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NHL Morning Links - Sept. 25

9/25/2013

In-house, Craig Custance gives Neil Greenberg's Top 25 under 25 list a good combing over, with input from general managers and scouts from around the league.

Fresh off signing a one-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs, forward Mason Raymond is favored to play a top-six role to start the season. The speedy and versatile skater is pegged to fill in on the right side of center Nazem Kadri on the Leafs' second line in place of David Clarkson (suspended 10 regular-season games for leaving the bench during Sunday's brawl between the Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres). Clarkson is still eligible to compete through the remainder of September. Meanwhile, the league has suspended Leafs forward Phil Kessel three preseason games for taking a few hacks at John Scott with his stick during Sunday's brouhaha.

After cracking Sam Gagner's jaw, Zack Kassian won't have much opportunity to take it easy during his eight-game suspension. The Vancouver Canucks plan to whip the young winger into shape in the gym during his recess from competitive play ("... gives us the chance to really nail him as far as conditioning ..." -- coach John Tortorella). Alex Burrows fills in for Kassian on the top line with the Sedins in the meantime.

Despite skating on the second line with Derek Roy and Chris Stewart, newly-signed Brenden Morrow is still anticipated to (regularly) fill a third-line role for the St. Louis Blues this season.

Rookie Tomas Hertl continues to campaign hard for a roster spot with the San Jose Sharks.

Coach Adam Oates is lightly mucking around with playing Martin Erat at center.

Still no indication from the Winnipeg Jets as to whether Olli Jokinen or Mark Scheifele will center the second line -- between Evander Kane and Devin Setoguchi -- to start the regular season.

Goalie Thomas Greiss is cementing himself in as backup to Mike Smith with the Phoenix Coyotes.

Providing a solid cause for concern among the Philadelphia Flyers faithful, forward Jakub Voracek suffered an upper-body injury against the Devils Tuesday. But Flyers GM Paul Holmgren insists the ailment isn't serious. In net for the Flyers, Steve Mason and Ray Emery remain square in the No. 1/No. 2 hierarchy department.

Veteran Michal Handzus is favored over young Brandon Pirri to start the season on the second forward line for the Chicago Blackhawks.

As contract negotiations between RFA Derek Stepan and the New York Rangers remain at a standstill, GM Glen Sather opts to verbally slam the player and his agent.

Young goalie Petr Mrazek is poised to see limited action for the Detroit Red Wings in October as regular No. 2 Jonas Gustavsson takes a seat on the injured shelf with a pulled groin (three to four weeks). Obviously Jimmy Howard will carry the lion's share of the load.

After stepping it up this preseason, rookie forward Mike Sislo is believed to be on the New Jersey Devils' short list for call-ups in 2013-14.

Tough battle: One of Cory Conacher, Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Mika Zibanejad will earn the right to play on the second line for the Ottawa Senators alongside Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur.

Defenseman Trevor Daley (upper-body injury) of the Dallas Stars is in danger of missing the start of the regular season.

New to the Los Angeles Kings, forward Matt Frattin has all but solidified his spot on a line with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.

With Darnell Nurse sent back to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and Taylor Fedun demoted to the AHL, five defensemen -- Philip Larsen, Denis Grebeshkov, Anton Belov, Nick Schultz, and Corey Potter -- are left to fight for three roster spots with the Edmonton Oilers. Minor injuries to Grebeshkov and Potter make the club's decision a little easier to start the campaign.