News: Niklas Backstrom appears to be losing ground in the battle for the No. 1 goalie gig with Darcy Kuemper, Chad Graff of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Analysis: Niklas Backstrom was the frontrunner for the starting job entering camp, but after Kuemper reported to the Wild upon agreeing to a new contract with the team, the declining veteran looks on track to eventually settle into a reserve role. The 36-year-old has performed respectably in training camp with 29 saves on 32 shots over two appearances, but the memory of last season's 5-11-2 record, 3.02 GAA and .899 save percentage will probably make the Wild somewhat reluctant to use him regularly. Though some of his struggles could be attributed to injury, the youthful Kuemper posted far better numbers as a rookie and probably gives the Wild a better chance at ascending to the Western Conference's elite in 2014-15. Expect Backstrom's long tenure in Minnesota to allow him to cut into Kuemper's workload early in the season, but Kuemper should soon separate himself as the team's clear No. 1 option.
News: Scott Laughton was assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley Tuesday, Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News reports. Analysis: The former first-round pick had a strong preseason thus far but his performance was not enough to make the final roster. Scott Laughton is regarded as a high prospect in the Flyers' system and he is young enough to stay in the AHL for a year to develop his skills further. Barring injury, he won't see much playing time in the NHL this year since the Flyers have an abundance of centers, but keeper league owners should still give him a look.
News: Shayne Gostisbehere was assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley Tuesday, Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News reports Analysis: Shayne Gostisbehere scored two goals and an assist in the preseason but it was still not enough to make the Flyers' final roster. With the absence of Kimmo Timonen, the rookie could still get called up mid-season but for now it seems like the team wants him to keep working on his game in the AHL.
News: Darcy Kuemper will start both of the Wild's final two preseason contests, Chad Graff of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Analysis: The decision would seem to signal that he's got the inside track on the starting job, as the latter stages of the exhibition schedule are typically treated by coaches as dress rehearsals for the regular season. It's still likely that Darcy Kuemper and fellow No. 1 goalie contender Niklas Backstrom share duties between the pipes in the early stages of the season, but Kuemper's superior numbers in 2013-14 (12-8-4, 2.43 GAA, .915 save %) make him the preferable option of the two to own.
News: Zack Stortini was waived by the Flyers on Wednesday, Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports reports. Analysis: Aside from agitating opponents (299 PIM in 73 games at AHL Norfolk) last season, Zack Stortini doesn't bring much skill to the ice. He could see time with the Flyers as a checking-line option later in the season, assuming he clears waivers and reports to AHL Lehigh Valley.
News: Boone Jenner had surgery on his broken hand Tuesday and is expected to miss approximately five weeks, the Blue Jackets' official site reports. Analysis: Boone Jenner is coming off a successful rookie season in which he notched 16 goals and 29 points, setting him up to become a top-six forward with Columbus in 2014-15. In light of this news, the Blue Jackets' first two lines look highly unsettled, as Jenner's absence, Nathan Horton's back problems, and Ryan Johansen's contract dispute have created three vacancies. Jenner should be a valuable contributor when he returns to action, but he'll likely plummet down cheat sheets with the knowledge that he'll be out until November.
News: Ryan Malone (hip) hopes to play in the Rangers' final two preseason games, Andrew Gross of The Record reports. Analysis: Ryan Malone returned to practice Wednesday, and with Friday being the team's next game, will work towards being ready for that day. He is battling several other candidates for a few forward spots, and will likely need to impress over the final two preseason games to earn a spot.
News: Eric Fehr has been skating with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom on the team's top line, Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington reports. Analysis: With Alex Ovechkin moving back to left wing, Eric Fehr seems the likely candidate to take the job given the need for Troy Brouwer to shoulder the face-off burden on the second line and Joel Ward likely tied to Jason Chimera to form a talented third line. The job appears to be Fehr's to lose at the moment. Given his low ADP, Fehr is worth a late flier or speculative waiver pickup in all formats.
News: Head coach Barry Trotz said Mike Green (upper body) would miss the Capitals' next two preseason games but hopes to have him in the lineup for the season opener, Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington reports. Analysis: Mike Green (upper body) hasn't practiced since the weekend and given the Calgary native's injury history, Trotz can't be blamed for being cautious with any minor injury having to do with the talented puck-moving defenseman.
News: Andre Burakovsky skated on the Capitals' second line between Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer during Wednesday's practice, Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington reports. Analysis: The Capitals have apparently narrowed down the job of second-line center to Burakovksy and Evgeny Kuznetsov, with Kuznetsov the current favorite to win the job. Andre Burakovsky has had an impressive summer with the Capitals at various camps, and although he will be given another look for the job, the smart money would be on him being sent to the minors to get a full season of experience playing center with AHL Hershey. Still, this situation bears watching over the Capitals' final preseason games set to continue with Wednesday's match in Buffalo.