Derick Brassard signed a 4-year extension with the CBJs, so they don't seem as worried about his proneness to injury as we do (guess having insurance helps). He should be the Jackets #1C this year and we think he's in for a big year (assuming he can stay relatively healthy)... hint: he's a top 10 breakout in our Breakout Bible.
Anaheim signed UFA dman Steve Eminger to a two-year deal. Last year was loco for Eminger as he was traded three times and then not given a qualifying offer by Florida, so it would seem to indicate that nobody's been that impressed by this guy... and neither are we really. He put up a bit of production during his stop in Tampa last year (23 points in 50 games) but typically his numbers are weak. He'll probably line up on the 3rd pairing in Anaheim so we wouldn't go near him unless you're in a really deep fantasy league.
Boston re-signed UFA dman Johnny Boychuk to a one-year, one-way deal. The one-way part is worth noting as it means he'll be with the Bruins this year, probably starting out as their 7th dman and will try to work his way up from there. We think there's some potential here as Boychuk lit up the AHL last year with 20+45=65 in 76 games and was name the league's top dman. Keep him in mind for a late round flier in deep leagues.
Robbie Schremp has re-signed with Edmonton but he didn't get the one-way deal he was looking for. Not surprising really as his AHL production just tanked last year (42 points after putting up 76 the year before) so we don't really expect him to make the Oilers this year, its possible, but unlikely. He'd have to clear waivers if the OIlers tried to send him down and there are rumblings that the Islanders might pick him up as they were rumoured to be interested in trading for him at this summer's draft. We'd like to see what he can do if given a legit shot in the NHL but we'll pass and gladly watch from the sidelines as another GM in our league takes on that risk.
Some rambling thoughts from Caps coach Bruce Boudreau on line combos...
"But the question is really, 'How do you make the first two lines great?' Is Knuble great with Backstrom and Ovie? Or is Semin a better fit with that line and Knuble a better fit with the North Americans, [Brendan] Morrison and whomever, whether it's Brooks or Fleischmann? Or do you want to balance it out by putting Semin on the second scoring offensive line with Morrison with Brooks or Fleischmann? So those are some of the questions."
The most interesting thing being that he's penciled Tomas Fleischmann in as a potential top 6 forward and even later mentions that Brooks Laich might be better on the 3rd line. Good news for fans of the "Flash". [more]
Detroit has invited goaltender Dan Cloutier to their training camp on a try-out basis. He's been hurt the past few years (sat out last season) and has put up nothing but horrific numbers since the lockout, so this seems like just a pity invite.
Follow the jump for lots more fantasy news (Kabanov, Schneider, Rinne & Ellis, etc) and our Distractions (The Big E & Puppy Hockey)...
Philippe Boucher is hanging them up... might as well as he wasn't playing much anyways as he only played 79 games over the past two years combined. While PB was a decent fantasy dman in his day, he'll be most fondly remembered in our eyes as ESPN's #3 ranked fantasy dman in their awesome pre-season rankings last year... we haven't been back to ESPN to see if he retained the title this year but probably.
Lots of training camp invites are being handed out to guys that nobody wanted... Mark Popovic and Dan Fritsche will try-out with Atlanta, St.Louis has invited Darryl Sydor and Ryan Bayda to camp, Mark Bell in Philly, Kyle McLaren with the Rangers, Robert Lang is back with the Habs and Edmonton has invited a 31-year old Slovak named Miroslav Lazo to their camp... try not to get too excited.
Great interview with top 2010 NHL Draft prospect Kirill Kabanov here as the Russian arrived in Moncton recently to, hopefully, start playing in the Q. They still have to get his release from the KHL as they don't want to see the young star go but he sounds like he's excited to be in Moncton, here'e the money quote:
I want to play for you, I want to get Memorial Cup... [looks at his coach for approval]... we'll win then OK?
We like this kid's moxie already.
Another Russian who was also in a dispute with the KHL over a release, Evgeni Dadonov, has officially signed with Florida. Despite only being 20-years old, he has three years of experience in the RSL/KHL and was fifth on Chelyabinsk in goals last year, even though he was one of their youngest players. He was also 2+5=7 in 7 games at the WJC earlier this year. Florida says he'll have a chance to make the team in camp but will mostly likely start the year in the AHL... he's one to watch. [more]
Roberto Luongo signed a 12-year extension with the Canucks on Wednesday, so that won't be a distraction for him his season and he should be his regular solid self. The big question now is what happens with Cory Schneider, the Canucks #3 goalie, who many consider the top goalie prospect in the galaxy (us included). We can't see him waiting 12 years to get his shot in Vancouver, so we're guessing he'll be looking for a trade to another location. Something should happen this year you'd think, probably closer to the trade deadline and as we've mentioned in the Breakout Bible, we expect Schneider to have an immediate impact with his new team (unless it's the Islanders).
Phoenix has signed UFA forward Taylor Pyatt to a one-year deal. The Coyotes are collecting quite a pile of other team's rejects... Prucha, Vrbata, Upshall, Lombardi, Lepisto, LaBarbera, etc. We wouldn't go anywhere near Pyatt in your fantasy league.
Eric Perrin has signed in the KHL... so begin to scour your draft list for another a guy who can replace the 23 points he gave you last year.
Nashville re-signed RFA forward Cal O'Reilly to a two-year deal. Good news that he signed but the bad news is that its a two-way deal in the first year and then a one-way deal in the second year. The team had already said that either O'Reilly or Colin Wilson would be their 3rd line center and given O'Reilly's contract, we'd give Wilson the edge in that battle. O'Reilly could still make the Preds roster this year but you'll probably have to wait one more year for a full NHL season from him.
Manny Legace has accepted a training camp invite from the Thrashers... we don't see where he fits in there unless Kari Lehtonen blows a nut in training camp. Otherwise, we doubt he'll win a place over Atlanta's top three of Lehtonen, Hedberg or Pavelec... but good luck to Manny.
Jason Smith is going to retire on Wednesday... we always liked this guy as he played a hard nosed game but hated him as a fantasy player (he never was one)... we'll miss the comedy he provided last year when he played 63 games for the Senators and only managed one goal (& no assists)... now that takes talent... I mean seriously, NO ASSISTS???... did he play the whole year without a stick or something?
Quick note from the Boston Globe on David Krejci's rehab... he's back skating, says his hip feels good and already thinks he'll be ahead of schedule as he plans on playing in October (maybe even on opening night). While this is encouraging, cause the original schedule we heard didn't have him returning until November, we're not getting our hopes up yet as he may be optimistic of an early return but the team may not want to rush things. We'd still expect him to miss a few games to start the season.
When Sharks GM Doug Wilson traded Ehrhoff & Lukowich for nada, he claimed that the move was made so they could re-sign RFA forwards Torrey Mitchell and Brad Staubitz... well it appears he did just that on Monday (although it's unconfirmed). Staubitz has no fantasy value unless you need a goon-type. Mitchell has some offensive upside but he'll just be trying to get himself back into a flow this year after missing an entire season (except for four playoff games) recovering from a broken leg.
Entertaining interview with Robbie Schremp on Hockey's Future that we think you'll enjoy. Here's the money quote...
Playing in the AHL sucks and that's enough to drive you.... Playing in the NHL, being in the NHL is what it's all about for me -- I'm not even sure what the money is. It's all about being there and that's what my dream was and it gives you that drive.... Coming off the season people ask where you play, 'You know, I play in the AHL' instead of being able to say, 'Yeah, I play in Edmonton!' It's kind of the harsh reality, but that's the way it is."
Schremp might get a chance to make the Oilers this year (if he re-signs, he's currently a RFA) but we're not banking on it after he bombed in the AHL last year... his production dropped from 76 points to 42 last year.
This one should be obvious to everyone but its worth noting... Nashville coach Barry Trotz has said he expects a battle between his two goalies, Pekka Rinne & Dan Ellis, for the #1 job:
"There are times when starting goaltenders struggle with different mind sets than maybe a backup does, there's a pressure trying to hang on to the No. 1 spot. Peks has to go through the same thing Danny did, and I know Danny is going to challenge Peks.''
Trotz has never been shy about re-assigning his #1 goalie label, so while we'd expect Rinne to build on his fine rookie form from last year, don't totally discount Ellis as all he needs to do is get hot and the Coach will gladly ride him. [more]
A word of caution... in addition to Mathieu Schneider being 40-years old and coming off major shoulder surgery, he probably won't play in any of the Canucks pre-season games... great. [more]
Just a housecleaning item... Detroit GM Ken Holland said that Jiri Hudler has an out-clause in his KHL contract that will allow him to leave after one season and return to the NHL. Thought keeper league GMs who may be deciding if they should hold onto him would want to know. We'd bet he's probably not coming back until the two years are up but you never know.
The NHLPA just can't get their act together, the latest being that they've fired their leader, Paul Kelly, after less than two years on the job. How on earth these guys can function as an organization and prosper the way they do is shocking... but I guess they're counting on the owners to continue to spend money like drunken sailors on shore leave... and so far that strategy has worked out just fine.
Not sure how they expect to win any kind of labour dispute when they constantly have so much internal conflict going on. This coup was rumoured to have been fueled by Eric Lindros (& his parents?), who re-signed as NHLPA Ombudsmen early this year, apparently cause he didn't agree with Kelly's leadership. Well someone should have explained to Kelly that whatever the Big E (& his parents) wants, the Big E (& his parents) gets... here it is in video form (along with some career highlights & all 43 of his concussions)...
By now you've probably seen the preview for what might be the greatest hockey video game of all time. Well we think we've found the world's worst hockey video game. As the forwarding site tell us "here you can prove your ice hockey skills as a little puppy..."
Finally! We've been waiting for a game that allows us to test out our puppy hockey skills. If you're bored (and we mean REALLY bored) go play Nice Wory for free here.