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Tuesday Daily Puck: The Rising Cap

Andrew Fiorentino

Andrew Fiorentino

A degenerate fantasy player since the age of 13.

Around the Rink

Monday's headline-making NHL news is the dramatic rise of the salary cap starting next season, all the way from $64.3 million to an estimated $71 million, a rise attributable to the massive new $5.2 billion TV deal the league signed with Canada's Rogers Communications.

The NHL already has some of the best parity – at least in terms of distribution of talent (when you count out the Penguins) – among professional sports leagues, and the fallout of this deal should only serve to maintain and enhance that parity. Every team is getting its share of TV money alongside the rising cap, meaning they not only have new room to spend – they have the cash, too. That's vitally important for the smaller-market teams.

This is great news for the players, too – this upcoming offseason's free agents (restricted or otherwise) could benefit greatly from the increased cap and the cash in hand. It wouldn't be surprising to see some guys get badly overpaid. Players like Patrick Marleau, Paul Stastny, Ryan Callahan, Dion Phaneuf, Jaroslav Halak, Mason Raymond, Dan Girardi and Matt Moulson chiefly come to mind.

Although there's surely going to be money thrown around at this offseason's free agents, the best way for any team to gain top players may be via trade. There'll be a lot of solid players on the market, but it can be a team-crushing mistake to pay non-elite guys elite money.

The Rangers in particular, having locked up Henrik Lundqvist, seem to this fan terrifyingly likely to overpay to retain the services of Callahan and Girardi – good players, team leaders, heart-and-soul guys, but too offensively limited for the contracts they'll be demanding. Unfortunately, it seems just as bad to allow Callahan and Girardi to bolt for another franchise... that is, unless the Rangers spend all that cap space on better players somehow.

But hey, that's the offseason. Let's worry about Tuesday first.

Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)

Senators (Craig Anderson) at Sabres (Ryan Miller), 7:00
Lightning (Ben Bishop) at Capitals (Braden Holtby), 7:00
Devils (Martin Brodeur) at Blue Jackets (Curtis McElhinney), 7:00
Kings (Ben Scrivens) at Canadiens (Carey Price), 7:00
Red Wings (Jimmy Howard) at Panthers (Tim Thomas), 7:30
Predators (Marek Mazanec) at Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist), 7:30
Blues (Brian Elliott) at Jets (Ondrej Pavelec), 8:00
Blackhawks (Corey Crawford) at Stars (Kari Lehtonen), 8:30
Coyotes (Mike Smith) at Avalanche (Semyon Varlamov), 9:00
Bruins (Tuukka Rask) at Flames (Reto Berra), 9:30
Hurricanes (Cam Ward) at Oilers (Devan Dubnyk), 9:30
Islanders (Kevin Poulin) at Sharks (Antti Niemi), 10:30

For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid.

Injury News for Teams Playing Tuesday

Sabres
Patrick Kaleta, RW (knee) – Out for the year with torn ACL
Alexander Sulzer, D (upper body) – On IR
Rasmus Ristolainen, D (head) – May have suffered a concussion

Lightning
Ryan Malone, LW (ankle) – Looking at end of December, beginning of January
Steven Stamkos, C (leg) – Has set Feb. 6 as personal target for return
Keith Aulie, D (hand) – Underwent surgery on Friday
Victor Hedman, D -(lower body) – Will miss Tuesday's game
Tom Pyatt, RW (collarbone) – Out about another week yet
Pierre-Cedric Labrie, LW (upper body) – Practiced Friday, but didn’t go Saturday
Jonathan Drouin, C (head) – May have a concussion after suffering hit from behind in juniors

Capitals
Michal Neuvirth, G (lower body) – Practicing; could suit up as backup Tuesday
Brooks Laich, C (groin) – Out indefinitely

Devils
Stephen Gionta, LW (ankle) – On IR; no clear timetable
Adam Larsson, D (lower body) – On IR; has missed eight games so far
Ryane Clowe, LW (concussion) – Cleared for practice and contact, but still out Tuesday
Ryan Carter, C (leg) – On IR; no timeline given
Bryce Salvador, D (foot) – Skating, but no word on return still
Marek Zidlicky, D (upper body) – Could return Tuesday

Blue Jackets
Nathan Horton, RW (shoulder) – Still in holding pattern
James Wisniewski, D (upper body) – Out about a week
Marian Gaborik, RW (knee) – Skating again; still a little ways off
Jared Boll, RW (foot) – Suffered a setback and will remain out a while longer yet
Sergei Bobrovsky, G (groin) – On IR; current timetable suggests return in early-mid January

Kings
Matt Greene, D (upper body) – Traveling on road strip starting Tuesday
Jonathan Quick, G (groin) – Out 'til Christmas at least
Trevor Lewis, C (lower body) – Like Greene, traveling with the team

Canadiens
Rene Bourque, LW (upper body) – Didn't practice Monday

Red Wings
Pavel Datsyuk, C (concussion) – Will return Tuesday
Henrik Zetterberg, LW (back) – Out at least another week
Darren Helm, C (shoulder) – Out another 7-10 days
Danny DeKeyser, D (shoulder) – Skating, but still more than a week away

Panthers
Ed Jovanovski, D (hip) – Out through Christmas at best

Predators
Filip Forsberg, RW (upper body) – Likely headed for AHL once healthy
Pekka Rinne, G (hip) – Will continue off-ice rehab for next two weeks
Patric Hornqvist, RW – Left Saturday's game after hitting head

Rangers
Derek Dorsett, RW (wrist) – Missed Sunday's game
Marc Staal, D (neck) – Out Sunday; could be another long-term thing

Blues
Jordan Leopold, D (hand) – Out into January
Ryan Reaves, RW (hand) – Will be out well into January

Jets
Evander Kane, LW (lower body) – Won't return Tuesday
Jim Slater, C (sports hernia) – Skating, but won't be ready to return for a while
Zach Bogosian, D (lower body) – Skating lightly
Paul Postma, D (leg) – Further tests on blood clot coming later this month

Blackhawks
Nikolai Khabibulin, G (groin) – Still a ways away from returning
Corey Crawford, G (lower body) – Not with the team for Tuesday's game in Dallas
Bryan Bickell, LW (lower body) – Placed on injured reserve retroactive to Nov. 19

Stars
Stephane Robidas, D (leg) – Out 4-6 months
Aaron Rome, D (lower body) – On IR; no timetable
Trevor Daley, D (ankle) – Placed on injured reserve Friday
Vernon Fiddler, C (upper body) – Likely out all week

Coyotes
Zbynek Michalek, D (lower body) – Skated at Monday's practice
Lauri Korpikoski, LW (upper body) – Out Tuesday
Shane Doan, RW (illness) – Ruled out for Tuesday
Derek Morris, D (personal) – Another one out Tuesday

Avalanche
Alex Tanguay, LW (knee) – Still not practicing
Jan Hejda, D (knee) – Looking at a return Saturday or Monday
Ryan Wilson, D (back) – Should return to practice imminently

Bruins
Adam McQuaid, D (lower body) – On IR, but could be short-term
Dougie Hamilton, D (lower body) – Out at least a week
Shawn Thornton, LW (suspension) – Suspended indefinitely until hearing determines length
Johnny Boychuk, D (back) – Possible for Tuesday return
Loui Eriksson, RW (concussion) – Missed Sunday's game; no word on timetable
Chris Kelly, C (leg) – Placed on long-term injured reserve Sunday
Kevan Miller, D (undisclosed) – Hurt Sunday, but may be able to go Tuesday

Flames
Curtis Glencross, LW (knee) – Should be about two weeks away
Sean Monahan, C (foot) – Skated at Monday's practice
Dennis Wideman, D (hand) – Out 5-7 weeks yet
T.J. Galiardi, LW (back) – On IR; no timetable

Hurricanes
Mike Komisarek, D (lower body) – Placed on injured reserve Friday
Alexander Semin, LW (concussion) – Traveling and practicing on current road trip
Patrick Dwyer, RW (upper body) – Missed Friday's win over San Jose
Anton Khudobin, G (ankle) – Traveling with the team, but no word on return
Brett Bellemore, D (concussion) – No timetable

Oilers
Tyler Pitlick, C (knee) – Skating in practice
Richard Bachman, G (lower body) – Skating, but no word on return; AHL return likely
Boyd Gordon, C (undisclosed) – Close to returning; Tuesday maybe?
Jeff Petry, D (head) – Injured Saturday
Ilya Bryzgalov, G (concussion) – Feeling better; could return fairly soon

Islanders
Lubomir Visnovsky, D (concussion) – Still out indefinitely
Evgeni Nabokov, G (groin) – Practicing, but no word on return date
Brian Strait, D (upper body) – Practicing; could return in a few days

Sharks
Mike Brown, RW (undisclosed) – Placed on IR, but seemingly with fairly minor ailment

Hot

Tomas Tatar, RW, DET – No one's benefited from the absence of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg like Tatar, who's stepped into a larger role with them out of the lineup. Datsyuk's missed the last seven games (and Zetterberg the last three); in that time, Tatar's averaged a point per game with four goals and three assists. This despite still not being in a featured role – Tatar's exceeded 16 minutes just once in the last seven games. Unfortunately, this run may be coming to an end with Datsyuk due back Tuesday and Zetterberg perhaps next week. But even if he gets pushed down the depth chart again, the super-talented Tatar's made a strong impression.

Roberto Luongo, G, VAN – Since being pulled from the Nov. 30 game against the Rangers and then benched the next day against Carolina, Luongo's been reenergized, winning three straight games and allowing a grand total of four goals in that span while stopping 99 shots. He sat again Monday – a good sign for fantasy owners. It's good that coach John Tortorella understands Luongo's limitations and is trusting enough in backup Eddie Lack to give Bobby Lou the regular rest that'll keep him healthy and productive all season long.

Valeri Nichushkin, LW, DAL – The super-talented Russian 18-year-old has had a quiet year after getting some preseason Calder buzz, but he's been blowing up over the last week despite a continued lack of ice time, especially on the power play. In his last three games, Nichushkin has ripped off a stunning seven points – two goals and five assists – while going plus-6. And he did that while skating less than 14 minutes in two of the three games and seeing a grand total of 1:11 in power-play time. Just think what'd happen if the Stars could find him some consistent minutes.

Cold

Martin Brodeur, G, NJ – Though Brodeur snapped his four-game losing streak on Saturday against the Rangers, he was stuck with three goals on 24 shots – the third straight game in which he's failed to stop at least 90 percent of the shots against him. Though his record looks stronger than Cory Schneider's, the Devils have simply failed to score for Schneider, who's been the far better goalie. Aside from a nice little hot streak in early-mid November, Brodeur's largely been a liability on fantasy rosters.

Paul Stastny, C, COL – Stastny was one of the hotter players in the league for quite some time this season, as he recorded 16 points in a 16-game span from Oct. 12 to Nov. 19. In the six games since then, though, he's gone ice cold, with zero points and a minus-6 rating. He's still seeing major ice time, but not as much as Matt Duchene lately. However, that situation remains fluid, as both of the Avs' top two centers have been unproductive lately.

Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, STL – Tarasenko really hasn't been able to get things going this year, and things have been particularly rough lately, as he's been held off the score sheet for five of the last six games. He did at least pick up a goal and an assist in the one contest, but Tarasenko has taken one or zero shots on goal in six of the last eight games despite seeing consistent (if not heavy) minutes and second-unit power-play time. He's one of the most talented young players in the league, so this represents an opportune buy-low moment in keeper and dynasty formats.

Recommended Pickup
Nick Bonino, C, ANA – Few players in the league have been as quietly consistent as Bonino this year. Always thought of as a marginal depth-line player, the former seventh-round pick has been seeing career-high ice time this year, and he's responded with 22 points in 32 games – a 56-point pace. But he's been more than consistent lately – he's been hot. Bonino's rattled off 10 points in his last nine contests, but he's still available in a wide variety of leagues. Go get him before your competitors catch on.