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Neutral Zone Wrap: Success through preparation

by | Rotowire.com
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Fantasy can be a fickle fancy. The first moments may be exciting and full of bliss. Your team sits on top and there is no way your mood could ever be soured.

Then reality sets in. Up pops an injury. And another one. A couple skaters aren't contributing anymore. One of your goalies was just knocked out after a freak on-ice accident. Happy days have gone away.

The lesson in this story is to always be prepared. If an injury occurs, then there are always available replacements on your bench, other teams, and the waiver wire. Don't panic; the solutions are always out there and can be carried out easily.

This week, we display five NHL organizations in various states of joy. But no matter their situations, don't think for one second any of them are ill equipped to handle the next roadblock. (SPOILER ALERT: Except for Dallas.)

If you live in the Greater Toronto Area and have already mapped a Stanley Cup parade route for the Leafs, then you may want to postpone these preparations. A slip in the schedule has neatly coincided with James Reimer going down (hopefully not a concussion), although that means Jonathan Bernier (2.14 GAA, .938 SV% in seven appearances) will serve as the starter until further notice. Unless your league goes pretty deep, there's no reason to tie up a center spot with Dave Bolland (three goals, three assists). Let's welcome Mason Raymond (eight points in nine games) to 2008-09 levels (where he peaked at 53). On the blueline, Jake Gardiner (two assists) is slumping slightly and may not be the coach's favorite but give him a couple more outings before cutting or trading. And youngster Morgan Rielly has shown some nice offensive touch (four assists, with two on the power-play), so grab him if his ice time (breaking through the 20-minute mark Saturday) holds.

Three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and Teemu Selanne scoring for Anaheim. The now 43-year old can still find the net (goals in three straight), although beware of him sitting for one of the Ducks' back-to-back nights throughout the season for maintenance reasons. While Bobby Ryan was the cost, Jakob Silfverberg (six) is definitely acting as the reward. Good thing Washington gave up on Mathieu Perreault (eight, with none on the PP to date), since he's already taken a liking to his new surroundings. Emerson Etem (first two points Sunday) is back from injury, so he'll need a little longer to get going. We're sure you've heard about Sami Vatanen (only two, but on first PP duty). If not, there's always rookie Hampus Lindholm (also at two) on the radar.

There's nothing wrong in Carolina these days. One of the more surprising fantasy forwards so far has to be Nathan Gerbe (six, including four PPPs). Stay patient with Jordan Staal (one goal, one assist, minus-3) and you will be repaid in full. Remember Tuomo Ruutu (two in four) has recently returned from some form of lower-body injury, so the stats will revert to regular numbers. Justin Faulk may be the #1 defender, but former Sabre Andrej Sekera (three assists, 23:49 a night) has clearly stepped up as #2. Even without a ton of minutes (17:22), Ryan Murphy is earning first power-play duties (two of his five).

The Big D in Dallas currently stands for 'doubtful'. With starter Kari Lehtonen sidelined, the Dan Ellis and Jack Campbell production (with the former sporting a 3.60 GAA and .895 SV% in five) has received rotten reviews. No complaints about third-year pro Alex Chiasson (six, three on the PP) or veteran newcomer Rich Peverley (four). That huge exhale you heard Sunday evening was for can't-miss forward Valeri Nichuskin finally notching his first NHL point (after six misses and one trip to press box). Wanna know the Stars' biggest weakness? Check out these combined figures from Alex Goligoski and Sergei Gonchar: one point, minus-16. At least they're slightly offset by the promising play of Brendan Dillon (four, plus-4, leads club with 20:07).

Remember when I mentioned a couple weeks ago how Buffalo should be much improved this season? So sorry about that. How terrible are the Sabres? Only two skaters have exceeded three points while the local supporters have urged just about anyone on the team over 22 to leave town immediately. And you can't blame Ryan Miller for this mess (2.73 GAA, .926 SV%), as opponents have peppered the American with more shots (just under 37 a start) than that guy who comes to paintball and doesn't know how to play. While Marcus Foligno (two goals, developing power forward skills) presents at least a glimmer of hope, there seems to be no trusting either Tyler Ennis (one) or Mikhail Grigorenko (zero) until one of them wins the lottery. Jamie McBain (two PPPs) would be recommended material if he didn't have this nasty habit of getting scratched (like, twice).

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Player News
Jason Williams
Oilers Sign Williams To AHL Deal
Jason Williams, RW, PIT
7/29/2014
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
7/29/2014
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
7/29/2014
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
3:22 PM
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
3:17 PM
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
3:13 PM
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
1:22 PM
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
1:15 PM
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
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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
1:01 PM
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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