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Thursday Daily Puck: Another Del Zaster Movie?

Dustin Nelson

Dustin Nelson

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

Around the Rink
Wednesday's big move was the trade of Michael Del Zotto from the Rangers to the Predators for Kevin Klein. (No, not the Kevin Kline of A Fish Called Wanda fame.) Klein is a veteran presence for the Rangers, but offers more to a real life hockey team than a fantasy one. Del Zotto — not-so-lovingly referred to as "Del Zaster" in the town I write to you from, a nickname he didn't acquire for being clutch in his own zone — could be worth a glance in dynasty formats. It'll be interesting to see how the Preds use Del Zotto as he has the ability to be a quick, puck-moving defenseman who can provide some offensive upside. He hasn't shown the development this season that many expected and with Torts heading to Vancouver, his fate may have been sealed early in the season. He wasn't Vigneault's "guy." In fact Vigneault said of Del Zotto, "I have been told he is a much better player." Ouch. You can read that: Yeah, scouts said he was good, but those scouts and me are going to have a long talk about what "good" will mean going forward.

Why is Del Zotto interesting? Nashville is building a core of defenseman with a lot of offensive capability. Del Zotto is a lefty, which they need on the blue line and that means playing time for MDZ. Or at least an opportunity to earn playing time. Also, this could be a system that Del Zotto thrives in once he gets acclimated. (Until recently Shea Weber had the most points on the Preds, the only team in the NHL to have a d-man leading the team at that time.) Del Zotto has defensive lapses that will need to be addressed, but it's a situation worth watching in deep leagues.

- Elsewhere last night, Marc-Andre Fleury and Peter Budaj almost fought. The on-ice dance between them was probably more interesting than an actual fight might have been:


- The other big trade yesterday had the Maple Leafs acquiring Brandon Kozun from the Kings in exchange for Andrew Crescenzi. Just kidding. I mean, that did actually happen. But it's not a "big trade." You don't care. Ok. Moving on.

- Lastly, not fantasy related, but worth noting: This Oilers fan is protesting the team. He had a sign out today that said "Kevin Lowe Must Go" in bright letters and said he'd be back tomorrow, even after the Oilers reportedly called the police on him, according to CBS Sports.

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

Carolina Hurricanes (Justin Peters) at Buffalo Sabres (Ryan Miller), 7:00 PM
St. Louis Blues (Jaroslav Halak) at New York Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist), 7:00 PM
Philadelphia Flyers (Steve Mason) at Columbus Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky), 7:00 PM
Ottawa Senators (Craig Anderson) at Tampa Bay Lightning (Anders Lindback), 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh Penguins (Marc-Andre Fleury) at New York Islanders (Kevin Poulin), 7:30 PM
Chicago Blackhawks (Antti Raanta) at Minnesota Wild (Darcy Kuemper), 8:00 PM
Toronto Maple Leafs (Jonathan Bernier) at Dallas Stars (Kari Lehtonen), 8:00 PM
Nashville Predators (Devan Dubnyk) at Vancouver Canucks (Roberto Luongo), 10:00 PM
Los Angeles Kings (Jonathan Quick) at Anaheim Ducks (Jonas Hiller), 10:00 PM
Winnipeg Jets (Ondrej Pavelec) at San Jose Sharks (Antti Niemi), 10:30 PM


Injury News For Teams Playing Thursday
Carolina Hurricanes
Joni Pitkanen, D - (heel) is on long-term IR
Cam Ward, G - (lower body) has been picking up his workouts in recent days

Buffalo Sabres
Cody McCormick, C - (finger) practiced Monday in a non-contact role
Patrick Kaleta, RW - (ACL) is out for the season
Matt D'Agostini, RW - was placed on injured reserve Tuesday
Mark Pysyk, D - sat out Wednesday’s practice with a nagging injury

St. Louis Blues
Vladimir Tarasenko, RW - (illness) did not play in Tuesday's game
Maxim Lapierre, C - (lower body) could be back from injured reserve over the weekend

New York Rangers
Derek Dorsett, RW - remains out with a broken fibula

Philadelphia Flyers
Zac Rinaldo, LW - (ankle) was placed on injured reserve last Friday

Columbus Blue Jackets
Marian Gaborik, RW - (collarbone) is no longer wearing a sling, but remains out
Blake Comeau, LW - (knee) skated Wednesday
Jared Boll, RW - will be out for another couple months

Ottawa Senators
Marc Methot, D - (undisclosed) practiced with the team Wednesday morning
Mark Stone, RW - left practice Monday with an undisclosed injury and did not travel with the team for Tuesday's game against the Capitals

Tampa Bay Lightning
Steven Stamkos, C - (leg) skated last Friday for the second straight day
Victor Hedman, D - (ankle) said he expects to play Thursday against the Senators
Martin St. Louis, RW - (illness) missed practice Tuesday, Missy Zielinski of lightning.nhl.com reports

Pittsburgh Penguins
Tomas Vokoun, G - (blood clot) has yet to play this season due to a blood clot, was taken off his blood-thinning medication about a week ago
Pascal Dupuis, RW - (ACL) is out for the season
Joe Vitale, C - (wrist) was placed on injured reserve last Tuesday
Beau Bennett, RW - (wrist) skated on his own Wednesday
Brian Gibbons, C - (lower body) skated on his own Wednesday
Andrew Ebbett, C - (ankle) was back at practice Tuesday

New York Islanders
Travis Hamonic, D - (concussion) is still experiencing symptoms
Lubomir Visnovsky, D - (concussion) was back at practice Sunday
Evgeni Nabokov, G - (quadriceps) will face pucks during Thursday's practice, but remains out

Chicago Blackhawks
Nikolai Khabibulin, G - Khabibulin had successful surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder and will miss four-to-five months from Jan. 7

Minnesota Wild
Mikko Koivu, C - (ankle) said he is ahead of schedule in his rehab and hopes to resume practicing with the team next week
Zach Parise, LW - (foot) participated in a full contact practice Wednesday
Josh Harding, G - Although coach Mike Yeo hasn't provided an update on Harding's (illness) status, the belief is that the goalie won't be able to return until after the NHL breaks for the Winter Olympics
Niklas Backstrom, G - Backstrom (lower body) returned to practice Wednesday
Jared Spurgeon, D - Spurgeon (foot) skated on his own Saturday, but remains out

Toronto Maple Leafs
Dave Bolland, C - (ankle) is feeling a little "broken down" mentally at this stage of his rehabilitation, reports the Toronto Star. He says there are "good days and bad days. It's a slow rehab. It's difficult being patient."
David Clarkson, RW - (elbow) is on IR
Trevor Smith, LW - (hand) was on the ice before Sunday's morning skate
Frazer McLaren, LW - (shoulder) is on IR

Dallas Stars
Stephane Robidas, D - (leg) began skating on his own last Wednesday

Nashville Predators
Pekka Rinne, G - (hip) was cleared Friday to begin weight-bearing exercises in early January

Vancouver Canucks
Mike Santorelli, C - has been placed on injured reserve
Jordan Schroeder, C - (ankle) will head to AHL Utica for a conditioning assignment over the weekend
Ryan Stanton, D - (ankle) was back practicing with the team Monday
Henrik Sedin, C - (ribs/finger) did not practice Wednesday
Andrew Alberts, D - (head) was placed on IR in early January

Los Angeles Kings
Matt Greene, D - (head) has resumed working out off the ice

Anaheim Ducks
Luca Sbisa, D - (hand) needs a few more "good practices," according to coach Boudreau, before returning to action
Viktor Fasth, G - is still not back
Stefan Noesen, C - Noesen is out for the season with a torn ACL and MCL
Sheldon Souray, D - had season-eding wrist surgery this month

Winnipeg Jets
Jim Slater, C - (sports hernia) is making slow but steady progress in his recovery
Grant Clitsome, D - (back) had season-ending surgery last week
Paul Postma, D - (leg) shed his no-contact jersey for Monday's practice

San Jose Sharks
Tomas Hertl, C - (ACL) remains out with no definite timetable for his return
Adam Burish, RW - is practicing, but not yet ready to return
Logan Couture, C - Couture skated Friday for the first time since undergoing surgery on his hand last week
Scott Hannan, D - (concussion) was placed on injured reserve last Thursday
Raffi Torres, LW - (ACL) is skating, but doesn't appear to be close to a return yet

Hot
Bryan Little, C, WPG: As the Jets try to turn their season around without Claude Noel, Little has been a bright spot. He's playing 18-20 minutes a night pretty regularly and is on track to have the biggest offensive season of his seven-year career. He's currently on a five-game point streak with two goals and six assists over that stretch.

Phil Kessel, RW, TOR: Kessel is on a seven-game point streak and the team around him — on a six-game win streak — is playing some of the best hockey they've played all year. Over that seven-game streak Kessel has a whopping six goals and eight assists. His season stats are pretty hot too: His 26 goals are fourth in the league, his 52 points are seventh, and his 201 shots rank third.

James Wisnieski, D, CLM: Wisnewski plays a big role for the Jackets defensively, logging an average of 21:46 per night. (An average that would be much higher if it weren't for a small handful of outliers on the short side.) But during the team's current franchise-best seven-game win streak, Wisnewski has been providing a surprising amount of offense with two goals and seven assists. He's also currently riding a five-game point streak. A vet of eleven seasons, Wisnewski has already tied his career best point total for a season.

Cold
Devin Setoguchi, RW, WPG: Setoguchi showed a lot of promise in the 2010-11 postseason, logging seven goals and three assists in 18 playoff games for the Sharks. That came after an outstanding 2008-09 season where he registered 31 goals and 34 assists. Since then Seto hasn't come close to matching the potential of those two seasons. He's been plagued by fallow periods and, in his defense, on teams (Wild and Jets) that weren't the offensive forces that the Sharks were. Nonetheless, the Jets certainly hoped for more than a single goal and no assists over the last nine games. He's a minus-5 over that stretch and has seen his ice time diminishing. However, Setoguchi can be explosive and with a new regime in Winnipeg he has the opportunity to turn his season around and earn that playing time back. Don't write him off just yet.

Daniel Sedin, LW, VAN: Unfortunately for both Sedins and Ryan Kesler, the Canucks lack the depth scoring of seasons past and that's put a huge responsibility on their shoulders. Even a small slump can seem huge when the fourth best scorer on the team is Mike Santorelli (who is now on IR), a player that not many people would have had ranked in the team's top scorers at the start of the season. While it's not the worst total you'll see in this space, his zero goals and two assists aren't acceptable for the Canucks or for where you probably drafted him at the start of the season / what you're paying for him in weekly leagues. That's especially true with Henrik Sedin ending his Iron Man streak on Tuesday and only playing parts of the two games before. Sedin needs to turn it around (and he will) for both embattled coach John Tortorella and fantasy owners.

Jason Pominville, RW, MIN: With Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise out of the lineup for the Wild, it's a moment for Pominville to step up. However, that hasn't been the case in the last six games. Pommer has just a goal and an assist over that stretch, both coming in the same game. Instead, the Wild have had the "a different hero every night" philosophy in play, with Nate Prosser, Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle, or no one at all (see: Dallas, Tuesday) taking up the mantle at different times.

Recommended Pickup
Matt Niskanen, D, PIT: At seven goals and 21 assists, Niskanen has already matched his career high in goals and is creeping up on that total in assists. He's on a five-game point streak and only one game removed from a four-game point streak. That's a a ten game stretch over which he has four goals (two game-winners) and seven assists. Oh, and his plus-26 rating leads the NHL.