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Blue Line Buzz: Making the moves

by | Rotowire.com
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Dan Boyle is wheeling and dealing for the red-hot Sharks. San Jose is flying toward the playoffs for what, we assume, will be another year of woeful underachievement prompting the seemingly annual debate as to whether the team's "window is closing."

Boyle has three goals and two assists through the last seven games, including a Scott Niedermayer-esque end-to-end rush against Minnesota from Wednesday. Boyle picked up the puck following a Wild clear and proceeded to blaze a path through a defense with more aplomb than Davy Crockett. Boyle has always been a consistent scorer, but he's currently three goals away from cracking double digits, a feat he hasn't achieved since the 2009-10 season. The goals are even more impressive considering this year is a shortened season. One of these years, Boyle's numbers will fall. Until then, he'll be one of the steadiest options for your blue line after the elite defenders are gone.

Boyle isn't the only defender producing regularly for the Sharks, although Brent Burns is basically a defender in name only right now. Burns has been skating at forward the last few weeks and been infinitely more productive at wing that he was in the several games he played on the blue line, giving owners forward production from a defenseman spot in their lineup; most leagues still have Burns listed a blue liner.

Since moving to forward on March 12, Burns has 13 points through 13 games with three goals and four assists over the last seven contests. Burns likely will be moved back to the blue line next season, one can assume, but he's been a great value for owners that snagged him late in drafts while he was still on injured reserve.

Back To The Future In DC

A quick glance at the recent statistics put up by Washington's highest-paid players will make Fantasy owners believe that it's 2010 again (when the Caps were Eastern Conference Regular Season Champions). The Caps saw themselves in the news this past week for dealing uber-prospect Filip Forsberg to Nashville for Martin Erat, a trade they'll surely regret (although Forsberg might not be as valuable in Nashville's system). Forsberg had the skills to be a top pick last June, but he slipped. ( Erat left Saturday's win over Florida with a lower-body injury in the first period and did not return)

The Forsberg folly aside, Washington is flying up the Eastern Conference standings, sitting atop the Southeast Division with 40 points. While technically tied with Winnipeg, the Caps have played two fewer games than the Thrashers Jets, thus have the tiebreaker. The Jets, however, are sitting in ninth place, two points behind the Islanders and Rangers, looking likely that the Southeast will get just one team in the playoffs again.

While Alexander Ovechkin has 13 goals in the last 11 games and Nicklas Backstrom is sitting third in the league with 33 assists (a goal and eight helpers in the last five contests), our old friend Mike Green, the most enigmatic Canadian player ever, has five goals and seven points in the last five contests. That's as many points as Green registered in 32 games during last season's injury-riddled, remarkably inconsistent campaign. Green and the Caps appear to be adjusting quite nicely to new coach Adam Oates' system, something that should play right into the talents of Green, Ovechkin and Backstrom.

Still In Phoenix

Much like the Phoenix Coyotes themselves, Keith Yandle has been enduring rumors about leaving the Desert. His name, however, was not called during Wednesday's trade deadline, leaving him with the ‘Yotes, at least for now. Yandle's been usurped on the ice by Oliver Ekman-Larsson but he's still delivering some production with eight points in the last nine contests, including four in the past three. As has been the case with most of Yandle's production this season, it's been concentrated. His 23 points have him sitting in eighth in the defensemen scoring race.

Yes, General Burkhalter

Even though he is not a defenseman, Phoenix winger Rob Klinkhammer has one of the best hockey names since Lucien Deblois. Klinkhammer is making an impact in his small sample size of NHL action, with four goals and four assists over 13 games, six of which have come in the last seven games. Phoenix are one of a host of Western Conference teams battling for a playoff spot and Klinkhammer is going to be a player for them in the season's final three weeks, provided he can find time while threatening to send Schultz to the Russian front.

-Since Paul Martin left the lineup with a broken wrist, Matt Niskanen has no points in those four games, despite seeing boatloads of power-play time (more than 3 minutes in two contests and 5:47 in another). With Kris Letang due back in the lineup soon, Niskanen's rate of production likely will stay similar to what it's been.

-Toronto Maple Leaf defender Mark Fraser is still making an impact in terms of plus-minus, sitting at a plus-14 with seven points, including a primary assist on Leo Kamorov's goal in Saturday's win over New Jersey, Fraser's former team.

-Edmonton's Justin Schultz has points in just two of his last 12 games, with an eight-game drought in that span. Early last week, Schutlz grabbed four points over two games, with a goal and two helpers in a win over Calgary. One can hope Schutlz will be more consistent next season, just don't pay too high of a price for his services.

-Jay Bouwmeester has adapted nicely to St. Louis in his first two games with the Blues, notching three assists over that span. He's currently playing alongside budding star Alex Pietrangelo, so that's a bit of an upgrade from his teammates in Calgary. Odds are Bouwmeester won't rake in the points for St. Louis, but he'll be a steady player on one of the deepest group of defensemen in the NHL. (Seriously, their third pairing is Roman Polak and Barrett Jackman).

-Vancouver's Dan Hamhuis continues to be steady, albeit unspectacular. The veteran has points in three of the last four games including a goal in Saturday's win over Vancouver.

-Your weekly P.K. Subban update finds the Toronto native rolling in points for the Habs (assisted on both Montreal goals Saturday). He has 32 points in 32 games and is the only NHL defenseman with double digit goals (10). He's making the contract he signed back in early February look like a pittance for what he'll see in two years. Subban is making a clear case to be the first defender taken next year over Erik Karlsson.

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Player News
Mark Visentin
Coyotes' Visentin (Lower Body) Helped Off Ice
Mark Visentin, G, ARI
9/22/2014
News: Mark Visentin suffered a lower body injury during Sunday's training camp scrimmage.
Analysis: Mark Visentin was helped off of the ice, so it's possible the injury is something fairly serious, but it's too early to tell, as the report did not provide definitive details. Another update should be forthcoming once Visentin is evaluated by the team's medical staff.

Nathan Lieuwen
Sabres Start Lieuwen In Preseason Opener
Nathan Lieuwen, G, BUF
9/22/2014
News: Nathan Lieuwen will start and possibly play the whole game in their preseason opener Sunday against Washington.
Analysis: The Sabres are dressing their two AHL goalies with Nathan Lieuwen and Andrey Makarov. Lieuwen, a sixth-round pick, usurped the starting job from Matt Hackett in Rochester last year until a concussion shut Lieuwen down for the season, paving the way for Makarov to finish as Rochester's starter in the playoffs. Lieuwen finished his AHL season with a .922 save percentage and 17 wins in 32 appearances. Interesting to hear that head coach Ted Nolan will likely play Lieuwen the whole game, sending the message loud and clear that each goalie will get a fair shot and a fair look. It's open season in the organization right now as Lieuwen and Makarov vie for the starting job in Rochester while Michal Neuvirth and Jhonas Enroth battle for the big league gig.

Ryan Murray
Jackets' Murray (Knee) Skates Sunday
Ryan Murray, D, CLB
11:36 AM
News: Ryan Murray (knee) was able to skate in practice Sunday, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: Ryan Murray skated as part of the non-contact group, but this is still good news for his recovery. It appears that he is progressing well, and should be ready well before the regular season.

P.A. Parenteau
Montreal's Parenteau Scores Again
P.A. Parenteau, RW, MON
11:25 AM
News: P.A. Parenteau scored a goal in Sunday's intra-squad scrimmage Sunday, Hockey Inside Out reports.
Analysis: It was the second straight scrimmage that P.A. Parenteau has found the net; he scored twice Saturday. Head coach Michel Therrien has not indicated where he sees a best fit for Parenteau, but the right winger appears headed for a top-6 role.

Daniel Cleary
Detroit's Cleary Feels Healthy Heading Into Fall
Daniel Cleary, RW, DET
8:17 AM
News: Daniel Cleary says his knee problems are behind him and he's ready for a bounceback campaign after his worst season with the Red Wings, MLive.com reports.
Analysis: Daniel Cleary signed for less to stay with Detroit but didn't end up doing much, with only eight points in 52 games. Cleary was a fairly strong producer for the Red Wings for several years, but at 35, is more of a veteran depth winger.

Riley Nash
Canes' Nash Promoted To Second Line In Preseason
Riley Nash, C, CAR
8:06 AM
News: Riley Nash will center the second line between Jeff Skinner and Elias Lindholm in the Canes' first preseason game Sunday against Columbus, the Raleigh News & Observer reports.
Analysis: This looks to be a temporary assignment for now, as coach Bill Peters has decided to rest Eric Staal against the Jackets, meaning second- and third line centers Jordan Staal and Riley Nash move up in the pecking order. Once the regular season begins, Nash is more likely to be back centering the third line with the likes of Nathan Gerbe and either Patrick Dwyer or Zach Boychuk.

Eric Staal
Canes' Staal To Miss First Preseason Game
Eric Staal, C, CAR
7:54 AM
News: Eric Staal will be held out of the Canes' first preseason game as a precaution, reports the Raleigh News & Observer.
Analysis: According to coach Bill Peters, Eric Staal is not injured, and has not not missed any practice time in camp. However, Staal did have surgery for an abdominal injury this summer, and it sounds like Peters is just being cautious with his star center in the early going. For now, this does not appear to be something that will affect Staal's preseason fantasy value, but it's worth keeping an eye on nonetheless.

Derek Stepan
Rangers' Stepan Day-To-Day With Foot Contusion
Derek Stepan, C, NYR
7:30 AM
News: Derek Stepan has a foot contusion after blocking a shot in practice, and is considered day-to-day, Andrew Gross of The Record reports.
Analysis: Derek Stepan's day-to-day injury designation indicates that this is a minor injury, and should be ready start the regular season. Provided he does return to action soon, this injury should not affect Stepan's fantasy value.

Ryan Johansen
Jackets, Johansen Remain $3 Million Per Year Apart
Ryan Johansen, C, CLB
6:35 AM
News: The latest contract offer from the Ryan Johansen camp, rejected by the Blue Jackets on Thursday, is reportedly for two years and $12 million, the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: That's down a million from their last proposal, which is some sign of progress, but it's still double the Jackets' offer of two years and $6 million. With multiple KHL teams inserting themselves into the mix, including a one year, $5 million offer from CSKA Moscow, things could get very interesting over the next few weeks.

Boone Jenner
Jackets' Jenner Shifting To Center
Boone Jenner, C, CLB
6:28 AM
News: With Ryan Johansen not in training camp due to a contract dispute, Boone Jenner will play center rather than left wing in the Blue Jackets' first exhibition game on Sunday, the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: Boone Jenner was an excellent faceoff man in the junior ranks, so Johansen's absence will be a golden chance for the sophomore to prove he shouldn't be playing on the wing.

 
 
 
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