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Blue Line Buzz: Back in action

by | Rotowire.com
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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
Jason Williams
Oilers Sign Williams To AHL Deal
Jason Williams, RW, PIT
12:52 AM
News: Jason Williams agreed to a one-year contract with AHL Oklahoma City on Friday.
Analysis: Jason Williams, 33, last appeared at the NHL level in 2011-12 with the Penguins. He spent the last two seasons with Ambri-Piotta in the Swiss Elite League, charting 34 goals and 30 assists over 79 total games. He'll attempt to parlay his AHL contract into a call-up to the Oilers, but his age will certainly work against him.

Nicolas Deschamps
Ex-Capital Deschamps Signs With Finnish Team
Nicolas Deschamps, C, WAS
12:39 AM
News: Nicolas Deschamps signed a one-year contract with Oulu Karpat of Finland's Liiga last week, Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post reports.
Analysis: Nicolas Deschamps was non-tendered by the Capitals earlier this offseason, after scoring 15 goals and adding 25 assists over 65 games with AHL Hershey last season. The 24-year-old cited a desire to avoid the uncertain nature of a two-way deal as his primary reason for heading overseas, but he does hope to return to North America at some point later in his career.

Keaton Ellerby
Jets Re-Sign Ellerby To One-Year, Two-Way Deal
Keaton Ellerby, D, WPG
12:33 AM
News: Keaton Ellerby re-signed with the Jets on a one-year, two-way contract Thursday.
Analysis: The Jets didn't extend a qualifying offer to Keaton Ellerby after the season ended, but elected to bring the 25-year-old back in unrestricted free agency to shore up some depth on defense. The blue liner has dealt with much tumult on the personal front this season after three of his extended family members were murdered, which understandably explains why he took until late July to sign with a team. Ellerby is expected to be available once training camp starts, but the Jets will likely be willing to grant him additional time off he might need while coping with the tragedy.

Brandon Burlon
Devils Re-Sign Burlon To Two-Year, Two-Way Deal
Brandon Burlon, D, NJ
7/28/2014
News: Brandon Burlon re-signed with the Devils on a two-year, two-way contract Monday, Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record reports.
Analysis: Brandon Burlon saw the ice in 54 games at AHL Albany last season, charting five goals and six assists. He has yet to make his NHL debut, but the two-way contract will help better facilitate a promotion should it be warranted at some point.

Derek Smith
Former Flames D-Man Smith Signs With Swiss Club
Derek Smith, D, CGY
7/28/2014
News: Derek Smith signed a one-year contract with the Zürcher Schlittschuh Club of the Swiss National League A on Monday.
Analysis: The 29-year-old Derek Smith was non-tendered by the Flames in the offseason, after totaling one point and a minus-10 rating in 14 games with the parent club last season. The one-year deal will allow Smith to return to North America next season, if he so chooses.

Jake Dowell
Canadiens Sign Dowell To AHL Deal
Jake Dowell, C, MIN
7/28/2014
News: Jake Dowell signed a one-year deal with AHL Hamilton on Monday.
Analysis: Jake Dowell, 29, made one NHL appearance with the Wild last season, spending the bulk of his season with AHL Iowa. He registered 19 points and 56 PIM over 57 games with Iowa, and will function as organizational depth for the Canadiens.

Brandon Segal
Free Agent Segal Signs With KHL Squad
Brandon Segal, RW, WAS
7/28/2014
News: Brandon Segal has signed with Medvescak Zagreb of the KHL.
Analysis: Brandon Segal, 31, totaled 17 goals and 27 assists over 63 games with AHL Hershey last season. He's appeared in just 103 NHL games since he was selected in the fourth round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft by the Predators.

Matt Watkins
Ex-Capital Watkins Signs With Austrian Club
Matt Watkins, RW, WAS
7/28/2014
News: Matt Watkins signed a one-year contract with the Vienna Capitals of the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga, the top league in Austria, Alex Prewitt of the Washington Post reports.
Analysis: After spending all of last season at AHL Hershey in the Washington organization, Matt Watkins will hop across the Atlantic to join a club that also bills itself as the Capitals. The 27-year-old totaled 27 points in 73 games with Hershey in 2013-14.

Ruslan Fedotenko
Ex-NHLer Fedotenko Ponders Return to North America
Ruslan Fedotenko, LW, PHI
7/28/2014
News: Ruslan Fedotenko, who signed a three-year, $9 million contract with HC Donbass of the KHL last summer, is looking to return to the NHL for the upcoming season, the Toronto Star reports.
Analysis: HC Donbass, the only Ukrainian team in the KHL, will go on a sabbatical for the upcoming season in light of the ongoing political tumult between Ukraine and Russia, which was recent escalated following the downing of a civilian jet on July 17, resulting in 298 deaths. While the rest of the KHL is expected to proceed operations as normal despite the increasing unrest in the region, several players from Donbass are expected to defect elsewhere, with Ruslan Fedotenko representing the most recognizable name on the roster. The 35-year-old, who scored four goals and nine assists in 47 games with the Flyers in 2012-13, has already had "discussions with multiple NHL teams," according to his agent. Fedotenko would likely be ticketed for no better than a bottom-six role with any NHL club, should he eventually find his way back in the league.

Dana Tyrell
Jackets Re-Sign Tyrell To One-Year, Two-Way Deal
Dana Tyrell, C, CLB
7/28/2014
News: Dana Tyrell re-signed with the Blue Jackets on Monday, inking a one-year, two-way deal.
Analysis: Dana Tyrell spent the bulk of last season in the AHL, splitting time between the Springfield Falcons and Syracuse Crunch. In 63 total games, he recorded 15 goals and 18 assists. Tyrell also made a brief cameo with the Tampa Bay Lightning, appearing in seven contests. Acquired from Tampa Bay in March, Tyrell figures to spend parts of next season in both the NHL and AHL.

 
 
 
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