Tomas Kaberle played only 17 minutes against the Senators on Saturday night - fifth among Leaf defensemen.
Jakub Voracek has three helpers so far tonight in the Columbus game. He is a really fun player to watch - strong on the puck, big, fast, and talented. It is hard to project him because he is so sound defensively. Sometimes young forwards that show an above average defensive acumen are put in that role and struggle to find extra offensive minutes. Another example of this is Martin Hanzal in Phoenix. Although he is on pace for only 40 points, Voracek could easily be a 60 point player with more ice time. He doesn't even turn 21 until August.
Forgot to mention this earlier, and it is not fantasy relevant, but I felt awful reading about the passing of Brendan Burke last night. He was in the news last month, as he decided to share his story of coming out to Justin Bourne and later to ESPN writer John Buccigross. Seemed like a really good guy - very tragic story.
I was holding two luxury suite tickets for somebody, but I have not yet heard from him so they are back on a first come, first serve basis. TWO tickets - luxury suite - March 21 - with Dobber, Lemon, Notch and Miller, plus 19 other fantasy fanatics. Food included - $35 each. Buy it here.
Detroit has traded Ville Leino to Philadelphia for defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and a 5th round draft pick in 2011. This opens up cap space and a roster spot for Johan Franzen to return. Leino has not played well at all this year for the Wings, and will be in tough to earn any kind of offensive minutes with the Flyers.
A rare night tending the bench door tonight for Ryan Miller instead of the net. He has been a bit off lately, but even when he struggles he is superior to Patrick Lalime.
The Olympics are a week away (give or take). If you haven't clicked here to pick your players for our FREE Olympics Pool, then we understand. Cowards are people too, and we don't judge.
Cam Ward was sent home for treatment on his back. He played the full game in Calgary, but the injury started to affect him on the flight out. The 'Canes recalled Justin Peters to replace Ward. Manny Legace to get the starts for the time being. In other words, Carolina won't be winning much in the short term.
I rarely pick up players just to boost the plus-minus category, but I did this year with Jeff Schultz, and he has vaulted me from 5th into 3rd in the category basically all on his own. Plus-2 again last night for the man they call "the Sheriff."
Vladimir Zharkov played 15 minutes for the Devils, and saw some time on the power play. Maybe New Jersey wants to develop a Russian connection with him and Kovalchuk? Probably reaching, but keep an eye on Zharkov's ice time. 15 is quite a bit above his season average.
Four of Washington's five goals on Friday night were high glove side. Safe to say teams have figured out Ondrej Pavelec's weakness.
Michal Neuvirth was fantastic for the Capitals, stopping 43 of 45 shots. The score (5-2 Washington) doesn't really tell the story here, as Atlanta played quite well. Neuvirth adds a bit of arsenal towards his bid at the starting position down the stretch for Washington.
Ilya Kovalchuk debut - two assists, one penalty, and a lot of excitement in about 22 minutes of ice time.
Toronto played the perfect road game for 57 minutes, only to crumble and give up three unanswered goals. New Jersey looked awful for the first 40 minutes before finally turning it on in the final frame.
Johnny Oduya played 20 minutes for the Thrashers. None on the PP, and four on the PK. With so much offensive talent on the back end, Oduya may be put in a purely defensive role for that team, which would kill his fantasy value.
Rich Peverley had two points and led all Thrasher forwards in ice time. He played less than 17 minutes, which hightlights how balanced the minutes were up front.
Niclas Bergfors skated on a line with Antropov and Little and played 12 minutes. He also fired four shots on goal.
Alex Ovechkin had two points and is starting to pull away in the Art Ross race. He played over eight minutes on the PP. The guy is pretty good.
Follow me on twitter.
Carl Gunnarsson has been absolutely fantastic for the Leafs lately, and is blossoming into a sound NHL defenseman at both ends of the ice. He has a big shot and moves the puck well offensively, and makes good reads in the defensive zone. He could develop into a 35-40 point defenseman if given enough power play time. He has quickly earned the confidence of Ron Wilson, who is putting him out in all situations.
Gunnarsson played over 22 minutes, Kaberle played 15. Phaneuf and Beauchemin both logged over 27 minutes. Interesting decision(s) by Wilson. Phaneuf looked both very good and very bad at times during the game - he needs to find the middle ground to become an effective defenseman every night.
The Devils first unit up front consisted of Kovalchuk, Greene, Zubrus, Parise, and Zajac. Zubrus played 20 minutes, over three above his average on the season. He was a 70 point player with Ovechkin, and could be the same with Kovalchuk.
I don't remember if the NHL has done this much in past years, and I know it is due in part to the Olympics, but I am really enjoying the heavy Saturday night schedules. In addition to not having to cover it in the ramblings, it is awesome to come home with 14 sets of highlights to watch.
Tobias Enstrom recorded his 40th point of the season on Friday night, and in the process set a new record for Thrasher defensemen. Credit to Ben Wright for this tidbit. Enstrom will see a bit of a dip production-wise without Kovalchuk, but nothing substantial. He is a fantastic offensive defenseman and is one of the best at working a power play. He and Zach Bogosian will be a great duo for the next decade.
Dan Boyle, who is being honored at his alma mater tonight (Miami University in Ohio), will take the game day skate Saturday morning and decide if he is ready to go against Nashville.
Watch out trade rumor mongers, Douglas Murray is entering the profession! Funny read here about how Murray duped some local San Jose reporters into believing a fabricated Kovalchuk-to-Colorado trade.
Anton Khudobin is getting the start for Minnesota on Saturday. He hasn't had a chance to prove himself at the NHL level. I was chatting with Justin Goldman yesterday and he compared Khudobin to Nabokov a bit stylistically due to his upright and narrow stance. I didn't catch him the other night, but will hopefully get to see more of him as he gets the start.
Montreal has recalled a trio of forwards for Saturday's game - David Desharnais, Brock Trotter, and Ryan White. White played well with the Habs for a brief period earlier this season.
Trotter is a free agent signing who played three years at the University of Denver. He has an impressive 25 goals and 53 points in 49 games so far with the Bulldogs. Of the three, he probably has the best chance at becoming a fantasy-relevant player in the NHL. White is more of an energy player, and Desharnais is undersized at 5-foot-7 (although he has been a sensational offensive player in both the QMJHL and ECHL).
Chicago would ideally like to add a goalie for the playoffs. Cristobal Huet is decent, but not great. Antti Niemi has been very good this season, but is still a bit of an unknown at the NHL level. What about Kari Lehtonen (who, coincidentally, is on assignment in Chicago with the AHL Wolves) for a forward... perhaps Kris Versteeg? Chicago would have to get creative with Huet in the off-season, but there is no doubting Lehtonen is a superior goalie, even with the injury risks. Lehtonen's fantasy value would be through the roof on Chicago, obviously.
Should Canada be worried? Probably not. Brodeur, with his gold medal and three cup rings, has earned the chance to start.
Jonas Gustavsson really needs to learn how to play the puck. Maybe the Leafs can hire Turco as a consultant for the summer?
The Atlanta line of Bergfors-Antropov-Little has been very impressive so far in the first period against the Capitals.
Courtesy of Dallas Stars writer Mike Heika, Mike Ribeiro skated yesterday and is aiming to return next Tuesday against Chicago. Ribeiro was having a sub par season before the injury, with only 10 goals and 23 assists in 43 games. He had 78 and 83 points in his two previos seasons. This proven track record makes him a great buy low candidate in keeper league formats. Dallas has a lot of young talent on the wing, and Ribeiro is signed long term.
There have been a few rumors that the Stars are shopping Ribeiro for a defenseman, but I don't buy them. If Ribeiro were to be dealt, Dallas would be left with Tom Wandell at center after Brad Richards. This is assuming that Mike Modano retires, of course. Dallas would be better off dangling a prospect or a winger to get help on defense.