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Thursday Daily Puck: Ja Great

Dustin Nelson

Dustin Nelson

Dustin Nelson is a writer based out of NYC. His fantasy team is full of loafers.

Around the Rink
This might be a lead sentence you see a few more times this year: Jaromir Jagr has carved out new space in the record books for himself. With a goal last night against the Ottawa Senators Jagr passed Gordie Howe for the all-time game-winning goals mark with 122. It was also his 693rd career goal, which moves him past Steve Yzerman and into sole possession of eighth place all-time. That’s only one goal behind Mark Messier in seventh.

Oh, and he also leads his team with 12 goals at 41-years of age. Not bad. More on Jagr later.

- Josh Harding, arguably the best tender in the NHL so far and easily the best story of the year, was placed on the IR by Minnesota late Wednesday night. Harding is going to take a week away to “make a minor adjustment to his treatment protocol” for MS, according to Wild GM Chuck Fletcher. The team expects him back for their game against Winnipeg on December 27. That there’s a timeline on his return has to make owners and Wild fans feel good. It would seem to indicate that they genuinely believe he will return on the 27th.

Johan Gustafsson, and not Darcy Kuemper, has been recalled from the Iowa Wild of the AHL to take over back up duties while Niklas Backstrom takes the reins for Minnesota. Backstrom began the season as the presumed number one—and has the potential to take his job back at any point—so he’s probably not available in your league.

But even if Backstrom is available in your league, he may not be the best fill in right now. Backstrom has been hit and miss this season and faces a tough three-game road trek in his guaranteed starts. That begins tonight in Pittsburgh and will end with back-to-backs Sunday and Monday at the Rangers and Flyers. The Wild are stodgy on defense, but have struggled on the road this year and facing a red hot Penguins team tonight, I wouldn’t be starting Backstrom.

As far as Gustafsson, it’s possible he sees action in the back-to-back, but he has little value unless Josh Harding misses significant time. But Backstrom is no stranger to carrying a heavy workload as he did last season when Harding missed the majority of the year due to complications from MS, so it’s possible Backstrom takes both of those games. Also, as the team has done a number of times this year, Gustafsson may be on the bench for emergencies only. They’ve called him only to send him back down and get Darcy Kuemper on the bench when they really thought they were going to need someone. The idea being, presumably, that you can keep Kuemper warm by getting him games in Iowa until he’s likely to see some pucks in the NHL. Nonetheless, unless you’re desperate, it’s probably best to avoid the goaltending situation in Minnesota for the rest of December, unless that goaltender is carrying a league best 1.51 goals against, a .939 save percentage, and is named Josh Harding.

- The Blues locked up breakout forward Alexander Steen on Wednesday, signing him to a three-year contract extension Wednesday, worth $17.4 million. Steen leads the Blues with 22 goals, tied for second in the NHL with Corey Perry and just trailing Alexander Ovechkin’s 28. In just 33 games this season Steen is two goals from breaking his season high 24 goals in 68 games in 2009-10.

I only now see the connection for today’s Around the Rink: Jagr, Steen, and Harding may be some of the best values for their average draft position this season. In ESPN fantasy leagues Jagr went at 144 (two after Nail Yakupov), Steen at 157, and Harding at 230.

Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid

Boston Bruins (Tuukka Rask) at Buffalo Sabres (Ryan Miller), 7:00 PM
Phoenix Coyotes (Mike Smith) at Toronto Maple Leafs (Jonathan Bernier), 7:00 PM
Columbus Blue Jackets (Curtis McElhinney) at Philadelphia Flyers (Steve Mason), 7:00 PM
Minnesota Wild (Niklas Backstrom) at Pittsburgh Penguins (Marc-Andre Fleury), 7:00 PM
Florida Panthers (Scott Clemmensen) at Ottawa Senators (Craig Anderson), 7:30 PM
Calgary Flames (Karri Ramo) at Detroit Red Wings (Jonas Gustavsson), 7:30 PM
Nashville Predators (Marek Mazanec) at Tampa Bay Lightning (Ben Bishop), 7:30 PM
Montreal Canadiens (Carey Price) at St. Louis Blues (Jaroslav Halak), 8:00 PM
Vancouver Canucks (Roberto Luongo) at Dallas Stars (Kari Lehtonen), 8:30 PM
Edmonton Oilers (Ilya Bryzgalov) at Colorado Avalanche (Semyon Varlamov), 9:30 PM
San Jose Sharks (Antti Niemi) at Los Angeles Kings (Martin Jones), 10:30 PM

Injury News For Teams Playing Thursday

Boston Bruins
Marc Savard, C - The Bruins are expected to place Savard (concussion) on Long-Term Injured Reserve, Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe reports. (7/6/2013)
Daniel Paille, LW - The Bruins have confirmed that Paille is dealing with concussion-like symptoms, the team's official site reports. (12/17/2013)
Shawn Thornton, LW - Thornton will appeal his 15-game suspension, the Boston Globe reports. (12/16/2013)
Loui Eriksson, RW - Eriksson (concussion) visited the Bruins at the rink during their morning skate Tuesday, Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe reports. (12/17/2013)
Chris Kelly, C - Kelly (leg) was placed on long-term injured reserve Sunday. (12/8/2013)
Adam McQuaid, D - Though McQuaid (lower body) practiced with the Bruins on Monday, he won't play Tuesday against the Flames, the Boston Heraldreports. (12/17/2013)
Dougie Hamilton, D - Hamilton (lower body) has been ruled out for 2-4 weeks, Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe reports. (12/10/2013)

Buffalo Sabres
Rasmus Ristolainen, D - There's speculation that Ristolainen suffered a concussion after being sucker-punched by AHL Lake Erie's Mitchell Heard on Friday night, reports The Buffalo News. (12/4/2013)
J.T. Compher, C - After suffering a broken foot from blocking a shot, Compher will not travel with Team USA to Sweden for the 2014 World Junior Championships, reports Mike Morreale of NHL.com. (12/18/2013)
Patrick Kaleta, RW - Kaleta suffered a torn right ACL during Friday's game with AHL Rochester, Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News reports. He will miss the rest of the season. (11/30/2013)
Cody McCormick, C - McCormick (upper body) was the only Sabre not in attendance for Monday's practice and will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks. (12/16/2013)

Phoenix Coyotes
Shane Doan, RW - Doan (illness) is not accompanying his teammates for their four-game road trip, which opens Tuesday in Montreal, reports the Arizona Republic. (12/16/2013)
Derek Morris, D - Morris (personal) is not expected to play in Tuesday's game against the Canadiens, the Arizona Republic reports. (12/16/2013)
Lauri Korpikoski, LW - Korpikoski (upper body) is traveling with the team for on their four-game road trip, which opens Tuesday in Montreal, reports theArizona Republic. It's not clear whether he will rejoin the lineup. (12/16/2013)
Zbynek Michalek, D - Michalek left Tuesday's game with a lower-body injury and will not return, Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic reports. (12/17/2013)

Toronto Maple Leafs
Paul Ranger, D - Ranger is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury, Jonas Siegel of TSN Radio 1050 reports. (12/16/2013)
Dave Bolland, C - Bolland has been placed on long-term injured reserve, David Alter of Sportsnet 590 The Fan reports. (11/8/2013)
Trevor Smith, LW - Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said after Tuesday's game against Florida that Smith suffered a broken hand, David Alter of Sportsnet 590 The Fan reports. (12/17/2013)
Tyler Bozak, C - Bozak (upper body) has landed on long-term injured reserve, David Alter of Sportsnet 590 The Fan reports. (12/6/2013)
Colton Orr, RW - Orr (elbow) was placed on injured reserve Thursday, James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail reports. (12/5/2013)

Columbus Blue Jackets
Marian Gaborik, RW - Gaborik (knee) will not play Thursday against the Flyers, Dan Kamal of FoxSports Ohio reports. (12/18/2013)
Nathan Horton, RW - Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards said that Horton (shoulder) is getting closer, but isn't expected back before Christmas, theColumbus Dispatch reports. "So we're getting close to (days rather than weeks)," Richards said. "It's tough to narrow down a specific date, but I can pretty confidently tell you that it won't be before Christmas." (12/16/2013)
Derek MacKenzie, C - MacKenzie (lower body) hopes to return by Christmas, Shawn Mitchell of the Columbus Dispatch reports. (12/18/2013)
James Wisniewski, D - Wisniewski (upper body) will not play Thursday against the Flyers, Dan Kamal of Fox Sports Ohio reports. (12/18/2013)
Curtis McElhinney, G - Tuesday's demotion of backup goalie Jeremy Smith to the minors would seem to imply that McElhinney will be available in at least a reserve capacity Thursday against Philadelphia, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports. (12/17/2013)
Jared Boll, RW - Boll will miss the next 3-4 months after undergoing surgery on his ankle Monday. (12/17/2013)
Sergei Bobrovsky, G - Bobrovsky (lower body) skated on his own Wednesday morning, Shawn Mitchell of the Columbus Dispatch reports. (12/18/2013)
Dalton Prout, D - Prout (upper body) will miss at least the next two weeks, Shawn Mitchell of the Columbus Dispatch reports. (12/18/2013)

Philadelphia Flyers
Chris Pronger, D - Flyers GM Paul Holmgren openly acknowledged Tuesday that Pronger's career is over due to his concussion issues, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. "I'll say it; Chris is never going to play again," Holmgren said. "I have no problems saying it." (10/15/2013)
Vincent Lecavalier, C - Lecavalier (back) is still 2-3 weeks away from returning, Tim Panaccio of CSN Philadelphia reports. (12/18/2013)
Brayden Schenn, C - Schenn (neck) does not have a concussion, Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News reports. (12/18/2013)
Marc-Andre Bourdon, D - Bourdon (concussion) has been placed on the non-roster injured reserve list, CSN Philly's Tim Panaccio reports. (9/30/2013)

Minnesota Wild
Mikael Granlund, C - Granlund (concussion) returned to practice for the Wild on Monday. (12/16/2013)
Josh Harding, G - Harding was placed on injured reserve Wednesday due to a new change in the treatment protocol for his multiple sclerosis. (12/18/2013)

Pittsburgh Penguins
Robert Scuderi, D - Scuderi (ankle) returned to practice Monday for the Penguins, Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. (12/16/2013)
Evgeni Malkin, C - Malkin (leg) has been ruled out of Wednesday and Thursday’s games, Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. (12/18/2013)
James Neal, RW - Neal, who continues to practice with Pittsburgh, will be eligible to return Thursday at home against Minnesota when his suspension ends. (12/14/2013)
Kris Letang, D - Letang (upper body) has been placed on IR. (12/16/2013)
Tanner Glass, LW - Glass (hand) participated in Friday's light skate, Seth Rorabaugh of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. (12/13/2013)
Andrew Ebbett, C - Ebbett has a broken ankle and will be out indefinitely, Seth Rorabaugh of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. (12/6/2013)
Deryk Engelland, D - Engelland has been suspended five games for his hit on Detroit's Justin Abdelkader on Saturday, Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. (12/18/2013)
Beau Bennett, RW - Bennett will miss the next 8-10 weeks after undergoing surgery to repair his hand and wrist Monday. (11/25/2013)
Jayson Megna, LW - Megna (lower body) was placed on injured reserve Tuesday. (12/17/2013)
Tomas Vokoun, G - Vokoun (blood clot) hasn't ruled out a return to the Penguins this season. "I feel great. I don’t have any health issues," said Vokoun. "It’s hard to look that far ahead. Definitely if I can (return) I want to try." (11/30/2013)
Brooks Orpik, D - Orpik (head) was on the ice for a light skate Friday morning, Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. (12/13/2013)
Paul Martin, D - Coach Dan Bylsma said Martin is dealing with a fractured tibia and will be out for four-to-six weeks, TSN's Mark Masters reports. (11/27/2013)

Florida Panthers
Ed Jovanovski, D - Interim coach Pete Horachek said Jovanovski (hip) would be out until after Christmas at the earliest, George Richards of the Miami Herald reports. (12/7/2013)
Tim Thomas, G - Thomas (lower body) could be activated from IR to play over the weekend, George Richards of the Miami Herald reports. (12/17/2013)
Jesse Winchester, LW - Winchester (hand) is expected to miss three-to-four weeks, Harvey Fialkov of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. (12/18/2013)
Matt Gilroy, D - Gilroy has been sent down to AHL San Antonio. (12/8/2013)
Jonathan Huberdeau, LW - Huberdeau (foot) is expected to be in the lineup Thursday against the Senators, George Richards of the Miami Herald reports. (12/18/2013)

Calgary Flames
Dennis Wideman, D - Wideman has a fractured hand and will miss 6-8 weeks. He was placed on injured reserve Thursday. (11/28/2013)
Michael Cammalleri, C - Cammalleri (illness) will not play Tuesday against the Bruins, Kristen Odland of the Calgary Herald reports. (12/17/2013)
Patrick Sieloff, D - Sieloff is at home in Ann Arbor, Mich., recovering from a staph infection, the Calgary Herald reports. (11/22/2013)

Detroit Red Wings
Danny DeKeyser, D - DeKeyser (shoulder) will not be activated from long-term injured reserve when he is first eligible Saturday, but he is nearing a return,Ansar Khan of MLive.com reports. (12/12/2013)
Jimmy Howard, G - Howard (knee) will be placed on injured reserve by the Red Wings on Monday, Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports. (12/16/2013)
Justin Abdelkader, LW - Abdelkader (head) skated Wednesday for the first time since suffering an injury Saturday against the Lightning, Ansar Khan of MLive.com reports. (12/18/2013)
Johan Franzen, C - Franzen is going through the concussion protocol after taking a hit in the second period of Sunday's loss to the Lightning, MLive.comreports. (12/16/2013)
Darren Helm, C - Helm (shoulder) resumed skating Thursday, MLive.com reports. (12/12/2013)
Gustav Nyquist, C - Nyquist missed Tuesday's loss to the Ducks with a groin injury. (12/17/2013)
Stephen Weiss, C - Weiss (groin) will visit a specialist later this week, Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports. (12/17/2013)
Henrik Zetterberg, LW - GM Ken Holland said the team is "cautiously optimistic" that Zetterberg (back) will be able to return from long-term injured reserve when first eligible Dec. 28, Ansar Khan of MLive.com reports. (12/13/2013)

Nashville Predators
Pekka Rinne, G - Rinne (hip) will continue to rehab and remain off the ice for the next two weeks. (12/5/2013)

Tampa Bay Lightning
Steven Stamkos, C - Stamkos (leg) took part in the team's morning skate but will not play Saturday, Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune reports. (12/14/2013)
Keith Aulie, D - Aulie (broken hand) underwent surgery on Friday, according to the team's official website. (12/6/2013)
Victor Hedman, D - Hedman (lower body) could be ready to go Thursday against the Predators, Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times reports. (12/17/2013)
Tom Pyatt, RW - Pyatt (collarbone) will have a scan next week and hopes to be cleared to play next Thursday vs. the Predators, Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune reports. (12/13/2013)
Pierre-Cedric Labrie, LW - Labrie (upper body) is close to returning to action, Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune reports. (12/12/2013)
Jonathan Drouin, C - Drouin (possible concussion) arrived at training camp for Team Canada's junior team on Thursday and was to be evaluated by team doctors to see if he's able to resume skating, reports TSN.ca. (12/13/2013)
Mattias Ohlund, D - Ohlund (knee) was placed on long-term injured reserve Tuesday, the Tampa Bay Times reports. (10/2/2013)
Ryan Malone, LW - GM Steve Yzerman said Malone is dealing with a non-displaced ankle fracture and is expected to miss three-to-four weeks, Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times reports. (12/3/2013)
Brian Lee, D - Lee (knee) is still only doing off-ice workouts. (11/9/2013)

Montreal Canadiens
George Parros, RW - Parros (concussion) skated on his own Wednesday morning, Renaud Lavoie of RDS reports. (12/18/2013)
Davis Drewiske, D - Drewiske will miss the next five-to-six months following shoulder surgery, Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette reports. (10/16/2013)

St. Louis Blues
Jaden Schwartz, C - Schwartz (undisclosed) is unlikely to play Tuesday against the Sharks, NHL.com's Lou Korac reports. (12/17/2013)
Ryan Reaves, RW - Reaves is expected to miss at least six weeks due to his broken hand, according to the Blues' official website. (11/25/2013)
Vladimir Sobotka, RW - Sobotka (upper body) will miss Tuesday's game against the Sharks, NHL.com's Lou Korac reports. (12/17/2013)
Jordan Leopold, D - Leopold will need surgery to repair a ligament in his hand and is expected to miss at least eight weeks, Lou Korac of NHL.com reports. (11/11/2013)
David Backes, C - Backes (upper body) will not play Thursday against the Canadiens, Lou Korac of NHL.com reports. (12/18/2013)

Vancouver Canucks
Alexandre Burrows, RW - Updating a previous report, Burrows underwent successful surgery on a broken jaw Monday and will be out for four weeks,News 1130 reports. (12/3/2013)
Alexander Edler, D - Edler is out indefinitely with what is now being reported as a knee injury, Team 1040 reports. (12/6/2013)
Jordan Schroeder, C - Schroeder (ankle) had successful surgery on his broken ankle in early November and is expected to return in eight-to-nine weeks,News 1130 reports. (11/5/2013)
Ryan Stanton, D - Stanton has been sent back to Vancouver to be evaluated for an injury he suffered during the second period of Tuesday's game. (12/18/2013)

Dallas Stars
Trevor Daley, D - Daley (ankle) was placed on injured reserve Friday. (12/6/2013)
Vernon Fiddler, C - Despite being placed on injured reserve Tuesday, Fiddler was able to skate earlier in the day, NHL.com's Mark Stepneski reports. (12/17/2013)
Aaron Rome, D - Rome left Monday's game with a lower-body injury and is doubtful to return, Mark Stepneski of the Stars' official website reports. (12/16/2013)
Stephane Robidas, D - Robidas underwent surgery Saturday to repair a broken fibia and will be out for the next four to six months, TSN's Darren Dregerreports. (11/30/2013)

Edmonton Oilers
Corey Potter, D - Potter has been suspended for two games for his hit on Anaheim's Nick Bonino during Sunday's contest, Sportsnet.ca's Josh Rimer reports. (12/16/2013)

Colorado Avalanche
Ryan Wilson, D - Wilson (back) remains out of the lineup and will not be reevaluated until Wednesday, the Denver Post reports. (12/16/2013)
Alex Tanguay, LW - Tanguay (knee) indicated he was feeling better Saturday but remains without a timetable for his return, Adrian Dater of the Denver Postreports. (12/14/2013)

San Jose Sharks
Scott Hannan, D - Hannan (upper body) was on the ice for the team's morning skate Saturday, David Pollack of the San Jose Mercury News reports. (12/14/2013)
Raffi Torres, LW - Torres (knee) skated on his own Tuesday, the David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News reports. (10/22/2013)
Adam Burish, RW - Burish will undergo back surgery in the coming days and is out indefinitely, CSN Bay Area's Kevin Kurz reports. (10/16/2013)

Los Angeles Kings
Willie Mitchell, D - Mitchell (upper body) was back on the ice for Wednesday's optional skate, Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News reports. (12/18/2013)
Colin Fraser, C - Fraser (concussion) was back at practice Monday, the Los Angeles Times reports. (12/17/2013)
Jonathan Quick, G - Quick (groin) worked out on the ice for the third consecutive day Wednesday, skating and facing shots, Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News reports. (12/18/2013

HOT:
Sergei Gonchar, D, DAL - You could be forgiven for writing off Gonchar after he tallied only a single assist over the first 15 games of the season. But things have changed. Gonchar is on a three-game point streak and has eight assists over the last seven games. His minutes have fluctuated some over the season, but he's crossed the 20-minute threshold in four straight games now. He's no longer a top tier d-man, but he has a history of going hot for long stretches. It's possible this is just the start of a solid run for Gonchar.

Jaromir Jagr, RW, NJD - Jagr is up next on this week's edition of grizzled veterans who are turning it on in December. At 41-years old, Jagr has 29 points (12 G, 17 A) over 35 games. That's especially impressive considering that New Jersey ranks 22nd in scoring right now. (They’re up four spots after a five-goal showing last night.) Jagr has been especially good over this last five-game stretch where he's got a goal, six assists and a plus-2 rating. He’s currently on a five-game point streak and is not showing any signs of slowing down.

Ryan Johansen, C, CLM - Watch this space. You may see Johansen's name pretty often if he keeps playing like he is. Johansen is slowly making the case that he will be this team's leader for years to come. He's on a nine-game point streak with six goals and eight assists over the last 11 games. It's unlikely he's available on the waiver in your league, but if you got him off the waiver earlier in the season after he tallied just a single assist in the season’s opening five games, he could be a difference maker for you.

COLD:
Daniel Briere, C, MTL - The former Flyer has been as hot as a sno-cone lately. He's seen some time on the fourth line and has been bumped down the lineup when management thinks the Canadiens need added toughness on their top lines. Briere hasn't put up a point in seven games and hasn't scored in ten. His ice time has been cut in a big way as well. Not like he lost a few minutes here and there...cut as in he played 4:27 in Tuesday's win over Phoenix. (That's not even his season low.) He's been under ten minutes of ice time in four of the last nine games and is only averaging 12:38 ATOI this season. It's hard to find the argument to keep Briere in your lineup right now.

Brent Burns, RW, SAN - Burns started the season with eight points in eight games before missing some time with a mouth injury. He scored in his return on November 21 and then had three goals and an assist three games after that, giving him six points in his first four games back from injury. Since then, Burns has been lackluster. He scored his first goal over the nine-game stretch that followed on Tuesday and has a single assist in those nine games. Burns should recover though. He's a high-energy troublemaker with great hands and one of the longest sticks in the NHL. His struggles have coincided with San Jose’s offensive woes. No reason to believe both San Jose and Burns won’t be back to early season form soon.

Dany Heatley, RW, MIN - There was a moment this season when it seemed like discussion of Dany Heatley's demise was overblown. He started scoring, looked a little tougher. We may be back to the point where we can discuss Heatley's fading star. Coach Mike Yeo has been hinting that he's considering making Heatley and his $7.5 million cap hit a healthy scratch soon. He's been playing on the fourth line, has been under ten minutes of ice time in two of the last four games, and hasn't scored a goal in nine games. In fact, he just has a single point over that stretch, despite the fact that he's been seeing time on Minnesota second powerplay unit — a powerplay that is ranked seventh in the NHL. Heatley could certainly recover — he's got over 700 career points, he knows how to score — but that the Wild would consider benching him is a sign that even the team is losing faith in Heatley's ability to recover.

Recommended Pickup
Damien Brunner, RW, NJD – The second-year forward turned in a solid 26 point (12 G, 14 A) campaign in 2012-13. His pace this year has not been as good, though the move from the Red Wings to the Devils (as previously mentioned: 22nd in scoring) can’t help that. However, Brunner is picking up the pace lately. After a 17-game stretch without a goal, Brunner has four goals and an assist in his last four games. He’s a plus-2 and has 13 shots in that stretch as well. That’s the best stretch of production he’s had since the season opening when he had three goals and two assists in the first five games. He’s playing on the second line centered by Patrik Elias (eight points in last seven games), with Adam Henrique on the other side from Brunner. This line may have begun to cash in on their potential. Brunner’s no guarantee, but things are looking up for the second line who has had their struggles this year.