Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Afternoon Camp Demotions (Sep 28)

Training camps are already starting to pare down their rosters, slowly, but surely. There hasn't been very much in the way of significant demotions, but a 2016 1st rounder was one of Ottawa's cuts on Wednesday, as the 11th overall pick, forward Logan Brown, is heading back to Windsor of the OHL.

The Sens had a number of openings at the forward position, but obviously, they felt that another year in junior is what their top draft pick needs at the moment and the quicker he can get there, the quicker he can get his game on point.

By my count, I still see 15 picks from June's draft that are signed with their NHL club and still at camp, while there are a good number of 2016 picks that are at camp without deals, getting good looks from their clubs and will more than likely head back when camps trim down further.

Fringe Signings (Sep 28)

The New Jersey Devils added some depth to their blueline on Wednesday, signing veteran defenseman Kyle Quincey to a 1-year, $1.25 million deal.  Last season, Quincey played in 47 games with the Red Wings, missing 35 games with an ankle injury, and picking up 11 points in the process.  Surely, if he can stay healthy, he can be a very productive defender for the Devils and with their lack of depth at the position, he should be able to slip right in and find a role on the team.

My preseason projection for him will start in the 15-point range, pending who he would get paired with and what his preseason action looks like.  Getting the full contract is a good sign for him, especially coming off an injured season.

Although it isn't official from the team, the insiders at TSN are scooping that Team Europe defenseman Dennis Seidenberg has indeed earned himself an NHL deal at the preseason tournament and will sign a 1-year, $1 million deal with the New York Islanders when the tournament ends at the end of the week.

Last season with the Bruins, the 35-year old played in 61 games and picked up 12 points.  The addition of the German should be a good 6-7 guy on the line and could be in the 15-point range, assuming that he gets close to 70 or 75 games with the club.

Noon Training Camp Injury Notes (Sep 28)

New York Rangers forward Josh Jooris had an early exit in his game against the Islanders on Tuesday night, as he suffered a groin injury in the game.  With still a couple of weeks before the regular season starts, there won't be any rush to get him back, but I'm sure the Rangers would prefer for him to have some game action in the preseason.  He'll be listed as day-to-day right now, but he's also not quite expected to be taken in the draft this year, more of a fringe player.

An upper-body injury forced Winnipeg Jets newcomer Shawn Matthias from their game against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night and the team says that he will be re-evaluated in the next day or so to see what the severity is.  Matthias was a pool-worthy forward with the Avalanche last season and is expected to be a good fit with the Jets this year, which could make him into a good late-round pick, if he's healthy to start the season.

Sophomore forward Jake Virtanen was lifted from Vancouver's overtime loss in San Jose with an apparent shoulder injury, but the team's coaching staff had no real update on the severity of the injury after the game, rather he'll be checked out by team doctors and an update will be provided in the coming days.  Virtanen is expected to build on a slightly underwhelming rookie season in 2016 and should get every opportunity to do so.  He would likely be a late round pick, unless you're expecting great things from the scoring winger.

Last Night's Preseason Performers (Sep 28)

Unsigned 2016 draft pick Jonathan Ang was the Florida Panthers' top player in a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators, early on Tuesday.  Ang, a 4th round pick, is touted as a speedy centre that lacks size, but an early showing of a goal and an assist in this preseason game, gives a little hope that he might be able to find his way to the big show eventually.

It was a good game for Buffalo free agent signing Derek Grant, who finished a 3-2 win against the Senators with a goal and 2 assists for a 3-point night.  Buffalo draft pick Nicholas Baptiste was also good for a goal and an assist in the victory, while they gave former Senators goalie Robin Lehner the whole game, making 37 saves in the overtime victory.

The Sabres are building towards something much bigger this season and getting Lehner on board early should surely help.  The two notable forwards in the game are both trying to break through and there is limited space in the bottom six to do so.

In the second game between the Predators and the Panthers, Roberto Luongo made his first appearance in the preseason and his first game action since some off-season hip surgery.  Luongo appears to be on pace and schedule to be ready to go for opening night for the Panthers, good news for a team that looks to be pushing for the playoffs and beyond.

Luongo split time with Mike McKenna, but not before giving up Nashville's only two goals in the 2-1 loss, but the good news is... he's back in the net and on time for the start of the regular season.

The New York Rangers got their preseason schedule off to a pretty good start, defeating their crosstown rivals from Brooklyn, 5-2, on Tuesday night.  Newcomer Mika Zibanejad got off to a good start, picking up a 3-point night, while Chris Kreider, Brandon Pirri and defenseman Adam Clendening all had 2 points in the victory.

The Rangers are going to be looking for a fast start to their offense in the coming year and the early signs are quite favourable, especially if Zibanejad is going to fit in so nicely.  His projections could start to rise with more results like this.

Another injury return of note, as the Philadelphia Flyers were able to dress forward Matt Read, after he had off-season thumb surgery.  All systems are go with him.

Read didn't feature into the scoring, but the Flyers did pot four against the other side of the Islanders' split squad, defeating them 4-0.  Wayne Simmonds had a pair of goals, while prospect defenseman Travis Sanheim had a pair of assists in the win.  Steve Mason was given the whole game and he made 23 saves for the shutout victory, showing that he is well on his way to being on his game to start the season.

The Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins were giving their depth a good run at the Joe on Tuesday night, where the host Red Wings came away with a 4-2 victory.  Detroit's Mitch Callahan scored a pair of goals and Riley Sheahan had a goal and an assist in the win, while on the other side, Garrett Wilson scored both Penguins goals in the loss.

It looks like everyone got a good share of the ice in this one, both camps are waiting for some players to come back from the World Cup, so they'll continue to spread the wealth in camps.

One more key injury return was in Montreal tonight, as the visiting Capitals had the return of defenseman Karl Alzner to game action, coming off sports hernia surgery. He appears to be good to go for the coming year.

It was the Habs, however, who were getting all the press in this one, as they defeated the Caps, 5-2, and everyone notable was in a Montreal jersey.  Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu had a 4-point night, including a goal, while his partner on the night, Greg Pateryn, had 3 assists in the win.  Torrey Mitchell, Paul Byron and Alexander Radulov were all good for 2 points a piece as well.

The Colorado Avalanche went into the Xcel Energy Center and came out with a 4-1 preseason win over the Minnesota Wild and it was thanks in part to a professional tryout, forward Rene Bourque, who was the only notable player with a goal and an assist.

The Avalanche are leaning towards a youthful lineup to start the season, but some early injury concerns might help a guy like Bourque find a job, especially if he can put a couple more pucks in the net in this preseason.

The Calgary Flames went into Winnipeg and exorcised a few demons after a couple of split squad losses to Edmonton the night before, defeating the Jets, 4-0, in their barn.  Defenseman Brett Kulak likely knows that breaking through the depth of the team's blueline will be exceptionally difficult, but a 2-goal and 3-point night should go a long ways to helping the team feel more comfortable in possibly moving some of that depth ahead of him, likely to lessen their cap burden.

The San Jose Sharks entertained the Vancouver Canucks at the tank on Tuesday night and the home side was able to sneak out a 3-2 overtime victory, thanks to 2014 draft pick, Kevin Labanc, who scored the winner and added an assist, while defenseman David Schlemko was adjusting well to his new surroundings, picking up a pair of assists.  Both sides are also waiting for their World Cup participants to get back into camp, before they really ramp up their efforts.

Morning World Cup Player Notes (Sep 28)

Well, if the pool wasn't secured before the finals started, the Game One win for Team Canada has pretty well sealed the deal for Dale, as Carey Price made 32 saves for the win, while the combination of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand were good for a goal and an assist each, stacking Dale's lead to 17 points with either one or two games left to play.

It does seem somewhat unlikely that we'll make it to that third and decisive game in this best-of-three series, despite Canada being guilty of taking their foot off the pedal a little bit and Europe's ability to hang in there for the better part of the first game.  The top line for Canada was fairly clutch again, however, and just when the commentating crew thought Canada was going to give away their 2-1 lead, the line led by Sidney Crosby found their way back to the net and extended their lead to two again.

If you were buying into the panic on the CBC broadcast last night, one would have been enthralled by how "poorly" the Canadians were playing last night, but Price stood tall and made most of the saves that he had to, beaten by a good European drive to the net and a fat rebound that dropped into Tomas Tatar's pathway, leaving him an open net for their only marker.

Game Two will go tomorrow night and it is expected to conclude the tournament, one which Team Europe does deserve a lot of credit for doing so well in.  I think it is very safe to assume that this pool has been decided.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

World Cup Finals Pool Preview (Sep 27)

The marquee of the preseason is one step closer to its conclusion, as the World Cup of Hockey has reached the finals, the best-of-three series between Team Europe and Team Canada.

There is no surprise, when it comes to the goaltending match-up, as Jaroslav Halak will get the call for the Europeans, continuing his run as the keeper of this Cinderella journey.  At the other end, we'll see Carey Price back in the net for Canada, tasked with guarding the scoreline for the deep offense that will be playing in front of him tonight.

Well, with Price in net, it is going to be tough for anyone to catch Dale in the standings, as he opens up the finals with a 12-point lead over Scott and a 14-point lead over Clayton and the only way that either challenger has a chance at the money is complete domination from the Europeans.  Scott only has Anze Kopitar and Nino Niederreiter, while Clayton has Leon Draisaitl and Mats Zuccarello, which isn't nearly going to be enough.

There was one injury note, as Marian Gaborik comes out of the European lineup, Mikkel Boedker comes back in, giving Marcie one more body in her lineup.  Marcie will open up the finals in 7th place, 20 points back of 1st place, but 4 points ahead of Benson, who sits in last.

Other expected scratches are Luca Sbisa and Thomas Greiss for Europe, neither were taken in the pool, while Canada is going with the same group that played all but the third game, which will see Claude Giroux, Jake Muzzin and Braden Holtby in the press box.  Clayton and Benson will miss out on player games with that news.

Should I just send Dale the money transfer now?

Last Night's Preseason Performers (Sep 27)

The trouble with those neutral site preseason games is that the NHL website doesn't have great coverage on their website.  That has always been the case, it isn't like all those other things they have taken away in the last year that made the site pretty good.

Nevertheless, I could see that Ottawa did earn the victory in Halifax, playing the Maple Leafs in their first preseason game.  The final score was 6-3 and Ottawa's Phil Varone was listed as the player of the game, finishing with a 3-point night.

Varone isn't one of the guys on my projected 23-man roster for the Senators, but that isn't to say he couldn't work his way onto it with a good camp.

It might not be that he was technically notable, but Sam Gagner is already making waves for the Columbus Blue Jackets in their preseason, as he finished with an assist and the shootout winner.  A couple of good early performances has his projections under the microscope these days, but one shouldn't get too crazy with them, as he is historically known to be extremely streaky and will go long stretches without scoring.  He's not pool worthy, yet.

New Jersey Devils college signing, forward Nick Lappin, scored the only two goals of the game, as the Devils shutout the Flyers, 2-0, on Monday.  The 23-year old is likely going to get a good look after a good preseason debut and the Devils could be considered to be wide open, when it comes to roster spots.  Another appearance or two on these posts and you might think he'll get a legitimate shot at regular playing time this season with a reasonable scoring rate.

It wasn't a good night for the Philadelphia split squads, as they were also shutout against the Islanders on Monday night, 3-0. One of the key prospects for the Islanders did make good in this one, as Josh Ho-Sang had a goal and an assist to get a mention in the blog this morning.  The Islanders have been waiting for Ho-Sang to come around with a little more maturity, because they know that his talent levels are there, so if he can earn that regular spot, you should have a good feeling that he'll make it.

The Devils also sent a split squad up north to visit the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night and they ended up with a 3-2 win, thanks largely to forward Adam Henrique, who had a pair of goals and French defenseman Yohann Auvitu, who had a pair of assists.

Auvitu was an off-season signing for the Devils, as he is coming from the Finnish Elite League, where he played the last three seasons with some reasonable numbers to his name.  The Devils also have some openings on the blueline and could have found some help here.

The Dallas Stars dressed a pretty good lineup with the St. Louis Blues split squad in town and were not the most gracious of hosts, beating their guests, 3-1.  Newcomer Jiri Hudler had a goal and an assist, while Patrick Sharp had a pair of assists in this one.  The Stars are going to be one of those offensive forces again this season and they should be a very good team to pick from, even in some of the mid-round selections.

In two split squad games, the Flames and Oilers really didn't generate much for notable players, none in the game in Calgary and only one in the Oilers new building in Edmonton, but it can be said that the Oilers did get the best of both games, sweeping the set on Monday night.  In Edmonton, forward Tyler Pitlick was the only notable player, scoring a goal and an assist in the 4-2 win.

Pitlick has been hanging around the Oilers organization for a while, but didn't figure into a regular season game last year.  With the team's depth, it doesn't seem likely that he would find his way in, but that's what the preseason is for.

It was a big scoring game in the desert, as the Kings and Coyotes opened a split squad home & home on Monday night, with the home team in game one taking it, 5-3.  Max Domi, Ryan White, Brad Richardson and Michael Bunting were all 2-point players for the home side, while the visitors offered 2-point games from Teddy Purcell and Tom Gilbert.

It would sure make for an exciting season, if the Pacific Division was all about the offense in the 2017 season, wouldn't it?

In Los Angeles, it was a 4-3 win for the home side and the Kings were the only team with notable players in this one, as Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli, Brett Sutter and Alec Martinez all walked away with 2 points a piece.

The Kings are likely auditioning for that spot that Marian Gaborik left behind with his foot injury at the World Cup and it looks like they won't be short on offense to try and fill that void, at least early on.