Real honest-to-goodness NHL hockey starts today, here are your latest camp updates and more…
The Fantasy Guide has been updated for today. Pick it up here.
I can hardly believe it's finally here. The regular season starts tonight! Pools open! This is so exciting. I couldn't have picked a better time to sprain my ankle (as I did last night – apologies if these ramblings are loopy, I may have been hopped up on some pain meds.)
I'll be spending the next couple of weeks parked on the couch watching games and checking box scores on the lap top. It seems mundane but it's fun as hell.
I spent all day yesterday filling out all sorts of box pools. Basically, anything free I could enter. It just so happens we are running one of our own. Sign up here.
I still love my daily lineup leagues that keep me immersed year-round but there's still good fun in picking box pools or draft-and-sit pools where your only investment is picking the team at the start of the year and letting fate decide. Obviously, it's not economical to pour big money into these pools but if there are free ones giving away prizes, it's almost stupid not to sign up.
The Islanders announced their opening roster yesterday. Not among the players to make the team: Anders Lee and Ryan Pulock.
Pulock getting cut isn't surprising for several reasons, first of which being that this is his first year as a pro. He probably needed seasoning at the AHL level regardless of how impressive he was at camp. The new trade acquisitions in town made it so the Islanders didn't have to force him into the lineup.
The Lee news is a little more surprising. Not so surprising for anyone who has been following progress at training camp but surprising based on how well Lee ended the season.
Currently manning the spot we all though Lee would fill (top line LW with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo) is Cory Conacher. The big question is whether we see the Tampa Bay Conacher or the Ottawa/Buffalo Conacher. I'm sure everyone is hoping for the Tampa Bay Conacher who meshed well with the studs on their top line and got off to a hot start to the 2013 season.
If you recall, Conacher opened that season scoring 12 points in seven games, five of which were multi-point efforts. Then he went scoreless for six straight. Then he rattled off a six-game scoring streak. He finished up with six points in 16 games before being deemed expendable and moved for Ben Bishop. Knowing what we do now about Bishop, Conacher is either one heck of a good player or that was one heck of a deal by Steve Yzerman. It would seem to be the latter.
I could definitely see Conacher blowing up early for the Islanders. It seems Conacher makes a good show of it early on everywhere he goes. Soon enough the holes and streakiness to his game emerge and he's on his way out. I won't believe in Conacher until he keeps up a tremendous scoring pace for at least a month and even then I'll probably be skeptical. I can only sell Conacher as a short-term buy and then major sell-high if he does go off.
So Lee is in the minors for now but I expect to see him up by season's end.
A couple of guys who did make the Islanders include defensemen Matt Donovan and Griffin Reinhart. Don't get too accustomed to these two. The Islanders will start with three defensemen on IR; Lubomir Visnovsky, Matt Carkner and Calvin de Haan. All three of those are regular pros, and at least two figure to be lineup regulars.
One more thing on the Islanders. I've heard some scuttlebutt that hits ace Matt Martin may be on the outs for the Islanders. Not that they'd necessarily deal him but rather that he may not have the regular lineup spot that he's used to.
Martin has only missed five games over the past three seasons but expectations are higher for the Islanders and they are a deeper team. There may not be room for a player who makes his biggest impact when the opposition has the puck. That's not where this league is trending. So monitor Martin carefully, maybe he just stops hitting so much or maybe he starts seeing some nights in the press box. That would make him difficult to own.
The hits keep coming for the Blue Jackets. Sure, they got centerman Ryan Johansen back on Monday but they'll need him because now they've lost centerman Brandon Dubinsky indefinitely.
All these injuries have left the Blue Jackets thin and their opening roster shows it as it is littered with young talent. Rookies Alexander Wennberg, Marco Dano and Michael Chaput are all in the lineup to open the season.
I wouldn't expect to see them stick or have any huge sort of impact but I've been wrong before. Wennberg is the most exciting prospect here as he's the one with big fantasy upside. Dano is also intriguing from a multi-cat perspective. Dano might actually have more fantasy impact sooner because of that physical game.
You can read more on the Blue Jackets youngsters over at DobberProspects.
I'm going to repeat something I've been saying all pre-season now. I believe the Blue Jackets do not look good heading into the season. This will be a tough month of October.
Dubinsky is their most important skater (yes, even more than Johansen). Dubinsky takes all the tough assignments allowing the rest of the lineup cushier matchups. You can kiss that goodbye for now. With the other guys out of the lineup and the untested rookies taking their place this could get downright ugly.
Start planning to buy low on Johansen and Sergei Bobrovsky now. This team still has the pieces to be that "dark horse" that everyone and their mother liked but so many pieces are injured now that they'll slump for a while. In a month those bodies could be back in the lineup and this thing could start to hum.
A few bits of news out of Bruins camp. David Krejci missed practice and was questionable for the opener. It turns out that he'll miss the first week of the season on IR. Not a good start.
Then the opening roster was announced with super prospect David Pastrnak missing the cut. Too bad, I really like his game. I guess he's headed to the AHL though, which will be good for his development.
Ryan Spooner did make the team after being sent to the AHL earlier. My guess is that he's up to replace Krejci only. He does have a chance to impress here and force the Bruins' hand though. He's definitely got upside though it's a wonder if he'll ever reach it with Krejci and Patrice Bergeron locked up long term.
Bobby Robbins, a career minor-leaguer also made the team. He's expected to fill the Shawn Thornton role. If that has value in your pool, go nuts.