonen was a 33-game winner with the Stars last season and there is a pretty good chance that if he can remain healthy, he should be able to reach that mark again this year or even better it by a few wins.  I did have him coming in with another 80-point season in my projections.

With the Stars opening up their regular season campaign on October 9th, Lehtonen has enough time to make it through the league mandated protocol and get some practice in before the season is a go.

ImplicationsBenson will have until opening night to know whether or not Lehtonen will be good for opening night, as the keeper would qualify for the preseason waivers, but that would mean that he would be giving up on his 2nd round pick (29th overall) in the draft, which would be a tough pill to swallow. If all the speculation is correct, Lehtonen should be okay for opening night, but there are no guarantees.

An updated list of injuries can be found here.

Preseason Waiver Action in the Draft (Sep 30)

Of course, with so much time left between the hockey pool draft and opening night, we were destined to see an injury or two, some of which would require an early drop and replacement. Sure enough, with the injury news over the last 24 hours, we did have ourselves a waiver claim and it was made official this morning.

On Monday, the Maple Leafs announced that forward David Booth would miss the next month with a broken foot, which didn't sit well with Ryan M., who picked him in the 10th round on Saturday. With that being said, the first waiver claim was made and Anaheim Ducks forward Devante Smith-Pelly was selected as his replacement.

Last season, Smith-Pelly had 10 points in 19 games for the Ducks and in my projections, I had him good for 25 points.  He does have some potential for some upside, but he would have to make the top six of the lines for the Ducks to be there, which has yet to be proved.

On the flip side, Booth was only projected for 25 points this season, so it does appear that Ryan may have washed out his original pick just fine.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Jenner Now Out with a Broken Hand

Big preseason injury number two in the draft announced on Monday night, as the Columbus Blue Jackets will now be without gritty forward Boone Jenner for an indefinite period of time, thanks to a broken hand. His general tightness finally allowed him to practice on the weekend, but in practice on Sunday, he ended up blocking a shot with his hand and the doctors are now saying there is a broken bone in that same hand.

The club won't say how long exactly they expect the young winger to be out, but it should be expected that he'll miss a few weeks, possibly a month, and more isn't inconceivable.

ImplicationsJenner will qualify for the preseason waivers with the news of this injury, as his general tightness is what had him on the list to begin with and the injury actually occurred on Sunday, the day after the draft. This is good news for Tony, who picked Jenner in the 10th round, if he so wishes to make a move, trying to keep a healthy line-up into the regular season, which starts October 8th.

An updated list of injuries can be found here.

More Player Notes in the Draft (Sep 29)

There are a couple of updates from Columbus Blue Jackets camp, as defenseman Ryan Murray has been upgraded to practice with a no-contact jersey on, while Boone Jenner has yet to return to the ice from his general tightness injury.  Murray has been skating over the last week or so, trying to return from knee surgery, while Jenner left camp earlier last week with his injury.  Jenner was slated to return to game action on Monday night, but didn't take the morning skate and didn't figure into the line-up.  Both players are still considered day-to-day.

Both players also have another thing in common, as they were both taken in the 10th round on Saturday, Tony taking Jenner 221st and Ryan taking Murray 225th.  They are due for some big years, so hopefully they can get healthy for them.

There was a second Maple Leafs injury from Sunday night's game in Buffalo, as defenseman Cody Franson was felled awkwardly on his knee and had to leave the game. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury, but this is definitely something to keep an eye on. Franson is one of the team's top defenseman and they will need him healthy for any such long run in the regular season into the playoffs.

Remarkably, Franson lasted until the 10th round in the draft as well, going 229th overall.  With the amount of offensive upside he has, it is somewhat surprising that he lasted as long as he did.  Oh right... pool newcomer Cam took him.  Just a note.

One note from practice on Long Island, veteran defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky left the ice, dealing with back spasms.  This does not sound too serious at the moment, but as back spasms go, they have been known to be rather tricky, especially among aged veterans, much like Visnovsky is now.  He will be listed as out day-to-day, but this might be something that could recur through the year.  Just don't be surprised when it happens.

Visnovsky belongs to our reigning champ, Allan, who took him in the 11th round, 249th overall.  If Visnovsky can stay healthy, he could be in bargain territory.

Things don't appear to be getting any easier for Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin, who is now expected to miss the whole of training camp with his undisclosed injury. This news is going to incite some panic into poolies and possibly some Penguins fans, as the regular season grows closer and closer.  He does remain day-to-day at this point and should his prognosis get worse over the coming weeks, the Penguins would have some work to do to replace that offense.

It would seem awfully unlikely that Leo would want to replace Malkin, his 1st round pick, 11th overall, but since his injury status was day-to-day, an updated injury status into something more long-term would qualify him for preseason waivers.  I don't think it would come to that, but it is worth pointing out.

In another Penguins update, defenseman Olli Maatta is nearing a return, but as of Monday morning, still had not been cleared for contact. He has reportedly been working at full speed in practice, but the team remains cautious with his injury, recovering from off-season shoulder surgery.  I think there is a full expectation that Maatta will be in the line-up on opening night.

I think Maatta turned out to be a pretty good pick for Cam in the 11th round of Saturday's draft, as it appears the pool newbie did well with his defensemen, late on.

An updated list of injuries can be found here.

Dallas Re-Signs Eakin

The restricted free agents are dropping like flies now. On Monday afternoon, the Dallas Stars announced that they have re-signed forward Cody Eakin to a new 2-year deal, which carries a cap hit of $1.9 million per season, working out to be another reasonable bridge deal before unrestricted free agency.

This signing leaves only Brenden Dillon to be signed in Dallas and at the rate these guys are falling now, it might not be long before that happens.

Eakin played in 81 games for the Stars last season, scoring 16 goals and 35 points, ranking 229th overall and 159th among forwards in scoring.

Since he was unsigned at the time of the hockey pool draft, he wasn't selected, even though he very well could have been, given the amount of potential he has and how much the team around him has improved in the off-season.

The timing of this signing should give Eakin plenty of time to get prepared for opening night, which is still over a week away.

Fractured Foot Sidelines Booth

The injury bug is biting down hard on the draft early on and the season hasn't even started yet.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have announced that forward David Booth will now be expected to miss four weeks with a fractured foot after blocking a shot on Sunday night against the Sabres.

Booth came to Toronto via free agency in the Summer, played in Vancouver last season, scoring 9 goals and 19 points in 66 games for the Canucks.

ImplicationsOfficially, Booth is the first player eligible for the preseason waivers, if Ryan decides to do so.  Ryan took Booth late in the draft and will likely miss out on a couple weeks of action, if he decided to keep the injury prone forward.  Stay tuned to see if Booth gets dropped before the puck does on this regular season.

Outstanding RFA's No More in Boston

The Boston Bruins may have just hit the jackpot or at the very least, could celebrate quite the coup on Monday morning, as the team announced that they signed both of their current restricted free agents, forward Reilly Smith and defenseman Torey Krug, to new 1-year deals, each worth $1.4 million, as per a number of reports on Twitter.

As we went into the Summer, it was widely believed that both players would get significant raises in pay after some quality play in 2014, but it does appear now that they have settled on some hometown discounts, opting to wait for next Summer to possibly sign up to some longer-term deals.

Smith, who came over in the deal that sent Tyler Seguin to Dallas, likely had very few expectations placed upon him, despite being part of the package of that deal.  He came through with flying colours for the Bruins, scoring 20 goals and 51 points for the team through 80 games.  He finished the season ranked 102nd overall in pool scoring, 75th among all forwards.

I don't see him as being a guy that is going to blow the roof of any barn in the NHL, but he sure works well in the Bruins mould, so I can see him getting off to a slower start, since he missed a great deal of camp, but still have a strong season in the 50-point range.

Krug, on the other hand, was an NCAA standout in his younger days, and since joining the Bruins, he has fit in well as Zdeno Chara's right-hand man, providing a little bit more offense from the back end, which was a huge help when the Bruins suffered all those injuries to the blueline last season.

In 2014, Krug was ranked 25th among all defensemen in scoring with 14 goals and 40 points in 79 games and I have a feeling that he should be finishing in the same neighbourhood for scoring again in 2015.

Salary CapSince neither player took any extra money and bought into the Bruins' system for the 2015 season, the team can breathe a little bit easier, as the team goes into October with about $2.4 million for four spots to fill on their projected roster.  All four spots don't have to be filled, it is just the league maximum.  They will likely fill a couple of forward positions with that money, either taking on some of their young talent, like David Pastrnak and/or signing tryout Simon Gagne to a base deal.

ImplicationsAt the draft on Saturday, there were a couple of bold moves by Ryan M., who is usually good for a couple bold moves, as he took both Krug and Smith in the 8th and 12th rounds, respectively.  They were the 179th and 271st picks, so if either player can come through with their projected point totals or their totals from last season, Ryan just picked himself up to fantastic picks.

Player Notes in the Draft (Sep 29)

Welcome to the first player notes in the draft post of the season. This will be where you fill find the minor news and notes about the players taken in this year's hockey pool. This is close to a daily dose of news, so keep tuned into the blog, follow the RSS feed or follow me on Twitter, I will be posting the links to the blog posts there. I will try to find updates as they come along, just to keep everyone abreast of what's going on. At the bottom of each one of these posts, there will be a link to the news page, so just in case you've missed something, you can flip back and forth, as there will be links to the blog posts from there.

Saturday night against the Bruins, Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist went knee-on-knee with an opposition player, being forced from the game and not coming back. The team, relieved, announced that there is only some minor soreness in the knee of their breakout winger and no serious damage done. Nyquist scored 28 goals in 57 games for the Red Wings this season, getting a late start, due to salary cap issues.  He will remain on the list as out day-to-day and we should expect him to be ready for opening night.

Nyquist was taken in the 6th round by Derek Wilton, 118th overall, which could end up being quite the bargain, since he finished the year 120th overall in scoring and he didn't play a full year.

It sounds like the Anaheim Ducks pulled Dany Heatley from last night's game against the Kings after the 2nd period for precautionary measures, as he didn't come back out for the 3rd period. The quotes after the game from the coaching staff suggested that he was okay, but if you're getting pulled from a game, that has to mean something. He will likely remain on the list until he plays again, listed as out day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.

Heatley was a 14th round pick (the last round), 310th overall selection for Stacey C..

It sounds like Los Angeles Kings forward Marian Gaborik is living up to his injury prone status a little bit in camp, as he is now suffering from a "body" injury, according to the team's coaching staff.  Whatever it may be, I would think that the prognosis wouldn't be too serious, as he is just missing out on preseason and training camp action, so there could be some preservation involved here as well.  This will be something I will keep an eye on anyways.

On Saturday, Stacey M. took Gaborik 107th overall in the 5th round.  His numbers did improve in Los Angeles, helping the team win everything, so it is expected that he'll have an even better year, with a full one on the West Coast.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward David Booth left Sunday night's game against the Buffalo Sabres after blocking a shot with his foot. The official word from the Leafs was that Booth left the game with a lower-body injury and wouldn't come back, so this will likely be a day-to-day issue, which isn't too bad, since we still have over a week to go until the puck drops on the regular season.

Ryan M. picked Booth in the 13th round of the draft, 282nd overall.  That would mean that there is very little risk involved here.

There was an update given to the status of two Winnipeg Jets forwards, as Evander Kane appears to be ready from whatever ails him (an undisclosed injury), but he will likely be held out of Monday night's game against the Oilers. Dustin Byfuglien (undisclosed) is not doing quite as well, with what is believed to be a lower-body injury, as he doesn't appear to be quite ready yet. Like it was mentioned earlier, there is still over a week to go until the season starts, so there shouldn't be any panic here.

Pool newcomer Grant K. has Kane this year, taking him in the 5th round, 95th overall, while Tony D. took Byfuglien, 129th overall in the 6th round.  Byfuglien's drop in drafting position is likely due to his move back to the forward lines from the blueline in camp.

An updated list of injuries can be found here.

Welcome to the 2014/2015 Draft Pool

Well, we didn't quite match last year's team total, but we came awfully close and it was still a really good day out at the draft, minus the technical issues I was having at the pub.

So, first things first... thanks to everyone for coming out this year.  Another thanks to Brian T., draft newcomer, who participated from Australia, via Google Hangouts, for 11 of the 14 rounds, thanks to those technical issues I mentioned previously.

Despite not having everything working as well as I would have hoped, we still managed to plow through that draft in pretty good time and with very few lulls in the action, waiting for people to wade through who has been taken and such.

Secondly, prizes!  I am currently working on some prizes and the theme of the prizing this year will reflect our brand new trophy, which features a bobblehead, so I am working on getting us some really cool collectible bobbleheads this year for our segment prizes and maybe some other mini games through the season.  The prize post will drop when everything gets sorted out, but I will say with some certainty, that 1st place will come away with $500 again.

I would like to also remind everyone that since we are over a week away from the start of the regular season, there are preseason games left to be played.  If the unfortunate happens to one of your players, where he gets hurt, you will have until puck drop to replace him with an available player.  I will post a list of available players, who haven't been sent back to the minors or juniors, who have contracts, on the website, so don't forget.  I don't want anyone to start the season, knowing that they don't have a full squad, thanks to injury.

This rule does not apply to unsigned players or players that get sent down to the minors, as they are associated risk of taking players, while injuries are hard to judge.  Players that were injured previous to the draft are also not eligible to be switched out.

This year appears like it will be just as much fun as last year, so let's all sit impatiently and wait for the season to start.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Schwartz About To Sign in St. Louis

It's a draft day miracle!

One of the biggest remaining restricted free agents has been sewn up, just in time to get selected in this year's hockey pool draft, assuming that being unsigned would have kept him from being selected.

The Blues have come to terms with forward Jaden Schwartz on a deal, which was yet to be announced by the time I've headed off for the draft.  All the appropriate parties are reporting that they were close enough to report... so I am.

Schwartz broke out in the 2014 season, scoring 25 goals and 56 points in 80 games for St. Louis, ranking him 78th overall in pool scoring and 59th among all forwards.

This season could be even better, as the Blues will rely heavily upon their 22-year old phenom and the team has a number of tools that will help him succeed in the 2015 season.  I currently have him projected at 65 points, which is more of a testament to the Blues' team game, where no one really pulls away, but everyone is good enough to push this team forward.

Activate him on your list, if you haven't already.

Injury Updates (Sep 27, Draft Day Edition)

As promised, a quick injury update before the draft starts this afternoon. I should have a sheet of all the players who have suffered injuries, heading into hockey pool draft time. This will be any new updates, as well as some updates on the day-to-day guys, since they are going to be on the fence, come draft time.

News got worse for the Arizona Coyotes' top pick in this Summer's draft, Brendan Perlini, who is to now have surgery on his injured hand, an injury he suffered during the team's rookie camp. Perlini didn't get to see any action in training camp and wasn't likely to make the Coyotes' roster, but I thought I would just follow this injury note.

Perlini should be one to watch next season, when training camp comes back around.

On Friday, it sounded like Boston forward Milan Lucic was growing awfully close to being ready for tonight's preseason game against the Red Wings. I think with how the update process has gone, he should be safe to pick up in the pool draft today.  Lucic has been working on the finishing touches of healing from an off-season wrist surgery.  There was no rush for Lucic to get back, but now it seems like now is the right time.

A new injury from Friday night's action, as Flames forward Markus Granlund left the game against the Canucks in the 2nd period with an upper-body injury. There was no immediate word on his status, so he'll be considered day-to-day right now, assuming that the Flames will hold him off game action until the season starts.

Other day-to-day players, forward Mason Raymond and defenseman Tyler Wotherspoon, are just that... day-to-day.  Raymond should have his spot locked up on the side, while Wotherspoon may still be in the mix for a spot on the blueline, but will more likely start in the minors.

The Blue Jackets have a couple of young players on the list as day-to-day, as forward Boone Jenner is expected to return to some preseason action on Monday, which should mean he'll be good to go for opening night. Defenseman Ryan Murray is still dealing with his rehab on off-season knee surgery, but he is skating on his own, which is a good sign, but it doesn't appear that he is practicing much, so his return to game action is still up in the air.

Blackhawks prospect Teuvo Teravainen hasn't seen any action since getting drilled in a team scrimmage last weekend, suffering an upper-body injury.  The young Finn is currently listed as out day-to-day, but there hasn't been much for updates since his injury, which doesn't necessarily bode well for his outlook on the season.  Take Teravainen at your own risk today at the draft.

The Dallas Stars had a couple of day-to-day players on the list, forward Valeri Nichushkin and defenseman Sergei Gonchar, but both players returned to action on Friday night against Tampa Bay, neither player picking up points, but both players returned to about average ice-time for themselves.  It would appear that these two are safe to pick-up today in the draft.

Detroit Red Wings forward Darren Helm isn't expected to miss any regular season action since suffering a broken nose earlier in the preseason.  Helm has been held out of preseason action since the injury, but he is likely just being given time to get back to a playable state.  It will likely be some time before Helm is 100%, but being as though it is a facial injury, he doesn't play a great deal with his face, so he should be fine.

Forward Jarret Stoll is aiming to play in two preseason games ahead of the regular season, as he comes back from off-season hip surgery.  Stoll has yet to participate in training camp, but being as though he is more of a bottom six role player, he shouldn't need too much time to find his timing.

Defenseman Drew Doughty is waiting patiently to figure into some preseason action of his own, after suffering an upper-body injury earlier in camp.  It sounds a lot like the Kings are being cautious with one of their key cogs to the Cup-winning machine and rightfully so.  I would assume that he'll be fine for opening night.

Wild forward Kyle Brodziak is not much closer to returning to the line-up, as he hasn't returned to practice just yet, although he is reportedly skating on his own.  Brodziak is dealing with a back issue in camp, but being as though he is a fringe player for the hockey pool draft, I don't think there will be much concern paid this way.

There are some reports that both Thomas Vanek and Keith Ballard are suffering from injuries, but neither are considered to be major.  Vanek dealing with some bumps and will likely be held out of action for a bit, while Ballard's ailment is a bit more of a mystery.  Both should be okay for the draft today.

Lars Eller was back at Canadiens practice on Saturday morning, as he makes his way back from a lower-body injury.  He will remain on the list as out day-to-day, but it sounds like he is making all the progress he needs to return to the line-up for some more preseason action, before the regular season starts.  Eller was practicing with the top group, according to the team's Twitter account, so I would count that as a green light to take him today.

There has been no real update on Nashville's Matt Cullen, who suffered an upper-body injury earlier in the week.  He's still on the list as out day-to-day and that's about the best we've got so far.  With still plenty of time before the regular season starts, it does seem likely that the team will hold him out for as long as he needs, just to be 100%.  Cullen is considered to be a fringe player among forwards this season.

As of Friday morning, New Jersey Devils defenseman Jon Merrill had not resumed skating, but had been working off-ice to keep his fitness levels up. Merrill suffered an apparent head injury early on in camp, colliding with tryout Ruslan Fedotenko in a drill. He remains day-to-day, but it does sound a lot like he has suffered a concussion, although the Devils have not announced it as such.  Take at your own risk.

Evgeni Malkin is not having any kind of success, as he hasn't been on the ice this week, nor has he been working out of the ice.  The team insists that this isn't a long-term problem, but the evidence begs to differ.

Pascal Dupuis has improved to wearing the regular practice jersey this week, so it sounds like he'll be ready to go.  Olli Maatta has been practicing for the last week, which is a definite plus, as he will likely be a popular pick-up this year.

Sidney Crosby was due to play in his first preseason game on Saturday, but that was put on hold, as he has gone back home to attend to a death in his family.  He will likely be afforded whatever time needed, but should be back in time for opening night.  All health concerns appear to be over, for now.

Looks like the San Jose Sharks are taking as much caution as they need with one of their star forwards Logan Couture, who has been skating this week, after taking an awkward fall on Tuesday night against Vancouver.  Couture is considered to be day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, but I think all assumptions that he will play on opening night are fair.

On Friday night, the Maple Leafs welcomed both Tyler Bozak and David Clarkson back to their line-up for their preseason game against the Sabres. Both were nursing minor injuries and have now found some preseason action to wet their whistle. Clarkson, however, did end up in a fight with Buffalo's Cody McCormick and took the worst of it, taking a punch to the face, which has swelled up around his eye. This may cost him another preseason game, but it shouldn't cost him any regular season time.

Defenseman Stephane Robidas appears to be close to returning as well, heading back to practice on Saturday, although there is no official word about whether or not he has been cleared for contact from his broken leg last season.  He's close and that's good for everyone.

The Vancouver Canucks announced early on Friday that defenseman Alex Edler did indeed suffer some damage to his dental work, which needed to be worked on and he should be okay to go in one more preseason game, maybe two, before the regular season starts.  I think it is safe to say that he should be okay for opening night for the Canucks.

An updated list of injuries can be found here.