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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
Kimmo Timonen
Flyers' Timonen Unlikely To Play This Season
Kimmo Timonen, D, PHI
9/19/2014
News: Kimmo Timonen (blood clots) in leg confirmed Thursday that the chances of him playing this season are "really slim," Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
Analysis: Though he didn't announce his retirement as some expected Thursday, Kimmo Timonen acknowledged that the blood clots in his lungs and right leg will keep him out multiple months, putting his career in jeopardy. Timonen will have to wait until January to see if his medical tests reveal any dissipation from the blood clots, but it sounds entirely possible that we've seen the last of the respected defenseman in the NHL. Even in the deepest of leagues, it's tough to justify stashing him on the bench until he returns to health, since it's certainly far from a given that that will happen by the end of the season.

Darcy Kuemper
Wild And Kuemper Negotiations Stalled
Darcy Kuemper, G, MIN
9/19/2014
News: Other than a couple of text messages, the Wild and Darcy Kuemper have not had substantial negotiations over a new contract and he may not report to training camp, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: With Josh Harding out several months with a broken foot, the Wild would appear to be highly motivated to sign Darcy Kuemper. However, the two sides are having a dispute about his guaranteed status on the NHL roster and Kuemper's agent has said he's exploring playing overseas. The Wild are offering a two-way deal while Kuemper wants a one-way deal. With Kuemper's status in doubt, the Wild have reached out to Ilya Bryzgalov about coming to training camp. It's still possible Kuemper could sign at the last second, but his status for the NHL season remains uncertain.

Johnny Oduya
Blackhawks' Oduya (Foot) Cleared For Training Camp
Johnny Oduya, D, CHI
2:18 PM
News: Johnny Oduya (broken foot) has been cleared for full activity during training camp, Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
Analysis: Johnny Oduya suffered the broken foot in the Blackhawks' Game 7 loss to the Kings in the Western Conference Finals, after it was struck by a shot from the opposition. A summer of rest allowed the foot to heal without too many complications, and he should be on track to reprise his role on the second pairing with Niklas Hjalmarsson when the new season begins.

Ryan Johansen
Jackets Receive New Offer From Johansen's Agent
Ryan Johansen, C, CLB
1:51 PM
News: Ryan Johansen's agent, Kurt Overhardt, has sent a new two-year contract proposal in to the Blue Jackets, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: The two sides were reportedly about $3.5 million per year apart when Ryan Johansen left camp, so while this latest offer likely didn't close the gap much it's encouraging to see that there's at least some movement.

Rich Peverley
Stars' Peverley Cleared To Work Out
Rich Peverley, C, DAL
11:59 AM
News: Stars GM Jim Nill said that Rich Peverley has been cleared to work out, but not to go on the ice, according to Mark Stepneski of NHL.com.
Analysis: Earlier this summer Rich Peverley was told he should be able to play this season, which had previously been in question after he suffered a cardiac incident during a March 10 game against the Blue Jackets. There is not yet a timetable for his return.

Dustin Byfuglien
Jets Confirm Byfuglien To Open Season As Forward
Dustin Byfuglien, RW, WPG
11:40 AM
News: Jets coach Paul Maurice reiterated Thursday that Dustin Byfuglien would "start and finish" training camp as a forward, Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun reports.
Analysis: This was to be expected after Dustin Byfuglien played exclusively at forward when Maurice replaced Claude Noel as coach in January, and it should only help Big Buff's fantasy value in leagues where he retains eligibility as a defenseman. Byfuglien racked up 10 goals and 12 assists over 32 games on the wing last season, scoring at a rate actually lower than what he provided at the blue line. However, with a full offseason to prepare for a role at forward, Byfuglien stands a good chance at boosting his per-game point totals, but perhaps only if he's able to land a spot on the first or second line.

Josh Harding
Wild's Harding (Foot) Out 2-3 Months
Josh Harding, G, MIN
11:24 AM
News: Josh Harding broke his right foot while kicking a wall after an off-ice altercation with a teammate and is expected to miss at least two or three months, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: The Star Tribune also suggests it's possible the Wild could suspend Josh Harding for his accident. The Wild suspended forward James Sheppard for an off-ice ATV accident in 2012 that resulted in a season-ending knee injury. Even without the injury, Harding's battles with multiple sclerosis have limited him to just 34 regular season games the past two years, and now combined with the ankle injury, mean he can't be counted on to play many games in the 2014-15 season.

Gregory Campbell
Bruins' Campbell Limited
Gregory Campbell, C, BOS
11:14 AM
News: Gregory Campbell (core) will be limited at the start of training camp, the Boston Herald reports.
Analysis: As the Bruins' fourth-line center, Gregory Campbell is generally off the fantasy radar, but so far there is nothing to suggest that his minor mid-core issue will hold him back long.

Milan Lucic
Bruins' Lucic Limited In Camp
Milan Lucic, LW, BOS
11:10 AM
News: Milan Lucic (wrist) will be limited at the start of training camp, the Boston Herald reports.
Analysis: Milan Lucic is recovering from wrist surgery, so this is not unexpected, though at this stage, there hasn't been anything to suggest that the rugged winger's status for the start of the regular season is in any danger.

Patrick Kaleta
Sabres' Kaleta Cleared For Camp
Patrick Kaleta, RW, BUF
10:59 AM
News: Patrick Kaleta (knee) has been cleared for full activities during training camp, John Vogl of the Buffalo News reports.
Analysis: Patrick Kaleta missed nearly all of the 2013-14 campaign after tearing his ACL while playing with AHL Rochester last November. Now fully recovered, Kaleta will compete for a spot on the Sabres' checking line, where he'll offer fantasy players plenty of penalty minutes, but little else.

 
 
 
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