Quick Thoughts: Early trends around the NHL

We’re just over a week into the season and there are a lot of things that have caught my attention. Don’t panic about your star players just yet, but late round draftees could be replaced. Some players are benefiting with top minutes while others aren’t, and the ultimate question will be if these trends continue or not.

With Alex Galchenyuk out with a lower-body injury, Clayton Keller is now centering the second line. Last season he mostly played on Derek Stepan’s wing, and I wonder if they may go back to those line combinations when Galchenyuk returns.

Last season, Ryan Donato put up 43 points in 29 games in college and followed that up with nine points in 12 games with the Boston Bruins. This year he has been moved up to the second line with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk. He is worth a look as he also has a spot on the top power-play unit.

Jeff Skinner has been relegated to the second line in favour of Conor Sheary. Sheary also took his spot on the top power-play unit. Sheary played with Sidney Crosby and had one 53-point season. He didn’t exactly stick on Crosby’s wing, but if he sticks on both of these lines he may be able to put up those numbers again.

Elias Lindholm is reaping the benefits of playing with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan on the top line. He is even on the top power-play unit with Matthew Tkachuk. I still think James Neal will work his way up to the top line and top power-play, but until that happens roll with Lindholm.

Dougie Hamilton owners must be furious at the moment. The Carolina Hurricanes are using Hamilton with Jacob Slavin on the second power-play unit. I am shocked since he is their best offensive defenceman. We won’t see his full potential until he gets consistent top power-play minutes. Michael Ferland is on the top line playing with Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen. He played with Gaudreau and Monahan in Calgary so I’m not sure if he gets more points this year.

The Florida Panthers are going with an all-forward power-play. It will include Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck, Mike Hoffman, and Evgenii Dadonov. If it’s successful maybe we’ll see more teams do it. Also, with Roberto Luongo on the IR, I wonder if they would take a crack at Sergei Bobrovsky.

Ryan Pulock was a popular sleeper in the off-season, but so far it’s not working out. Nick Leddy is still the man on the top power-play unit, leaving Pulock to the second unit. The new Islanders’ captain, Anders Lee, is playing with Brock Nelson and Jordan Eberle.

Thomas Chabot torched the Leafs on Saturday night. Chabot has been one of the best prospects for some time and he will eventually get top power-play minutes. If you have spot, he’s definitely worth a look.

Wayne Simmonds is back baby… well, sort of. Simmonds has reclaimed his spot on the top power-play, but is stuck on the third line with James van Riemsdyk. With JVR’s injury, they have decided to flip Travis Konecny with Jakub Voracek, stacking their top line.

Matt Murray is out again with another concussion and it paves the way for Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith to split the starts. Jarry was sent to the minors because he would not have to clear waivers, allowing them to keep DeSmith as the backup. DeSmith will get the first crack at the starting job, but Jarry got the bulk of starts last season. This is a shame for Murray as this is the third time he’s been diagnosed with a concussion.

Before Joe Thornton went on the IR the San Jose Sharks were spreading out their offence. Timo Meier was on the top line while Evander Kane was left on the third. With Thornton out, Kane and Kevin Labanc join Joe Pavelski on the top line while Meier is on the second. Tomas Hertl has been on the top power-play instead of Joe Thornton so Kane owners aren’t happy about the lack of power-play time.

St. Louis is another team who is spreading out their offence. Vince Dunn is quarterbacking one power-play unit with Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly. That leaves Jaden Schwartz, Brayden Schenn and Alex Pietrangelo on the other.

Mike Babcock finally put Kasperi Kapanen higher in the lineup. Kapanen took Tyler Ennis’ spot with Auston Matthews and Patrick Marleau. He had two points on the line against Chicago and another two against Dallas. He has a real good chance at 40-50 points if he stays on this line for the whole year.

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