Jakub Voracek has been phenomenal so far in the pre-season for the Jackets. The top two lines there look pretty set: Nash-Brassard-Huselius, and Modin-Umberger-Voracek. If Brassard and Voracek can adjust to the NHL game quickly, the Jackets suddenly look like a playoff contender.
Jannik Hansen has all but locked up a roster spot in Vancouver. He scored a goal and assisted on another tonight in the Canucks 3-2 win over the Sharks. He is a speedy winger with some pop, could hit 35 points this season.
Maxim Afinogenov had three assists for the Sabres tonight, and looked pretty effective all game. He is a very good buy-low candidate this season.
The Sabres are going to play Jochen Hecht at center this year, and he will probably see the second line ice time once Tim Connolly goes down with his annual season-ending injury.
The Plekanec, Kovalev and Kostitsyn line was reunited last night (as I expected and have together in the Fantasy Guide ) to excellent results. They were in on three of Montreal's five goals last night. The line combos will probably end up being exactly as I have them in the Guide.
Max Pacioretty, ranked 46 on my Fantasy Prospects list, is making a strong impression in camp. I think he'll have an NHL cup of coffee this year and make an impact in 2008-09.
If Patrick O'Sullivan does not sign a contract in time (I think he will), look for Oscar Moller to make the team. He is ranked 90th on my prospect list and has high upside.
Manny Fernandez injured his thumb yesterday and missed the game as a result. X-rays were negative so consider him day to day.
Brett Sterling scored two goals in Atlanta's 9-4 loss last night. He will make this lineup and I think he will have more of an impact than you would expect.
Bryan McCabe missed last night's contest with a hip flexor injury.
I had my third draft out of five yesterday. The first one was the DobberHockey Experts League (the full analysis is in the Guide). The second one was over The Hockey News office where I butted heads with the likes of Adam Proteau, Ken Campbell, Jason Kay, Ed Fraser et al. I drafted 14th (i.e. "last") in that one and nabbed Staal and Kovalchuk back to back. Last night was a rotisserie keeper league with the guys from the Forecaster, including Nicholas Chabot, Glenn Gingerich, et al. I managed to grab the best goalie available in Jose Theodore 10th (14 teams keep 12 players). I already have Price and Leclaire so I have the best 3-goalie tandem in the league, bar none. I grabbed Voracek 13th, Huselius 16th and I can't believe that Filatov slipped all the way to 41st for me. I think I'm the first person in history to draft three straight Blue Jackets. My defense and wingers were my weakest two positions before the draft, and I really just fixed my wingers. I had Carle and Meszaros prior to drafting, and with later picks I added Bieksa, Goligoski and Pietrangelo before taking a chance on Salmela and Harrold in the final rounds. Weak, but promising with upside. If you are curious, here is my team in that one:
C – Kopitar, O. Jokine, Ribeiro, Brassard, drafted: Cody Hodgson for my reserve.
W – Kovalchuk, Hemsky, Eriksson, Giroux, drafted: Voracek, Huselius, Filatov, Vermette, Dawes, Purcell and Pyatt.
D – Meszaros, Carle, drafted: Bieksa, Goligoski, Pietrangelo, Salmela, Harrold.
G – Price, Leclaire, drafted: Theodore
Calgary: JD Watt, Jon Tremblay, Aki Seitsonen, Carsen Germyn, Adam Cracknell, Kris Chucko, Dan Ryder, Warren Peters, Hugo Carpentier, Pete Vandermeer, Cam Cunning, Ryan Wilson, Dan Spang, Brett Palin, Brad Cole, Leland Irving.