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Cullen: Looking at the new faces on NHL rosters

Scott Cullen
10/16/2013 5:21:33 PM
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There are a lot of new faces on NHL rosters to start the NHL season. Scott Cullen has combed the rosters and looked into all the players that weren't NHL regulars in 2013, looking at where they've come from and what their roles might be in this coming season.

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Here are the relatively new faces on NHL rosters going into the 2013-2014 season:

ANAHEIM DUCKS
Peter Holland, C - The 15h overall pick in 2009, Holland is a big centre who has six points in 25 career NHL games, and 105 points in 119 AHL games. There is opportunity to move into a scoring centre role with the Ducks, but he's not there yet.

Hampus Lindholm, D - Drafted sixth overall in 2012, the lanky blueliner had 11 points and was plus-5 in 44 AHL games last season, which doesn't automatically make him ready, but with injuries to Sheldon Souray and Luca Sbisa, the Ducks have room to give him a look.

Patrick Maroon, LW - A 25-year-old winger who has scored (172 points in 196 GP over the last three AHL seasons) while racking up some PIMs (327 over the last three AHL seasons), Maroon is ready for his shot in the NHL, where he's managed three points in 15 games over the past couple seasons.

Devante Smith-Pelly, RW - May have been rushed to the NHL in 2011-2012, when he played 49 games for the Ducks (13 points, minus-7) and spent most of last year in the AHL, where he had 32 points and a minus-20 in 65 games. Sturdy winger may be hard-pressed to keep roster spot once injured Ducks get healthy.

Sami Vatanen, D - Small 22-year-old defenceman who was productive in Finland for three years before scoring 45 points in 62 AHL games last season. In eight games with the Ducks in 2013, he scored two goals and was plus-3, and should get power play time right out of the gate.

BOSTON BRUINS
Matt Bartkowski, D - No longer rookie eligible, with 20 games played over the last three seasons, 25-year-old Bartkowski was steady when inserted in the Bruins' lineup in last year's playoffs and is an economical fit as a seventh defenceman.

Jordan Caron, RW - Development stalled last season for the 2009 first-round pick, as he had 18 points and a minus-5 rating in 47 AHL games, though he did add nine points in a dozen playoff games. Doesn't have a regular spot in the lineup, but probably better for him to make the most of his opportunities in Boston.

Chad Johnson, G - Though the 27-year-old has a 1.97 goals against average and .929 save percentage in 10 career NHL games, his AHL numbers (.909 SV% in 170 GP) have only been okay. If he could handle a dozen starts, though, he'll be an inexpensive backup to Tuukka Rask. If he falters, Niklas Svedberg could be called up from Providence.

Kevan Miller, D - Los Angeles-born defenceman who played at the University of Vermont and has been solid in 135 games with Providence over the last two-plus seasons. He's an extra.

Carl Soderberg, LW - (on IR) A big, skilled forward who had 60 points in 54 Swedish Elite League games last season before finally arriving in the NHL. The 27-year-old is expected, when healthy, to play with Chris Kelly and Reilly Smith on the Bruins' third line, but he's likely going to miss the opener with an ankle injury.

BUFFALO SABRES
Brian Flynn, RW - Not rookie-eligible after scoring 11 points in 26 games for the Sabres last season, 25-year-old Flynn is a late bloomer who wasn't drafted and played four years at the University of Maine before impressing Ron Rolston in the AHL (32 points, minus-3 in 45 GP) last season.

Zemgus Girgensons, LW - A 19-year-old who made the unusual jump from the USHL to the AHL last season, scoring 17 points in 61 games as a rookie pro, Girgensons is a big winger who may need more seasoning, but the 14th overall pick in 2012 is forcing the Sabres to pay attention.

Mikhail Grigorenko, C - Picked two spots ahead of Girgensons, Grigorenko was kept with Buffalo for 25 games last season, putting up five points in spot duty, but he did have 54 points in 33 QMJHL games, indicating he still has the offensive knack. With a rebuilding team, he'll get a better opportunity to show his skills this season.

Johan Larsson, C - Acquired from Minnesota in the Jason Pominville deal, 21-year-old Larsson had 41 points in 69 AHL games last season and did get into one game with the Wild. He's on the roster fringe but, if the Sabres are indeed looking to the future, Larsson ought to get a chance to play.

Cody McCormick, LW - A 30-year-old tough guy who was eventually buried in the minors with his $1.2-million cap hit last season, McCormick has 54 points, a minus-9 rating and 458 penalty minutes in 329 career games, making him a serviceable fourth-liner.

Kevin Porter, C - A big collegiate scorer at Michigan, 27-year-old Porter has been on the fringes of the NHL for most of his career, scoring 54 points in 194 career NHL games and 120 points in 146 AHL games.

Mark Pysyk, D - The 23rd pick in 2010, Pysyk is a heady defenceman who made a smooth transition to pro hockey, playing most of the year in the AHL, where he had 18 points and was lus-8 in 57 games, before adding five points and a minus-7 in 19 games with the Sabres. Expect him to log significant minutes on the new-look Buffalo defence.

Rasmus Ristolainen, D - The eighth pick in the 2013 draft, Ristolainen is making the jump to the NHL after playing against men in the Finnish league the last two years. He's even been working on the second power play unit with Pysyk.

CALGARY FLAMES
Sven Baertschi, LW - The 13th pick in 2011 has already been criticized by Brian Burke, but has 13 points in 25 career NHL games. He's skilled and should play in a scoring role for the Flames, building on what was a strong finish last season, when he scored nine points in the last seven games.

Lance Bouma, LW - A third-round pick in 2008, Bouma missed nearly all of last season after ripping up his knee, but the grinding winger has four points and a minus-6 rating in 43 career games.

Joe Colborne, C - Picked up in a trade with Toronto, the 6-foot-5 pivot has six points and a plus-2 rating in 16 career NHL games, but is likely to get a longer look in Calgary, where they sorely need a scoring centre. The 16th pick in 2008, Colborne hasn't shown the offensive game that he did at the University of Denver and, with his third NHL organization, he needs to prove he can score at this level.

Sean Monahan, C - Taken sixth overall in 2013, Monahan is lauded for being very mature and he already has the frame to handle the physical play. His two-way game may be enough to hold down a roster spot, even if he doesn't score a lot right away.

Karri Ramo, G - Under most circumstances, there wouldn't be much appeal to a 27-year-old who has an .895 save percentage in 48 career NHL games, but Ramo has been in the KHL the last four seasons, posting a .926 save percentage in 129 games over the last three. He has a past with Flames GM Jay Feaster and is the Flames' starter in net, which can go one of two ways -- either he shows that he's turned the corner in his development and helps the Flames overachieve, or he's better in the KHL than the NHL and the Flames' goaltending will help them to earn a higher draft pick.

Ben Street, C - A 26-year-old who worked his way up, undrafted, out of the University of Wisconsin, Street had one point in six games with the Flames last season and could hold down a fourth-line or depth role.

CAROLINA HURRICANES
Brett Bellemore, D - 6-foot-4 blueliner made it to the Hurricanes late last season, contributing two points and a minus-2 in eight games. He's scored six goals in four full AHL seasons, so he's not doing anything flashy, but the 25-year-old is big, physical and can handle a depth role, if needed.

Matthew Corrente, D - A first-round pick of the Devils in 2006, Corrente has moved on to a new franchise, but has already been placed on waivers. He may be holding a roster spot for financial reasons.

Elias Lindholm, C - The fifth pick in this summer's draft, Lindholm has missed much of camp with injury, but is still slated to open the year as the third-line left wing. He scored 30 points in 48 Swedish Elite League games last season and is praised for his play away from the puck, so he could have an impact immediately as a two-way player.

Ryan Murphy, D - Drafted 12th in 2011, Murphy is a smooth-skating puck-handling defenceman who is actually in the minors, officially, but will be recalled for Carolina's first game. He's a skilled offensive defenceman, and the Hurricanes need that, so they may live with some of his defensive shortcomings.

Brett Sutter, C - The 26-year-old from -- where else? -- Viking, Alberta, has five points and a minus-6 rating in 37 career games. He scored 48 points in 70 AHL games last season and can handle grunt work on the fourth line.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
Jimmy Hayes, RW - 6-foot-6 winger, originally drafted by Toronto, has 13 points and a minus-3 rating in 41 career games and 68 points in 107 career AHL games. He'll add some heft to the Blackhawks' third line to open the year.

Joakim Nordstrom, RW - A third-round pick in 2010, Nordstrom has been in the Swedish Elite League for the last two-plus seasons, yet has scored a meagre 16 points in 101 SEL games. He added three assists in 11 games with AHL Rockford at the end of last season, but he hasn't shown anything to suggest he's ready for more than a depth role.

Ben Smith, RW - In 28 career (regular-season plus playoff) games with the Blackhawks, Smith has scored seven goals, with no assists. While he's more of a blue-collar winger than pure scorer, he has scored 42 goals in 92 games over the last couple AHL seasons, so he could contribute some, even in a fourth-line capacity.

COLORADO AVALANCHE
Marc-Andre Cliche, C - A second-round pick in 2005, the 26-year-old winger has played one NHL game, with Los Angeles in 2009-2010. He's never been a big scorer, but is a reliable defensive forward, one that can fill in on the fourth line as the situation dictates.

Nate Guenin, D - The 30-year-old has moved around the league since getting drafted by the Rangers in 2002. From Philadelphia to Pittsburgh to Columbus to Anaheim and, now, Colorado, he's put up four points and a plus-3 rating in 32 career NHL games, logging 441 games in the AHL. He fits as a seventh or eighth guy on the blueline.

Nick Holden, D - An undrafted 26-year-old who put in 295 AHL games in the Columbus organization, Holden has no points in seven career NHL games, but the 6-foot-4 rearguard tallied a career-high 39 points in 73 AHL games last season. He's an extra for the Avalanche now, just looking for a chance to play.

Nathan MacKinnon, C - The first overall pick is going to start the year on the Avalanche's third line, easing him into the NHL because he can play behind Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny. After 153 points in 102 QMJHL games, he's ready to play in the NHL, but may not have the role to put up huge offensive numbers right away.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
Boone Jenner, LW - A second-round pick in 2011, Jenner is a power forward who had a strong season in the OHL last year, scoring 45 goals and 82 points in 58 games, adding nine points in 13 AHL (regular season plus playoff) games. As the season starts, he's on the wing with Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik on the Blue Jackets' top line.

Ryan Murray, D - The second overall pick in 2012, Murray missed a big chunk of last season following shoulder surgery, scoring 17 points in 23 WHL games. He's set to embark on his NHL career now and, while his offensive upside isn't high-end, he can be a very good defenceman for a long time.

Curtis McElhinney, G - 30-year-old vet has an .899 save percentage in 69 career NHL games, though he had a strong year (.923 SV% in 49 GP) in the AHL last year. He's not going to play a lot as the backup to Sergei Bobrovsky, but the Blue Jackets can hardly afford to lose a handful of points over the year due to subpar backup goaltending.

David Savard, D - A puck-moving defenceman with good size, the 22-year-old has 10 points and a minus-3 rating in 35 games, with 96 points in 176 career AHL games. If he can't crack the Columbus lineup, there may be another team willing to give him an opportunity.

DALLAS STARS
Alex Chiasson, RW - Big winger burst onto the NHL scene with six goals in seven games late last season, and after five points in five preseason games, he's getting touted as a possible fantasy sleeper. The Stars have Erik Cole and rookie Valeri Nichushkin on the right side too, but it looks like Chiasson will begin the year in a scoring role.

Kevin Connauton, D - Picked up from Vancouver in the Derek Roy deal last season, Connauton is a puck-moving defenceman who is ready for a look in the NHL after 215 AHL games over the last three seasons and should get a chance to play right away.

Lane MacDermid, LW - Picked up from Boston in last season's Jaromir Jagr deal, MacDermid is a physical winger who has two points and 24 penalty minutes in 14 career NHL games. He has limited upside, but can crash and bang on the fourth line.

Chris Mueller, C - A 27-year-old who wasn't drafted and has patiently worked his way up after finishing his four-year career at Michigan State, Mueller had eight points and was minus-5 in 37 career games with Nashville, but could get a decent look with the Stars this season.

Valeri Nichushkin, RW - Drafted 10th overall, Nichushkin has the size to be an NHL power forward, but it could take some time for it all to come together. He's good enough to play and contribute now but, remember, he's 18 and had 15 points in 43 (regular season plus playoff) KHL games last year.

DETROIT RED WINGS
Jared Coreau, G - While the 21-year-old has played well at Northern Michigan the last couple seasons, he's merely a placeholder. Should anything happen to Jimmy Howard, Petr Mrazek would be recalled if Jonas Gustavsson (currently on IR) can't fill in.

Danny DeKeyser, D - A highly-touted free agent signing out of Western Michigan last season, DeKeyser hasn't been a big scorer, but didn't look a step out of place when he played 13 (regular season plus playoff) games with the Red Wings. It's easy to see him in a top four role on the Detroit blueline.

Xavier Ouellet, D - Picked in the second round in 2011, Ouellet is a more offensively-inclined blueliner who has 101 points in 113 QMJHL games over the last two years. He's not likely to play for the Red Wings right away, but the 20-year-old is ready to begin his pro apprenticeship.

Tomas Tatar, LW - 22-year-old Tatar has already played 265 AHL games over the last four seasons, scoring 87 goals and 196 points, before adding 16 goals in 24 playoff games last year on the way to the Calder Cup. He requires waivers to be sent down to the minors, so that's not going to happen, but now it's up to Tatar (who has eight points in 27 NHL games) to take his game to the next level.

Gustav Nyquist, RW - Another Red Wings prospect that has been brought along patiently, Nyquist has 13 points and is plus-2 in 40 career NHL games with limited ice time, but has shown enough flashes, combined with a point-per-game in 122 AHL games, that he's ready for a regular role in Detroit. He's not on the roster, for paperwork reasons, but Nyquist's time is now.

EDMONTON OILERS
Will Acton, C - A 26-year-old forward with good size and minimal scoring ability (35 points in 141 AHL games), Acton appears to have won a fourth-line centre job in Edmonton to start the year. That may be temporary, given that the Oilers are missing their top two pivots, but it's a significant jump.

Mark Arcobello, C - The 25-year-old centre is on the small side but, after 68 points in 74 AHL games last year, he was due for a trial in Edmonton. With Sam Gagner and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins out, he's getting more than just a taste -- he'll centre Edmonton's second line to start the year.

Anton Belov, D - Skilled 27-year-old had a breakout season in the KHL last year, scoring 26 points in 46 games, and will get a chance to upgrade an Oilers blueline that needs more skill. If he can handle top-four minutes, he'll be a massive bargain on his one-year deal that costs $1.525-million against the cap.

Ben Eager, LW - Only played 14 games with the Oilers last season before he was buried in the AHL. With the Oilers still looking for fighters, Eager has a chance to reclaim a role that he's played for 400 NHL games, racking up 873 penalty minutes (and 84 points).

Luke Gazdic, LW - A 6-foot-4, 240-pound winger grabbed off waivers from Dallas, Gazdic is a new Oilers heavyweight alternative following an injury to Steve MacInytre.

Denis Grebeshkov, D - Was excellent for the Oilers in 2008-2009, scoring 39 points with a plus-12 rating in 72 games, but it's generally been downhill since and he's coming off a poor year in the KHL. Nevertheless, Grebeshkov can hold down an extra spot on the blueline for the time being.

Jesse Joensuu, LW - The 6-foot-4 winger didn't really pan out with the Islanders, scoring 15 points in 67 career games, but he had 25 points in 24 Finnish League games last season and will open the year on the Oilers' third line.

Steve MacIntyre, LW - One of the league's most feared fighters, MacIntyre suffered a knee injury that may prevent him from fulfilling his pugilistic responsibilities.

FLORIDA PANTHERS
Aleksander Barkov, C - The second overall pick in the draft, Barkov had 48 points in 53 Finnish League games last season, and is going to get significant ice time right away, slated to start with Jonathan Huberdeau and Brad Boyes on his wings.

Matt Gilroy, D - The 2009 Hobey Baker winner hasn't had much impact in the NHL, playing 209 games with the Rangers, Lightning and Senators, so there's little reason to expect dramatic change now, but he can hold down a depth spot.

Tim Thomas, G - 39-year-old is back after a year off and while it's not easy to like the comeback chances of a 39-year-old, playing behind a decidedly inferior defence to the one he was used to in Boston, it also can't be ignored that from 2007-2008 through 2011-2012, Thomas had the best save percentage (.926) in the league.

Jesse Winchester, C - Low-scoring forward had 11 goals in 233 career games with the Ottawa Senators before spending a little time in Finland last year. He's a reliable checker and penalty-killer, though, so he can fill a role for the Panthers, even with his low shooting percentage.

Nick Bjugstad, C - (on IR) Towering forward was the 19th pick in 2010 and played three years at the University of Minnesota before joining the Panthers last year, scoring one goal with a minus-8 rating in 11 games. The 21-year-old has lots of long-term potential, but may need some AHL time once he's healthy.

Steven Pinizzotto, RW - (on IR) 29-year-old journeyman worked his way into the Canucks lineup for a dozen games last year (no points, minus-6, 29 PIM) and, based on his track record, is ticketed for the minors.

LOS ANGELES KINGS
Matt Frattin, LW - While Tyler Toffoli might eventually be skating on the Kings' second line, Toffoli is back in the AHL, so Frattin gets first crack alongside Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Frattin scored 15 goals and 28 points in 82 games with the Maple Leafs and his 33 goals in 57 AHL (regular season plus playoff) games suggests that he has some offensive skill to be exploited.

MINNESOTA WILD
Mathew Dumba, D - The seventh pick in 2012, Dumba is a dynamic young player who can jump into the rush and throw a big hit, playing bigger than his size. He's on the Wild roster right now, but probably has to prove that he deserves to stay if he's going to last beyond a nine-game trial before he's returned to the WHL.

Justin Fontaine, RW - A 25-year-old undrafted winger who played at Minnesota-Duluth and has 111 points in 137 AHL games in two pro seasons, Fontaine is getting a good look with the Wild, possibly starting the year on the second line with Dany Heatley and Charlie Coyle.

Nino Niederreiter, LW - The fifth pick in 2010, Niederreiter wasn't happy with the Islanders after spending the entire season in the AHL, where he scored 28 goals and 50 points in 74 games, so he's getting a fresh start and will be among the young Wild wingers competing for a spot higher up the depth chart.

MONTREAL CANADIENS
Michael Bournival, LW - Acquired from Colorado in the Ryan O'Byrne trade, the 21-year-old forward had 30 points in 69 AHL games as a rookie pro last season and, while he's made the opening roster, he doesn't yet have a spot in the top four lines locked up.

Jarred Tinordi, D - An injury to veteran Douglas Murray might have made it easier for Tinordi to start the year with Montreal but, based on how he finished last year, the 2010 first-round pick is ready for regular NHL duty. He's huge, plays a steady defensive game and could develop in a shutdown role.

Christian Thomas, RW - (on IR) Acquired in a swap with the Rangers for prospect Danny Kristo, Thomas scored 19 goals and 35 points in 73 AHL games as a first-year pro last season. If he's going to be a scorer in the NHL, he could probably use more time on the farm, developing that aspect further before getting lost amid the Habs' forward lines.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS
Mattias Ekholm, D - The 6-foot-4, 23-year-old defenceman has done his year in the AHL after a couple of strong seasons in the Swedish Elite League (and two years in the Allsvenskan before that), so he's ready for his turn in Nashville. He's minus-2 in three career NHL games, but is due for an extended opportunity.

Filip Forsberg, LW - Picked up from Washington in the Martin Erat deal, Forsberg was the 11th pick in 2012 and projects to be a skilled, scoring winger, but it could be asking a lot for him to take that role as a 19-year-old. After scoring 33 points, with a plus-11 rating, in 38 Allsvenskan (below the Elite League in Sweden) games last season, Forsberg had one point and was minus-5 in five games with the Predators.

Carter Hutton, G - A 27-year-old who played his first NHL game at the end of last season for Chicago, Hutton has played 120 AHL games since wrapping up his career at UMass-Lowell. He doesn't have standout numbers (.911 career SV%) in the AHL, but is likely looking at maybe 10 starts if he lasts the full season with the Predators. If something serious happens to Pekka Rinne, Magnus Hellberg might be poised for the starter's job.

Seth Jones, D - Fell into Nashville's lap with the fourth pick in the draft. The 6-foot-4 blueliner was considered a candidate for the top pick overall and is going to play right away, likely a lot, for the Predators.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS
Rostislav Olesz, LW - Injuries and a hefty contract derailed Olesz's generally disappointing career, but he's getting another chance. He scored 19 points and was plus-5 in 14 AHL games last season, so the soon-to-be 28-year-old gets another look from head coach Peter DeBoer, who had Olesz in Florida in 2009-2010, when he scored a career-best 29 points in 78 games.

Alexander Urbom, D - A 6-foot-5 defenceman who has spent three years in the AHL, Urbom doesn't offer much offensively, but he's easy to slide in on the third pair or in a depth role as needed.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Matt Donovan, D - A fourth-round pick in 2008, Donovan has 98 points in 153 AHL games in two-plus pro seasons, so he's ready for his opportunity on an Islanders blueline that lost Mark Streit in the offseason.

Brock Nelson, C - Drafted 30th overall as a lanky kid in 2010, Nelson has filled out and, after 52 points in 66 AHL games as a rookie pro, he's slated to start the year on the Islanders' third line.

Kevin Poulin, G - The 23-year-old has a .912 save percentage in 23 career NHL games, though his AHL numbers have been getting worse. With Evgeni Nabokov handling the bulk of the starts, Poulin may be just fine in a reserve role. The question is: if Nabokov gets hurt, could Poulin step into the spotlight?

Griffin Reinhart, D - The fourth overall pick in 2012, Reinhart has impressed in camp, but may need to impress further if he's going to avoid a return to the Western Hockey League.

Brian Strait, D - A waiver pick-up last season, 25-year-old Strait turned into a reliable defenceman. He has five points and a plus-1 rating in 31 career NHL games, contributing 40 points in 220 career AHL contests.

NEW YORK RANGERS
Jesper Fast, RW - A sixth-round pick in 2010, Fast had 35 points in 47 Swedish Elite League games last season and offers some offensive upside, enough that he earned a forward spot ahead of Chris Kreider, who is back in the AHL.

J.T. Miller, LW - The 15th pick in 2011, Miller had four points, and a minus-7 rating, in 26 games for the Rangers last season, so he's not a rookie, but with 23 points in 42 AHL games, he's hardly a proven NHLer at this point.

OTTAWA SENATORS
Stephane Da Costa, C - Curiously, the smallish Da Costa landed a roster spot ahead of Mika Zibanejad, who had enjoyed more success at the NHL level as a 19-year-old than 24-year-old Da Costa, who has seven points and is minus-13 in 35 career games. He has 74 points in 103 AHL games, so he can produce offence at that level, but he hasn't been able to do it in the NHL yet.

Eric Gryba, D - The 25-year-old bruiser earned a spot with Ottawa last season, scoring six points with a minus-3 rating in 33 games, and while he's on the opening roster, he could be behind Joe Corvo for a spot in the top six.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau, C - Sparkplug centre had 10 points in 19 (regular season plus playoff) games with the Senators last season, including a playoff hat trick against Montreal. He's not necessarily a big scorer, but can create chances and play effective defensively because of his speed.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
Erik Gustafsson, D - An undersized puck-moving defenceman, Gustafsson has 13 points and is plus-10 in 60 career NHL games. The Flyers' blueline is crowded with veterans, but Gustafsson adds skill to the group when he's in the lineup.

Scott Laughton, C - The 20th pick in 2012, Laughton made the Flyers for a five-game trial last season, then went back to Oshawa, where he finished with 56 points and a plus-22 rating in 49 games. He's a gritty checking forward who could play on the fourth line now, though he could be sent back to the OHL if he's not getting regular ice time with the Flyers.

Jay Rosehill, LW - 28-year-old face-puncher has six points and 282 penalty minutes (with 22 fights) in 83 career games. He won't play every day, or better not, for the Flyers' sake.

PHOENIX COYOTES
Chris Brown, RW - A second-round pick in 2009, Brown played at Michigan before turning pro last season and showing a surprising offensive touch, with 29 goals and 47 points in 68 AHL games.

Rob Klinkhammer, LW - 27-year-old journeyman earned a contract extension with his hard-hitting style of play, scoring 11 points and a plus-7 rating in 22 games with the Coyotes last season.

Lucas Lessio, LW - Taken in the second round in 2011, Lessio scored 110 goals in 208 OHL games over four seasons before moving up to the AHL at the end of last season. He's a winger with good size and speed and, like Brown, can push more proven forwards for playing time.

David Rundblad, D - Picked up in the Kyle Turris trade, Rundblad is a terrific offensive defenceman, who has 55 points in 80 AHL games, to go with eight points in 38 NHL games, since coming over from the Swedish Elite League, where he scored 50 points in 55 games in his final season. The pedigree suggests he should be able to help on the power play, but first it's time to prove that he can handle a regular turn in the NHL.

Chris Summers, D - A 2006 first-round pick who has played 29 NHL games, Summers hangs around as the eighth defenceman while Rostislav Klesla is hurt, but maybe not beyond that.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Robert Bortuzzo, D - The 24-year-old is starting to make his mark, with four points and 29 penalty minutes in 21 games with the Penguins over the last couple seasons. He's still battling for a regular spot in the lineup, but is safe on the roster.

Chris Conner, RW - Small veteran winger cleared waivers just prior to the roster deadline, but has 45 points in 159 career games and can fill in when injuries dictate he's needed.

Olli Maatta, D - The 22nd pick in 2012, Maatta probably needs to be in the top six if he's going to stay with the Penguins. Otherwise, the 19-year-old could still be returned to the Ontario Hockey League, where he would play a dominant role.

Harrison Ruopp, D - Part of the return when the Penguins dealt Zbynek Michalek to Phoenix, Ruopp is really just holding a spot on the roster as the Penguins moved Beau Bennett and Simon Despres to the minors for salary cap reasons.

Jeff Zatkoff, G - With Tomas Vokoun recovering from blood clots, Zatkoff moves into the backup role behind Marc-Andre Fleury. 26-year-old Zatkoff has a .920 save percentage in 93 AHL games over the last two seasons, so he's worth a look as an NHL backup and probably won't be asked to play a lot so long as Fleury continues his solid-enough regular season play.

SAN JOSE SHARKS
Freddie Hamilton, LW - A fifth-round pick in 2010, the 21-year-old winger had 26 points in 76 AHL games as a first-year pro last season, and may still need more time in the AHL, but he could also add energy in a checking role with the Sharks.

Tomas Hertl, LW - The 17th pick in 2012, Hertl scored 18 goals and 30 points in 43 Czech League games last season and is set to start his career on the wing with Joe Thornton and Brent Burns, a fine opportunity to put up points as a rookie.

Matthew Nieto, LW - A second-round pick in 2011, Nieto scored 79 points in 76 games over his last two seasons at Boston University, adding six points in 11 AHL games late last season. The 20-year-old is expected to add speed in a third-line role for the Sharks.

Alex Stalock, G - 26-year-old has played a total of 72 minutes in the NHL, stopping 20 of 22 shots, and has a .909 save percentage in 145 career AHL games. Antti Niemi will handle most of the starts for the Sharks, obviously. Will Stalock be able to do the job when it's required?

ST. LOUIS BLUES
Adam Cracknell, RW - Grinding winger has 14 points in 46 career games, but could find it tough to crack a deep Blues forward group for a regular job.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Mark Barberio, D - He's only played two NHL games, but the 23-year-old puck-moving defenceman has 103 points in 147 AHL games over the last two seasons. He would have to clear waivers to be sent down so, even if he's stuck as an extra on the blueline, that's preferable to the Lightning.

Brett Connolly, RW - The sixth overall pick in 2010 did officially open on the Lightning roster, but he's on his way to the AHL to make room for Ondrej Palat. Connolly scored 63 points in 71 AHL games last season, so he's likely ready whenever the Lightning decide to give him another opportunity.

Radko Gudas, D - Rookie eligible after putting up five points and 38 penalty minutes in 22 games for the Lightning last season, Gudas is a hard-hitting, physical presence, exactly what the Lightning could use on their back end.

Tyler Johnson, C - He may be small, but after 168 points in 170 AHL (regular season plus playoff ) games over the last two seasons, and six points in 14 games with Tampa Bay last season, Johnson is ready for regular NHL playing time.

Ondrej Palat, LW - An industrious Czech winger, Palat scored 78 points in 74 (regular season plus playoff games) for Syracuse in the AHL last season, adding four points and a plus-5 rating in 14 games for the Lightning. He'll skate alongside Johnson.

Richard Panik, RW - As will Panik, the 22-year-old Slovakian winger who has 83 points in 120 AHL games over the last two-plus seasons and contributed nine points in 25 games for Tampa Bay last season.

Andrej Sustr, D - The 6-foot-8 blueliner was highly sought-after as a free agent out of the University of Nebraska-Omaha last season and with a fraction of pro season experience, he's slated to start the year in Tampa Bay, potentially in the opening night lineup. It's tough to teach 6-foot-8.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Carter Ashton, RW - A first-round pick of Tampa Bay in 2009, Ashton was acquired for Keith Aulie and hasn't done a lot to distinguish himself since, going scoreless, with a minus-10 rating in 15 NHL games and scoring 22 points in 60 games with the AHL Marlies. However, he's a big bodied forward who has worked hard to improve his skating and has a chance to play while David Clarkson sits out a 10-game suspension to start the year.

Jake Gardiner, D - Inexplicably left in the AHL for too long last season, only to end up sitting in the press box after he was recalled, Gardiner showed in the playoffs that he's capable of handling major responsibility. Elite skating ability separates him from the pack.

Troy Bodie, RW - The son-in-law of MLSE CEO Tim Leiweke, Bodie already had a favourable history with head coach Randy Carlyle before he signed in Toronto. The 6-foot-4 winger has 11 points and 141 penalty minutes in 107 career NHL games, which makes him capable of fulfilling a pugnacious role.

Paul Ranger, D - A potential gift for the Maple Leafs, Ranger hasn't played in the NHL since October, 2009, but returned to hockey last year, after three years off, putting up 25 points and a plus-16 rating in 51 AHL games. At his peak, Ranger was playing 25 minutes per game for Tampa Bay. He doesn't have to reach that level, but if he could, the Leafs wouldn't mind it either.

Morgan Rielly, D - The fifth pick in 2012 is a brilliant skater and has loads of offensive potential, but the concern for the Leafs is whether he'll be able to get enough playing time in the NHL or if he'll have to spend another year in junior. Decisions, decisions.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS
Zac Dalpe, C - Added from Carolina, where he had 10 points and a minus-10 rating in 41 career NHL games, Dalpe should have an opportunity to play more for Vancouver, where they lack established pros on the lower half of the forward depth chart. He's also shown some scoring ability so, if the fit is right, a third-line spot would be a nice jumpstart to the 23-year-old's career.

Eddie Lack, G - The 25-year-old has been biding his time in the AHL for the last three years, though he missed much of last season with a hip injury, and had a .926 save percentage in his first two seasons, so he should be able to handle caddying for Roberto Luongo.

Ryan Stanton, D - Scooped off waivers from the Blackhawks, Stanton is a physical defensive defenceman with three years in the AHL. With the Canucks sending Frank Corrado down, Stanton gives them better depth at the NHL level.

Nicklas Jensen, RW - (on IR) The 29th pick in 2011, Jensen has an upper body injury, but is due for more AHL seasoning before he gets a chance to stick with the Canucks.

Jordan Schroeder, C - (on IR) Didn't look out of place in a depth role with the Canucks last season, putting up nine points in 31 games. Given uneven progress to that point in his career, it was a welcome step forward, but he's out with a foot injury to start the year.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS
Connor Carrick, D - A fifth-round pick in 2012, Carrick surprised by making the Capitals. It doesn't guarantee that he'll stay all year, since he could be returned to junior, but he'll get his shot to prove he belongs.

Michael Latta, C - Picked up in the Martin Erat trade last season, Latta is a gritty fourth-line centre who has 66 points and 300 penalty minutes in 131 AHL games over the last two-plus seasons. He'll add some enthusiasm, at the very least.

Tom Wilson, RW - The 16th pick in 2012, Wilson is emerging as a power forward, as opposed to just a tough guy, after scoring 58 points in 48 OHL games last season. Washington trading Mathieu Perreault to Anaheim freed up room to keep Wilson, at least for the start of the season.

WINNIPEG JETS
Adam Pardy, D - Journeyman 29-year-old defenceman has played 200 NHL games with Calgary, Dallas and Buffalo.

Anthony Peluso, RW - A brute of a winger who has 29 points and 376 penalty minutes in 181 AHL games, Peluso will be the on-call muscle.

Mark Scheifele, C - The seventh overall pick in 2011, Scheifele has had a taste of the NHL, scoring one goal in 11 games over the last two years, but after scoring 120 points in 66 OHL (regular season plus playoff) games last season, the hope is that he's able to move into a scoring role for the Jets this year.

Jacob Trouba, D - Taken with the ninth pick in 2012, Trouba is a tough and skilled defenceman, ready for the pro game after one year at the University of Michigan, where he scored 29 points in 37 games.

Also, I'm in four fantasy hockey leagues, all with different rules, formats etc., but these are all the players on my teams after drafts and auctions, which should provide at least some idea who I like for value/production going into this season.

MY FANTASY TEAMS
C - Jonathan Toews (2)
C - Pavel Datsyuk
C - Anze Kopitar
C - Henrik Sedin
C - Eric Staal
C - Logan Couture
C - David Backes
C - Cody Hodgson
LW - Rick Nash
LW - Jamie Benn (2)
LW - Evander Kane
LW - Milan Lucic (2)
LW - Gabriel Landeskog (2)
LW - Patrik Elias
LW - Johan Franzen
LW - Andrew Ladd
LW - David Perron
LW - Alex Galchenyuk (2)
LW - Ryan O'Reilly
LW - Ryane Clowe
LW - Jussi Jokinen
LW - Tomas Hertl (2)
RW - Martin St. Louis
RW - Claude Giroux
RW - Jarome Iginla
RW - Bobby Ryan (2)
RW - Marian Gaborik
RW - Joe Pavelski (2)
RW - Blake Wheeler
RW - Nail Yakupov
RW - Justin Williams (2)
RW - T.J. Oshie
RW - Erik Cole
D - Brent Burns
D - Duncan Keith
D - Dion Phaneuf
D - Andrei Markov
D - Slava Voynov (2)
D - Dan Boyle
D - Michael Del Zotto
D - Justin Faulk (3)
D - Marc Staal
D - Jake Gardiner
D - Radko Gudas
D - Ryan Murray
D - Kevin Bieksa
D - Travis Hamonic
D - Stephane Robidas
G - Tuukka Rask
G - Jonathan Quick
G - Antti Niemi
G - Sergei Bobrovsky
G - Viktor Fasth (3)
G - Tim Thomas
G - Brian Elliott
G - Ben Scrivens

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.




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