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Expert Analysis

Camp Notebook East

by Corey Abbott
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

NHL teams have to submit their cap-compliant rosters by 5:00 p.m. ET on Tuesday, so the final cuts will be made soon. You should also expect plenty of action on the waiver wire this weekend. The battle for roster spots will intensify as the preseason schedule reaches its conclusion.

 

We will shift our focus to the Eastern Conference after Ryan Dadoun detailed the top stories from training camp for the Western Conference here.

 

Don’t forget, for everything NHL, check out Rotoworld's Player News, and follow @Rotoworld_ HK and @CoreAbbott on Twitter.

 

Also check out our team-by-team season preview podcasts.

 

You can get the Draft Guide here.

 

Boston Bruins

 

Boston’s top-six forward group could see an alteration this season thanks to the emergence of prospects Anders Bjork and Jake DeBrusk. Bjork is poised to start the regular season alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand on the top line. He has plenty of offensive upside and an excellent opportunity to get his NHL career off to a strong start. DeBrusk has a legitimate shot to play with David Krejci and David Pastrnak on the second unit. He isn’t a lock to earn the job, but has the inside track going into the team’s final two preseason matches.

 

Boston defender Torey Krug sustained a non-displaced fracture to his jaw when he was struck by a puck in an exhibition game. He is expected to miss the start of the regular season as a result. Krug’s injury opens door for rookie blueliner Charlie McAvoy to begin the year as the Bruins power-play quarterback. Matt Grzelcyk could be paired with Adam McQuaid on opening night if he can fend off Rob O’Gara and Paul Postma.

 

Buffalo Sabres

 

Buffalo has some spots open in the bottom-six forward group, but the top-two lines appear to be set. It looks as though Jack Eichel will play between Jason Pominville and Evander Kane, while Zemgus Girgensons will move up to the second unit and play left wing alongside Ryan O'Reilly and Kyle Okposo.

 

Unfortunately, that would bump Sam Reinhart to the third-line center role. Coach Phil Housley is open to playing with Reinhart with Eichel, so it could be an option at some point even if they start on different combinations. They could also still see power-play time together.

 

Jake McCabe is dealing with a shoulder injury and Buffalo has been cautious with Marco Scandella, who underwent hip surgery in May, but they both could be available for the season opener.

 

Carolina Hurricanes

 

Teuvo Teravainen has enjoyed a productive preseason with three goals and five points in three games. He has been playing with Jordan Staal and Justin Williams for the majority of training camp. It’s hoped that he can take another step forward in 2017-18 and hit the 20-goal plateau. Teravainen has the talent to accomplish that feat and it would take some offensive pressure away from Jeff Skinner and Sebastian Aho.

 

Martin Necas has seen plenty of action in the preseason, which included some time with Skinner and Derek Ryan, and he has impressed with his speed. The 12th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft may get a trial period at the beginning of the 2017-18 season. Carolina has also had superb performances from prospects Janne Kuokkanen and Lucas Wallmark at training camp. They could be members of the Hurricanes on opening night as well.

 

Scott Darling made his long-awaited debut in 'Canes uniform Monday and stopped 19 of 21 shots in a 6-2 win over Edmonton. He was slowed by an injury early at camp, but played well when called upon. Darling is projected to play again on Friday in Carolina’s preseason finale. Darling is out to prove that he can be a number one goaltender this year and he could post solid numbers behind a young and often underrated defense corps.

 

Columbus Blue Jackets

 

Columbus, like many teams in the NHL, will probably experience a youthful injection this season. Pierre-Luc Dubois, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Markus Hannikainen, Sonny Milano and Tyler Motte are vying for roster spots. Dubois and Bjorkstrand have been skating on the second line with Nick Foligno. Coach John Tortorella recently shifted Foligno to center on the combination because he feels Dubois has looked more confident on the wing.

 

Cam Atkinson appears to be a good fit on the top line with Alexander Wennberg and Artemi Panarin. He has one goal and two assists in his first two outings and they are slated to play in their third preseason match Thursday night.

 

Josh Anderson remains an unsigned restricted free agent. The two sides are reportedly just $150,000 apart, but they are currently unwilling to bridge the gap. A report of a trade request from Anderson was denied by the team, but his holdout continues with the regular season just around the corner.

 

Detroit Red Wings

 

Martin Frk has been closing in on a roster spot with the Red Wings. He produced 27 goals and 50 points in 65 games with Grand Rapids last season. Frk has a big shot and could help Detroit’s power play, which ranked 27th overall in 2016-17. He has been playing with Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin because of an injury to Justin Abdelkader. Abdelkader is expected to return Thursday from a sore groin, but Frk has impressed in his absence.

 

Niklas Kronwall (back) and Henrik Zetterberg (neck) will play before the regular season as well. Tyler Bertuzzi’s hope of earning a roster spot out of training camp was dashed because of wrist inflammation. He could be in the minors when he is 100 percent.

 

It’s been quiet between Andreas Athanasiou and Detroit on the contract front. He is still a restricted free agent and the Red Wings have stayed firm on their two-year contract offer worth $1.9 million per season. Athanasiou is reportedly seeking $2.5 million per campaign.

 

Florida Panthers

 

Florida’s top line has looked dangerous in the preseason with Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau alongside newcomer Evgenii Dadonov. Barkov has generated two goals and five points through only two exhibition appearances, which is a great sign moving into the regular season. His average draft position on Yahoo is pick 99.7 and round 9.5, so he is shaping up to be a fantastic value selection if you can get your hands on him.

 

The Panthers still have an opening on the second line with Vincent Trocheck and Radim Vrbata. Henrik Haapala, who lit up the Liiga with a league-leading 60 points in 51 games last season, is a top contender for the position. Brandon Pirri, who is attending camp on a professional tryout, and rookie Owen Tippett are in the running for roster spots too and they could end up on the second unit.

 

Roberto Luongo’s hip problem from 2016-17 was not an issue in Tuesday’s preseason win over Tampa Bay. He turned aside 38 of 40 shots and he’s expected to be back in goal on Friday. Getting a healthy Luongo back in the crease would certainly help Florida, but his fantasy value could be hindered by the presence of James Reimer, who could cut into his starts.

 

Montreal Canadiens

 

Jonathan Drouin is projected to center Montreal’s first line at the start of the 2017-18 season alongside Max Pacioretty. He spent most of his time on the wing during his tenure with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Canadiens have scored just nine goals in six preseason contests and lost them all. Drouin has the talent to help and Montreal will need every bit of offense that he can provide or it could be a long season for the bleu, blanc et rouge.

 

Montreal’s defense corps will have a different look this year with Karl Alzner, Mark Streit and David Schlemko set to join the top-six group. Andrei Markov, Alexei Emelin and Nathan Beaulieu are gone, leaving plenty of uncertainty on the back end going into year. There has been one bright spot at training camp with Victor Mete competing for a spot. He has a good chance to claim a roster spot, but with another season of junior eligibility he could be back in the OHL after a trial period.

 

New Jersey Devils

 

The big news from New Jersey’s training camp revolves around the team’s center group. Nico Hischier has showcased his game-breaking skills and he appears to be ready to make an immediate impact. The 2017 first overall draft pick has tallied four goals and seven points in four preseason outings. He is making a strong case for himself to not only make the Devils’ final roster, but to play a primary offensive role on the first or second line.

 

Pavel Zacha has been comfortable in a top-six capacity at camp as well. He has produced three goals and two assists in four exhibition matches. If Zacha or Hischier falter then Adam Henrique can step up and fill in as a top-two center.

 

Brian Boyle was signed during the summer to be the team’s fourth-line pivot. He was away from the club at the start of camp after he was diagnosed with a type of bone marrow cancer called chronic myeloid leukemia. The good news is that Boyle might be available to play in New Jersey’s season opener.

 

Travis Zajac suffered a torn pectoral muscle in off-season training and he was given a timetable for four-to-six months after he had surgery on Aug. 17.

 

New York Islanders

 

The John Tavares contract situation has the potential to hang over the team this season, but there is still plenty of potential for the Islanders’ top center to shine on the scoresheet in 2017-18. New York brought in Jordan Eberle in an off-season trade with Edmonton and he is expected to play alongside Tavares, which could spark them both offensively.

 

Islanders prospects Mathew Barzal and Joshua Ho-Sang look primed for roster spots going into the season. Barzal has been seeing time on the first power-play unit and Ho-Sang could receive action with the second group. If Barzal maintains a spot on the man advantage and skates on the second line then he could be worth owning in most standard leagues.

 

Coach Doug Weight reiterated that he won’t name a No. 1 goaltender, so Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss will compete for starts. They have both been excellent in preseason action.

 

New York Rangers

 

New York is close to completing a roster for opening night and rookie Filip Chytil appears to have made the cut. He could open the regular season flanked by Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello, J.T. Miller or Pavel Buchnevich.

 

The Rangers chose to return 2017 seventh overall pick Lias Andersson to Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League, so Mika Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes and David Desharnais will line up down the middle.

 

Ottawa Senators

 

Erik Karlsson doesn’t think he will be ready to play when Ottawa opens the 2017-18 season against Washington on Oct. 5. He has resumed skating after he had an artificial tendon placed in his ankle during the off-season. Karlsson suggested he could sit until November before the start of training camp, but now he may only miss a few contests depending on how his foot responds to more reps and how fast he gets back up to game speed.

 

Junior eligible forwards Logan Brown and Alex Formenton are in the running for roster spots. Derick Brassard (shoulder) may not be ready for the start of the campaign and Colin White (wrist) was injured during the preseason.

 

Thomas Chabot opened the 2016-17 with the Senators, but he only played in one game. There’s a good chance that he will crack Ottawa’s lineup out of camp again because he has shown flashes of his talent from the back end and Karlsson is recovering from an injured foot.

 

Clarke MacArthur made a surprising comeback late last season after dealing with concussion problems. Unfortunately, he didn’t pass his training camp physical so he wasn’t cleared to participate. His status is unclear at this time.

 

Philadelphia Flyers

 

Philadelphia has been experimenting with Claude Giroux at left wing alongside Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek. That may not last long once the regular season begins, but it is expected to stay intact for the team’s season opener. That would place rookie center Nolan Patrick alongside Wayne Simmonds and Jordan Weal. Travis Konecny could work himself into the top-six conversation at some point following a productive preseason. He has picked up two goals and two helpers in five games.

 

The Flyers might have as many as three rookie defenders on the roster this season. Travis Sanheim, Samuel Morin and Robert Hagg have all starred on separate occasions during the exhibition schedule.

 

Pittsburgh Penguins

 

Kris Letang is back to full health after he missed the last 23 games of the regular season and all 25 playoff contests due to surgery to correct a herniated disc in his neck. Letang’s health will still be a concern because injuries seem to follow him around, but he is one of the best offensive defensemen in the league. Remember that on draft day and don’t let him slip too far.

 

Greg McKegg has emerged as the favorite to win Pittsburgh’s third-line center position over Carter Rowney and Jay McClement, who is attending camp on a professional tryout, thanks to strong performance at camp.

 

Jake Guentzel leads the preseason in scoring with nine points (three goals, six assists) in only three appearances. He clicked with Sidney Crosby last season and they should carry that chemistry over into the 2017-18 campaign alongside Conor Sheary.

 

Coach Mike Sullivan is hopeful that Patric Hornqvist (hand) will be ready for Pittsburgh’s season opener, but if he isn’t then Bryan Rust or Carl Hagelin are options to play with Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning

 

Brayden Point has been skating as a winger on Tampa Bay’s top-two lines at training camp. He was successful as the team’s top center late in the 2016-17 season, but a spot alongside Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov or with Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat could give his fantasy value a significant boost.

 

Mikhail Sergachev has seen ice time in a variety of situations, including key roles on special teams, at training camp and he appears to be ready to turn pro. The problem facing Tampa Bay’s brass is that they already have a crowded blue line with Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman, Dan Girardi, Braydon Coburn, Andrei Sustr, Slater Koekkoek and Jake Dotchin in the mix for spots. Still, Sergachev may get a chance to prove he can play regularly in the NHL.

 

Toronto Maple Leafs

 

Auston Matthews and William Nylander have been dominant in the preseason, while combining for 11 points (seven goals, four assists) in three games. They are expected to stay with Zach Hyman this season even though there are plenty of pundits clamoring for Patrick Marleau to take that role.

 

Marleau has been playing with Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov. Coach Mike Babcock recently called out the combination to play better, but Kadri feels like he is starting to understand how to play with the former San Jose Sharks veteran.

 

Free-agent signing Dominic Moore is facing stiff competition for Toronto’s fourth-line center position. Miro Aaltonen, who was productive in the KHL last year with 44 points in 59 games, appears to have the inside track on the job.

 

Washington Capitals

 

Evgeny Kuznetsov will be paired with Alex Ovechkin at even strength and he is projected to play on the Capitals’ top power-play unit this season. Washington had a vacancy after trading Marcus Johansson to New Jersey. This could be a big bounce-back year for Kuznetsov.

 

Jakub Vrana, Brett Connolly and Alex Chiasson, who is with the Capitals on a professional tryout, are candidates to play with Ovechkin and Kuznetsov.

 

T.J. Oshie exited Wednesday’s preseason match as a precaution after he crashed into the boards on a failed hit attempt.

 

Coach Barry Trotz doesn’t think it’s anything serious, but he still has to check with the team’s trainers. Washington also has defensemen Madison Bowey, Christian Djoos and Aaron Ness competing two open roster spots on the back end.

Corey Abbott

Corey Abbott is an Editor for Hockey on NBC Sports Edge. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @CoreAbbott.