Blackhawks waive Bickell, send Dano to AHL; Friday preseason action, plus more…

Steve isn’t back yet, so you’ll have to put up with me for Saturday plus my usual day on Sunday. Let’s see if I can ramble on enough about fantasy hockey to keep you entertained.

Whenever I’ve looked at the Blackhawks’ cap situation lately, I’ve wondered if they would ever decide to move Bryan Bickell and his $4 million per season cap hit. Now we know they would like to, placing him on waivers on Friday. Bickell is 6’4” and 223 pounds and has scored 25 goals over the last two seasons, as well as 16 playoff goals over 42 playoff games in 2012-13 and 2013-14. Teams would no doubt be more interested if his salary was more commensurate to his production.

Here’s where it might get interesting, though. According to Pierre LeBrun, the Blackhawks may not send Bickell to the AHL, instead perhaps keeping him in the NHL and trying to send him a “wake-up call.” The Hawks had also been trying to trade Bickell, who has also been dealing with vertigo throughout the summer (Chicago Tribune).

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In what seems like a more surprising move, the Blackhawks have sent popular sleeper Marko Dano to the AHL, although he will not have to pass through waivers since he is on a two-way contract. Hawks’ coach Joel Quenneville didn’t seem to think Dano stood out in camp and wanted to see him playing. Unless Dano struggles mightily in the AHL, expect to see him called up at some point this season.

So what impact would these demotions have on the Blackhawks’ forward lines? Remember that final cuts have not been made, and there’s even the possibility that Bickell and Dano could be back soon. But assuming things stay the way they are, Artemi Panarin could move up to the top 6. Panarin has yet to play in the preseason, but he could suit up in a Blackhawks’ uniform for the first time on Saturday against Dallas. According to CSNChicago.com, Panarin practiced on the second line along with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane on Friday.

For more on Panarin, you can check out his Dobber Prospects profile. If you’ve invested in him already, you may be about to get rewarded. If not, then this might be your opportunity. Playing with a top-end linemate like Kane might be a perfect fit for him. His fantasy value has improved significantly with today’s roster moves.

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You could metaphorically say that Joe Colborne can’t catch a break, but that wouldn’t be factually correct. Already dealing with a surgically-repaired left wrist, Colborne will start the season on IR because of a fractured right thumb.

Colborne’s injury should mean that Mason Raymond will not only make the opening-night roster, but could even compete for a top-6 role. He’s probably not your favorite fantasy option or mine either, but he has gotten off to a hot start or two in years past. Not that I’m going to rush out to add him or anything like that, though.

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If you’d like to see the draft results of the Experts League Draft that I mentioned in yesterday’s Ramblings, you can check them out here. Apparently they weren’t on any of the links from the league homepage.

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The result should come as no surprise, but Mike Babcock’s return to the Joe Louis Arena resulted in a 4-2 loss for his new team. Not that preseason records matter or anything, but Babcock’s old team is 5-0-2 in the preseason under new coach Jeff Blashill.

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Also around the NHL… Oliver Bjorkstrand scored two goals and added an assist on Friday, while William Karlsson scored a goal and added two assists of his own. Although Bjorkstrand has reached 100 points in back-to-back seasons in the WHL, he has already been sent down to the AHL and was simply recalled for this game along with several other players, including 2014 first-round pick Sonny Milano (Columbus Dispatch).  

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During the preseason, the Coyotes have been who we thought they would be. After losing 3-0 to San Jose on Friday, Arizona has lost all six of its preseason games, been outscored 20-4, and shut out three consecutive games (TSN). But hey, I can wait until the 24th round to draft their first-line center (Antoine Vermette).

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In my Canucks article for Today’s Slapshot, I had mentioned that I predicted Brendan Gaunce would make the Canucks this season. So much for that theory, as Gaunce and Ronalds Kenins were sent down to the AHL on Friday (Vancouver Canucks). The demotions should mean that at least one of Jake Virtanen or Jared McCann, the Canucks’ two first-round picks in 2014, should make the team for at least a nine-game audition.

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To follow up from yesterday, Danny DeKeyser will be sidelined 3-4 weeks with a sprained ligament in his left foot (Sportsnet). For more on how DeKeyser’s injury would affect the Wings’ defense, you can check out yesterday’s Ramblings.

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Just read Dobber’s tweet on Phil Kessel getting center eligibility… what? Yep, I just saw that on Yahoo, and you can go check it out for yourself. This is Kessel, who now plays on a team that already has two top-level centers (Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin). You might say that Kessel takes the odd faceoff, but guess how many he took last season?

Two.

So why on earth is Kessel center-eligible? Kessel is actually more of a hits machine (18 last season) than he is a guy who takes faceoffs. So I don’t get this at all. But I’m sure I might use that center eligibility at some point on a day where I have too many right wings and not enough centers. So I probably shouldn’t complain.

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Here is something for T.J. Oshie owners who were worried about Oshie not playing on the Alex Ovechkin line. Again, it’s only preseason, but look at the even-strength discrepancy when compared to Justin Williams. And yes, here’s further proof that Evgeny Kuznetsov has moved up to the top line while Nicklas Backstrom is out.

 

Thanks for reading, and enjoy your Saturday. I might be a little late on the Sunday Ramblings, as I have another fantasy draft to attend to on Saturday night.