Mackenzie Blackwood is the lone New Jersey Devil that is not yet vaccinated, meaning he won't be able to play games in Canada this year. He joins Josh Archibald, Tyler Bertuzzi, Bode Wilde, and Zac Rinaldo as the known NHL players and relevant affiliated players to not be vaccinated. Bertuzzi can be knocked a bit down your draft board, while the other skaters shouldn't even be on your board to begin with. Blackwood is a special case though, in that goalies don't play every game to begin with, so of the nine games in Canada, he may have only played six of them anyways, and now the team can work around it so that he plays an extra four games in America, meaning his stock really shouldn't be affected at all over the course of the season. For weekly leagues though it does become a bit of a scheduling note, especially since he likely won't be eligible for any kind of IR designation so that you could pick up a replacement while the Devils play games in Canada.
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Last week I dove into my thoughts on a few training camp battles to watch in the West. This week I'm going to focus on the East, and what some of these battles may produce in terms of fantasy hits or misses. Getting ahead of the curve on these, and knowing which bets are the best ones to make with your late picks, those are how you can win leagues. You can lose leagues in the first few rounds of a draft, but you don't win them there. It's the middle and late rounds where you win the year.
The departure of David Krejci leaves a big hole, both for the second-line centre job as has been talked about a lot, but also on the top power play. A lot of people are just assuming that Krejci will be replaced on the top unit by Taylor Hall, but it didn't happen last year, and they are a few other options in Jake DeBrusk, Craig Smith, and Charlie Coyle. Smith's style in previous years on the power play actually best replicates what Krejci brought, and though he is more of a passer than a shooter, it's possible the Bruins try him as the last man on the top unit. Keep an eye on it through camp.
The centre spot is likely Coyle's to lose, but he isn't fully healthy yet, and Jack Studnicka has looked good in that spot during camp. It's not a sure thing that Coyle keeps the gig between Smith and Hall, as both Erik Haula and Studnicka could fill in well enough.
Columbus Blue Jacke