Just a reminder to pick up the DobberBaseball Fantasy Guide, if you haven't already.
Blake Wheeler has seven points in his last two games. He has 39 points in his last 41 games, breaking through in this his fourth NHL campaign.
I was asked on the weekend by a buddy what I thought the odds were of a lockout next season. I said 40%, and by that I mean at least one game missed. I'm not talking the entire season here. I put those odds at "extremely remote". But getting a CBA done in mid September, starting camp late and pushing the season back two weeks…sure, I think those odds are around 40%. And they seem to be getting worse with each passing day.
James Neal is doing what I said four years ago wingers in Pittsburgh would do. This is what I had in mind. The problem was, until Neal, the likes of Crosby and Malkin had to play with the likes of Petr Sykora and Miro Satan. Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz. If they can make those guys 50-point players (Kunitz make it 65), then they can make Neal 80. Another problem with this taking so long is that their wingers in the system have turned into zilch. I'm talking Luca Caputi, Jonathan Filewich, Eric Tangradi, Keven Veillieux. With the track record there, it's hard to imagine anything coming from Tom Khunackl and Beau Bennet – although Bennett is a top prospect. I'm just saying I don't like the track record. The Pens can develop defensemen and checking forwards, but I'd like to see them develop a scoring forward.
I love the contract extension announced Sunday for Neal – the Pens knew that the price would go up if he reached 40 goals this year, so they signed him right after he got 30.
Time (again) to take the Preds seriously. Hal Gill was a great addition. But what I would like to see is some balls – trade a popular forward and upgrade the offense. Seriously, if you can swap a guy like Martin Erat and (if healthy) Patric Hornqvist, plus a high pick and a great prospect…. for Rick Nash, then bingo – you have an amazing fit. The team has like 10 second liners and zero first liners. Time to bring one in and overpay to do it. Not many teams have the depth that Nashville does.
Steve Yzerman is still impressing me. Getting great draft picks for Moore and Kubina is genius. With not many teams committing to being sellers, it's great that he got in early. He's only moving bit parts, so it's not truly "sell mode".
The Flyers know they are handcuffed to a goalie for a long, long time. So it's time to make him good. He thrived in a defensive system but not so much in a run-and-gun. So adding Grossman and Kubina will help.
According to Puck Daddy, the KHL president Medvedev believes that Vladimir Tarasenko could be convinced to say in the KHL, and that "I know for a fact that Evgeny Kuznetsov is very seriously considering the possibility of continuing his career with Traktor". Uh oh.
Martin Brodeur is looking as though he will be making the wrong decision – a la Mark Messier – and overstaying his greatness. He's talking as though he will play another season in the NHL. All that will do is bring his numbers down (or up, depending on the number). Then again, is it really the wrong decision to make another $3 or $4 million? Ummmm… okay I take it back.
From the offices of Too Little, Too Late – Patrik Berglund has eight points in his last 11 games. He does seem to be playing better now that Andy McDonald is back in the lineup and the forward dynamics have changed.
Wild prospect Chad Rau, a decent scorer in college and ranked 312 on my fantasy prospects rankings, scored his second goal in five career NHL games Sunday. He played a career high 11:46. He has modest scoring-line upside, but his offense has not developed in two years or so at the AHL level.
David Krejci has just one point in his last nine games. Still no positive update on Nathan Horton.
That's two games in a row with a point for Dave Bolland, and he was plus-2 in each of them. Thanks Dave, Mr. Guy-I-Dropped-2-Game-Ago.
Corey Crawford has (finally) settled down and banged off three wins in a row. He has allowed just four goals i