This article is part of our The Daily Puck series.
Around the Rink
With a month of the 2014-15 NHL season now in the books, it's time to take an early look at how some key trades made in the offseason are shaping up for the respective teams involved – from a fantasy perspective.
The Philadelphia Flyers shocked some people in the offseason when they sent fan favorite Scott Hartnell to the Blue Jackets in exchange for R.J. Umberger. So far, Columbus has easily looked like winners on this one. Of course, the Flyers benefited in terms of the salary cap, as Umberger's contract is shorter than Hartnell's. Tackling this from a fantasy perspective, however, the Flyers aren't looking great. Hartnell has produced three goals and 12 points in 13 games with Columbus, while Umberger has managed just a goal and two assists in 13 games with the Flyers. Hartnell has become a fixture in the Blue Jackets' top six and power play, while Umberger didn't fit on the top line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, and is now being consistently bounced around the Flyers' lineup. Hartnell should post 50-60 points in his first year with Columbus, while Umberger will be lucky to reach the 30-40-point mark in Philly. Yikes.
Another one of the big trades that went down in the offseason saw James Neal traded from the Penguins to Nashville in exchange for both Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. Through the first month, the trade seems to be benefiting both teams equally. Neal is pointless in his last two games, but has collected an impressive seven goals in 13 games on the season. While Spaling is fairly irrelevant when it comes to fantasy, Hornqvist has been a revelation in Pittsburgh, posting seven goals and 15 points in 12 games. Skating with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz will do that for you. Everybody expected Hornqvist's production to sky-rocket in Pittsburgh, but many also predicted James Neal would struggle without Evgeni Malkin as his center. That simply hasn't been the case, as this trade has worked out great for both teams thus far.
The Canucks parted ways with veteran Ryan Kesler this past summer and the city went into panic. "He was the heart-and soul of the team". "Why are we trading our best player?" Many felt the Canucks had hit rock-bottom. I guess they hadn't heard of Nick Bonino. Kesler was traded to Anaheim in exchange for both Nick Bonino and Lucas Sbisa, who have both made their mark in Vancouver. Bonino has been phenomenal as the team's second-line center, recording seven goals and 12 points in 14 games. He has a lethal shot and is proving his 22-goal career season in 2013-14 was no fluke. As for Kesler in Anaheim, the two-way center has fit in well, recording three goals and 10 points in 15 games. It was reported Kesler wanted out of Vancouver, so to get a player like Bonino in exchange for him, the Canucks aren't looking too shabby at all. It's fair to say the trade has benefited both teams thus far.
While we could probably go five pages long with analysis, it will be a long time before it's determined who really won those trades. Without further ado, let's look ahead to an action-packed Saturday in the NHL.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
Flames (Karri Ramo*) at Panthers (Roberto Luongo), 3:00
Penguins (Marc-Andre Fleury) at Sabres (Jhonas Enroth), 7:00
Rangers (Cameron Talbot) at Maple Leafs (Jonathan Bernier), 7:00
Wild (Darcy Kuemper) at Canadiens (Carey Price), 7:00
Jets (Ondrej Pavelec) at Senators (Craig Anderson), 7:00
Avalanche (Semyon Varlamov) at Flyers (Steve Mason), 7:00
Lightning (Ben Bishop) at Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky), 7:00
Hurricanes (Cam Ward) at Capitals (Braden Holtby), 8:00
Predators (Pekka Rinne) at Blues (Brian Elliott*), 8:00
Sharks (Antti Niemi) at Stars (Kari Lehtonen), 8:00
Islanders (Jaroslav Halak) at Coyotes (Mike Smith), 8:00
Canucks (Ryan Miller) at Kings (Jonathan Quick), 10:00
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check out our Projected Goalies Grid.
Injury News For Teams Playing Saturday
David Moss, RW (upper body)—Skated on his own after Thursday's practice.
Tim Gleason, D (undisclosed) – Could play Saturday.
Brad Stuart, D (hamstring) – Could be out for a couple of weeks.
Sergei Bobrovsky, G (finger) – Hasn't yet been able to do any puck catching since returning to the ice Monday.
Ryan Murray, D (knee) – Placed on injured reserve.
Brandon Dubinsky, C (abdomen) – May be eyeing a Nov. 18 return against the Red Wings, if not earlier.
Jack Johnson, D (suspension) – Serving second of three-game suspension.
Keith Ballard, D (illness) –Is expected to return Saturday against the Canadiens.
Zach Parise, LW (concussion) – Out indefinitely.
Matt Cooke, LW (lower body) – Was placed on injured reserve Wednesday.
Michael Bournival, LW (shoulder) – Will miss a minimum of two-to-three weeks.
Josh Bailey, LW (hand) – Has been practicing with the Islanders.
Dan Boyle, D (broken hand) – Said he is targeting a return to the lineup at some point next week.
Chris Phillips, D (lower body) – Participated in Friday's practice, questionable Saturday.
Braydon Coburn, D (lower body) – Is expected to return to the lineup Saturday against the Avalanche.
Andrew MacDonald, D (lower body) – Skated Thursday, but there is still no timetable for his return.
Michael Raffl, LW (lower body) – Has been ruled out for six weeks.
Olli Maatta, D (neck) – Underwent successful surgery to remove a tumor on his thyroid gland.
T.J. Oshie, RW (concussion) – Not expected back soon.
Victor Hedman, D (hand) – May not be ready to play until early December.
Brett Connolly, RW (lower body) – Has begun some light skating on his own, could return in two weeks.
Phil Kessel, RW, TOR – Kessel has been on fire of late, recording three goals and 10 points in his last five games. He is now up to 18 points on the season – third best in the NHL. Kessel is leading the NHL with seven multi-point games this season and is on pace for a 113-point season. While it's likely he doesn't break the 100-point barrier, Kessel continues to prove why he is one of the best fantasy options in the game.
Elias Lindholm, RW, CAR – After a slow start to the season, the 21-year-old has come alive, recording three goals and six points in his last four games. So why is Lindholm only owned in 1.4 percent of ESPN fantasy hockey leagues? For starters, Lindholm is currently playing on the Canes' second line, lining up alongside Riley Nash and Nathan Gerbe. Those aren't exactly the biggest offensive producers, that's for sure. Another reason nobody has scooped up the youngster is the simple fact owners are scared to go near the Hurricanes. I bet those same people don't know Lindholm just netted the overtime winner Friday to give Carolina their fourth straight win. Considering he recorded 21 points in just 58 games last, season, Lindholm is easily going to post career totals in his sophomore season. Give this guy a look, especially if you're in a deeper league.
Tomas Plekanec, C, MTL – We just knew that torrid start wasn't going to last for very long. After a phenomenal start to the season, Plekanec has now gone pointless in six straight games. Plekanec still has nine points in 14 games on the season, but seven of those tallies came in his first five games. The second-line center is a great two-play player, but don't expect spectacular point totals. Now that he has cooled down, it's reasonable to think Plekanec could post another season in the 50-point range.
Anze Kopitar, C, LAK – Known as a consistent point producer, Kopitar has been anything but that as of late. With only one point in his last seven games, the elite center is in the midst of a slump. The good thing for fantasy owners is that even the best players go through these droughts. While it's disappointing to see Kopitar with only three points on the season, it's important to remember the 27-year-old has recorded at least 70 points in five of his last six seasons. He'll come around.
Boone Jenner, C, CBJ – Jenner netted two assists Friday in a loss to the Hurricanes – his first points of the season. After missing the start of the season with a hand injury, Jenner has looked good in his first two games thus far. Considering he produced 16 goals in his rookie season, it's surprising Jenner is currently only owned in 1.4 percent of ESPN fantasy leagues. If you include the playoffs and the end of the 2013-14 regular season, Jenner has actually recorded six goals and 13 points in his last 13 games. He was one of Columbus' best players Friday, and is currently skating on the second line with Scott Hartnell, who is producing at almost a point per game pace. Nab Jenner while you can.