My weekly mailbag over at THN is now posted.
Scott Niedermayer is expected to announce that he will return tonight. The time to grab him is now. Once you have him, one strategy might be to trade him. It's been my experience that even when the great players miss training camp, they are beset by an early injury. It's a long shot, but his value is extremely high right now and if you get good return for him (i.e. a decent goalie) it will pay off.
Manny Legace injured his knee during warmups last night, which was why Toivonen played. It does not sound serious, however Legace does have a history with knee injuries. I had him as a great dark horse pickup in my pool guide, but I did warn that he will miss time because of injury.
Dallas rearguard Phillipe Boucher has been put on IR and will be out for four weeks with a shoulder injury.
Mikko Koivu's cracked fibulla will keep him out of an eighth game tonight. (told ya he wouldn't be back in a week, like the Wild initially reported!)
Joe Sakic's groin injury will keep him out until at least the weekend, but likely into next week as well.
The NHL has a trade freeze that will run from December 19 to 27.
Jason Labarbera's rib injury is still so painful that he can't even drive a car right now. Don't expect him back this week.
With the Kings playing back to back games today and tomorrow, and J-S Aubin not completely healthy (I don't know why, can't seem to dig that up), expect Jonathan Quick to get one of the starts.
Fredrik Modin had his "best practice" yesterday, but there is not timetable for his return from back spasms.
Pascal Leclaire will get the start tonight.
Columbus line combos: Peca with Nash and Zherdev. Fritsche with Chimera and Boll. Fedorov with Glencross and Brule. Beech with Shelley and Lindstrom.
Jiri Novotny will be out for about two more weeks.
Chris Clark has a strained groin and did not practice with the team yesterday. Friday's game is looking doubtful.
The Caps practiced with these lines: Ovechkin, Nylander, Kozlov; Fleischmann, Backstrom, Semin; Pettinger, Steckel, Laing; Brashear, Laich, Bradley
Mathieu Darche is now playing with Brad Richards and Jan Hlavac. That won't last too long, but just know that Michel Ouellet and his usually streakiness is on a low right now and that Ouellet is on the cusp of being scratched.
The Ducks have recalled forward Geoff Platt. The 22-year-old has turned his season around since he joined Portland, notching 16 points in just nine contests. I told you it would only be a matter of time. He's not fantasy worthy right now, but worth watching. But until the Ducks sustain an injury to a top player, he likely won't get a chance right now. Brian Sutherby is questionable with a groin strain, so Platt would take his spot.
Vern Fiddler missed last night's contest with a groin injury. He is questionable for Thursday.
Radek Bonk and Alex Steen collided with 20 second left last night. Both players stumbled to the dressing room. It may be something to keep an eye on, although they were reportedly "just sore".
Wade Belak scored his first goal since 2003. Scoop him up in December of 2011...I think he'll get lucky again at that time.
Talk out of Nashville is indicating that Steve Sullivan won't be back for January at all, and that March is a more likely scenario.
Erik Johnson was a healthy scratch for the Blues yesterday. The team is too deep back there and I think you will see EJ and Wagner...and even Jay McKeen all take turns through much of the season, unless someone gets hurt. It may be wise just to bench all of the above, since you may miss one out of every three games.
Scott Hartnell is ready to return from his supension.
Steve Downie has been recalled from the Flyers. He makes a decent PIM option and perhaps one point for every two games. I don't expect the ice time to be there, but if your team is hurting in the PIM cat and you want to take a risk, go for it.
Antti Mietinen re-injured his groin after scoring in Saturday's contest and is listed as day to day.
The Avs have placed Wyatt Smith on waivers. Marek Svatos (groin) will return to the lineup and play with Hensick and Richardson.
Radim Vrbata will likely be back in the Phoenix lineup tonight. Mike York (foot) is doubtful.