Around the Rink
What most caught my eye Wednesday was the slew of news and rumors floating around. Much of it is without fantasy relevance: The retirement of Jason Arnott after 18 seasons. Rumors that the moderately confusing Steve Downie trade was started in motion because Downie took a shot at Gabriel Landeskog during camp. (A rumor that coach Patrick Roy refuted, citing that he was looking for a gritty player, like Downie, who could also kill penalties. That man was Maxime Talbot, I guess.) On Monday Martin Brodeur said he’d be open to being traded later in the season. Panthers management had a late night meeting without coach Kevin Dineen, who is rumored to be on shaky footing after a slow start.
While the rumor mill is really getting going, we’re moving onward toward fantasy relevance. The big talk was rumors about a deal potentially in the works between the Rangers and Oilers. The deal has more hearsay and conjecture than a book on Area 51, but here goes: The Oilers are reportedly looking to deal either Ales Hemsky or Nail Yakupov to the Rangers. Oilers coach Dallas Eakins came out and said in no uncertain terms that the team is not dealing Yakupov. Fair enough. They’re “attached at the hip.”
However, he said nothing about Hemsky and Oilers GM Craig MacTavish, president of hockey operations Kevin Low, and special advisor Mark Messier spent Monday watching the Rangers take on the Ducks at MSG.
The rumors circulating this trade on the other side involve the Rangers sending forward Chris Kreider or defenseman Michael Del Zotto to Edmonton.
Again, a lot of hearsay, so let's hone in on the fantasy impact. I'll take Yakupov and Kreider out of the equation. The movement of those two makes less sense for both teams. It’s something of a lateral move when both players are young and have had some success. But if it happened you’d have to assume they’ll get good playing time and their new team would be looking for ways to make the most of the player. They aren’t making a (somewhat strange) trade to put one of these forwards on their fourth line. Fantasy-wise, they’d be in a pretty similar situation if either found themselves traded.
Realistically, the Oilers aren't in need of another young forward (and they’re hoping to get Hall back soon), they need help on the blueline. The Rangers may be looking for help up front in Rick Nash's absence, but it seems unlikely that they'd send away one of their top prospects, a forward, which would still leave an open spot at forward.
Hemsky, on the other hand, has been largely relegated to a third line role in Edmonton. He's capable of much more and we've seen it before. (And his $5 million cap hit says others believe he can produce as well.) If the Rangers are giving up something to acquire him, it's reasonable to assume it's because they want him to fill in some gaps. He could take the place once occupied by Benoit Pouliot (as others have suggested) with Carl Hagelin and Brad Richards. No matter where he fits in there he has top six potential.
For Del Zotto, the trade could be a boon. He's fighting for time right now, lined up on the Rangers third defensive pairing with John Moore. Edmonton would presumably have him in a top four defensive pairing as they could find use for another offensive-capable defenseman.
There could be an interesting move in the works, but beware of the massive amount of speculation involved in reports of this trade right now. The rumors circulate around these four, but are not limited to them either.
This doesn’t change the value of any of the players named above right now.
- In other news: Kudos (I guess?) to the guy who stole Adam Pardy's helmet after he was checked through the glass last night. You won't get a souvenir like that again any time soon. Enjoy your sweaty new hat.
- Nathan Horton is getting closer to playing his first game this season. After signing a big deal worth $37 million over seven years, in no small part due to a great postseason last year, he could be appearing in a Columbus game in “a month, month-and-a-half,” according to Horton.
- Jordin Tootoo was placed on waivers by the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday. He was reported to be on the trading block, but he comes saddled with a $5.7 million, three-year contract, which he’s just one season into. He’s got zero points over eight games this season, but can have value for leagues that reward penalty minutes.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid.
Panthers (Jacob Markstrom) at Bruins (Tuukka Rask), 7:00
Canadiens (Carey Price) at Senators (Craig Anderson), 7:00
Devils (Martin Brodeur) at Flyers (Steve Mason), 7:00
Wild (Josh Harding) at Capitals (Braden Holtby), 7:00
Islanders (Evgeni Nabokov) at Hurricanes (Justin Peters), 7:00
Rangers (Cam Talbot) at Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky), 7:00
Stars (Kari Lehtonen) at Red Wings (Jimmy Howard), 7:30
Oilers (Devan Dubnyk) at Lightning (Ben Bishop), 7:30
Flames (Reto Berra) at Blues (Brian Elliott), 8:00
Sabres (Ryan Miller) at Kings (Jonathan Quick), 10:30
Canucks (Roberto Luongo) at Sharks (Antti Niemi), 10:30
Injury News for Teams Playing Thursday
Ed Jovanovski, D (hip) - Getting closer, but won't be in the line up Thursday.
Tim Thomas, G (leg) - Traveled with the team for the road trip, but is likely out until the weekend at the earliest.
Back to normal here.
Daniel Briere, RW (concussion) - Is close to returning, but unlikely for Thursday's tilt.
Alexei Emelin, D (knee) - Returned to practice, but is likely still out Thursday.
Travis Moen, LW (face) - Returned to practice, but is not yet taking contact.
Brandon Prust, LW (shoulder) - Appears to be on track for a return around Thanksgiving.
Erik Condra, RW (leg) - Could be back soon, but remains out Thursday.
Ryane Clowe, LW (concussion) - Is not back to practice yet.
Patrik Elias, LW (upper body) - Is as day-to-day as can be. His nagging injury makes him a bit of a last second decision.
Peter Harrold, D (elbow) - Returned to practice Wednesday, but hasn't be activated off IR.
Jon Merrill, D (face) - Will not play.
Bryce Salvador, D (foot) - Should be getting close to a return, barring a setback, but will remain out Thursday.
Steve Downie, RW (concussion) - Is skating again, but not with the team.
Mike Rupp, RW (knee) - Has been back at practice for quite a while, but stills needs to get into game shape.
John Erskine, D (upper body) - Is on the LTIR.
Jack Hillen, D (knee) - Is on the LTIR.
Bryan Strait, D (upper body) - Has been placed on IR.
Lubomir Visnovsky, D (concussion) - Doesn't appear ready to return.
Tim Gleason, D (undisclosed)
Anton Khudobin, G (lower body) - Has not returned to practice.
Jeff Skinner, LW (upper body) - Is getting a second opinion. He looked close to a return and now there doesn't appear to be a timetable for his return.
Cam Ward, G (lower body) - Still hasn't returned to practice.
Dominic Moore, C (oblique) - Is expected to be out 7-10 days.
Rick Nash, LW (concussion) - Is still without a timetable for return.
Alex Tanguay, LW (knee) - Will miss at least two weeks.
All clear in Dallas.
Jonathan Ericsson, D (shoulder) - Is practicing with the team again, but can't be activated off IR for over a week.
Johan Franzen, C (illness) - Will not play Thursday.
Jonas Gustavsson, G (neck) - Practiced fully Wednesday and will potentially be backing up Howard on Thursday.
Brendan Smith, D (shoulder) - Has been placed on IR.
Richard Bachman, G (lower body) - There isn't a timetable for return yet, but Bachman won't be in net Thursday.
Taylor Hall, LW (knee) - Should return during the road trip, but it's not clear when.
Jesse Joensuu, RW (back) - Will return Saturday, when he's eligible to be activated off IR.
David Perron, LW (neck) - Is on IR.
Justin Schultz, D (groin) - Will not play Thursday.
Mattias Ohlund, D (knee) - Remains on LTIR.
Tom Pyatt, RW (collarbone) - Is likely out until Thanksgiving.
Chris Breen, D (abdomen) - Has been placed on IR.
Mark Giordano, D (ankle) - Remains out for another 5-7 weeks.
Curtis Glencross, LW (lower body) - Is not officially ruled out yet, but was flown back to Calgary.
Lee Stempniak, RW (foot) - Has been placed on IR.
Brenden Morrow, LW (upper body) - Is progressing well, but isn't even eligible to return until Saturday.
Magnus Paajarvi, LW (upper body) - Is also progressing, but won't see action Thursday.
John Scott, RW (suspension)
Mike Weber, D (thumb) - Will not be back soon.
Jeff Carter, C (lower body) - No timetable yet for his return.
Matt Greene, D (coach's decision) - He's being called "banged up" and won't be on the active roster Thursday.
Jarret Stoll, C (upper body) - Did not practice Wednesday, which doesn't bode well for his availability Thursday.
David Booth, LW (undisclosed) - Has been sent to the AHL for conditioning.
Jannik Hansen, RW (arm) - Remains out.
Jordan Schroeder, C (ankle) - Had a successful surgery on his ankle and will miss 8-9 weeks.
Dale Weise, RW (leg) - Will miss 2-3 more weeks.
Adam Burish, RW (back) - Will not be back in the near future.
Brent Burns, LW (mouth) - Burns has started practicing again, but doesn't appear ready to enter the line up yet.
Raffi Torres, LW (knee) - Won't be back until the second half of the season.
Josh Harding, G, MIN: Harding has a 1.09 goals against, .951 save percentage, and two shutouts. Those are all league leading statistics. Over the 12 games he’s appeared in, he’s allowed 12 goals. He’s playing great and the Wild are helping him out, allowing an average of 23.7 shots per game. That’s the best in the league. Backstrom is still, at least in title, the number one goaltender for Minnesota, but you can expect that coach Mike Yeo will be playing Harding as much as he can, as long as he stays hot.
Kevin Shattenkirk, D, STL: Shattenkirk still hasn’t scored a goal this season, but it’s tough to complain about seven assists in the last six games. Two of those assists came on the power play, if your league scores PP points instead of just goals. Shattenkirk is delivering, though when he falls back to earth owners will have reason to be frustrated with his plus/minus being mediocre and his fluctuating minutes not delivering what you hope from a top defenseman. His 19:17 average belies the fact that his minutes jump all over from game to game. He’s been at or under 17:46 four times and crossed 21 minutes three times.
Kyle Turris, C, OTT / Bobby Ryan, RW, OTT: Turris and Ryan are lighting it up on the Sens top line, despite the team’s continued troubles. Ryan has two goals and four assists in the last four games and is a plus-5 over that period. Turris has one goal and six assists over the last five games. He’s a plus-5 over that period. Both have seen ice time in excess of 20 minutes and are probably the sole bright spot for a Senators team who has lost five of their last six.
Cory Conacher, LW, OTT: When Ottawa acquired Conacher from Tampa Bay, they must have believed they were acquiring a promising prospect who is going to help them get points on the board. At that point he had 24 points (9G, 15A) in 35 games. He finished the year with two goals and three assists over 12 games in a Senators uniform. This year it looks worse. He’s got just two goals and one assist over 15 games. Turris and Ryan are lighting it up for the top line, fellow youngster Mika Zibanejad is getting time on the second line with Jason Spezza and Colin Greening, and Conacher is languishing on the Sens fourth line. He’s not only cold, you might want to explore your league’s waiver wire if you’ve still got Conacher on your squad.
Sergei Gonchar, D, DAL: It’s been a little while since Gonchar put up a 60 point season. At 39-years old, you can’t expect that kind of production any longer. But you should expect more than he has delivered since arriving in Dallas. He’s got one assist over the first 15 games. He’s also a minus-6 and has a paltry 18 shots. He’s averaging 18:38 in ice time, which is lower than you expect from Gonchar. It looks especially weak when you note that he hasn’t crossed 18 minutes in playing time in the last five games.
Michael Grabner, RW, NYI: With a 30 goal season behind him and 16 goals in 45 games last season, it looked like you could easily bank on 20-30 from Grabner this season. That even looked reasonable when the season opened and Grabner notched two goals and five assists in the first four games of the season. Since then he has a single assist over nine games and hasn’t logged a point in six games (with a two game suspension in there for good measure, making that an eight game span with no production for fantasy owners). It’s also worth noting that his shifts dropped significantly on Tuesday when he saw only 9:37 of ice time. Down on the Islanders third line, he’s not paired up with any of the Islanders who could easily qualify for the hot category above. Grabner should recover, but it’s not looking pretty right now.
Tommy Wingels, C, SAN / Martin Havlat, RW, SAN: Despite the team losing three straight in overtime, I’ve got a couple of Sharks in the recommended pickups today. Tommy Wingels is doing it all over the score sheet right now. He’s got five points (2 G, 3A) over the last four games, a period in which he’s also a plus-6. He’s a good pickup if you can temper your expectations. Think short term and be glad if you get more than that out of him. He’s primarily played on Joe Pavelski’s line, but saw some time in Tuesday’s game on the Joe Thornton line. No matter where Wingels falls, he’s on a line with someone who is putting significant points on the board. Ditto that last bit for Martin Havlat. He may be available in your league due to starting the season on IR, an injury plagued history, and declining numbers in recent seasons (18 points in 40 games last season). He’s probably not going to return to his point-per-game form, but if you can, again, temper your expectations he can be an interesting guy in your league. Just remember, you’re not getting six-time 20+ goal-scorer Martin Havlat. Instead you’re hoping for Martin Havlat, the 15-ish goal-scorer, who is an injury risk.