The Fantasy Guide can be picked up online (pdf) for $9.99 – it comes with an updated spreadsheet. Updates are all free, download as often as you’d like. Last update was Sept. 26 – Draft list, too.

 

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It was a little disappointing to see the St. Louis Blues send Keith Aucoin down to the AHL. Aucoin has been averaging well over a point a game in the AHL since 2005-06, yet still struggles to get a consistent shot at the National Hockey League level. It’s understandable that he had a tough time cracking the Blues’ roster, as St. Louis is stocked at the forward position. Chances are Aucoin will get a callup at some point this season due to injuries, so keep tabs on him because he has the offensive ability to make an impact, even if it’s only for the short-term.

 

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Staying with the Blues for a moment, their goaltending situation will be one with major fantasy implications this year. We have been used to Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott rotating over the last two seasons, which makes it difficult to rely on them as a full-time fantasy netminder. Will that trend continue in 2013-14? Halak has spent the summer in St. Louis, as opposed to going home to Slovakia like he normally does, focusing a lot of time on strength and conditioning, as well as improving his diet. It remains to be seen if those efforts will have an impact on his playing time or if he can show some consistency and start 60-plus times.

 

Jake Allen, who was sent down to the AHL last week, is also a factor in the Blues’ goaltending conundrum. St. Louis could potentially trade either Halak or Elliott during the campaign if they have the confidence that Allen will be there goaltender of the future.

 

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The Calgary Flames goaltending outlook is another one that’s currently unsettled heading into the season. Bob Hartley has yet to declare a number one starter and Joey MacDonald, Karri Ramo, and even Reto Berra are in the mix. Ramo might have the best shot at claiming it since he has had rock solid numbers in the KHL over the last four campaigns, but career backup/AHLer Joey MacDonald did an admirable job filling for Calgary in 2013. Whoever gets it is likely in for a rough year with the roster the Flames figure to put out there, so draft responsibly when it comes to Flames’ goalies.

 

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Cody Franson finally signing with the Maple Leafs means Toronto is going to have to make some decisions quickly where their blue line is concerned. Franson, Dion Phaneuf, Carl Gunnarsson, and Jake Gardiner are locks for the top four, and Mark Fraser as well as Paul Ranger are likely to be kept around to fill bottom pairing roles and for depth. This means the last spot should come down to either John-Michael Liles or Morgan Rielly.  

 

Rielly can’t play in the AHL this season, so his only option would be to go back to junior if he doesn’t make the team. He dominated in the WHL last year and it may not be wise for his development to send him back there. Then again, having him play minimal minutes in the NHL as a seventh defenseman may not make sense either.

 

My guess is there are no takers for Liles on the trade market or Dave Nonis would have moved him already. They could also put him on waivers and bury him in the minors if they don’t feel he should be on the roster, they way they did with Mike Komisarek and Tim Connolly. Stay tuned.  

 

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Ryan Whitney was released from his professional tryout with the Blues. He was very unlikely to make the team unless there was a major injury in the defensive corps since St. Louis has plenty of depth at the position. It’s hard to believe some organization can’t find a roster spot for someone with the offensive ability of Whitney. He seems to be another casualty of the cap decrease this year.

 

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Jose Theodore reportedly signed a one-year deal with Avangard Omsk of the KHL Friday. There were rumours that the former Hart Trophy winner had some interest from a few NHL squads to be a backup, but that appears not be the case.

 

Theodore with the old-school poke check on this Montreal practice trespasser.

 

 

 

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Something interesting to note from the Leafs/Red Wings game Friday night was Daniel Alfredsson playing the point on the power play. He picked up a goal and an assist and spent some time there with the Ottawa Senators as well. Alfredsson fills a nice need for Detroit at that position and it should give his offensive numbers a boost if he stays there for the season.

 

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The Phoenix Coyotes are likely going to give a roster spot to Max Domi or Lucas Lessio in 2013-14. Both have done a good job in training camp says General Manager Don Maloney, but Lessio may have the inside track of landing the position.

 

 “From Day 1 in camp, Lucas has willed himself onto our roster with hard work,” Maloney said. “We’ve been waiting to see a drop-off and we haven’t seen one, so he’s probably the most pleasant surprise in camp.”

 

Maloney adds that Lessio could fit in on any one of the four lines, while if Domi plans to make the team he would have to earn a spot on the top two. Regardless of who gets the nod, Dave Tippett’s coaching style can really ease the transition for a young forward trying to learn the defensive side of the NHL game.

 

If it is Domi, he might be a nice sleeper with all of his offensive ability, especially if he gets to play with Mike Ribeiro. However, Domi would probably benefit from a nine-game stint and then heading back to junior, which is probably what you will see in Phoenix.

 

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On a side note, Phoenix announced this week that they are going to have tailgating parties this season for Coyotes weekend home games. It’s going to be hectic to try and find a space big enough for all 12 of their fans. 

 

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David Steckel was released from his PTO with the Minnesota Wild yesterday. The strong face-off man and good penalty killer couldn’t land a job on the fourth line. Michael Russo reports that there is a good chance he signs with Iowa, Minnesota’s AHL affiliate. If so, he should get a callup at some point this season because of his experience.

 

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Great piece here from Dave Lozo on the role of fighting today in the NHL.

 

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Pittsburgh isn’t scrambling to sign a veteran backup goalie after Tomas Vokoun had emergency surgery last week because of a blood clot. The Pens are sticking with Jeff Zatkoff for the time being behind Marc-Andre Fleury. Since Zatkoff hasn’t played in an NHL game to this point, Fleury’s value is high during the early part of the season. Had Vokoun been healthy he would have likely vultured some starts away from Fleury, who looked incapable of stopping a balloon during last year’s playoffs.

 

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The Philadelphia Flyers have sent Michael Raffl and Oliver Lauridsen back to Adirondack of the AHL. Raffl impressed with Austria at the 2013 World Hockey Championships playing alongside Tomas Vanek, and Lauridsen skated in 15 games for the Flyers last year.

 

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John Shannon of Sportsnet is reporting that youngsters Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk will both start 2013-14 with the Vancouver Canucks. Before spending a valuable draft pick on either of them, keep in mind the team is dealing with injuries at forward to Jordan Schroeder who has a foot fracture, David Booth who is trying to get back into game shape after an ankle injury, and not to mention the suspension of Zack Kassian. So their stay with the team could be brief.

 

The Canucks traded Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils for the rights to draft Horvat with the ninth overall pick this past June, so he figures to be compared to the departing goalie for quite some time. Good luck with that, Bo.

 

 

Michael Amato is an Associate Editor for DobberHockey and a News Editor for theScore. You can follow him on Twitter at @amato_mike


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Comments (5)add comment

blinnk281 said:

blinnk281
... I really wish the Isles had resigned Aucoin. The guy was their spark plug last season when they needed it most. He isn't the greatest player, but he provided that energy when energy was lacking. He definitely doesn't have 1st or 2nd line ability, but fills in nicely 3rd or 4th line. No afraid to throw his body around, take abuse in front of the net and he's quick. Great article btw.
September 28, 2013
Votes: +0

sparrowtrini said:

hockeysmygame
... Thanks Mike
Solid ramblings. That piece on fighting was excellent!
One thing please no more John Liles cant trade him comments. Everyone knows that by now and everyone that thinks they can even get a late pick is smoking some weird stuff.
Alas the only way they can is pkging him in deal with a solid prospect to a team with space. Inotherwords lose the deal.
September 28, 2013
Votes: +1

Isle B. said:

Isle B.
... Whitney just doesn't have the speed anymore. He was never great defensively but without that smooth skating he doesn't really bring enough offense either. If he couldn't succeed on the 2013 Oilers with minimal skill on the blue line (outside of Schultz) he won't likely find a home anywhere else.

Aucoin just isn't an NHL regular. He has a lot of skill but not quite enough to nail down a place on an NHL scoring line and he is too much of a defensive liability to play on a checking/energy line. He can be a good fill-in though for a few games at a time. He was especially effective for the Isles right out of the gate last season. In fact, if I'm the Oilers, I'd see about bringing him aboard as a stopgap until the Nuge and Gagner come back.


September 28, 2013
Votes: +0

The Hockey Hitman said:

September 28, 2013
Votes: +3

Nador said:

number54
Horvat Bo knows trades! or wait Bo dont know diddley?
nice ramblings
September 27, 2013
Votes: +3
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