Keeper Watch: First Rounders in Action

01/06/2010
Stanley Cup Champions, Pittsburgh Penguins Take to the Ice For Training Camp

‘Keeper Watch’ will come out every Wednesday or Thursday, noting the changes in value for top prospects who are most likely available in your league. We will also focus on young players once considered top prospects. Similarly to our ‘Endorsed Pickups’ I will try not to focus too much on one position, which will leave some noteworthy players off the list.

This edition of Keeper Watch much like last week’s edition will take an extended look at some top prospects and their assent through the minors.  Most of those mentioned are either first round picks or highly regarded within their organizations.

C: Jiri Tlusty, Carolina Hurricanes – In his three games in Carolina before a recent demotion, the 21-year-old center scored a goal and an assist.  The talented Czech and former 13th overall pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2006 shows tons of promise, adding to what could be an impressive young core.  With injuries to Eric Cole and Chad LaRose there should be some minutes available while the Canes rebuild.  I expect Tlusty to get a longer look this time around.

Prognosis: Lots of potential should he get good minutes.  Monitor his position on the team, he should get an opportunity once some veterans are moved.

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The Seven Million Dollar Man

12/26/2009
Rangers Sign Chris Drury And Scott Gomez

How does a team know their investment will pay off?  Better yet, What would inspire a team to devote a large percentage of their cap space to one single player? This article plans on analyzing the production from “top-tier” forwards based on a seven million dollar cap hit or higher.

As of this writing there are 14 forwards making this salary or higher, with most of these players filling the scorecard adequately.  These 14 forwards discussed are Jason Spezza, Joe Thornton, Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, Alexander Ovechkin, Scott Gomez, Evgeni Malkin, Vincent Lecavalier, Thomas Vanek, Dany Heatley, Chris Drury and Eric Staal.

A quick glance at this list screams Drury and Gomez as the noticeable busts.  Coming into a weak free agent year for centers the two cashed in on GM Glen Sather’s ludacris spending.  However, a deeper look into their 2009-2010 season makes other players current production look similarly as bad.

In addition, this article will identify the best of the bunch showing exactly if and why the top salaries are actually worth it.  Impending free agent Ilya Kovalchuk believes his worth to be 20 percent of the current cap, an enormous 11 plus million cap hit. With his current production, not to mention countless intangibles would you consider the 27-year-old worth it?

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Injury Updates 12/26/2009

12/26/2009
Detroit Red Wings v Colorado Avalanche

This thread will be updated all day, so keep refreshing it as the day goes along. Just a quick note, if I omitted a source it is due to a previous report with no recent updates. Here are your injury updates for tonight:

Injuries Tonight

Ottawa Senators

  • Daniel Alfredsson out a few weeks.
  • Jason Spezza and Nick Foligno remain out.

Buffalo Sabres

  • Thomas Vanek back.  Chris Butler and Patrick Kaleta still out of the lineup. [Sabres Edge]
  • Nathan Gerbe not on any lines. [Sabres Edge]

Columbus Blue Jackets

  • Marc Methot out one to two weeks. [Tom Reed]
  • Rostislav Klesla and Derek Dorsett remain out.
  • Anton Stralman and Kristian Huselius amongst others seem to have recovered from the flu.

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Injury Updates 12/23/2009

12/23/2009
Pittsburgh Penguins v Buffalo Sabres

This thread will be updated all day, so keep refreshing it as the day goes along. Just a quick note, if I omitted a source it is due to a previous report with no recent updates. Here are your injury updates for tonight:

Injuries Tonight

Atlanta Thrashers

  • Kari Lehtonen practiced with the team while Mark Popovic remains out.

Boston Bruins

  • Derek Morris sitting this game out.  [Boston Globe]
  • Milan Lucic looking to return at the Winter Classic. [Boston Globe]
  • Mark Stuart remains on IR.

Buffalo Sabres

  • Chris Butler not expected back.
  • No word on Nathan Gerbe, Thomas Vanek or Patrick Kaleta playing tonight, will update later.

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Injury Updates 12/21/2009

12/21/2009
Florida Panthers v New York Islanders

This thread will be updated all day, so keep refreshing it as the day goes along. Just a quick note, if I omitted a source it is due to a previous report with no recent updates. Here are your injury updates for tonight:

Injuries Tonight

Florida Panthers

  • Dmitry Kulikov expected to miss significant time. [On Frozen Pond]
  • Nick Tarnasky, David Booth, Cory Stillman, Kenndal McArdle and Kamil Kreps remain out.

Philadelphia Flyers

  • Still out are Ray Emery and Darroll Powe.

New York Rangers

  • Matt Gilroy up while Bobby Sanguinetti and Ilkka Heikkinen demoted to Hartford.
  • Wade Redden and Ales Kotalik back in the lineup.

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Injury Updates 12/19/2009

12/19/2009
Boston Bruins v Philadelphia Flyers

This thread will be updated all day, so keep refreshing it as the day goes along. Just a quick note, if I omitted a source it is due to a previous report with no recent updates. Here are your injury updates for tonight:

Injuries Tonight

New York Rangers

  • No injuries but Wade Redden and Ales Kotalik remain healthy scratches.

Philadelphia Flyers

  • Simon Gagne returns. [Broad Street Bull]
  • Darroll Powe and Ray Emery remain injured.

Detroit Red Wings

  • Darren Helm back in.
  • Henrik Zetterberg, Jason Williams, Andreas Lilja, Niklas Kronwall, Daniel Cleary, Valtteri Filppula, Johan Franzen and Jonathan Ericsson still out.

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Restoring the Rosters: Buffalo Sabres

12/14/2009
Florida Panthers v Buffalo Sabres

I previously skipped over the Sabres, so here they are.

Based on Matthew Pouliot’s series on Circling the Bases, I have decided restore the rosters for every NHL team. Like Pouliot, I have established some ground rules for my selections.

  1. Each team contains players they originally drafted or signed before any other NHL team. This includes players drafted and not signed, as well as European free agents coming over at an older age.
  2. I have chosen to leave retired players off the list, and lean toward players in the AHL rather than those deported (KHL, SEL, DEL, etc.).

Essentially I am choosing the best available players for a team to succeed in the current NHL season. All 30 teams will be covered, with grades assigned to forwards, defense and goaltending. After all 30 articles are written, they will be ranked in order. This series’ intent is to reward or shame NHL scouts.

The Sabres rely heavily on their drafting and development of young players in order to keep their payroll down. Due to their restrictions monetarily, the team has succeeded in producing a vast amount of NHL regulars as well as some well regarded players.  Overall, there really is no weaknesses to their lineup from the net on out.  A mostly young core, this team greatly resembles the team currently constructed but with more depth and much improved blueline.

The lineup for the Buffalo Sabres is as follows.

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