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Right on Schedule: Plenty of moving parts

by | Rotowire.com
  •  

The blood pumps harder as I scan this week's schedule. Looking over the league standings, the Western Conference is still log-jammed, 10 spots (3rd-13th) are separated by only 10 points. In the Eastern Conference, 10 points separates six teams for the eighth and final playoff spot. Over the next seven days, you'll experience a week of Hockey more exciting than stats on a screen, or your place in a league. The trade deadline has been known to flip the NHL upside down and by the time we meet again next week, this year's deadline will have come-and-gone. So let's break down the schedule and minor-league crops for a few teams on the move.

St Louis Blues are a combined 5-5-2 against this week's opponents
vs. CHI, COL @ VAN, EDM, CAL

 A five-game weekly schedule is not a common occurrence for an NHL team. A busy week is nothing new for the St. Louis Blues (26-21-9), who were very active last week as well. Captain Eric Brewer agreed to waive his no-trade clause and was sent to Tampa Bay. The St. Louis Blues received Brock Bukeboom (Jeff Bukeboom's son) and a third-round pick in 2011. St. Louis was not done however, including some swapped conditional draft-picks, the Colorado Avalanche acquired former No. 1 pick Erik Johnson and Jay McClement from the Blues. St. Louis fetched early-season fizzle Chris Stewart and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. Blues Executive V.P. and GM Doug Armstrong told NHL.com, "These are two solid young players who will help us now as we continue to grow and improve our team. I would like to thank Erik and Jay for their service to the St. Louis Blues and wish them nothing but the best of luck." You've got to wonder if Armstrong will feel the same on Tuesday, when the Blues host the Avalanche at The Scottrade Center.

St. Louis is currently in the midst of a 10-day span when they will play seven games, including two back-to-back nights. The first of these are two at home versus Chicago and Colorado, but after a day off, St. Louis travels to Vancouver and onto Edmonton the next evening. The largest problem St. Louis has with a five-game schedule will be Jaroslav Halak's (right hand) health. Exhibit A; Ty Conklin's three goals allowed on five Anaheim Ducks shots. Ironically, Denver native, Ben Bishop, who has a GAA of 2.52 (15-12-2) at Peoria (AHL) was recalled to back-up Conklin for now. Bishop quickly backstopped the Conklin bleeding as an energetic Blues team took a 9-3 win against the Ducks. Immediately, the Colorado deal paid dividends as Stewart had two goals and Shatternkirk added an assist. For the time being the Blues have also called up Philip McRae, and Tyson Strachan from Peoria as well. Speaking of the Peoria Rivermen, the departure of Eric Brewer may have been designed to add another T.J. to the roster. Here's a look at the future of the St. Louis Blues.

Peoria Rivermen (AHL)
RW Graham Mink 34 points (14 goals, 20 assists, 103 PIM) in 47 games
LW Nicholas Drazenovic 28 points, 114 shots (second on the team) in 50 games
C  T.J. Hensick 52 points (16 goals, 36 assists) in 43 games.
G Jake Allen is 16-9-5 with a GAA of 2.17

Boston Bruins are a combined 0-0 against this week's opponents
@CAL, VAN, EDM

Perhaps it's not so coincidental that the Boston Bruins (33-19-7) have been one of the most active teams as we approach the trading deadline. Adding Tomas Kaberle, Rich Peverley and Boris Valabik last week were certainly moves designed to keep them atop the Northeast division. Boston, only four points ahead of Montreal in the division, gears up for nine of their next 12 games on the road. It shouldn't be a problem as the Bruins' record on the road (18-7-4) is far and away more impressive than their record (15-12-3) at home. Third in the Eastern Conference and armed with fresh faces, can Boston pull away the Northeast pack? If the Bruins don't get the expected spark from Peverley and Kaberle, these trades may backfire. Considering Joe Colborne was third in Providence Bruins team-scoring, a call from the ranks is not likely to spark a change later on. But here's the cream of their crop.

Providence Bruins (AHL)
C Jamie Arniel 32 points, minus-10 in 55 games
C Zach Hamill 29 points, minus-16 in 46 games
RW Kirk Macdonald 26 points, minus 3 in 55 games

Phoenix Coyotes are a combined 4-1 against this week's opponents
@PHI, TB, CLB, CHI

Another team with an advantage (16-9-4) in road games, this week is filled with opportunity for Phoenix (32-19-9) to prove its worth. After trading Wojtek Wolski to the Rangers, a lot of people assumed the Coyotes to be very active on the seller's market come the deadline. Since then, Phoenix has finagled their way to third in the conference, and first in the Pacific. Having been outscored in the first two games of the month, very decidedly (11-3) to San Jose and Vancouver, the Coyotes take a seven-game winning streak into the new week. Ilya Bryzgalov has been terrific, posting two shutouts in back-to-back games this month. This week will be the first four of five road games to end the month for Phoenix. However, the mirage begins to appear for 'Yotes fans when your leading scorer is/has been a defenseman (Keith Yandle, 51 points) all season. On the brink, LW Lauri Korpikoski registered seven points during a five-game point streak last month. After going pointless in six-games and an injury to Taylor Pyatt, Korpikoski's ice-time (18+ minutes) was increased a few games ago. The 24-year-old Finn has responded, posting two goals and an assist (+4) in two games. Sixth-overall pick (2009), defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson could be a dark-horse ready to start contributing more consistently. However, play-making wingers are the shopping list. In the scenario GM Don Maloney does not make a deal by this Sunday, here's what the future in the desert looks like.

San Antonio Rampage (AHL)
RW Brett MacLean has 47 points (22 goals, 25 assists) in 48 games.
RW Mathieu Beaudoin has 36 points (14 goals, 22 assists) in 38 games
D  Garrett Stafford has 35 points (11 goals, 24 assists) and 51 PIM in 43 games

San Jose Sharks are a combined 2-2 against this week's opponents
@DET, PIT, CAL

The Sharks (33-21-6) acquired D Ian White from the Hurricanes on Friday in exchange for a 2012 second-round pick. White managed an assist in his Sharks debut, a 4-0 win over Colorado. This is the second time this year White has been traded, each time (Calgary, Carolina) being upgraded to a more likely playoff-bound team. Speaking of Calgary, White's original team, the Flames (6-1-2 in February) are one of three strong opponents on San Jose's schedule this week, all three slated to host the team most in need of Tomas Vokoun's services. Or are they? G Antti Niemi, who stopped 30 of 31 shots in Nashville last week, has been very dependable. Having started 14 consecutive games, Niemi is 7-2 (1.90 GAA) in February with three shutouts, including two in consecutive starts. The Sharks also called up defenseman Matt Irwin (21 points, 93 SOG in 46 games) from Worcester of the AHL. Let's have a look at who else lurks in the Sharks' pipeline.

Worcester Sharks (AHL)
RW Jonathan Cheechoo 17 goals, 27 assists, 147 shots in 49 games
C Michael Swift 16 goals (30 points with Albany/Worcester) in 51 games
LW T.J. Trevelyan 12 goals (26 points) in 47 games
RW Dan DaSilva 26 points, plus-14 (leads team) 58 PIM in 53 games
D Sean Sullivan 26 points in 46 games

Toronto Maple Leafs are a combined 6-4-1 against this week's opponents
vs. NYI @MON vs, PIT @ATL

Toronto (25-27-7) is maybe more intriguing as the waiting is over. Like a breath of fresh air finally coming through town, the trading of Kaberle and Francois Beauchemin is complete. As for the men defending twine, General Manager Brian Burke said that Jonas Gustavsson (heart surgery) will be out "probably only another few days." No one tell James Reimer, who is 3-1-1 and aside from an ugly five-goal performance against lackluster Buffalo, has things under control. G Jean-Sebastien Giguere's is still 7-10 days away. If you remove the s10ch of the 6-2 loss to the Sabres, Reimer has logged an outrageous GAA (1.74) and a shutout to boot in February.

Toronto Marlies (AHL)
C Mike Zigomanis 36 points, 54 PIM in 50 games
C Nazem Kadri 12 goals (31 points) 52 PIM in 32 games
LW Ryan Hamilton nine goals (17 points), plus-10, 17 PIM in 24 games
C Joe Colborne a goal in his Marlies debut, has 26 points, 35 PIM in 56 AHL games

More notes...

This could be the week I pull the trigger and release Craig Anderson from my CBS format. Only to pick up former New York Rangers first-rounder (2004), Al Montoya? Montoya was with the San Antonio Rampage when he was traded to the goalie desperate Islanders. Of course, I may regret this drop as Anderson was traded to the Senators for Brian Elliott. Yes, a change of scenery is known to have an impact on a man's play, as evident in Anderson's win (47 saves) on Saturday against Toronto. However, it is unlikely for anyone to play consistently in a Senators jersey this season. Montoya, the latest addition to the land of misfit toys, came on in relief after Nathan Lawson gave up five goals (18 shots) to Boston. The twenty-five-year-old Montoya stopped 15 of the Bruins remaining 16 shots in a 6-3 loss. As a result, Montoya's first NHL start in two years brought immediate   reason for hope. Although a 3-0 shutout of Los Angeles should be tempered as the Kings (8-1-3 run) have just recently found their winning touch. Perhaps armed with their goalie for the rest of the year, the team from Long Island is among nine other teams to play four times in seven nights this week.

In addition to the Phoenix, St. Louis and Toronto, back-up goalies from Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton, Florida, Nashville and Pittsburgh should be considered for quick points in daily leagues. Florida should be interesting as "The Tomas Voukon affair" will heat up. Without research I jest, San Jose has the biggest need for Voukon. Oddly enough, it was Scott Clemmensen who minded the net this past Saturday in the Panthers' (3-2 SO) win over Floridian rival Tampa Bay. Digging into their runaway stance from the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia Flyers added a vital right-winger in Kris Versteeg. Yes, Versteeg is barely on pace to match career highs and has not quite matched the breakout potential expected since leaving Chicago for Toronto in the off-season. Ignoring his slow start in Philly (four shots -1), Versteeg will prove to be a major pick-up after everything's said and done. Versteeg should be in for a more productive week against Phoenix, New York (Islanders) and Ottawa.

Nationally televised action in EST
21 -- Washington at Pittsburgh, 7:30
22 -- New Jersey at Dallas, 8:30
23 -- San Jose at Pittsburgh, 7:30 

The Full Schedule Grid

Team Away Home Total
St. Louis 3 2 5
Colorado 3 1 4
Edmonton 2 2 4
Florida 3 1 4
Nashville 2 2 4
N.Y. Islanders 2 2 4
Phoenix 4 0 4
Pittsburgh 2 2 4
Toronto 2 2 4
Anaheim 0 3 3
Atlanta 1 2 3
Boston 3 0 3
Buffalo 0 3 3
Carolina 1 2 3
Calgary 0 3 3
Chicago 2 1 3
Columbus 1 2 3
Dallas 1 2 3
Detroit 1 2 3
Los Angeles 1 2 3
Minnesota 2 1 3
Montreal 1 2 3
New Jersey 3 0 3
N.Y. Rangers 2 1 3
Ottawa 1 2 3
Philadelphia 1 2 3
San Jose 3 0 3
Tampa Bay 1 2 3
Vancouver 0 3 3
Washington 2 1 3

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Player News
Boyd Gordon
Oilers' Gordon In Line To Serve As No. 3 Center
Boyd Gordon, C, EDM
9/18/2014
News: Boyd Gordon is expected to serve as the Oilers' No. 3 center to begin the season, ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reports.
Analysis: Though filling the hole at the second-line center spot is the more pressing need for the Oilers, it appears that rookie Leon Draisaitl or Mark Arcobello will be given the opportunity to do so before Boyd Gordon does. Gordon is serviceable two-way depth center for the Oilers, but he doesn't offer enough offensive upside to keep up with the likes of David Perron and Nail Yakupov on the wings. Look for Gordon to finish with another season where he hovers around the 20-point mark.

Ilya Bryzgalov
Wild Talking To Bryzgalov About Tryout
Ilya Bryzgalov, G, MIN
9/18/2014
News: Minnesota has approached Ilya Bryzgalov about coming into training camp on a tryout, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: With Josh Harding suffering an ankle injury this summer and Darcy Kuemper unsigned and threatening to play overseas, the Wild may bring back Ilya Bryzgalov to serve as Niklas Backstrom's backup.

Mike Ribeiro
Ribeiro Likely Candidate For Preds' Top Line
Mike Ribeiro, C, NSH
6:49 PM
News: Mike Ribeiro is a likely candidate to center the Predators' top line this season alongside James Neal, The Tennessean reports.
Analysis: Mike Ribeiro and Neal were teammates in Dallas for three seasons (2008-2011) prior to the trade that sent Neal to Pittsburgh, so it makes sense for the Preds to try and re-create whatever chemistry may have existed between the two back then. In fact, Ribeiro's two best seasons came during this period (83 points in 2007-08 and 78 points in 2008-09), however don't expect him to put up similar numbers with his new team. We think a 50-point season is within his reach, with upside to 60+ if all goes well.

Chad LaRose
Canes' LaRose Injured, Likely Bound For AHL
Chad LaRose, RW, CAR
6:14 PM
News: Chad LaRose is currently injured and not on the Hurricanes' training camp roster, Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News & Observer reports.
Analysis: Details of the injury have not been provided, however Chad LaRose was not likely to crack the Canes' lineup this year anyway, after sitting out all of last season. If and when he returns to health, expect to see LaRose suit up for the Charlotte Checkers of the AHL.

Brock McGinn
Canes' Prospect McGinn Slowed By Injury
Brock McGinn, LW, CAR
5:32 PM
News: Brock McGinn has been invited to the Hurricanes' training camp despite being slowed by a leg injury at the annual Traverse City prospects tournament, the Raleigh News & Observer reports. GM Ron Francis said McGinn was not at 100 percent during the tournament, and described the injury as a "charley horse".
Analysis: Despite the injury, Brock McGinn was one of several Canes prospects to receive an invitation to training camp, even though most, if not all, will likely wind up back in junior or at AHL Charlotte. McGinn is one of the Canes' more promising prospects, having scored 85 points in 58 games last season with the Guelph Storm of the OHL.

Victor Rask
Canes' Rookie Rask Invited To Training Camp
Victor Rask, C, CAR
5:16 PM
News: Victor Rask has been invited to the Hurricanes' training camp after impressing the coaching staff at the annual Traverse City prospects tournament, the Raleigh News & Observer reports.
Analysis: The 21-year-old Victor Rask will now compete for a roster spot after finishing the tournament with eight points in four games. "[Rask] played well all four games," GM Ron Francis said. "He has very good hockey sense and was good at both ends of the rink, and on special teams. He was consistent, every shift, every game." Bottom line, despite his strong showing thus far, Rask will face some stiff competition in his attempt to crack the Canes' roster. It will be interesting to see how he fares in camp against seasoned NHL veterans. Monitor closely.

Josh Harding
Wild's Harding Ruled Out Indefinitely
Josh Harding, G, MIN
3:17 PM
News: Josh Harding has been ruled out indefinitely with a fractured right foot sustained in an off-ice incident Sept. 14.
Analysis: Josh Harding will fortunately be able to avoid surgery on the foot, but the injury more than likely dashes his chances of playing in the Wild's season opener. More details surrounding the nature of Harding's injury should become available in the coming days, but expect his stock to fall considerably in drafts as the season approaches. Harding already came with plenty of built-in health risk due to his complications with multiple sclerosis that have prematurely ended each of his last two seasons, so the injury only further damages his standing. Look for either Niklas Backstrom, Darcy Kuemper or perhaps a currently unsigned goalie to compete for No. 1 duties in training camp.

Max Domi
Domi Could Make Big Contribution
Max Domi, C, ARI
11:24 AM
News: Max Domi, who had a brilliant 93 point campaign for London in the OHL in 2013, is being looked to crack the Coyotes' lineup and add scoring, according to Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic.
Analysis: Max Domi's offensive ability is not in question, but coach Dave Tippett will need to be assured that he can handle his defensive duties in order for Domi to get the kind of ice time he needs to reach his potential.

Jaden Schwartz
Schwartz Remains Unsigned
Jaden Schwartz, LW, STL
11:05 AM
News: Jaden Schwartz, a restricted free agent, remains unsigned with one day left before camp opens, reports Andy Strickland of Fox Sports Midwest.
Analysis: Reports suggest that Jaden Schwartz and the Blues remain far apart. The 22 year-old had a break out season with 56 points and a plus-28 rating. It is unlikely that he will miss time in the regular season and hopefully any time he misses in camp does not cause him to get off to a slow start.

Justin Braun
Sharks Sign Braun To Five-Year Extension
Justin Braun, D, SJ
10:53 AM
News: Justin Braun, who set career bests with 17 points, four goals, and 13 assists last season, has inked a five-year, $19 million extension with the Sharks, which will begin in the 2015-16 season.
Analysis: Justin Braun's strengths for fantasy lie in his 20:59 of average ice time last year, but his value in other categories is generally limited. Though he occupies a prominent place on the Sharks' penalty kill, the aforementioned career-highs are nothing that will get you drafting him in early rounds. It's a great signing for the Sharks, but strictly from a real-life perspective.

 
 
 
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