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Week 1 schedule analysis

Rotowire.com
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We now return to your regularly scheduled programming of the Schedule Analysis. After an abbreviated campaign last season and an eternity of a summer, the landscape of the NHL has changed. Set aside last season's stats that are skewed and hard to analyze. Set aside all the normal variables, such as players with new sweaters, new lines, new coaches and the always useless trends of preseason standings.

This summer's realignment brings the most mysterious of obstacles. We won't profess to know how this is going to play out, but we're all in this together. With that out of the way, let's get back to basics and go from there.

Three of a Kind: Nine of the 30 NHL teams have three tilts on the docket this week. Of those 27 games in total, 18 will be on the road. Not one team playing three games this week will be exclusively from home.

Anaheim (@COL, @MIN, @WPG) started off last season's campaign with a bang. Teemu Selanne (two assists) and Daniel Winnnik each netted a pair of goals in the opening game versus Vancouver. The Canucks (@SJ, EDM, @CAL), Buffalo (@DET, OTT, @PIT), Calgary (@WAS, @CLS, VAN), Detroit (BUF, @CAR, @BOS), Philadelphia (TOR, @MON, @CAR) and Toronto (@MTL, @PHI, OTT) will all spend the week in road jerseys.

Washington (@CHI*, CAL, @DAL) and Winnipeg (@EDM, LA, ANH) have the most interestingly consistent schedules, lacing up nearly every other day. While it's feasible Braden Holtby and Ondrej Pavelec COULD play all three this week, percentages suggest even number one goalies will be eased into the new season like your star closer.

Two for 20: Aside from the Rangers one (nine game road trip to start the year) game this week, the rest of the NHL will play two tilts this week.

After the stabilizing Phoenix (NYR, @SJ) franchise hosts the aforementioned Rangers, six of their next seven will be on the road. Carolina (DET, PHI) starts with two, but ends up one of the busiest NHL franchises, contesting nine games in the first 15 days. Ottawa (@BUF, @TOR) begins a six-game road trip against Atlantic (pfft, weird) division rivals.

Back-to-Back: While the slow week allows you to gear up and shake the rust, 11 teams are playing on back-to-back days. This not only means your goalie management will need to be in mid-season form, but you could see a few number one goalies dethroned. Let's give you an idea of what we mean.

Both Anaheim and Los Angeles will play in Minnesota and Winnipeg on consecutive nights. Calgary plays back-to-back games on the road in Washington and Columbus to begin the season Thursday. Nashville will play in St. Louis and Colorado on consecutive nights. Buffalo will host Ottawa on Friday then travel to Pittsburgh on Saturday. Detroit, who hosts Buffalo on Wednesday, visits Carolina and Boston on Friday and Saturday night. Columbus will host Calgary on Friday then travel to play the Islanders on Saturday night. Vancouver will host Edmonton then visit Calgary. Toronto spends opening night in Montreal, followed up by travelling to Philadelphia. Philadelphia will be in Montreal, then Carolina the next night. Ottawa is in Buffalo, then Toronto the next night. New Jersey will travel to Pittsburgh, and then host Isles in Jersey. The Isles then head home for Columbus on the following night.

Low Percentage: Although, 5-1 (22 GF, 15 GA) the preseason record looks pretty nifty, Tampa (@BOS, @CHI) travels to play last year's Stanley Cup runner up and winner in the same week.

High Percentage: First of all, we usually exclude Devan Dubnyk from any good fantasy news out of Edmonton, but his combined career stats (7-4-3, 2.88 GAA in 15 starts) against this week's opponents are not too shabby.

Based solely on preseason efforts, we like the schedules of Dallas (FLA, WAS) and Edmonton (WPG, @VAN) for the most offensive punch of the opening week. After the offseason/preseason these two teams have had, look for the youngest legs and most creative coaches to come out of the gate running. But if I were you, I wouldn't count on either team playing any defense.

TV Time

The season begins on a slow, six-day week beginning Tuesday. For your viewing pleasure, the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks will host the Capitals on NBCSports Network.

TUE OCT. 1, Caps @ Blackhawks NBCS

WED OCT. 2, Sabres @ Red Wings NBCS

SAT OCT. 5, Red Wings @ Bruins NHLN

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
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Player News
Niklas Backstrom
Elbow Could Sideline Backstrom For Start Of Season
Niklas Backstrom, G, MIN
12:40 AM
News: The agent for Niklas Backstrom (elbow) acknowledged that his client likely won't be ready to play at the start of training camp in September, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: Niklas Backstrom underwent surgery in May to address nerve damage in his right elbow, an injury that was so severe that it prevented him from moving two of his fingers during the Wild's first-round series against the Blackhawks. Devan Dubnyk and Darcy Kuemper had surpassed Backstrom as the Wild's two preferred goalies by that point, which likely would have made the 37-year-old a buyout candidate for the team had he been back to full health this summer. Instead, it looks like the Wild will have to wait until the start of the season to make a decision on Backstrom, with his placement on the team's long-term injured reserve list seemingly the most likely outcome. Regardless of what the Wild end up doing with Backstrom, don't expect him to see the ice with the parent club next season barring an injury to one of the top two netminders on the depth chart.

Justin Hodgman
Hodgman Signs With Blues
Justin Hodgman, C, ARI
12:32 AM
News: The Blues agreed to terms on a contract with Justin Hodgman on Tuesday. The details of the contract have not been released.
Analysis: Justin Hodgman will provide the Blues with some depth at forward, but likely won't spend much time in the NHL, unless St. Louis suffers a slew of injuries at center. The 27-year-old tallied 35 points in 62 games with AHL Portland in the Coyotes' organization in 2014-15.

Trevor van Riemsdyk
Van Riemsdyk Signs With Hawks
Trevor van Riemsdyk, D, CHI
12:13 AM
News: The Blackhawks signed Trevor van Riemsdyk to a two-year, $1.65 million contract extension on Tuesday, NHL.com reports.
Analysis: Van Riemsdyk, notched only one assist in 18 regular-season games with the Blackhawks last season, but impressed the team with his defensive responsibility at the back end. Unfortunately, he was the victim of some bad luck on the injury front, suffering a fractured left kneecap and then requiring wrist surgery before he finally returned to the Blackhawks midway through the Stanley Cup Finals. Now healthy, the 23-year-old will thus reprise his role as a depth blueliner for Chicago, with more regular ice time this year a plausible outcome if Johnny Oduya signs elsewhere as expected.

Vladimir Tarasenko
Blues Sign Tarasenko To Extension
Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, STL
12:03 AM
News: The Blues signed Vladimir Tarasenko to an eight-year, $60 million extension Tuesday, ESPN.com reports.
Analysis: Vladimir Tarasenko is coming off a breakout campaign in which he racked up 37 goals -- many of the breathtaking variety -- and 73 points in 77 games for the Blues, to go along with a plus-27 rating. Thanks to his lucrative extension, the 23-year-old winger is now under contract with the team through the 2022-23 season, at an annual cap hit of $7.5 million. The deal makes him the highest-paid member of the Blues, but if Tarasenko remains among the league's scoring leaders the next few several seasons, the contract will probably go down as a bargain.

Corban Knight
Knight Inks One-Year Deal With Panthers
Corban Knight, C, CGY
7/7/2015
News: Corban Knight signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Panthers on Tuesday.
Analysis: The Panthers are shallow at forward, so this signing provides them with some much-needed depth up front. Corban Knight played in 58 AHL games last season, tallying 36 points over that span.

Garrett Wilson
Wilson Inks One-Year Deal With Panthers
Garrett Wilson, LW, FLA
7/7/2015
News: Garrett Wilson signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Panthers on Tuesday.
Analysis: The Panthers are shallow at forward, so re-signing Garrett Wilson provides them with some much needed depth at wing. Wilson played in 71 games with AHL San Antonio in 2014-15, tallying 23 goals and 15 assists over that span.

Mikkel Boedker
Boedker Signs One-Year Deal
Mikkel Boedker, LW, ARI
7/7/2015
News: Mikkel Boedker signed a one-year, $3.75 million contract with the Coyotes on Tuesday, Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic reports.
Analysis: Mikkel Boedker was on pace to register his second straight 50-point season in 2014-15 with 14 goals and 14 assists through 45 games, but a ruptured spleen ended his campaign prematurely. He will likely return to his role on the Coyotes' first line during the upcoming season, and could be in line for a moderate breakout if he is able to stay healthy.

Nicklas Backstrom
Caps' Backstrom (Hip) Uncertain For Opening Night
Nicklas Backstrom, C, WAS
7/7/2015
News: Head coach Barry Trotz said "all indications" have Nicklas Backstrom (hip) skating by training camp, but it's "up in the air" as to whether he will be cleared to play at the start of the season, Alex Prewitt of The Washington Post reports.
Analysis: Nicklas Backstrom underwent successful arthroscopic hip surgery in late May, but there have been rumblings since that he may not be cleared to play by Opening Night, including speculation from Backstrom himself that the timeframe for his recovery might extend into the start of the 2015-16 season. Backstrom's health is the biggest question mark for the Capitals this offseason, and should he miss the start of the season, Evgeny Kuznetsov should see a significant boost in fantasy value. Similarly, the uncertainty surrounding Backstrom could send him sliding on draft day, making him a better value pickup. Continue to monitor the situation as the offseason moves on.

Sonny Milano
Jackets' Milano Has Impressive Offseason
Sonny Milano, LW, CLB
7/7/2015
News: Sonny Milano added 15 pounds of muscle to his frame this offseason and feels that he can now both skate faster and shoot harder, the Columbus Dispatch reports. "Definitely one of the concerns last year was my weight and my strength, so I really focused on that this year," Milano said last week at the Jackets' development mini-camp. "I think when [training] camp comes along we'll see a difference this year."
Analysis: The 16th overall pick from 2014 is probably ticketed for AHL Lake Erie to open the season, even after the Jackets cleared away some roster competition in the Brandon Saad deal, but Sonny Milano is intent on making the decision to send him down a difficult one. After scoring 22 goals and 68 points in 50 games last season for OHL Plymouth, the highly skilled winger added five assists in 10 AHL games in his pro debut at the end of the regular season. It may take him a year or two to nail down a regular spot in the NHL lineup, but Milano figures to be a big part of a very bright future in Columbus.

Zach Boychuk
Canes' Boychuk Re-Signs For One Year
Zach Boychuk, C, CAR
7/7/2015
News: Zach Boychuk agreed to a one-year, two-way contract with the Hurricanes.
Analysis: The 25-year-old Zach Boychuk split 2014-15 between the NHL and AHL, tallying 30 combined points in 70 games, with just six of those coming in his 31 NHL appearances. He'll figures to compete for an NHL roster spot during training camp.

 
 
 
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