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Blue Line Buzz: Back in action

by | Rotowire.com
  •  

We're back.

The Leafs are 2-0. Phil Kessel will be in Toronto until 2021 after signing an 8-year, $64 million contract. Stay tuned for news about the parade.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Toronto refugee Mikhail Grabovski is off to a red-hot start with five points through two games, including a hat trick on opening night in a loss to Chicago.

Marc-Andre Fleury was the first goaltender in the league to notch a shutout, stopping 27 shots on Thursday in the Pens' season-opening win against the Devils. Fleury, the netminder who was a sieve against the Islanders in the playoffs last year, denied New Jersey's collection of depth they call forwards.

Pekka Rinne, one of the first goalies taken in many drafts, lasted a mere 9:45 in the Predators' season-opener against St. Louis, surrendering three goals on six shots Thursday. St. Louis held on for a 4-2 win. There's some concern that Rinne's hip is still recovering from offseason surgery, but this was not a comforting sight for owners. Rinne was hung out to dry on at least one of the goals, but seeing the towering Finn wearing a baseball hat after barely 10 minutes of play is not a comforting sight. He's still potentially one of the league's best; now could be a time to dial up a panicked owner and get in on a goaltender who can anchor your roster if you believe Thursday was an aberration.

Troubador

Jacob Trouba of Winnipeg cemented his claim as the defenseman most fantasy leaguers ran to pick up on opening night. The Jets stormed back from a 4-2 deficit to defeat Edmonton 5-4. Yes, Edmonton had difficulty defending a lead. (Actually, you can just cut off the “a lead” part of that previous sentence.) Trouba played well in Team USA's run to the gold medal in last winter's World Junior Championships and seems poised to make an impact for the Jets.

Presently, he's on a blue line with two of the league's more productive-when-healthy blue liners in Tobias Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien. Will there be enough pucks and points to go around in Winnipeg's system? Yes, it's a system that has allowed offensively-gifted defenders to flourish, but will Trouba get his chances? He won't see the same amount of power-play time which will be bestowed upon Enstrom or Byfuglien, but he won't be entirely shut out of man-advantage time or scoring chances. Expectations always need to be tempered with young blue liners, but Trouba could be making a name for himself.

Burning For You

One of the hot questions heading into this season was San Jose's bearded wonder, Brent Burns. Burns is listed as a forward to start the season and is seeing time on the wing, yet is still eligible as a defenseman on many sites. Burns finished last season with 20 points in 30 games, with the bulk of his scoring coming after the switch to forward. While Burns isn't expected to light up the Pacific Division like teammate Logan Couture, Burns could still clock in around 40-50 points with double-digit goals, tremendous value if he's eligible at both positions in your league. As just a forward, Burns has some value, but 40-50 point forwards are littered all over most leagues' waiver wires.

Not that analysis of Burns' positional eligibility is news to fantasy hockey poolies, but you might want to think about acquiring him via a trade if the owner who drafted him begins to sour on Burns. He's bound to play some games on defense this season, so he may end up being a blue liner as well in most formats.

He's a player who has never been shy about shooting the puck and figuring he can hit 15-20 goals is a good bet considering he used to register double-digit goals on the back end as a formality. Burns notched San Jose's opening goal in Thursday's win over Vancouver.

Surprises? Not Too Many

Through Thursday, most teams have played at least one game, with a handful already playing two. The defensemen scoring list has a list of the usual cast of characters on it: Mike Green, Dion Phaneuf, Byfuglien, Alex Pietrangelo and Brian Campbell. A handful of players have two points already while Green and Buff have three points. Expect Erik Karlsson to be atop this list by the end of Saturday.

Despite Dallas' loss on Thursday to Florida, their bruising sophomore Brenden Dillon had a goal and an assist. He's a potential value in multi-category leagues as he delivered 133 hits and 69 penalty minutes in 48 games last season. He already has a quarter of the eight points he delivered last year. Dllion's value drops a bit in leagues that do not count secondary categories such as penalty minutes, hits and blocked shots.

Ending Note

One of the more entertaining videos released in the weeks leading up to the NHL season featured Patrick Kane in an advertisement for Bauer sticks. The stickhandling is incredible -- Kane has a serious set of hands. However, his teammates weren't about to let him get away with showing off his skill and not making fun of him. Kane's teammate, Brandon Bollig, admittedly not as skilled on the puck as Kane, had some fun shooting this parody video.

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Player News
Ondrej Palat
Bolts' Palat Scores Seventh Goal In Game 7 Win
Ondrej Palat, LW, TB
3:50 AM
News: Ondrej Palat scored his seventh goal of the postseason in Friday's Game 7 win over the Rangers.
Analysis: The Bolts are heading to the Stanley Cup Finals and Ondrej Palat is a big reason why. The 24-year-old scored four times in the Eastern Conference Finals and has racked up 15 points this postseason -- 12th most in the NHL. While he doesn't shoot often, he makes his shots count, scoring an NHL-best four power-play goals and sporting a scary 25.9 shooting percentage. Look for the sniper, along with linemates Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov, to continue their offensive success against whichever team emerges out of the West.

Alex Killorn
Bolts' Killorn Scores Game-Winning Goal In Game 7
Alex Killorn, C, TB
3:21 AM
News: Alex Killorn scored the game-winning goal Friday in Game 7 against the Rangers.
Analysis: A massive goal for Alex Killorn, who helped the Lightning punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals. The 25-year-old has now scored seven goals this postseason -- sixth most in the NHL. The first-liner continues to be a lethal offensive threat every night in these playoffs, firing 52 shots on goal and racking up 16 points. Look for his unit with Steve Stamkos and Valtteri Filppula to continue to produce points against either the Ducks or Blackhawks.

Ben Bishop
Bolts' Bishop Pitches 22-Save Shutout In Game 7
Ben Bishop, G, TB
3:03 AM
News: Ben Bishop stopped all 22 shots he faced in Friday's Game 7 win over the Rangers.
Analysis: What an outstanding bounce-back performance from Ben Bishop, who was burned for five goals in Game 6. The 28-year-old has now recorded two Game 7 shutouts this postseason and is a big reason why the Bolts are advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals. While his .920 save percentage isn't mind-blowing, he leads the league with three postseason shutouts and has played more minutes than any other goalie. Whether the Lightning face the Ducks or the Blackhawks, look for Bishop to be a difference maker in the finals.

Henrik Lundqvist
Rangers' Lundqvist Makes 23 Saves In Game 7 Loss
Henrik Lundqvist, G, NYR
2:49 AM
News: Henrik Lundqvist stopped 23 of 25 shots in Friday's Game 7 loss to the Lightning.
Analysis: A tough end to the season for Henrik Lundqvist, who got zero goal support in the loss. The 33-year-old finishes the postseason 11-8-1 with a .928 save percentage and 2.11 GAA. While he's still searching for his first Stanley Cup, the King is a world-class goaltender who put on another spectacular showing in the 2015 postseason. Look for him to be a top fantasy pick once again in 2015-16.

Antoine Roussel
Roussel Leads World Championships In Penalties
Antoine Roussel, LW, DAL
5/29/2015
News: Antoine Roussel led the World Championships in penalty minutes with 34 -- as well as one game misconduct -- through seven games.
Analysis: Antoine Roussel, unsurprisingly, led the tournament in penalty minutes despite Team France only playing seven of a possible 10 games. Roussel's tournament wasn't great, though a big part of that was Team France being outmatched. He finished with two assists and three shots on goal through seven games.

John Klingberg
Klingberg Impresses At World Championships
John Klingberg, D, DAL
5/29/2015
News: John Klingberg had a plus-9 rating at the World Championships for Team Sweden, the best plus/minus of any player who doesn't play for Team Canada.
Analysis: John Klingberg finished the tournament with two goals and four assists, along with 15 shots. Klingberg had a solid tournament, but didn't manage to bring home a medal with Team Canada outmatching everyone.

Brent Burns
Sharks' Burns Named Best Defenseman At Worlds
Brent Burns, D, SJ
5/29/2015
News: Brent Burns was named the 2015 World Championships' best defenseman, taking home that honor in addition to a gold medal.
Analysis: Brent Burns finished tied for seventh in overall points and second among defensemen in the tournament, with two goals and nine assists. Only Oliver Ekman-Larsson had more assists in the tournament. He also finished with a plus-10 rating.

Tyler Seguin
Seguin Leads Team Canada In Goals At Worlds
Tyler Seguin, C, DAL
5/29/2015
News: Tyler Seguin posted nine goals at the 2015 World Championships, leading the entire tournament.
Analysis: Tyler Seguin brought home gold on a team loaded with superstars, outmatched other teams by a huge margin. Nonetheless, Seguin was the superstar we know him to be, leading the tournament in goals and power-play goals (5), while being second overall in shots at 36. The only blemish in his stats was that he failed to add even a single assist to his nine goals.

Jason Spezza
Spezza Solid In Worlds
Jason Spezza, C, DAL
5/29/2015
News: Jason Spezza led all players in points at the World Championship in the Czech Republic, posting six goals and eight assists in 10 games.
Analysis: Jason Spezza took home a gold medal and no small amount of pride after being a clear leader for Team Canada. His production was incredible and it offers hope for his production next season, with the caveat that Canada was head and shoulders above most of the competition in the tournament.

Philippe Desrosiers
Desrosiers Exits Memorial Cup
Philippe Desrosiers, G, DAL
5/29/2015
News: Philippe Desrosiers and Rimouski Oceanic exited the Memorial Cup on Thursday, losing 5-2 to Quebec.
Analysis: Philippe Desrosiers had a solid season, posting a .901 save percentage for Rimouski, a solid number in the QMJHL. The 19-year-old goaltender will be 20 at the start of the season and will be back at Stars camp. Despite goaltending issues in Dallas, the 2013 second round pick is unlikely to see NHL time next season.

 
 
 
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