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Blue Line Buzz: Troubador

Dan Pennucci

Dan is a former sportswriter and English teacher. He has been covering hockey for Rotowire since 2002. Supports the New Jersey Devils, Washington Nationals and Chelsea FC.

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-The Leafs are 2-0. Phil Kessel will be in Toronto until 2021 after signing an 8-year, $64 million contract. Stay tuned for news about the parade.

Meanwhile, in Washington, Toronto refugee Mikhail Grabovski is off to a red-hot start with five points through two games, including a hat trick on opening night in a loss to Chicago.

-Marc-Andre Fleury was the first goaltender in the league to notch a shutout, stopping 27 shots on Thursday in the Pens' season-opening win against the Devils. Fleury, the netminder who was a sieve against the Islanders in the playoffs last year, denied New Jersey's collection of depth they call forwards.

-Pekka Rinne, one of the first goalies taken in many drafts, lasted a mere 9:45 in the Predators' season-opener against St. Louis, surrendering three goals on six shots Thursday. St. Louis held on for a 4-2 win. There's some concern that Rinne's hip is still recovering from offseason surgery, but this was not a comforting sight for owners. Rinne was hung out to dry on at least one of the goals, but seeing the towering Finn wearing a baseball hat after barely 10 minutes of play is not a comforting sight. He's still potentially one of the league's best; now could be a time to dial up a panicked owner and get in on a goaltender who can anchor your roster if you believe Thursday was an aberration.


Jacob Trouba of Winnipeg cemented his claim as the defenseman most fantasy leaguers ran to pick up on opening night. The Jets stormed back from a 4-2 deficit to defeat Edmonton 5-4. Yes, Edmonton had difficulty defending a lead. (Actually, you can just cut off the “a lead” part of that previous sentence.) Trouba played well in Team USA's run to the gold medal in last winter's World Junior Championships and seems poised to make an impact for the Jets.

Presently, he's on a blue line with two of the league's more productive-when-healthy blue liners in Tobias Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien. Will there be enough pucks and points to go around in Winnipeg's system? Yes, it's a system that has allowed offensively-gifted defenders to flourish, but will Trouba get his chances? He won't see the same amount of power-play time which will be bestowed upon Enstrom or Byfuglien, but he won't be entirely shut out of man-advantage time or scoring chances. Expectations always need to be tempered with young blue liners, but Trouba could be making a name for himself.

Burning For You

One of the hot questions heading into this season was San Jose's bearded wonder, Brent Burns. Burns is listed as a forward to start the season and is seeing time on the wing, yet is still eligible as a defenseman on many sites. Burns finished last season with 20 points in 30 games, with the bulk of his scoring coming after the switch to forward. While Burns isn't expected to light up the Pacific Division like teammate Logan Couture, Burns could still clock in around 40-50 points with double-digit goals, tremendous value if he's eligible at both positions in your league. As just a forward, Burns has some value, but 40-50 point forwards are littered all over most leagues' waiver wires.

Not that analysis of Burns' positional eligibility is news to fantasy hockey poolies, but you might want to think about acquiring him via a trade if the owner who drafted him begins to sour on Burns. He's bound to play some games on defense this season, so he may end up being a blue liner as well in most formats.

He's a player who has never been shy about shooting the puck and figuring he can hit 15-20 goals is a good bet considering he used to register double-digit goals on the back end as a formality. Burns notched San Jose's opening goal in Thursday's win over Vancouver.

Surprises? Not Too Many

Through Thursday, most teams have played at least one game, with a handful already playing two. The defensemen scoring list has a list of the usual cast of characters on it: Mike Green, Dion Phaneuf, Byfuglien, Alex Pietrangelo and Brian Campbell. A handful of players have two points already while Green and Buff have three points. Expect Erik Karlsson to be atop this list by the end of Saturday.

Despite Dallas' loss on Thursday to Florida, their bruising sophomore Brenden Dillon had a goal and an assist. He's a potential value in multi-category leagues as he delivered 133 hits and 69 penalty minutes in 48 games last season. He already has a quarter of the eight points he delivered last year. Dllion's value drops a bit in leagues that do not count secondary categories such as penalty minutes, hits and blocked shots.

Ending Note

One of the more entertaining videos released in the weeks leading up to the NHL season featured Patrick Kane in an advertisement for Bauer sticks. The stickhandling is incredible - Kaner has a serious set of hands. However, his teammates weren't about to let him get away with showing off his skill and not making fun of him. Kane's teammate, Brandon Bollig, admittedly not as skilled on the puck as Kane, had some fun shooting this parody video.

Question of the Week

Who are you targeting to have a bounceback season? High draft pick who will bust?

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