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The Week Ahead

Welcome Back!

by Michael Finewax
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

We’re back!!!  The NHL season starts on Wednesday and hopefully everyone will have had their drafts by then and just settle in for plenty of NHL action.

 

There are a couple of changes this season at Rotoworld as far as columns are concerned. Joey Alfieri’s In The Crease moves from Tuesday to Saturday to allow everyone to plan their goaltending needs and we have a new Tuesday column called Changing On The Go in which the amazing James O’Brien will give his take on lines and line changes.

 

Otherwise, it’s all the same with The Power Play Report by Matt Riegler on Monday, Hockey Analysis by Gus Katsaros on Wednesday, Ryan Dadoun’s Fantasy Nuggets on Thursday and Corey Abbott’s Waiver Wired on Sunday.

 

This season is compressed a bit due to the World Cup so five teams play five games in a week this year. In addition, there are 302 games out of the 1230 in the regular season where one team is tired while the other is rested. Only 54 of those contests have the tired team at home.

 

Best of luck to everyone this season!!

 

 

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

 

 

Now to The Week Ahead.

 

WEEK OF OCTOBER 10-16

 

 

3 Games – Anaheim, Calgary, Chicago, Edmonton, New York Islanders, St. Louis

 

2 Games – Boston, Buffalo, Carolina, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, Nashville, New Jersey, New York Rangers, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington, Winnipeg

 

1 Game - Arizona, Colorado

 

Anaheim plays all three games on the road.

 

INJURIES

 

Brayden Schenn starts the season on the sidelines with a three game suspension earned during last season’s playoffs. (Click here to see the rest of the injury list.)

 

Note: A tired team is one that has played the day or night before and is going against a team that did not play the previous day or night. The reverse is true for a rested team.

 

ANAHEIM

 

Games this week

@ Dallas, @ Pittsburgh, @ New York Islanders

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Ducks play three games in four nights and all are on the road. Look for John Gibson to get the crease twice with Jonathan Bernier also seeing a game of action as the Ducks are on the road for all three games. Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell are still restricted free agents and will not be in the lineup if they are unsigned. The Ducks sent first round pick Max Jones back to London of the OHL and that was no surprise. If defenseman Jacob Larsson (the Ducks first round pick in 2015) is unable to crack the lineup, he will return to Sweden for another year. The contract troubles with Lindholm could get him a roster spot.

 

 

ARIZONA

 

Games this week

vs. Philadelphia

 

Rested Team: vs. Philadelphia (Saturday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Coyotes play only once this week. Michael Stone could be ready for the season opener after he was given the green light to participate in contact drills. He underwent knee surgery in April. Christian Dvorak had a big season in London last year with 52 goals and 69 assists but likely needs some minor league time. Tobias Rieder inked a two-year/$4.45 million contract and should be ready for the start of the season as he played a big role for Team Europe at the recent World Cup. Lawson Crouse was the cost for the Coyotes taking Dave Bolland from the Panthers. While Bolland may never play again, Crouse could make the Coyotes as a 19-year-old. Don’t expect a lot of points but Crouse could be a nice bottom-six addition this season.

 

BOSTON

 

Games this week

@ Columbus, @ Toronto

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Look for Ryan Spooner to start the season on the left side with David Krejci and David Backes. That’s good news for Spooner owners as he will go from third line center to a top-six spot at forward. Christian Ehrhoff is looking for a spot on the blueline as he is on a PTO. Austin Czarnik is playing between Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes and looks to have the third line center’s job all wrapped up. Torey Krug had off-season shoulder surgery but should be ready for the start of the season.

 

BUFFALO

 

Games this week

vs. Montreal, @ Edmonton

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Sabres play a couple of games at home to start the season and may be without the services of Ryan O'Reilly who tweaked a muscle Wednesday. Consider him day-to-day. Robin Lehner looks to be ready after shutting out Carolina Tuesday. He was injured earlier in training camp and spent a majority of time last season on the shelf with a high-ankle sprain and subsequent surgery. Rasmus Ristolainen is still a restricted free agent and will not start the season with Buffalo if he is not signed. He has been at practice so that has to be encouraging.

 

CALGARY

 

Games this week

@ Edmonton, vs. Edmonton, @ Vancouver

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Vancouver (Saturday)

 

Notes

The Flames play a home-and-home series against their provincial rival Edmonton Oilers to open the season so expect some fisticuffs especially if Brandon Bollig is in the lineup. They also play three games in four nights so look for Chad Johnson to play once while Brian Elliott plays a pair of games. Johnny Gaudreau is still a restricted free agent but look for him to sign a deal before the start of the season. Matthew Tkachuk should make the Flames out of camp but look for a short stint in the NHL before he heads back to the OHL. That being said, he is worth taking in keeper leagues if you can stash him. Sean Monahan looks to be recovered from his back injury at the World Cup and should start the season in full health.

 

CAROLINA

 

Games this week

@ Winnipeg, @ Vancouver

 

Rested Team: @ Vancouver (Sunday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

One player to take late in deeper drafts is Elias Lindholm who has three seasons under his belt and is only 21. The talented Lindholm was taken fifth in the 2013 Draft and is ready to have a big season, especially with the lack of scoring in Carolina. This will be the first season since 2003 that Eric Staal won’t be on the Carolina roster but his brother Jordan will be the number one center. The Hurricanes will have both Cam Ward and Eddie Lack between the pipes but neither should make you want to take a Carolina goaltender in your pool. Justin Faulk had a great start to the 2015-16 season but his second half was just so-so and I am not high on him this season. I would rather take a chance on Noah Hanifin in fantasy pools.

 

CHICAGO

 

Games this week

vs. St. Louis, @ Nashville, vs. Nashville

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Blackhawks play three games in four nights so expect to see Scott Darling play once with Corey Crawford getting a couple of starts. Chicago has a home-and-home series against the Predators and look for Jordin Tootoo to make his presence known if the Blackhawks play the former Devil. Artem Anisimov played on the top line with Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin last season but his 20 goals and 42 points don’t exactly reek of success as Kane had 106 points while Panarin had 77. Duncan Keith had off-season knee surgery that caused him to miss the World Cup but he played on Tuesday and is on track to start the season.

 

COLORADO

 

Games this week

vs. Dallas

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Avalanche only play once this week. The major news of the off-season was the resignation of head coach Patrick Roy and he was replaced by Jared Bednar. Captain Gabriel Landeskog likes the change in coaching philosophy as Bednar wants the Avs to play a fast game as the team has a lot of speedy forwards. If this is the case, the Avs will be an exciting team to watch this season. Matt Duchene suffered a separated shoulder during the World Cup but continued on and is not expected to miss the start of the season. Semyon Varlamov missed the World Championship due to a lower-body injury but is 100 percent heading into the 2016-17 season.

 

COLUMBUS

 

Games this week

vs. Boston, @ San Jose

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Oliver Bjorkstrand was having a tough preseason before his goal and assist Tuesday. He is someone to target in deep fantasy pools. Sam Gagner has a lot to prove this season in Columbus as he NHL career has fallen upon hard times. He is only 27 and has been in the NHL since he was 18 but his performance has been spotty and he has had 49 points only once, in his rookie campaign. Brandon Saad potted 31 goals last season and he may be in line for some shorthanded efforts as coach John Tortorella will play him on the penalty kill this season. I like the defensive pairing of Seth Jones and Ryan Murray. Either one is good to have in keeper leagues.

 

DALLAS

 

Games this week

vs. Anaheim, @ Colorado

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Not too many players get a PTO this late in training camp but Justin Fontaine did with the Stars. Ales Hemsky is out of action with a groin injury and may miss the start of the season. Denis Gurianov was the Stars first pick (12th overall) in the 2015 Draft. He is now in North America and will start his career in the AHL with Texas. Keep an eye on him. Tyler Seguin missed all of the World Cup after injuring his heel but he is expected to be ready for the start of the NHL season. Adam Cracknell could be the beneficiary of Valeri Nichushkin’s decision to play in the KHL this season. Look for him to start the season in the NHL.

 

DETROIT

 

Games this week

@ Tampa Bay, @ Florida

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Red Wings start the season with a pair of games in Florida. The Red Wings do not appear to be a playoff team at this time as the loss of Pavel Datsyuk to the KHL will hurt immensely. Thomas Vanek was signed in the off-season and the veteran is highly motivated this season as he had a poor 2015-16 campaign when he scored only 18 times while adding 23 assists. Frans Nielsen was also an off-season signing and he will center a line with Henrik Zetterberg to start the season. Petr Mrazek will start the season as the top netminder with Jimmy Howard as his backup. Niklas Kronwall practiced on Tuesday for the first time in training camp and while he is hoping to be ready for the start of the season, it’s no sure thing.

 

EDMONTON

 

Games this week

vs. Calgary, @ Calgary, vs. Buffalo

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

Notes    

The Oilers open the season in a new arena and play the Flames in back-to-back games. If there is any rough stuff, look for off-season acquisition Milan Lucic to be in the middle of things. Connor McDavid was named captain this week and becomes the youngest captain in NHL history. Chicago is being named as a possible destination for Nail Yakupov which is sad considering the Oilers named him the first overall pick in 2012. Drake Caggiula could start the season as the Oilers third line center and that would allow Leon Draisaitl to play on the second line as a winger.

 

FLORIDA

 

Games this week

vs. New Jersey, vs. Detroit

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

I really liked Nick Bjugstad this season but a broken hand will keep him out of the lineup for the next four weeks. The Panthers will have both Keith Yandle and Aaron Ekblad on the points for the first power play this season. The first unit up front will consist of Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and the ageless wonder, Jaromir Jagr. Ekblad was thought to have suffered a concussion at the World Cup but it turned out to be whiplash. That’s good news for the Panthers as Ekblad had a concussion back in January and two is not good news. Roberto Luongo will be the starter once again this season but the 37-year-old may not see as much action as in previous years with a capable backup in James Reimer.

 

LOS ANGELES

 

Games this week

@ San Jose, vs. Philadelphia   

 

Rested Team: None  

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Kings open the season for the second year in a row in San Jose. Marian Gaborik is out until at least the middle of November with a broken foot suffered in the World Cup. Nick Shore is also out of action and it may be a concussion. Tanner Pearson will miss the first two games of the NHL season for an illegal check to the head of Brandon Davidson of the Oilers. That may hurt linemates Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli as the trio have been a great line for the Kings. Petr Budaj and Jack Campbell have passed through waivers so it looks like Jeff Zatkoff will back up Jonathan Quick in goal this season for the Kings.

 

MINNESOTA

 

Games this week

@ St. Louis, vs. Winnipeg

 

Rested Team: @ St. Louis (Thursday)

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Look for Marco Scandella to have a better 2016-17 season as last year was a tough one as his father passed away after a lengthy bout with cancer. GM Chuck Fletcher is looking for more out of Jason Zucker this season as Zucker had just 13 goals and 23 points in 71 games last season. Eric Staal was the big acquisition of the Wild in the off-season and he could start on the top line with Zach Parise and Charlie Coyle while Chris Stewart is slated to start on the second unit with Mikael Granlund and Mikko Koivu. Look for Devan Dubnyk to start about 55 games with Darcy Kuemper getting the remainder of the starts.

 

MONTREAL

           

Games this week

@ Buffalo, @ Ottawa

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Artturi Lehkonen was the Habs second round pick (55th overall) in the 2013 Draft and has made his way over to Montreal where he has been a shining light in training camp alongside Tomas Plekanec and Alexander Radulov. He could get 40 points this season. The big news of the off-season was the trading of P.K. Subban to Nashville in exchange for Shea Weber. Montreal fans will be quite impressed with Weber who will stabilize the blueline and be a big force in front of Carey Price. Price looks to be in old form after missing most of last season with a knee injury.

 

 NASHVILLE

 

Games this week

vs. Chicago, @ Chicago

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Predators open up with a home-and-home series against Chicago and look for P.K. Subban, who was acquired from Montreal for stalwart defenseman Shea Weber, to make his presence felt. Subban is a highly entertaining defenseman who can make the exciting play which will help the fan base in Nashville. The Predators will get a full season out of Ryan Johansen who was picked up in the Seth Jones trade midway through last season, giving the Predators the top notch center that the franchise had been lacking. The Predators front office must be commended for trading for top talent in the past few seasons like Subban, Johansen, James Neal and of course Filip Forsberg.

 

NEW JERSEY

 

Games this week

@ Florida, @ Tampa Bay

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

 The Devils play twice in Florida this week. Beau Bennett could be a nice sleeper pick as the former first round pick is playing on the first line with Taylor Hall and Adam Henrique. Bennett has a lot of offensive skill but injuries have taken their toll on the 24-year-old’s career as he gets a fresh start in New Jersey after playing 129 games in four seasons with the Penguins. The Devils have a need for scoring up front but the defensive part of their game is in the capable hands of goaltender Cory Schneider who has been all-world for the Devils. Look for another big season out of the netminder.

 

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

 

Games this week

@ New York Rangers, @ Washington, vs. Anaheim

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Islanders start play with three games in four nights so look for Thomas Greiss to get one start with Jaroslav Halak playing in a couple. The Islanders sent a couple of former first round picks in Michael Dal Colle and Joshua Ho-Sang to the minors on Thursday. The two should see some time in the NHL this season but need some seasoning. Anthony Beauvillier is still in camp and impressing everyone as he has played all three forward positions and has done everything well. Look for a nine game trial before the Islanders send him back to the juniors. Look for a huge season from John Tavares who had 70 points last season after finishing the previous year with 86, second best in the NHL.  

 

NEW YORK RANGERS

 

Games this week

vs. New York Islanders, @ St. Louis

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Pavel Buchevich should make the Rangers as he has an out which would allow the 21-year-old to return to the KHL if he fails to make it in New York. I guess if he can make it there, he can make it anywhere. Brady Skjei has had a disappointing training camp and may be sent to the minors to start the season. I'm looking for a better season from Chris Kreider who had 21 goals and 43 points last season. Mika Zibanejad is looking good in a Rangers uniform thus far. The talented youngster was acquired from Ottawa in exchange for Derick Brassard and should be a top-two center with the Rangers.  Henrik Lundqvist probably has a season or two left as a top-10 goaltender but look for a slight regression this season.

 

OTTAWA     

 

Games this week

vs. Toronto, vs. Montreal

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Curtis Lazar is out of action with mono and may miss the start of the season. You have to feel bad for Clarke MacArthur who missed all but four games last season with a concussion and suffered another one in training camp. He says he feels great but it was his fourth concussion in the last 18 months and that is not good. The injury allows Ryan Dzingel to compete for his spot on the second line with Bobby Ryan and Derick Brassard as he will battle Phil Varone and Zack Smith. Matt Puempel can’t complain if he doesn’t make the Senators as he has been given every opportunity to do so in training camp. He was drafted 24th overall in 2011 but has played in only 39 NHL games.

 

PHILADELPHIA

 

Games this week

@ Los Angeles, @ Arizona

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: @ Arizona (Saturday)

 

Notes

The Flyers start the season in the West with games in Los Angeles and Arizona. Travis Konecny is making a big bid to stick with the Flyers and has six points in the preseason thus far. Brandon Manning is week-to-week with an upper body injury. Andrew MacDonald has had a strong training camp and has impressed coach Dave Hakstol. Look for the veteran to make the squad after spending most of last season in the minors as a casualty of the salary cap. He could see some second line power play time. Samuel Morin was sent to the minors but the 11th overall pick in 2013 is not expected to spend a lot of time at Lehigh Valley after spending last season there.

 

PITTSBURGH

 

Games this week

vs. Washington, vs. Anaheim

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The thought was that Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury would basically share the net this season but that was before the broken thumb he suffered at the World Cup. This gives Fleury the chance to once again establish himself as the Penguins top netminder. Murray’s outlook is a return to action anywhere from mid-October to mid-November so don’t expect the Penguins to rush him back if Fleury is playing well. Bryan Rust was a pleasant surprise in the playoffs last season but he broke his finger in Game Six of the Final and is still unable to practice with the Penguins in training camp. Coach Mike Sullivan said that Rust is dealing with more than a broken finger so stay tuned and don’t draft him in deep pools.

 

ST. LOUIS

 

Games this week

@ Chicago, vs. Minnesota, vs. New York Rangers

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: vs. Minnesota (Thursday)

 

Notes

The Blues open the season with three games in four nights. Jake Allen is finally the undisputed number one goalie in St. Louis and he should get action in a couple of games while Carter Hutton could make his St. Louis debut. Alexander Steen is ready for the start of the season after undergoing off-season shoulder surgery. Look for him to play with Paul Stastny and Robby Fabbri, at least to start the season. Alex Pietrangelo had an off-year fantasy-wise last season, so look for a return to the 45 point mark from the talented blueliner. Jaden Schwartz will start the season on the injured list after suffering an elbow injury. He is expected to miss at least four weeks.

 

SAN JOSE

 

Games this week

vs. Los Angeles, vs. Columbus

 

Rested Team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Keep an eye on Mikkel Boedker in the early going as he is expected to play alongside Logan Couture and Joonas Donskoi. Boedker had 51 points last season and could be in line for more with Couture as a linemate. Another player high on my list is Tomas Hertl who should play on the top line with Joe Pavelski and Joe Thornton. Hertl had such a great start to his NHL career but injuries took their toll over a couple of seasons and it wasn’t until midway through last season that his offensive skills began to show up on the scoresheet. He could get 60-plus points this season. Martin Jones is a top-five goalie this season and should be drafted as such.

 

TAMPA BAY

 

Games this week

vs. Detroit, vs. New Jersey

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

The Lightning continue in their attempts to sign restricted free agent Nikita Kucherov who is unlikely to get an offer sheet from other teams due to his high cost in draft picks. The talented winger had 30 goals and 66 points with a plus-nine rating after a sophomore season in which he had 29 goals and 65 points with a plus-38 rating. He is a big fantasy asset once he signs a deal. Jonathan Drouin should have a big season and you could have an advantage over other poolies who may see his four goal and 10 point season of a year ago as a drawback. He was drafted third overall in 2013 and should be a big point getter in the NHL within a couple of seasons.   

 

TORONTO

 

Games this week

@ Ottawa, vs. Boston

 

Rested team:  None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Auston Matthews scored his first goal in a Maple Leaf uniform Thursday. Coach Mike Babcock stated last week that Matthews would start the season as the third line center but I can’t see that happening and if it does, it won’t be for long. Frederik Andersen didn’t look good in net Thursday but it was his first game back after suffering an upper body injury during an Olympic qualifier for Denmark. He was a stud the last three seasons with Anaheim with his worst GAA being 2.38. Of course, that was the Ducks and this is Toronto but the Leafs are an up-and-coming team with plenty of youthful talent. Another player to keep an eye on is Nikita Zaitsev who was the top defenseman in the KHL last season.

 

VANCOUVER

 

Games this week

vs. Calgary, vs. Carolina

 

Rested Team: vs. Calgary (Saturday)

Tired Team: vs. Carolina (Sunday)

 

Notes

Anton Rodin was the Swedish League’s MVP and the Canucks second round pick in 2009 finally decided to give the NHL another try as he played a couple of seasons in the AHL in 2011-12 and the following season, with the Chicago Wolves. Thus far he has been impressive on a line with Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi and could be a 35-40 point scorer in the NHL this season. You have to wonder if this is the last season as a starter for Ryan Miller as Jacob Markstrom continues to nip at his heels. Olli Juolevi was returned to the London Knights of the OHL but the defenseman will be a big boost to the Canucks blueline and fantasy owners in a few years.

 

WASHINGTON

 

Games this week

@ Pittsburgh, vs. New York Islanders

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

It looks for now that Evgeny Kuznetsov and not Nicklas Backstrom will be the top line center for Alex Ovechkin and that has to have some effect on the fantasy value of both. Ovechkin had 50 goals last season but only 21 assists. He should get lots more helpers this season. Look for Matt Niskanen to have a better offensive season as well as John Carlson who looks to be over his injury woes of last season. Braden Holtby should win 40-plus games again this season but may not see action in so many games as he played in 66 contests last season. That means some more work for Philipp Grubauer.

 

WINNIPEG

 

Games this week

vs. Carolina, @ Minnesota

 

Rested team: None

Tired Team: None

 

Notes

Restricted free agent Jacob Trouba does not want to remain in Winnipeg and says he wants to play on the right side, something that was not happening here. It was thought that a team (Boston) was going to sign him to an offer sheet but with the trade request, it may be easier to make a deal. That being said, the Jets are said to playing hardball in trade negotiations. It looks like Josh Morrissey will be in line to take the spot of Trouba for now as he is slated to line up beside Dustin Byfuglien. The Jets look like they will start the season with Michael Hutchinson, Ondrej Pavelec and Connor Hellebuyck as their goalies. Bet your mortgage on Hellebuyck being the undisputed starter by Christmas, if not sooner.

Michael Finewax

Michael Finewax is entering his 16th season as the Senior Hockey Writer and Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @mfinewaxhockey.