Friday, September 30, 2016

Blues' Schwartz Starts on the Shelf

The injury prone list is now beckoning for St. Louis Blues forward Jaden Schwartz, who will now start the 2017 regular season on the shelf, thanks to an elbow injury he suffered in camp this week. Schwartz left practice early on Thursday and it was on Friday morning that the diagnosis came in from the team, that one of their prized forwards will miss the next four weeks worth of action with the ailment.

In the 2016 season, Schwartz was limited to only 33 games, thanks to injury, but there was no denying that his scoring touch was there, as he was still able to post 22 points in that time.

The initial projections for Schwartz this season were in the 70-point range, but three weeks or so away from the team is going to take a chunk out of that number.  Right now, I am thinking about 55 points, as it was a bit of a slow restart when he returned from injury last time.  He's certainly going to be better than a few players that you could take in the late rounds of the draft, but there's nothing worse than seeing zeroes on your team page for the first few weeks.

I have bumped up a few players in their projections, thanks to the added spot on the team's top line.  I like kids like Robby Fabbri to maybe pick up a few extra points, maybe even Ty Rattie, trying to make his mark on the club, finally.

Janmark Undergoes Major Knee Surgery

The big victory green scoring machine will have one of its weapons on the shelf for the better part of the 2017 season, as sophomore forward Mattias Janmark has undergone knee surgery this week and is expected to be out of the lineup in the 5-to-6 months range.

Assuming all was to go well with his rehab and he was in the 6-month range, he would be missing around 23 of the 26 weeks of the regular season, coming back in time to shake off some of the rust and help the playoff push this season and pretty well taking his name out of contention for the hockey pool draft this year.

In the 2016 season, as a rookie, the 23-year old Swede finished 194th among all forwards in scoring with 29 points in 73 games.  He was projected to fall off a bit, given my expectation of the sophomore jinx, but he had certainly shown some real upside to his game.

This is the sort of injury that creates opportunity in the depths of the organization and it could be a guy like Brett Ritchie or Devin Shore could step up and pick up some points.  A spot is now open in Stars camp, so it will be a dogfight and could be worth paying attention to for a sleeper pick.

Last Night's Preseason Performers (Sep 30)

The Columbus Blue Jackets had a few of their key players going against Nashville at home on Thursday night, winning the game, 3-2 in overtime.  Brandon Dubinsky had a goal and an assist, while Cam Atkinson had a pair of assists to lead the way.

Rookie defenseman Zach Werenski drew in for his first preseason game, coming off a minor lower-body injury.  He's still one to watch this season.

New York off-season pick-up Brandon Pirri was the big star in the game between the Devils and the Rangers, picking up 3 points in the 3-1 win.  NCAA free agent defenseman John Gilmour was also good, picking up a pair of assists in the win as well.  The Rangers could use some new blood in their lineup, might give them a good boost going forward.

Mike Hoffman scored a pair of goals, including the overtime winner, while Bobby Ryan had a goal and an assist, as the Ottawa Senators got the best of the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.  The Senators were the best Canadian club in the standings last season and they'll need their best players to excel again this year, if they are going to make any sort of push towards the playoffs.

On the plus side for Montreal, top prospect defenseman Mikhail Sergachev was able to make his preseason debut for the team, but was a -1 in his first game. The 9th overall pick this past June isn't pegged to make an impact this year, but certainly should down the road.

Kristers Gudlevskis made 21 saves for a 2-0 win in Tampa Bay, in a cross-state preseason game between his Lightning and the Panthers on Thursday night.  Currently pegged as the third goalie, he'll get his time in the big leagues soon enough, with the certain possibility that Ben Bishop will be moved at some point in the coming year.  Forward Jeremy Morin was the best of the skaters, picking up a goal and an assist in the win as well.

The Winnipeg Jets got a full effort from goaltender Connor Hellebuyck on Thursday night, at home to the Wild, beating them 4-1, thanks to 27 saves in his net.  The Jets goaltending situation comes in rather contentious and will be a good battle through camp.  Forwards Mathieu Perreault and Chase De Leo and defenseman Josh Morrissey all came away with 2 points each in the win as well.

Morning World Cup Player Notes (Sep 30) - It's All Done!

The threat of prolonging this tournament to Saturday night was looming, as Team Europe was playing their brand of shutdown hockey to an absolute tee, thanks to the broad shoulders (and other padded areas) of goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who was dynamite on Thursday night.

The Europeans were dead set on grinding this game to an absolute halt, especially after they were able to poke through with the game's opening goal, thanks to a great rush from Zdeno Chara and his slightly deflected shot, finding its way past Carey Price, less than seven minutes into the contest.  It was then all hands on deck, as the Europeans clogged the neutral zone and collapsed in front of their own net, aiding their red-hot keeper, as best as they could.

Through two periods, there was very little sense of urgency out of the Canadians, their numerous power plays didn't quite have the zip of a team down a goal and the chance of taking home the championship in their back pocket.  No, it really seemed like there was an ambivalence about them, which was okay to let this one slip and play an even bigger game on Saturday.

Unfortunately for Europe, there was one penalty too many and it was their best forward, Anze Kopitar, heading to the box, late in the 3rd period and the tide was turned and it carried the whole game out with it.  A point shot on the power play from Brent Burns, deflected by Patrice Bergeron, eluded Halak and it was that redirection that knotted up the game at 1-1 and Canada had life, with less than three to go.

Two minutes later, 44 seconds to go, the puck crossed the European line again, thanks to a shorthanded marker from Brad Marchand, as he took a drop pass from Jonathan Toews, Europe already on their heels and it was a top shelf beauty and all the European hearts were broken.  The game didn't even require overtime, it was all done in regulation and the game, the tournament, was over.

Well, I think this tournament was already long over, before the finals had even gotten started, as Dale's motivation to pick a few starting goalies in the pool, not to mention grabbing the two Bruins on the champion's top line certainly didn't hurt his cause any.  Dale will walk away with the whole $160 prize, thanks to his team's dominant 21-point win over his nearest competitors.

Thanks to the audit, Neil jumped up to 2nd place on a couple more missed game-winning goals, while Scott dropped down to 3rd, despite losing most of his players after the round robin.

I do think this worked out to be a pretty good pool... just wish there were a few more participants in it.  Oh well, next up is the big show!  We'll see you in just over a week's time!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Shaw Suspended Early

Well, this won't have any effect on the regular season numbers directly, but Andrew Shaw is on the NHL's shit list and was before this even happened. Shaw was ejected in Wednesday night's game against Washington for a boarding call and had himself a phone call from the Department of Player Safety, which didn't go so well for him.

Shaw was given a 3-game suspension for his hit, but those three games will span through the preseason, so he will be in the opening night lineup and good to go from day one of the regular season.

In the 2016 season with the Blackhawks, the 25-year old forward had a 34-point year in 78 games played, ranking him 178th among all forwards.  He'll be a middle-of-the-pack pick at next weekend's draft and make no mistake, he will be picked.  My current projection for him in the coming year is in the 35-point range, but the possibility of getting more ice-time in Montreal and more offensive responsibility could make him a bargain pick in the later rounds.

Noon Training Camp Injury Notes (Sep 29)

The Boston Bruins welcomed back a couple of their top prospects back to the lineup on Wednesday against the Red Wings, as forward Zach Senyshyn came back from an appendectomy earlier in training camp and defenseman Linus Arnesson suffered an upper-body injury in camp, but played his first preseason game as well.

There are a few forward spots up for grabs in Boston ans Senyshyn, a 1st round pick in 2015, is likely quite high on the priority list to try and fill a spot and he's now getting his looks.  Arnesson, on the other hand, may have a tougher time on the blueline, but the first step is getting those games in.

The Columbus Blue Jackets made a few cuts on Wednesday, but also announced a couple of long-term injuries, likely to hit the IR when it officially opens, as forward Keegan Kolesar is expected to miss the next eight weeks with a hernia issue, while defenseman Dillon Heatherington is due to miss six weeks with a fractured wrist.  Neither really had much pool upside, but just for the sake of being thorough, they're on the list for the time being.

The Philadelphia Flyers are putting veteran defenseman Nick Schultz on the shelf for about a week, as he deals with a lower-body injury.  He is currently on the list as out day-to-day.  Schultz hasn't really been a pool worthy defender for a couple of seasons or more and there is no expectation of him being one again, but his absence could open the door for one of the top blueline prospects on the team to shine and possibly break through to a longer look in camp.

World Cup Finals Pool Preview (Sep 29)

I think if the Europeans are going to stay in these finals and the World Cup hockey pool has any chance of being interesting, both situations are going to need the same thing.

Scott opens up the second day of the finals with a deficit of 17 points behind Dale's team in the standings.  Since his team only has a couple of European forwards left, he'll need the underdogs to have an offensive breakout of epic proportions and a defensive stand for the ages.

Dale's Canadian representation has been on top of their game, hence his position in the standings and the biggest reason why the Europeans are well-behind the 8-ball going into tonight's contest.

The goaltending match-up isn't expected to change, as Carey Price will face-off against Jaroslav Halak again.  Both goalies have been great in this tournament and they're providing a good argument for the regular season hockey pool this year, as we can all expect them both to go pretty high this year.

Will we at least get to see a third game in this series on Saturday?

Last Night's Preseason Performers (Sep 29)

I don't think we should be expecting this kind of output from the bottom six of the Detroit Red Wings all the time, but Steve Ott, Luke Glendening and Drew Miller all had quite the night against the Bruins in Boston, combining for 8 points in a 5-1 win on Wednesday night.  Ott and Glendening each finished with a goal and a pair of assists in the victory, while Miller went one and one.  Prospect goalie Jared Coreau got the full game, making 35 saves for the win.

Coreau is expected to be the number one in Grand Rapids this season, with Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard still combining to be the top duo.

Another prospect goaltender made his mark in this preseason, as Pittsburgh's Tristan Jarry made 30 saves against the Blackhawks in Chicago for a 2-0 shutout win.  Jarry could find himself as the favourite for the back-up job, while the Penguins wait for Matt Murray to come back from his broken hand.

On the scoring side, Chris Kunitz found his way to the sheet twice, scoring both goals in the win.

Defenseman Trevor Daley got his first action in during this preseason as well, he is coming back from a broken ankle and appears to be good to go for the start of the season.

The Colorado Avalanche entertained the Dallas Stars in a preseason game and it was the home side that came out on top in this one, 5-2.  Avs defender Francois Beauchemin was the only notable for the home team, picking up a goal and an assist in the win, as his game is still a big positive for the team heading into the new year.

Dallas' Radek Faksa got his first preseason action in, returning from a mild concussion that he suffered with the Czech Republic at the World Cup and he scored both goals for the Stars in the loss.  Faksa could be finding his stride this season and could be a decent pick-up in a bargain spot.

It was a bit of a shootout at Rogers Arena, as the Oilers and Canucks debuted a whole load of talent in the preseason on Wednesday night. When it was all said and done, the Canucks came out on top at home, beating their visitors from Edmonton, 5-3.  Defensemen Troy Stetcher and Alex Edler each came away with 3 points each, making their marks on the preseason, while Anton Rodin chipped in with a goal and an assist as well.

On the visiting side, college free agent forward Drake Caggiula chipped in with a pair of goals, as he tries to force his way onto this deep Oilers forward group.  It's a tough group to crack, but it certainly isn't impossible.

In another Pacific Division match-up, the Los Angeles Kings put six goals past the Anaheim Ducks in a 6-1 win on Wednesday night.  Devin Setoguchi, Dustin Brown, Nic Dowd, Justin Auger and Tom Gilbert were all 2-point players on the night, as they peppered the Ducks goaltending tandem of Dustin Tokarski and Yann Danis on the night.

This is Gilbert's second appearance on the performers post, as he is making a statement on the scoresheet, while Setoguchi made an impact last night, as he is a PTO in Kings camp, trying to find his way back to the NHL this season.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Afternoon Camp Demotions (Sep 28)

Training camps are already starting to pare down their rosters, slowly, but surely. There hasn't been very much in the way of significant demotions, but a 2016 1st rounder was one of Ottawa's cuts on Wednesday, as the 11th overall pick, forward Logan Brown, is heading back to Windsor of the OHL.

The Sens had a number of openings at the forward position, but obviously, they felt that another year in junior is what their top draft pick needs at the moment and the quicker he can get there, the quicker he can get his game on point.

By my count, I still see 15 picks from June's draft that are signed with their NHL club and still at camp, while there are a good number of 2016 picks that are at camp without deals, getting good looks from their clubs and will more than likely head back when camps trim down further.

Fringe Signings (Sep 28)

The New Jersey Devils added some depth to their blueline on Wednesday, signing veteran defenseman Kyle Quincey to a 1-year, $1.25 million deal.  Last season, Quincey played in 47 games with the Red Wings, missing 35 games with an ankle injury, and picking up 11 points in the process.  Surely, if he can stay healthy, he can be a very productive defender for the Devils and with their lack of depth at the position, he should be able to slip right in and find a role on the team.

My preseason projection for him will start in the 15-point range, pending who he would get paired with and what his preseason action looks like.  Getting the full contract is a good sign for him, especially coming off an injured season.

Although it isn't official from the team, the insiders at TSN are scooping that Team Europe defenseman Dennis Seidenberg has indeed earned himself an NHL deal at the preseason tournament and will sign a 1-year, $1 million deal with the New York Islanders when the tournament ends at the end of the week.

Last season with the Bruins, the 35-year old played in 61 games and picked up 12 points.  The addition of the German should be a good 6-7 guy on the line and could be in the 15-point range, assuming that he gets close to 70 or 75 games with the club.

Noon Training Camp Injury Notes (Sep 28)

New York Rangers forward Josh Jooris had an early exit in his game against the Islanders on Tuesday night, as he suffered a groin injury in the game.  With still a couple of weeks before the regular season starts, there won't be any rush to get him back, but I'm sure the Rangers would prefer for him to have some game action in the preseason.  He'll be listed as day-to-day right now, but he's also not quite expected to be taken in the draft this year, more of a fringe player.

An upper-body injury forced Winnipeg Jets newcomer Shawn Matthias from their game against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night and the team says that he will be re-evaluated in the next day or so to see what the severity is.  Matthias was a pool-worthy forward with the Avalanche last season and is expected to be a good fit with the Jets this year, which could make him into a good late-round pick, if he's healthy to start the season.

Sophomore forward Jake Virtanen was lifted from Vancouver's overtime loss in San Jose with an apparent shoulder injury, but the team's coaching staff had no real update on the severity of the injury after the game, rather he'll be checked out by team doctors and an update will be provided in the coming days.  Virtanen is expected to build on a slightly underwhelming rookie season in 2016 and should get every opportunity to do so.  He would likely be a late round pick, unless you're expecting great things from the scoring winger.

Last Night's Preseason Performers (Sep 28)

Unsigned 2016 draft pick Jonathan Ang was the Florida Panthers' top player in a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators, early on Tuesday.  Ang, a 4th round pick, is touted as a speedy centre that lacks size, but an early showing of a goal and an assist in this preseason game, gives a little hope that he might be able to find his way to the big show eventually.

It was a good game for Buffalo free agent signing Derek Grant, who finished a 3-2 win against the Senators with a goal and 2 assists for a 3-point night.  Buffalo draft pick Nicholas Baptiste was also good for a goal and an assist in the victory, while they gave former Senators goalie Robin Lehner the whole game, making 37 saves in the overtime victory.

The Sabres are building towards something much bigger this season and getting Lehner on board early should surely help.  The two notable forwards in the game are both trying to break through and there is limited space in the bottom six to do so.

In the second game between the Predators and the Panthers, Roberto Luongo made his first appearance in the preseason and his first game action since some off-season hip surgery.  Luongo appears to be on pace and schedule to be ready to go for opening night for the Panthers, good news for a team that looks to be pushing for the playoffs and beyond.

Luongo split time with Mike McKenna, but not before giving up Nashville's only two goals in the 2-1 loss, but the good news is... he's back in the net and on time for the start of the regular season.

The New York Rangers got their preseason schedule off to a pretty good start, defeating their crosstown rivals from Brooklyn, 5-2, on Tuesday night.  Newcomer Mika Zibanejad got off to a good start, picking up a 3-point night, while Chris Kreider, Brandon Pirri and defenseman Adam Clendening all had 2 points in the victory.

The Rangers are going to be looking for a fast start to their offense in the coming year and the early signs are quite favourable, especially if Zibanejad is going to fit in so nicely.  His projections could start to rise with more results like this.

Another injury return of note, as the Philadelphia Flyers were able to dress forward Matt Read, after he had off-season thumb surgery.  All systems are go with him.

Read didn't feature into the scoring, but the Flyers did pot four against the other side of the Islanders' split squad, defeating them 4-0.  Wayne Simmonds had a pair of goals, while prospect defenseman Travis Sanheim had a pair of assists in the win.  Steve Mason was given the whole game and he made 23 saves for the shutout victory, showing that he is well on his way to being on his game to start the season.

The Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins were giving their depth a good run at the Joe on Tuesday night, where the host Red Wings came away with a 4-2 victory.  Detroit's Mitch Callahan scored a pair of goals and Riley Sheahan had a goal and an assist in the win, while on the other side, Garrett Wilson scored both Penguins goals in the loss.

It looks like everyone got a good share of the ice in this one, both camps are waiting for some players to come back from the World Cup, so they'll continue to spread the wealth in camps.

One more key injury return was in Montreal tonight, as the visiting Capitals had the return of defenseman Karl Alzner to game action, coming off sports hernia surgery. He appears to be good to go for the coming year.

It was the Habs, however, who were getting all the press in this one, as they defeated the Caps, 5-2, and everyone notable was in a Montreal jersey.  Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu had a 4-point night, including a goal, while his partner on the night, Greg Pateryn, had 3 assists in the win.  Torrey Mitchell, Paul Byron and Alexander Radulov were all good for 2 points a piece as well.

The Colorado Avalanche went into the Xcel Energy Center and came out with a 4-1 preseason win over the Minnesota Wild and it was thanks in part to a professional tryout, forward Rene Bourque, who was the only notable player with a goal and an assist.

The Avalanche are leaning towards a youthful lineup to start the season, but some early injury concerns might help a guy like Bourque find a job, especially if he can put a couple more pucks in the net in this preseason.

The Calgary Flames went into Winnipeg and exorcised a few demons after a couple of split squad losses to Edmonton the night before, defeating the Jets, 4-0, in their barn.  Defenseman Brett Kulak likely knows that breaking through the depth of the team's blueline will be exceptionally difficult, but a 2-goal and 3-point night should go a long ways to helping the team feel more comfortable in possibly moving some of that depth ahead of him, likely to lessen their cap burden.

The San Jose Sharks entertained the Vancouver Canucks at the tank on Tuesday night and the home side was able to sneak out a 3-2 overtime victory, thanks to 2014 draft pick, Kevin Labanc, who scored the winner and added an assist, while defenseman David Schlemko was adjusting well to his new surroundings, picking up a pair of assists.  Both sides are also waiting for their World Cup participants to get back into camp, before they really ramp up their efforts.