News: Tyler Myers will be paired with veteran shutdown defenseman Josh Gorges to begin the training camp, reports The Buffalo News. Analysis: As expected, the mercurial Tyler Myers will be paired with the dependable Gorges to begin the season as the Sabres' top pairing. Myers has struggled over the past few seasons since winning the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie, and often looks overwhelmed by the amount of pressure placed on him. The 6-foot-8 defenseman has plenty of talent but just hasn't been able to realize it. Hopefully, Gorges will take some pressure off his shoulders and also allow Myers to take more of an offensive role. If all goes well, Myers could be in line for the best season in his rookie year. He is, without a doubt, the Sabres' best defenseman in fantasy, though the team is expected to finish near the bottom of the standings again.
News: One of Buffalo's best players last year, Zemgus Girgensons is penciled in as the team's second-line center, reports The Buffalo News. Analysis: Head coach Ted Nolan and the rest of the Sabres staff love Zemgus Girgensons. An excellent two-way player with great wheels, Girgensons was one of Buffalo's more consistent players and was the standout forward for Latvia at the Sochi Olympics. Delivering on their promise to give Girgensons a bigger role, the Sabres are experimenting with him in an offensive role, playing alongside playmaker Cody Hodgson on the left wing and former Habs captain Brian Gionta on the right wing. Girgensons is scratching the surface of his offensive ability, who scored just eight goals in 70 games last year. He's often overlooked because Hodgson and Tyler Ennis are more well-known names in fantasy, but it's possible Girgensons provides better value than both of them this season with faceoff wins and hits, if your league counts them.
News: Keith Ballard (hernia) was a full participant in the first practice and scrimmage of Minnesota's training camp, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Analysis: Keith Ballard had sports hernia surgery after the season, but looks at full strength as training camp begins. He played just 45 games last season as he struggled to stay healthy due to a groin injury and concussion.
News: Niklas Backstrom was a full participant in the first practice and scrimmage of Minnesota's training camp, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Analysis: Niklas Backstrom underwent season-ending abdominal and hip surgery in March, but looks back to full strength. After a poor 2013-14 season, (3.02 GAA and .899 save percentage) Backstrom enters camp as the likely No. 1 goalie with Josh Harding out several months due to a broken foot. However, he'll face competition from Darcy Kuemper and possibly Ilya Bryzgalov for the starting role and the goalie situation with the Wild could be in flux again this season.
News: Rasmus Ristolainen reported to training camp at 205 pounds, 25 pounds lighter than he was the previous season, reports John Vogl of The Buffalo News. Analysis: This is good news for Sabres and Rasmus Ristolainen, who said he shed some of his baby fat. The 19-year-old defenseman is one of the league's top young players and over a summer of training has increased his footspeed, agility and overall strength. Ristolainen is the team's future franchise defenseman and looks more like it with each passing season. Tyler Myers may still be the team's most valuable defenseman in fantasy, but there's a good chance Ristolainen takes over that top spot by the end of the season. Ristolainen is a potential sleeper defenseman and a key target in keeper leagues, if you can live with a few more seasons of growing pains and playing on a non-playoff team.
News: After being demoted to the AHL and suffering a season-ending ACL injury, Patrick Kaleta is ready to return to the lineup and says his focus has never been better, reports the Olean Times Herald. Analysis: Patrick Kaleta was handed his fourth NHL suspension after a hit to the head of Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson. An aggressive player and a childhood Sabres fan, Kaleta is relishing a return into the lineup and noted his admiration for head coach Ted Nolan, who was coach of the Sabres in the '90s. Kaleta is vying for a spot on the team's fourth line and brings plenty of grit and experience to the lineup. If he can stay focused, he has a very good chance of earning a spot in the lineup. Though Kaleta was previously a reliable source of penalty minutes, cleaning up his game might serve him better in real life than in fantasy. His value is minimal at this point.
News: With Nathan Horton sidelined indefinitely due to back trouble and Ryan Johansen not at camp due to a contract dispute, Josh Anderson will be one of the players looked at as a possible replacement among the Blue Jackets' top nine forwards. Analysis: Josh Anderson could replace Horton's size and physical presence on the ice, if not his offense, but he'll need to have a very impressive training camp to leapfrog the more veteran players available to the Blue Jackets.
News: The Blue Jackets have rejected the latest contract offer from Ryan Johansen's agent Kurt Overhardt, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Analysis: This isn't a big surprise, as the increasingly bitter negotiations seem poised to drag on for a while yet. Brandon Dubinsky, who is also represented by Overhardt and went through his own nine-day absence from camp during his days as an RFA with the Rangers, says that the locker room will welcome the young center back without reservation once the contract dispute is settled, so that's at least a sliver of good news for Ryan Johansen owners.
News: Nathan Horton (back) may not participate at all in training camp, and he could be sidelined for the initial stages of the regular season, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Analysis: The Blue Jackets have apparently known for a while about Nathan Horton's back injury, but managed to keep it under wraps. Horton managed to play in just 36 games last season due to shoulder and abdominal injuries, and 2014-2015 is starting out in much the same way. Be very cautious before drafting him this year.
News: Francis Bouillon will skate with the Canadiens during training camp, the Montreal Gazette reports. Analysis: Francis Bouillon, who was with the Canadiens in 2013-14, was not signed in the offseason. If he makes the opening-night roster, it would be mean something has gone wrong with the development of younger defensemen like Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi or Greg Pateryn.