Around the Rink
The big news coming into Thursday morning is that Steven Stamkos has confirmed that he will not play for Team Canada at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. A few weeks ago there may not have been much shock to learn that Stamkos wasn't going to be donning the maple leaf, but earlier this week Stamkos had all but confirmed that he'd be playing for Tampa Bay on Saturday, the final game for his team before the Olympic break.
Stamkos, according to a release from the team, went to get cleared for play and was informed that his leg, broken on November 11, has not completely healed. For fantasy owners that means that he should be back to action following the Olympic break, but he won't have seen much physical play by the team's first game. It's an unfortunate situation for Stamkos, who, by all accounts, would have been a huge factor on a stacked Canadian roster, slotted either as a winger with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz, or on the presumptive second line centered by the Islanders' John Tavares.
Following that announcement, all eyes have turned to Team Canada general manager Steve Yzerman and coach Mike Babock who have stated that they will make an announcement on a replacement for Stamkos within 48 hours. There are a number of players who could be replacing Stamkos including teammate, and Yzerman employee in Tampa, Martin St. Louis. Other favorites to get the nod for Team Canada include Philadelphia's Claude Giroux, Pittsburgh's James Neal, and Carolina's Eric Staal.
UPDATE: Martin St. Lous has been named to Team Canada as Stamkos' replacement.
- We'll get to Thomas Vanek's stats below, but, at a glance, doesn't it look like this Vanek deal is going to burn Islander's GM Garth Snow?
I should say this first: Being a GM is a hard, often thankless job. If the team wins, it's good coaching or your team leaders; if you miss the playoffs it's the GM. Why didn't he get a better development program going? Who does their scouting? That trade was awful! Why can't we win the Cup this year while simultaneously stocking the cupboards so we can win again five years down the road?
Ok. Back to Garth Snow.
In any other year Vanek would command some serious assets in a trade hell, he did back in October when the Islanders dealt for him but with the cap problems so many teams are facing, it's looking more and more likely that a Vanek trade could result in a net loss for the Islanders.
They gave up star forward, and one of the team's leaders, Matt Moulson (who, by all accounts, should be easy for the Sabres to deal, as his cap hit is quite low), a first round pick in 2014, and a second round pick in 2015. It may be tough for Snow to get a three-asset package back now that it's clear that Vanek intends to go to free agency. That's a steep price for a rental who won't commit to re-signing. The cap also plays a factor as Vanek's 2013-14 cap hit is a steep $7.1 million.
Snow took a risk to preemptively snagging the biggest fish hitting the free agent market for summer 2014, but it may blow up in his face.
Start adding in their Cal Clutterbuck for Nino Niederreiter deal, a $2 million contract for Pierre-Marc Bouchard to essentially play in the AHL, the infamous 15-year contract for Rick DiPietro, and it's looking more and more like Garth Snow has made some pretty large missteps in his tenure with the Islanders. Could these kind of moves trading away top assets, committing to a goaltender that has to be bought out, trading away prospects who they let languish in the AHL as punishment derail what appeared to be a burgeoning Islanders team? They still have lingering goaltending issues and may have torched a high first round pick in 2014 as well as a first line wing in acquiring a top tier player as a rental in a season where they don't make the playoffs.
Though, don't be fooled by the headline worthy blunders or seeming blunders of Snow. He's also made some good moves, has solid scouting, great draft picks, and led that team to a strong first round showing, albeit a loss, in last season's playoffs.
The hate on Garth Snow can often go a little too far, but if he isn't able to make a deal with Vanek that recoups their losses and the Islanders don't make the playoffs, could it cost him his job? Maybe. Maybe not. But there may be a mob of angry Long Islanders with pitchforks at the door when he finishes packing up his office for the move to Brooklyn next season.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid
Calgary Flames (Reto Berra) at New York Islanders (Kevin Poulin), 7:00 PM
Edmonton Oilers (Ben Scrivens) at New York Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist), 7:00 PM
Colorado Avalanche (Semyon Varlamov) at Philadelphia Flyers (Steve Mason), 7:00 PM
Winnipeg Jets (Ondrej Pavelec) at Washington Capitals (Braden Holtby), 7:00 PM
Vancouver Canucks (Roberto Luongo) at Montreal Canadiens (Carey Price), 7:30 PM
Buffalo Sabres (Ryan Miller) at Ottawa Senators (Craig Anderson), 7:30 PM
Toronto Maple Leafs (Jonathan Bernier) at Tampa Bay Lightning (Ben Bishop), 7:30 PM
Detroit Red Wings (Jimmy Howard) at Florida Panthers (Tim Thomas), 7:30 PM
Boston Bruins (Tuukka Rask) at St. Louis Blues (Jaroslav Halak), 8:00 PM
Nashville Predators (Carter Hutton) at Minnesota Wild (Darcy Kuemper), 8:00 PM
Columbus Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky) at Los Angeles Kings (Jonathan Quick), 10:30 PM
Injury News For Teams Playing Thursday
Curtis Glencross, LW - (ankle) remains out
Karri Ramo, G - has been diagnosed with an MCL injury and is out indefinitely
Michael Ferland, LW - (knee) is out for the rest of the season after surgery
Patrick Sieloff, D - (staph infection) has been cleared for off-ice activity
New York Islanders
Travis Hamonic, D - (concussion) could return to the lineup Saturday
Philip Larsen, D - (illness) was placed back on injured reserve Friday
Curtis Hamilton, LW - (knee) remains out
New York Rangers
Derek Dorsett, RW - (lower leg) is out
Cory Sarich, D - (back) has been ruled out indefinitely
Alex Tanguay, LW - (knee) did not play Tuesday
David Van der Gulik, RW - (undisclosed) is on IR
Kimmo Timonen, D - (foot) practiced Wednesday, though there's no official word on his status for tonight at the moment
Jim Slater, C - (sports hernia) is making progress, but remains out
Grant Clitsome, D - (back) is out for the season
Paul Postma, D - (blood clot) was assigned Wednesday to AHL St. John's on a conditioning assignment
Evander Kane, LW - (hand) was placed on injured reserve Monday
Aaron Volpatti, LW - (shoulder) remains out
Evgeny Kuznetsov, C - (leg) said he "would keep his word" and will join the Capitals when the current KHL season is over
Mike Green, D - (concussion) didn't play Tuesday
Mikhail Grabovski, C - (ankle) isn't expected back until after the Olympic break
Jack Hillen, D - (leg) was on the ice for the Capitals' Saturday practice
Tomas Kundratek, D - (ACL) is out for the season
Dan Hamhuis, D - (undisclosed) did not play Tuesday
Chris Higgins, LW - (undisclosed) did not play Tuesday
Andrew Alberts, D - (head) is on IR
Brad Richardson, C - (also undisclosed) did not play Monday
Kevin Bieksa, D - (undisclosed, you're certainly surprised to discover) is on IR
Yannick Weber, D - (undisclosed, to the surprise of all readers) has been out since leaving the game on Friday
Hunter Shinkaruk, C - (hip) is out for the season
Mike Santorelli, C - (shoulder) is out for the season
Chris Tanev, D - (thumb) was placed on injured reserve last Thursday
Alex Galchenyuk, C - (hand) has been skating in recent weeks but has not returned to practice
Davis Drewiske, D - (shoulder) was cleared for full contact Wednesday
Travis Moen, LW - (lower body) did not play earlier this week
Cody McCormick, C - (finger) said Tuesday that he probably won't return until after the Olympic break
Matt Moulson, LW - (upper body) is likely out until after the break
Patrick Kaleta, RW - (ACL) is out for the season
Tyler Myers, D - (knee) did not play Wednesday against the Pens
Mark Stone, RW - (undisclosed) skated on his own last Monday
Chris Phillips, D - (undisclosed) skated on his own last Monday
Toronto Maple Leafs
Dave Bolland, C - (ankle) continues to work out with his teammates, but admits "things are progressing, not as quickly as I wished they were"
Trevor Smith, LW - (undisclosed) has recovered from his hand injury, but has an undisclosed one now as well
Peter Holland, C - (foot) did not play Tuesday
Carter Ashton, LW - (hand) was placed on injured reserve Tuesday
Tampa Bay Lightning
Anders Lindback, G - (ankle) his injury may be serious
Steven Stamkos, C - (leg) won't return until after the break
Mattias Ohlund, D - (knee) is likely out for the season
Detroit Red Wings
Stephen Weiss, C - (sports hernia) is expected to go on a conditioning stint at AHL Grand Rapids during the break in the NHL schedule for the Winter Olympics
Pavel Datsyuk, C - (knee) skated with the team Wednesday morning and tweeted that he plans on playing tonight
Jakub Kindl, D - (lower body) will miss the Red Wings final two games before the Olympic break
Johan Franzen, C - (concussion) will not play before the break
Mike Mottau, D - (leg) remains out
Zdeno Chara, D - (flag bearing) will miss the Bruins final two games before the break due to Olympic-related activities for his country
Dennis Seidenberg, D - (ACL / MCL) is out for the season
Adam McQuaid, D - (leg) is expected to start skating this week
St. Louis Blues
Vladimir Sobotka, C - (leg) was placed on injured reserve Saturday
Matt Cullen, C - Coach Barry Trotz is optimistic that Cullen (upper body) will be ready to return Thursday against the Wild
Pekka Rinne, G - (hip) was able to skate on his own Tuesday
Nick Spaling, LW - (upper body) is likely out for Thursday's game
Viktor Stalberg, LW - (upper body) coach Trotz is optimistic about him returning Thursday
Marco Scandella, D - (knee) will miss about three weeks
Mikko Koivu, C - (ankle) won't play Thursday
Josh Harding, G - (illness) remains out with no definite timetable on his return
Columbus Blue Jackets
Ryan Johansen, C - (unspecified reason) did not practice Wednesday
Marian Gaborik, RW - (broken collarbone) was back on the ice during Monday's practice wearing a red no-contact jersey
Fedor Tyutin, D - (unspecified reason) did not practice Wednesday
James Wisniewski, D - (lower body) is expected to play Thursday despite missing practice Wednesday
Blake Comeau, LW - (knee) is likely out
Jared Boll, RW - (ankle) resumed skating Friday
Los Angeles Kings
Alec Martinez, D - (elbow) skated Friday but still hasn't returned to practice and may not return before the Olympic break
Tyler Seguin, C, DAL: Seguin has been showing lately why so many thought he deserved a spot on the Team Canada roster. He's on a seven-game point streak with three goals and eight assists over that stretch. He's at the top of his game right now.
Jarome Iginla, RW, BOS: It's been kind of a weird year for the three-time Olympian. He's making the hot section despite the fact that he's on track for a 25 goal, 35 assist season. That's the fewest goals he's had in a complete season since his sophomore campaign and the fewest points he's had in a full season since his third year in the league. He's got an 11% shooting percentage, which is also his worst mark in a full season since his second year. (NOTE: While he had fewer points overall in last year's abbreviated season, he was on pace to have more goals and assists than this season.) It's been a year of peaks and valleys for the veteran of 17 seasons. Nonetheless, he has followed a six-game streak without a point with three goals and eight assists in his last six games. Iginla is playing like Iginla again. Adjust your expectations accordingly and hope that the Olympic break doesn't throw him off his game.
David Backes, C, STL: One of Team USA's star forwards for 2014, Backes, in his eighth NHL season, is on pace to break career marks in assists and total points. That's enough for any team leader to be on the hot list, but Backes has really turned it on as we (and he) gear(s) up for the Olympics. With three goals and four assists in the last seven games there's no doubt that Backes is a big reason for the Blues hovering among the top teams in the NHL.
Daniel Sedin,LW, Henrik Sedin, C, VAN: That these two Olympian brothers are sharing space on the Cold list is bad news for Vancouver. If the Sedins are slumping so is the team. That holds true here as the Canucks have lost five straight. Henrik is only two games back from an injury that snapped the league's iron man streak. Nonetheless, Henrik hasn't scored a goal in 17 games. With his injury chewing up most of January, that means he hasn't scored since December 14. Furthermore, he's completely without a point in his last six games and without a shot in the two games since his return from injury. Daniel, on the other hand, has been healthy throughout his bout of being unproductive. Daniel also hasn't scored a goal in 17 games as well, a streak that takes him back to December 30. He's completely without a point in his last seven. Overall Daniel is scoring the fewest goals and assists per game since his '03-'04 season. Henrik is on his slowest assist rate since '03-'04 and his slowest goal rate since '02-'03. Who gets the blame for the marquee forward pair's anemic production at the end of the season, especially if the team misses the playoffs? The Sedins' inability to adapt to a new system or coach John Tortorella's system itself?
Bobby Ryan, RW, OTT: Bobby Ryan may be the most talked about Olympic snub out there. I'm not going to rehash that, except to say that since the "snub" Ryan's performance has not been Olympian. Since December 30 (roster announced January 1) Ryan has only two goals and three assists over a stretch of 16 games. The pressure has been on since the roster announcement and Ryan shot back at the selection committee, particularly Calgary's interim GM Brian Burke, for saying that Ryan can't spell intensity. Ryan has done little to dispel the notion that when the pressure is on, he disappears. The light was cast upon him to prove that the US selection committee did their team a disservice by not selecting him. Right now, it doesn't look like such a bad move.
Thomas Vanek, LW, John Tavares, C, NYI: The superstar duo of Olympics-bound forwards from the Islanders have really fallen back from their incredible point pace in early January. Both are without a point in four games. In the 15 games prior to that Tavares had 10 goals and 15 assists while Vanek had six goals and 14 assists. Any lull seems to be a cold streak for these two, who you expect to connect every night. Maybe Vanek trade rumors and his reported rejection of the Isles contract offer has had an effect on their chemistry. Maybe they've both got the Olympics on their mind as the team flounders their way toward a top draft pick instead of a playoff berth. Either way the magic seems to have dried up and won't have much time to be rekindled as the Isles only have six games left before the March 5 trade deadline when you can assume that Vanek will be gone.
Carl Soderberg, C, BOS, Jaden Schwartz, LW, STL: Soderberg has two goals and three assists over the last five games. His eight goals and 20 assists in 47 games is one of the better stat lines you're getting off the wire in many leagues. In fact, it's one of the better stat lines you're getting from a third line player in most leagues. (That's especially true now that San Jose had to move Joe Pavelski to their top line for the last stretch before putting him as the second line center for a bit of last night's game). That's a big step up from his two assists and no goals over the six NHL games he'd played prior to this season. Schwartz, similarly, had little to stand on coming into this season for fantasy owners. He'd played 52 career games, split across two seasons, totaling nine goals and seven assists over those seasons. Over 53 games this season he has 17 goals and 22 assists. Right now he's holding down a wing spot on St. Louis' second line and has a goal and five assists over his last seven games. Both of these forwards have been revelations for fantasy owners who are working the wire. If you're in a deep league it may be too late on these guys.