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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
Nate Thompson
Ducks' Thompson Nears Return
Nate Thompson, C, ANA
11:46 AM
News: Nate Thompson (upper body) appears poised to return to the Ducks' lineup, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: Per the report, Nate Thompson took regular turns at Tuesday's practice with Emerson Etem and Tim Jackman on the team's fourth line, so barring a setback, look for Thompson to be available for Thursday's Game 1 against the Flames. The veteran pivot finished up the regular season with 18 points in 80 games, so his status is only of note in the deepest of fantasy formats.

Patric Hornqvist
Penguins' Hornqvist Played Through Rib Issue
Patric Hornqvist, RW, PIT
10:17 AM
News: Patric Hornqvist played through a broken rib during the NHL playoffs, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Analysis: Patric Hornqvist, who managed to rack up three points in five playoff games prior the Penguins' recent elimination, will now have a full offseason to heal up and will presumably be 100 percent by the time training camp rolls around. In his first campaign with Pittsburgh, the 28-year-old winger notched 25 goals and 51 points in 64 games.

Travis Hamonic
Isles' Hamonic Recovering From MCL Injury
Travis Hamonic, D, NYI
10:07 AM
News: Travis Hamonic relayed Tuesday that the injury that sidelined him of late was a torn left MCL, Newsday's Arthur Staple reports.
Analysis: Travis Hamonic, who last suited up on April 10, noted Tuesday that if the Isles had advanced past the Caps on Monday, that he hoped to play by the end of the second round of the NHL playoffs. With the Islanders having been eliminated, however, Hamonic now has the offseason to recover and he should be back at full strength well before the team re-assembles in advance of the 2015-16 season.

Keith Yandle
Rangers' Yandle Misses Practice
Keith Yandle, D, NYR
9:33 AM
News: Keith Yandle (soreness) did not practice Tuesday.
Analysis: As Andrew Gross of the Record notes, Keith Yandle -- who is dealing with overall body soreness -- has not practiced or participated in a morning skate with the Rangers since April 18, when the blueliner absorbed a Blake Comeau body check. That said, Yandle hasn't missed any game action since then, with the Daily News relaying that the defender is slated to remain in the Rangers' lineup for Game 1 of the team's second-round playoff series.

Erik Karlsson
Sens' Karlsson Up For Norris
Erik Karlsson, D, OTT
8:46 AM
News: Erik Karlsson has been nominated for the Norris Trophy for the 2014-15 NHL season OttawaSenators.com reports. This is his second nomination - Karlsson won the award in 2012.
Analysis: Erik Karlsson - who has become an All-Star in his first three professional seasons - is still a "young" player in the NHL at a mere 24 years old. Karlsson tallied 21 goals and 45 assists in the 2014-15 campaign - becoming the youngest player to record over 200 assists since Brian Leetch accomplished the feat in 1991 at 25 years old. Karlsson shows no signs of slowing down his point production any time soon - quite the contrary, Karlsson had the stamina to log over 32 minutes of ice time in Game 6 of the Sens' first round Eastern Conference playoff series against Montreal.

David Pastrnak
Bruins' Pastrnak Iffy For Tuesday's Game
David Pastrnak, RW, BOS
8:14 AM
News: David Pastrnak (lower body) is questionable for Tuesday's AHL playoff contest against Hartford, the Providence Journal reports.
Analysis: David Pastrnak -- who is slated to be a fixture up front for the Boston Bruins next season -- has been skating with AHL Providence in order to gain added experience at the pro level. The 18-year-old forward was forced out of Providence's playoff game Sunday, though the fact that Pastrnak hasn't been ruled out for Tuesday's contest appears to be a solid indication that he avoided a major injury.

Adam Pardy
Jets' Pardy Has Shoulder Surgery
Adam Pardy, D, WPG
8:01 AM
News: Adam Pardy underwent shoulder surgery on Monday, tsn.ca reports.
Analysis: Per the report, Adam Pardy, who recorded nine assists and 40 PIM in 55 games this past season, will be ready for training camp in September. The veteran blueliner is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Tobias Enstrom
Jets' Enstrom Has Shoulder Surgery
Tobias Enstrom, D, WPG
7:55 AM
News: Tobias Enstrom underwent shoulder surgery on Monday, tsn.ca reports.
Analysis: Tobias Enstrom, who notched 23 points and 36 PIM in 60 games for the Jets this past season, now has the full offseason to recovery from the procedure and is in line to be ready for training camp this coming September.

Niklas Kronwall
Red Wings' Kronwall To Have NHL Hearing
Niklas Kronwall, D, DET
7:34 AM
News: Niklas Kronwall will have an NHL hearing Tuesday afternoon for a possible illegal hit on Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov, Ansar Khan of MLive.com reports.
Analysis: While Niklas Kronwall was not penalized for the hit during Monday's Game 6 loss, it appeared to be a charge and/or illegal hit to the head. The veteran blueliner will likely be fined, and there's also a chance he's suspended for Wednesday's Game 7. In such a scenario, Jakub Kindl or Alexey Marchenko would be candidates to join the Detroit lineup in Kronwall's place.

P.K. Subban
Habs' Subban A Norris Finalist
P.K. Subban, D, MON
2:56 AM
News: P.K. Subban was named as one of the three finalists for the Norris Trophy, which is awarded to the NHL's top defenseman, the Montreal Gazette reports.
Analysis: P.K. Subban joins Ottawa's Erik Karlsson and Los Angeles' Drew Doughty as the three blue-liners being considered. Subban won the award in 2013.

 
 
 
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