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2013 Draft Prep: Eastern Conference role changes

Rotowire.com
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We begin our preparations for the upcoming Fantasy Hockey season with a look at players who have moved onto new teams or others who will play more prominent roles with Eastern Conference teams this year.

Atlantic Division

Boston: The Bruins brought up Center Carl Soderberg for a six-game cameo appearance late last season and the offensively gifted forward chipped in two assists while playing in a bottom six role. He will not crack the lineup at center but may have a shot at a third line wing position as he may have an edge over the likes of Reilly Smith and Jordan Caron. The Bruins have also added experience on the wings with Loui Eriksson (a proven front line player acquired from Dallas) and the free agent signing of Jarome Iginla. On defense, we look for Dougie Hamilton to play a much more prominent role (with added PP time) while Matt Bartkowski and playoff hero Torey Krug may also earn regular ice time from the start of the season.

Buffalo: Cody Hodgson and Tyler Ennis move into the top two center slots from the start this year. Winger Marcus Foligno is entering his third season as an NHLer and hopes to make a big jump toward the high expectations that the club has for him. He'll get top-six ice time. Jamie McBain hopes to slide into the top two defense pairings and needs to bounce back from a subpar year in Carolina last year and reclaim his status as an offensively gifted rearguard who could add some punch to the power play from his point position.

Detroit: Stephen Weiss was signed as free agent to slide into the second line center position. He's been a solid playmaker throughout his career and he's very excited about joining the Wings after a finally ending his career-long playoff drought in Florida last year. Joakim Andersson needs to show more than he did last year (3 g, 5 a, in 38 gp) to hold onto the third line pivot role. Daniel Alfredsson signed up, as a free agent to fulfill his desire to play with the bevy of Swedish stars on this roster in his NHL swan song-he'll be very motivated to retire on a high note. Top defenseman prospect Danny Dekeyser will get a shot in the top four spots on the Wings blueline and could get significant power play time as well.

Florida: Jonathan Huberdeau moves into the number one center role with Weiss's departure and hopes to build on a decent rookie campaign (14 g, 17 a in 48 gp). Drew Shore, another sophomore, will need to improve on his numbers  (3 g, 10 a, in 43 games) if he hopes to hold onto a second line job. Veteran Scott Gomez was signed with the opportunity of rediscovering his offensive game here. Bobby Butler has a chance to play top six minutes after bouncing around in bottom six situations in Ottawa and Nashville during earlier NHL career stops. Dmitri Kulikov and Erik Gudbranson both need to step up on defense to live up to their lofty first round draft selections and should both have ample opportunity to do so.

Montreal: Daniel Briere brings leadership skills as well a playmaking ability to push for top six minutes at center here after dropping down in the Flyers depth chart last year. Rene Bourque and Brian Gionta both have to bounce back from injury plagued seasons. George Parros was brought in to provide some much-needed toughness. Alex Galchenyuk hopes to earn top six minutes on the wing in his sophomore year after a decent rookie effort (9 g, 18 a, in 48 games). Rafael Diaz could add some much needed offense from the blueline if he can only stay healthy (1 g, 13 a in 23 gp).

Ottawa: The Sens rebounded from the Alfredsson departure by adding a young sniper, Bobby Ryan, via trade. That should really bolster the top scoring unit and their power play. Having a healthy Jason Spezza should do much the same up front. Ditto for Star blueliner Erik Karlsson. Clarke MacArthur will add leadership and scoring in a third-line role and he could easily move up to the top six as well. Big Jared Cowan is another young blueliner who hopes to resume the upward trajectory of his career after injuries sidelined him much of last season.

Tampa: GM Steve Yzerman looked to Detroit to sign Valtteri Filppula and slide him into the Lightning's second line center spot, replacing the departed Vincent Lecavalier. Alex Killorn is a young pivot who adds to the offensive skill at center here. He may push for second line minutes. Jonathan Drouin, one of the top prizes in the most recent Amateur Draft, will get a top six opportunity, as a playmaking winger here. Ben Bishop and Anders Lindback will begin the season as the largest goalie tandem in NHL history and the Lightning hope that their net coverage translates to more wins for the team.

Toronto: The Leafs addressed part of their wish list in signing David Clarkson to bring added toughness and strong two-way play to their forward ranks. They also added Dave Bolland, who along with Jay McClement, rank among the best defensive (checking) centers in the league. They also raised some eyebrows with the trade acquisition of goalie Jonathan Bernier, who will battle incumbent James Reimer for the number one role in net. On defense, NHL veteran Paul Ranger is another "below-the-radar" addition who could pay a nice dividend. Resigning Tyler Bozak undoubtedly makes his buddy Phil Kessel happy, but many wonder if he is a legit number one NHL center.

Metropolitan Division

Carolina: Elias Lindholm was a bit of surprise as the 5th overall pick in the 2013 Amateur Draft but the Hurricanes are hoping he can provide some offensive depth in a third line role at center. On defense, Andrej Sekera was signed as a free agent to add to experience to the top four spots here. Mike Komisarek also signed on to provide some depth and experience (but very little offense) back there. In goal, Anton Khudobin was brought is as a quality backup for Cam Ward who hopes to rebound from an injury-ravaged campaign that saw him appear in only 17 games last year.

Columbus: Marian Gaborik begins his first full season in Columbus away from the bright lights of Broadway. He thrived in a similar circumstance with Minnesota and could really surprise with a big year here. Nathan Horton surprised many observers when he left Boston to sign a big free agent deal with the Jackets, adding another quality piece to this club. Curtis McElhinney signed up to be Sergei Bobrovsky's backup here. He's a career backup and hasn't been able to parlay a string junior career into anything more than that.

NY Rangers: Derek Brassard tallied 11 points in 13 games after being traded to the Rangers late last year and he may force the Rangers into dropping highly paid pivot Brad Richards into a third line role, if the veteran cannot rediscover his offensive game after scoring only 11 goals in 46 games last year. The Rangers are very thin in the left wing and yet have four players, with varying skills and experience, vying for roles here. Speedy Carl Hagelin may have the inside track on a first line role, while big (6'4", 220) career minor leaguer Brandon Mashinter is hoping to push ahead of Chris Kreider and Benoit Poulliot for the second line spot.

NY Islanders: Pierre-Marc Bouchard signed as a free agent and will bring plenty of experience and secondary scoring to this young lineup. Cal Clutterbuck also joins the Isles this season and will bring some toughness, a strong checking element and will chip in on offense as well. Evgeni Nabokov resigned for another year (at age 38) and the Isles hope that they can hand off the number one role to his understudy Kevin Poulin in the near future.

New Jersey Devils: The Devils traded their top pick in the 2013 Amateur Draft to answer the question of who will succeed Martin Brodeur. Former Canucks netminder Cory Schneider will split the net with the future Hall of Famer and then take the lead role in the near term. The Devils were somewhat decimated by the departures of Ilya Kovalchuk (KHL) and David Clarkson. In response they have added Ryan Clowe, Jaromir Jagr and Michael Ryder, all very experienced players, but the first two are very likely well past their best days in the NHL.

Philadelphia: Vincent Lecavalier didn't waste too much time after being amnestied by the Lightning and signing up to another multi-year deal with the Flyers. After toiling for two years in the minors, Tye McGinn is poised to make the most of his opportunity to grab a job on the left wing-maybe even a second line role. Mark Streit was added in free agency and will be charged with assuming the quarterback role on the Flyers' power play. Ray Emery will compete with Steve Mason in the most recent attempt to solve the longest running NHL drama-the Philadelphia goalie riddle.

Pittsburgh: Jussi Jokinen came over to the Pens at the trade deadline last year and immediately added significantly to the scoring depth in Pittsburgh. He'll get the chance to do that from day one this year. Matt D'Agostini and Beau Bennett may compete for some quality time on the second and third line wing positions. The winner of a second-line role will see a spike in their scoring totals. Rob Scuderi was brought back as a free agent and will get a shot at a top four, shut down role on defense. He may even pair up with top scoring d-man Kris Letang. Tomas Vokoun may get a larger than expected share of the net if Marc Andre Fleury's recent struggles continue.

Washington: Mathieu Perreault will get an early shot at the second line center role here. Martin Erat, a veteran who has carved out a nice career on right wing in Minnesota will get a shot at top six minutes here. Troy Brouwer parlayed a strong playoff into a big contract but his offensive production is really linked to first-line minutes opposite Alex Ovechkin. If the Caps split them up, don't overrate him. Braden Holtby may be ready to join the front ranks of NHL goalies this season, after posting solid numbers last year (36 gp, 2.58 gaa, with 23 wins).

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Player News
Jonathan Bernier
Bernier, Leafs Far Apart On New Contract
Jonathan Bernier, G, TOR
7/31/2015
News: Jonathan Bernier and the Leafs met with an arbitrator for about five hours Friday, reports Sportsnet.ca. The two sides are too far apart in terms of demands to come to a deal on their own.
Analysis: Jonathan Bernier and his camp asked for $5.1 million, while the Leafs countered with $2.89 million. The Leafs' offer would represent a pay cut for the twinetender -- he made $3.4 million last season. The two sides can still come to a deal together before Sunday's arb ruling, but they seem too apart right now.

Marcus Johansson
Johansson Inks One-Year Deal With Capitals
Marcus Johansson, C, WAS
7/31/2015
News: Marcus Johansson signed a one-year, $3.75 million contract with the Capitals on Friday, James Mirtle of TSN 1050 Radio reports.
Analysis: Marcus Johansson was a solid offensive contributor for the Capitals in 2014-15, racking up 47 points (20 goals, 27 assists) in 82 games, good for fourth best on the team. He will return to his role as a top-six forward with Washington this season, and will likely continue to be a part of the Capitals' top power-play unit. The 24-year-old is a versatile winger who, barring injury, should be similarly productive this season.

Cam Talbot
Oilers' Talbot Expects Battle For Starting Job
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7/30/2015
News: Cam Talbot expects to battle for the starting job in training camp, according to the Edmonton Journal.
Analysis: One would think that Cam Talbot is just taking the high road here. Unless he performs miserably in camp he should be the starting goaltender once the season opens. He won't have anywhere near the defense playing in front of him that he had with the Rangers, so there will be off nights, but he's still better and offers much more upside than any other goaltender on the roster.

Alex Galchenyuk
Habs' Galchenyuk Re-Signs On Two-Year Deal
Alex Galchenyuk, C, MON
7/30/2015
News: Alex Galchenyuk re-signed to a two-year, $5.6 million deal with the Canadiens on Thursday, ESPN reports.
Analysis: Alex Galchenyuk will return to the Canadiens on a contract paying him an average of $2.8 million per year. During the 2014-15 season, he played in 80 games for the Canadiens, finishing with 20 goals and 26 assists, both of which were career highs for the forward. The former third overall pick will join the likes of David Desharnais and Lars Eller as depth at center behind Tomas Plekanec. He also could see some time on the wing behind Max Pacioretty.

Jakub Voracek
Voracek Inks Eight-Year Extension With Flyers
Jakub Voracek, RW, PHI
7/30/2015
News: Jakub Voracek signed an eight-year, $66 million contract extension with the Flyers on Thursday, Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News reports.
Analysis: It isn't surprising that the Flyers opted to lock Jakub Voracek up long-term after his performance in 2014-15. He exploded last season, racking up a career-best 81 points (22 goals, 59 assists), good for fifth best in the NHL. While fantasy owners shouldn't expect the 25-year-old winger to top 80 points year in and year out, if he can continue to stay healthy, he should continue to be a top fantasy commodity for years to come. Voracek will return to his role on the Flyers' top-line and power play unit in 2015-16.

Brandon Gormley
Gormley Inks One-Year Deal With Coyotes
Brandon Gormley, D, ARI
7/30/2015
News: Brandon Gormley signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Coyotes on Thursday, Craig Morgan of FOX Sports Arizona reports.
Analysis: Brandon Gormley suited up for 27 games with the Coyotes in 2014-15, managing to tally four points (two goals, two assists) in those contests. He fared a little better in the AHL, registering 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in 23 games with AHL Portland. He will get a chance to compete for a roster spot with the Coyotes in training camp.

Viktor Arvidsson
Preds' Prospect Arvidsson Hoping To Crack Roster
Viktor Arvidsson, RW, NSH
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News: Viktor Arvidsson could crack the Predators' roster this upcoming season, according to the Tennessean's Adam Vignan.
Analysis: In his first full season in the AHL, Viktor Arvidsson led the Milwaukee Admirals last year with 55 points, and also led the entire league with 272 shots on goal. If Arvidsson can secure himself a roster spot with the Preds, he could flourish under coach Peter Laviolette's uptempo, attacking system and provide the team some scoring depth. In deeper fantasy formats, Arvidsson is one player to keep an eye on.

Oliver Kylington
Flames' Kylington To Play In North America in 2015
Oliver Kylington, D, CGY
7/29/2015
News: Oliver Kylington will play in North America in 2015, Roger Millions of Sportsnet Calgary reports.
Analysis: The defenseman's team in Sweden allowed him to get his path to the NHL started this season, which is good news for both Oliver Kylington and the Flames. Calgary will likely let its second-round pick grow his game in the minors for a while, especially with its current depth on the blue line. Kylington has an abundance of hockey talent, but needs to put it all together to be a standout player.

Dainius Zubrus
Devils Release Veteran Winger Zubrus
Dainius Zubrus, RW, NJ
7/29/2015
News: The Devils terminated Dainius Zubrus' contract Wednesday, making him an unrestricted free agent, Frank Seravalli of TSN.ca reports.
Analysis: Dainius Zubrus had never been much of a top-flight offensive producer in his eight seasons in a Devils uniform, but he saw his scoring output completely fall off a cliff in 2014-15, as he netted just four goals and 10 points across 74 games. With the Devils looking to give some younger players an opportunity in their forward ranks and Zubrus' ice time likely to decline even further in the coming season, the team decided it wasn't worthwhile to keep him around at his $3.1 million cap hit. The 37-year-old could conceivably latch on in a depth role with another club, but no matter where he ultimately lands, an ascension to fantasy relevance probably isn't in the cards.

David Steckel
Ex-Duck Steckel Inks Deal With German Club
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7/29/2015
News: David Steckel signed a contract Wednesday with the Nurnberg Ice Tigers of the German Elite League.
Analysis: The 33-year-old served as a depth forward for the Ducks at AHL Norfolk last season, producing seven goals and 23 points in 76 games. David Steckel is a veteran of 425 games, but considering his age and his impending move to Europe, we may have seen the last of him in North America.

 
 
 
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