Abdelkader's hat-trick, Ryan Murray showing upside, Jonathan Quick crumbling and more…

*

Well, Justin Abdelkader, what a way to kick off the season. I had Abdelkader for a regression. Between all of the talent in Detroit, particularly with Johan Franzen coming back, and Abdelkader’s big jump in shooting percentage to a career high 14.9%, helping him to more than double his career high for goals from 10 to 23, he looked due. Not so. Abdelkader is shooting 100% so far, going three-for-three for the hat-trick.

If Abdelkader is going to keep getting minutes alongside Henrik Zetterberg (three assists) and as the net-front presence on the power play, it’s hard to not see him keep producing, even if his shooting percentage regresses. Looks like he’s entering the Wayne Simmonds/Scott Hartnell zone.

Franzen, by the way, managed an assist in just 13 minutes of ice time. Only 38 seconds of power play time for the Mule.

Dylan Larkin had an excellent debut with a goal, an assist and a team high six shots. This is what he needs to do to hang onto a roster spot. I’m happy to see him produce as a fantasy owner but I still don’t think he lasts the full season with the big club.

Jimmy Howard only had to make 22 saves but the shutout goes a long way to show that he’s back and will help him to hold off Petr Mrazek. As is always the case with Howard, the big question is if he can keep making starts without getting hurt because we know he’s got a good team ahead of him.

Mike Green notched an assist in his Wings debut and led the team with 21:16 in ice time but this is a bit misleading. Green was actually on the second power play but given the blowout the Wings gave extra minutes to the second unit. Niklas Kronwall, skating on the top unit, received just 18:39 in ice time, which might wind up his lowest total all season.

Jakub Kindl was skating with Kronwall on the top power play unit and notched an assist. It could be worth throwing him on your “Watch List” because this team will score a lot of goals.

*

Another well-balanced effort for the Jets. With the back-to-back situation Michael Hutchinson drew the start and got the win. Looks like another year of this tandem situation.

Nikolaj Ehlers led the team in shots for the second straight game with five. He’s got 10 SOG in two games. Nice! He also notched his first career point with an assist on Mark Scheifele’s second goal of the season.

Don’t go bonkers over Scheifele. He’s good but he’s still a second-unit guy in terms of power play time. In a one-year scenario Mathieu Perreault isn’t as sexy an option but he’ll be much more productive given his deployment on the top unit. Perreault notched two assists last night.

*

The new coaching staff in New Jersey is really mucking up expectations for the defensemen there. Damon Severson found his way back into the top spot in game one so he looks like he could be productive once again. What was shocking was seeing David Schlemko come second among Devil defensemen for power play ice time. Meanwhile, Adam Larsson didn’t get a second of play up a man. He did skate over 22 minutes but he looks set to play in a defensive role. Last but not least, Eric Gelinas was a healthy scratch.

Is it even worth wasting any more time on Devil defensemen? This team is hardly going to score anyway.

Jiri Tlusty got off to a good start scoring a power-play goal in his first game for the Devils. He and Mike Cammalleri are surely the two best Devils for fantasy leagues, at least until Patrik Elias gets healthy.

*

Mats Zuccarello vultured two goals off Blue Jacket turnovers last night. As a fantasy guy I generally dislike unassisted goals but you’ve got to give Zuccarello props for making the most of these opportunities.

Oscar Lindberg is now two-for-two with goals in each of his first two games. Only 12:58 in ice time though so I’m still skeptical. Not of his talent but of the opportunity. Just as an example, Anthony Duclair got off to a hot start as a fourth-liner for the Rangers last season but he got sent down by December. I don’t think Lindberg gets sent down, it’s just an example of how guys can produce for short periods with limited minutes but it doesn’t typically last.

*

Good start for Brandon Saad scoring a power-play goal in his first game with the Blue Jackets. He was third on the team with 5:21 of power play time, behind just Ryan Johansen and Nick Foligno.

The biggest thing of note was that Ryan Murray and Jack Johnson both saw way more power play time (4:13 and 4:07 respectively) than did big money man David Savard (just 1:32). Murray even notched a power-play assist.

No one was sleeping on Saad or Foligno or even Cam Atkinson who also scored in this one but Murray is a guy you could conceivably still pluck off the waiver wire, even in deeper pools. Definitely worth a look as that Blue Jackets power play has a ton of fire power.

*

No Jaroslav Halak meant Thomas Greiss got the start for the Islanders. This is no good. Halak is supposedly day-to-day but the Islanders aren’t actually disclosing his injury, which is disconcerting.

Check out the Islanders’ lines from last night:

26.4%

EV

12 BAILEY,JOSH – 51 NIELSEN,FRANS – 21 OKPOSO,KYLE

22.67%

EV

27 LEE,ANDERS – 18 STROME,RYAN – 91 TAVARES,JOHN

17.39%

EV

53 CIZIKAS,CASEY – 15 CLUTTERBUCK,CAL – 17 MARTIN,MATT

13.98%

EV

84 GRABOVSKI,MIKHAIL – 86 KULEMIN,NIKOLAY – 29 NELSON,BROCK

 

No doubt these will get shuffled by the end of the year but you can see why I’m really not a fan of Brock Nelson for fantasy purposes. He actually scored an assist but I’m not buying Nelson even given last night’s production.

Ryan Strome and Anders Lee skating alongside John Tavares is excellent news if you own either youngster. No production for that line last night but it’s only a matter of time.

If Kyle Okposo is getting deployed on the second line he loses a lot of fantasy value. He’s a heart-and-soul type of player though so I can see him clawing his way back into a top line role. I know there are rumours about him getting dealt mid-season but I can’t see the Islanders trading him if they intend to compete this season. They’ll lose a lot of character if he gets shipped out.

It wasn’t a power-play goal but Marek Zidlicky scored in his Islander debut. I’m bullish on his production even with just 15 minutes of ice time.

*

The nightmare start continues for the Kings. They outshot the Coyotes 40-21 last night and lost 4-1. Jonathan Quick has now allowed a sieve-like nine goals on 53 shots. He could stop his next 47 shots and still boast a subpar save percentage.

That 70’s line is looking good again this season. Tyler Toffoli poached a goal after Mike Smith stacked the pads to rob Jeff Carter. Toffoli always finds a way. They really need to get him onto the top power play unit to help resolve their scoring woes.

The Kings went 0/4 on the power play last night and by the end of the game Alec Martinez had replaced Christian Ehrhoff on the top unit. Darryl Sutter is always shuffling lines so who knows if this sticks but I maintain optimistic about Martinez for this season.

The Kings also added Peter Budaj for some organizational depth. Doubt we hear from him at all this season though even with Quick’s struggles.

*

Mike Smith stopping 39 of 40 is not what was expected when we saw this road opener when the schedule was released but remember, Smith wasn’t that bad down the stretch last year. I still wouldn’t want him in most fantasy leagues but if spot started strategically you can get some value out of Smith.

Max Domi had a successful debut notching his first NHL goal and adding an assist. My only concern is that he’s not yet a top-unit guy in terms of power play time.

Check out the Coyotes’ lines from last night:

21.98%

EV

24 CHIPCHURA,KYLE – 19 DOAN,SHANE – 12 RICHARDSON,BRAD

14.22%

EV

17 DOWNIE,STEVE – 15 GORDON,BOYD – 48 MARTINOOK,JORDAN

12.07%

EV

89 BOEDKER,MIKKEL – 16 DOMI,MAX – 50 VERMETTE,ANTOINE

8.19%

EV

10 DUCLAIR,ANTHONY – 11 HANZAL,MARTIN – 8 RIEDER,TOBIAS

6.9%

SH

15 GORDON,BOYD – 48 MARTINOOK,JORDAN

3.88%

SH

12 RICHARDSON,BRAD – 50 VERMETTE,ANTOINE

3.45%

PP

89 BOEDKER,MIKKEL – 19 DOAN,SHANE – 8 RIEDER,TOBIAS – 50 VERMETTE,ANTOINE

 

The biggest thing that jumps out is Shane Doan buried on the third line. He does skate on the top power play unit though so there is some value.

I’m more interested in Tobias Rieder skating on the second line and top power play. He scored a goal and an assist of his own and is a really intriguing guy because of how much he shoots the puck. He might be the new Radim Vrbata in the desert.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson might score 30 goals this year. He is SO active jumping into the play and can shoot the crap out of the puck. He skated all of the minutes for the Coyote power play skating 5:11 in all. He also skated almost no penalty kill minutes so he can really conserve energy for offense. By the way, I’m mostly being facetious when I say 30 goals but another 20-goal season looks very achievable.

*

I missed it in last night’s ramblings but James Wisniewski went down just 47 seconds into his Hurricanes debut and did not return. He tore his ACL and will miss the next six months. It sucks, but this is classic Wisniewski. More minutes for the likes of Noah Hanifin and Ryan Murphy though so maybe that’s a positive.

*

Fat new contract for Anaheim’s Simon Despres netting him $3.7M annually for the next five years. This team is suddenly getting expensive. Consider the fat stacks owed to Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler, as well as the extensions for Kevin Bieksa and Jakub Silfverberg, not to mention new deals that will be required for Freddie Andersen, Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen.

I don’t hate the deal in a vacuum. Getting Despres for a smidge lower than the standard $4M AAV that goes to any RFA defenseman who can walk and chew gum at the same time is a good deal. Despres was a fifth/sixth guy based on his prior deployment but he has more potential than that. I still can’t believe the Ducks stole him for Ben Lovejoy. To maximize the value from this deal they’ll need to use Despres in a top-four role. That just means Vatanen gets stuck with third pairing/power-play specialist duties, which is maybe best for all involved.

Despres is money in leagues scoring PIM, hits and blocks. He probably never gets a shot at big offense on a team with Cam Fowler, Lindholm and Vatanen so his fantasy value is limited to the aforementioned niches.

*

Derek Roy and Sean Bergenheim have signed with SC Bern in Switzerland so we won’t hear from them again this season. Bergeheim’s deal is actually a three-year pact so this is likely the last we’ve seen of him.

*

Thanks for reading. You can follow me @SteveLaidlaw.