Wednesday, September 30, 2015

2015 Draft Class Signings (Sep 30)

The Ottawa Senators were definitely thrilled with the showing that defenseman Thomas Chabot put on at training camp and throughout the preseason, they signed the 18th overall selection from this past June's draft to his 3-year entry-level deal.

Chabot was paired up with Erik Karlsson on occasion in this preseason and made quite the impression, both on his coaches and his partners on the blueline.

Still, there is still a bit of growth in his game that needed to be addressed and competitive teams in the league are not known to have much in the way of 18-year old defensemen, unless they are shooting out the lights with their offense.

Just before signing his deal, Chabot was sent back to the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL, so he'll get his extra year of seasoning with the junior ranks, but he's one to really keep an eye out for next season.

Afternoon Injury Updates (Sep 30)

The injuries to Flyers players, Sean Couturier, Michael Raffl and goalie Michal Neuvirth do appear to be minor and they should be ready to go, in their various capacities, on opening night next week. Neuvirth, who wasn't on the injured list, was reportedly battling something minor, but is expected to start in tonight's preseason game. Raffl will get one more preseason game, while Couturier likely won't see anymore preseason action, but should still be good to go for Thursday, October 8th, in Tampa Bay.

Wild forward Jordan Schroeder is on the list with a nagging groin problem, but it sounds like he is also dealing with an upper-body problem, which could force him from the Wild's opening night game, also on the Thursday, in Colorado.  The team is suggesting that there is a chance for him to make it, but two injuries, even if they're day-to-day problems, have to pose some real doubt.  Schroeder's projections top out at 18 points for the year, so he's not expected to be a big part of the Minnesota offense.

Veteran defenseman Ron Hainsey is supposedly dealing with an injury of his own, when he collided with teammate Jeff Skinner at practice on Tuesday and missed out on Wednesday morning's skate.  Hainsey was scheduled to play for the Hurricanes on Wednesday night against the Capitals, but he will be subbed out for the night.  He'll be on the list as out day-to-day for right now.  Hainsey is projected between 10 and 14 points this year, so the draft would have to go fairly deep for him to come into play.

The new Montreal Canadiens captain, Max Pacioretty, is set to make his preseason debut, as he is coming off of off-season surgery to his knee.  Back in July, Pacioretty was scheduled to miss 12 weeks after the surgery, putting him around the beginning of October and that's where we are right now, the day before October hits.  Pacioretty should be good for opening night, getting a few reps in the preseason to try out his rehabbed knee.

Be weary of Pacioretty, however... I did put him on the injury prone list this Summer, because he has had more than his fair share of time on the shelf.

Click here for the updated injury/news page on the website

Afternoon Camp Demotions (Sep 30)

Another big rookie demotion on Wednesday afternoon, as the Edmonton Oilers decided to send defenseman Darnell Nurse down to the AHL, trying to work on his game. Nurse is among the elite draft picks they have in their system, but I could understand that the team wants to be a bit more mature in the back, if they are going to be so head strong and young up front. I don't think it will be long before Nurse makes his mark, which could still happen this season, as he is only in the minors and not juniors.

He's another player with a decent projection in a few magazines, so be weary of his status on draft day.

A couple of projected forwards saw demotions from the Predators camp, as Steve Moses and Colton Sissons were both sent down to the Milwaukee Admirals on Wednesday. Both were projected around the 3rd line of Nashville, so there wasn't a great loss to the pool projections, but they were there, if you were still looking for sleeper picks.

Moses was a free agent signing from the KHL, while Sissons is trying to work his way up the depth chart, through the organization.  Both will likely be looked to, when injuries start to happen through the season.

The Colorado Avalanche pared their roster down to 30 players and there were a couple of projected players sent down to the AHL on Wednesday: forward Joey Hishon and goaltender Calvin Pickard.

Hishon has been on the cusp of making it through to the big club's full-time roster, but obviously hasn't cracked the code quite yet.  With a couple of PTO's still in town (Curtis Glencross and Jack Skille), it isn't a great sign when he isn't cracking past them.

Pickard was locked in the battle for the back-up position in the Avalanche crease with Reto Berra, but has now lost out on the job.  Pickard was the pick of a couple magazines to win the job, so be careful of which way you go.

Another Hockey News projection for the rookie campaign was shuffled off to the AHL on Wednesday. The Florida Panthers decided that defenseman Mike Matheson is better off starting the year in the minors, instead of with the big club.  Matheson was projected for 16 points, if he was to have made the team, which would have likely slotted him to be more suited for the Waiver Draft, than the actual draft, but you just never know how it goes for some people combing through their magazines at the draft.

The Panthers also cut forward David Booth from his professional tryout contract on Wednesday.  The depth of the team didn't really allow for him to get a projection this Summer, even when he was invited, but him being released does solidify some other numbers on the list.

Eberle Out With Shoulder Injury

Bad news for the Edmonton Oilers and us poolies, forward Jordan Eberle's injury is quite serious, as the club blogged that Eberle is now expected to miss the next 4-to-6 weeks with a shoulder problem.  The nature of the injury was not exactly described, but the upper-body problem was a shoulder injury and it will now cost him at least a month.

The original projection for Eberle was in the 65-point range, which will now be hampered, as that's based on the 27-week season.  If that was going to be averaged over the course of the season, I am prepared to take about 10 points off that projection and maybe try and take him down a bit lower in the draft.

The injury should carry him through to the middle part of November, when the season is in full swing and players are already hitting their mid-season stride.  It will be up to those drafting to decide whether or not he'll be worth taking in the pool, over some healthier, but less effective players or whether they'll gamble to see if he'll still be available at the Week Nine Waiver Draft.

Morning Injury Updates (Sep 30)

There's some genuine concern in Edmonton surrounding the status of one of their star forwards in Jordan Eberle. Eberle left last night's game against the Coyotes in the 1st period with an upper-body injury and the fear is that it could be something serious with his shoulder, a la a separation. The reports haven't been confirmed, as of Wednesday morning, but it is definitely something to keep an eye on, as we get closer and closer to Saturday's draft.

We'll wait and see if the reports get any worse in the next 24 hours or so, but with some 65-to-78 point projections in the magazines this year, a lot of people will be keeping an eye on him.

Another injury to a player with some serious potential is Tampa Bay defenseman Victor Hedman, who left the game between the Lightning and Penguins in the 2nd period with an undisclosed injury of his own.  The coaching staff said that they wouldn't quite comment on the injury, until he was evaluated back in Tampa and that he was lifted, purely as a precaution.

Hedman is slotted in as one of the league's best offensive defensemen and was poised to go fairly early in this weekend's draft.

If you've been reading some of the injury reports elsewhere, you've possibly seen some of the speculation about the Sabres' blueline, which has been depleted by injury in this preseason already.  One of the youngsters that was ready to make the jump into the opening night roster, Brendan Guhle, was leveled in the preseason game against the Leafs and was lifted from the game for precautionary reasons.

I don't think Guhle was really thought to stick through the whole season, as he would likely make way for Zach Bogosian or Josh Gorges, when they eventually got healthy, but if you were looking to take that gamble on, you will want to pass on that one.

Considered to be more of an AHL player this season, but makes the list, just in case... Washington forward Chris Brown will miss the next few weeks with a reported injury.  Brown made five appearances with the Capitals last season and picked up a point, but with the depth at forward that the Capitals have this year, there was very little chance that Brown was going to make much of an impact.  Just squashing potential sleepers here, nothing more to see.

Click here for the updated injury/news page on the website

Last Night's Preseason Performers (Sep 30)

It was a big night for the Buffalo Sabres, hosting division rivals from Toronto in front of their home crowd, showing off some of their gains in the off-season. The Sabres came to play and they were able to beat the Leafs 4-0 at the First Niagara Center.

Their new number one goalie, Robin Lehner, made 26 saves for the shutout win, which would have been good enough for 4 points in the season, while rookie forward Evan Rodrigues scored a pair of goals in the game to be the other notable player for the blog.

It was a huge night for the new top line for the Blue Jackets, as they invaded Nashville and laid a good one on the Predators on Tuesday night.  Brandon Saad had a 4-point night, followed by Ryan Johansen with a 3-point night and Nick Foligno chipped in with 2 points of his own in a 5-2 win.  Early chemistry between these three have got to make a few people worried in the Metropolitan Division in the Eastern Conference.

Sergei Bobrovsky also got the start and the whole game, making 35 saves for the win.  The Jackets are now rolling along in this preseason.

The Senators and Jets played at the MTS Centre on Tuesday night and they hooked up for a pretty good game, as the two sides try and make some of their final decisions in camp.  The Jets came away as 4-3 overtime winners in this one.

Ondrej Pavelec got the game for the Jets, making 22 saves for the win.  Andrew Ladd and Mark Scheifele each had a goal and an assist in the game as well, making some notable stops in the blog.

Milan Michalek, J-G Pageau and Bobby Ryan all had 2 points for the Senators in the loss.

The St. Louis Blues scored four unanswered goals after going down 1-0 to the Dallas Stars in the middle frame to take the game, 4-1, in preseason action.

Brian Elliott was the goaltender of record, making 26 saves for the win, while Kevin Shattenkirk had a pair of assists to be the only notable skater in this game.

The Blues have done well putting up some goals in this preseason and they haven't really flexed any of their big muscles yet.  They have some real potential for us poolies this year.

The Calgary Flames played host to the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, in their last preseason meeting of the Fall and it was the Flames that took the game and the 2-game series, with a 2-0 shutout win.

The shutout was split in the crease, so nothing notable came out of there, but Jiri Hudler scored both goals, each with unique players getting assists, so he was the only notable player in this game.

Hudler will be leaned upon to help carry the young kids up to the next level.

It was the Oilers' turn to take on the lowly Coyotes from the desert and they had their way with them in their game as well, soundly defeating the dogs, 4-0, at home at Rexall Place.

Anton Lander picked up a hat-trick in the game for the Oilers, leading the way for the team, while Anton Slepyshev continues to have a great preseason, picking up a couple of assists, same as veteran defenseman Nikita Nikitin.

The crease was also split for the Oilers in the shutout, so no big points there either.

The Ducks and Kings played their second and final match-up of the preseason and the scorelines were eerily similar, as the Ducks won both games, 2-1, but Tuesday night's game was done in overtime.

Corey Perry scored both goals for the Ducks, while Rickard Rakell assisted on both goals, combining to be a pretty potent duo on the night.  Back-up goalie, Anton Khudobin, got another start for the Ducks, making 31 saves for the win.

I don't think there should be many doubts about who will start in goal for the San Jose Sharks this year, as Martiin Jones should have a pretty good handle on the job, as he made 30 saves in a 2-1 win over the Vancovuer Canucks on Tuesday night.

Jones was the only notable player in this game, as he got the full game for the Sharks and he should only be just warming up at this point.  I'm expecting some good things from him, even better if the team in front of him comes around.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Afternoon Injury Updates (Sep 29)

The New York Islanders coaching staff released a few injury updates this afternoon. Defenseman Thomas Hickey was the worst of the bunch, as he'll miss the next four weeks with an upper-body injury, something he suffered in Monday night's game against the Washington Capitals. Hickey left the game with the injury, not to return, but there wasn't much more to the update.

Forward Steve Bernier is also scheduled to miss a couple of weeks with an undisclosed injury.  This injury will likely cost Bernier his spot on opening night, but he shouldn't be on the shelf for too much longer after that.

Finally, their number one goalie, Jaroslav Halak, appears to be dealing with an injury of his own, somewhere in the upper-body range as well.   He's listed as day-to-day right now, likely giving him rest before the opener.

The St. Louis Blues defense took a little bit of a hit in this preseason as well, as Carl Gunnarsson is listed as out day-to-day with a groin injury.  With still a little over a week until the season starts, it will be good to get some rest before the season takes off.

A high projection of 19 points could make Gunnarsson a pool worthy defender, albeit a late round defender this year, so if you're desperate for a little bit of help late on, he could be your guy... assuming that he's healthy.

A couple of injury updates from the Philadelphia Flyers last night, as forwards Sean Couturier and Michael Raffl are dealing with upper-body injuries, leading up to the start of the season. Couturier missed out on a preseason start against the Rangers, while Raffl left the game against the Rangers with his injury.  Both should be considered day-to-day for right now, although we haven't seen a full update on Raffl quite yet.

Couturier is the one with the most value here, as he has been projected upwards of 52 points this season, while Raffl is in the 30-point neighbourhood, according to a couple magazines.  It will be interesting to see if the Flyers can put some real offense together this season, beyond Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.

Click here for the updated injury/news page on the website

Afternoon Camp Demotions (Sep 29)

Possible rookie candidates continue to drop down into the AHL this week, as the Washington Capitals sent defenseman Madison Bowey down on Tuesday. Bowey is projected for 20 points, according to the Hockey News, while I have him at only 5 points, thinking that he didn't have a great chance of making it. The 20-year old defender can still come back up at some point in the season, which makes the lower projections still fairly valid.

The Montreal Canadiens joined the demotion fun, sending rookie forward Nikita Scherbak the AHL for some extra seasoning on Tuesday.  The 2014 1st round pick was dealing with some injury concerns through camp, which likely hindered his chances of making the team, but the Habs were already fairly deep up front, which made his job all that much tougher.  The Hockey News had him pegged for 26 points this season, but he won't be achieving that without a little bit of help.

Click here for the updated injury/news page on the website

Last Night's Preseason Performers (Sep 29)

The Detroit Red Wings went into Boston and soundly defeated the Bruins in preseason action, taking the game on Monday night, 4-1.  Tomas Jurco had a goal and an assist to lead the way for Detroit, while Jimmy Howard got the entire game in the net, making 31 saves for the win.

The Red Wings are only going to go as far as their goaltending takes them and so far, both Howard and Petr Mrazek have made impressive bids for the job.

In the Big Apple, back-up goalie Antti Raanta got the start for the Rangers, making 27 saves for a win over the Philadelphia Flyers.  In a 3-2 overtime win, Raanta was the only notable Rangers player in the game.

In the loss, the Flyers had one notable player as well, as defenseman Mark Streit had a goal and an assist.  Streit is looking to bounce back from a down year and he's gotten off to a decent start with a couple points in a preseason game.

Finally, in Vancouver, it wasn't much of an offensive game between the Coyotes and Canucks, as they combined for a 1-0 final for the home side.  Jacob Markstrom made 32 saves, earning the shutout victory over the lowly kids from the desert.

Markstrom is going to try and make a push for that number one job before the year is out and given how good he was in the AHL last season, he may make that push worth his while.  He could turn out to be one of those good pool pick-ups late on in the draft.