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Insider

NHL Morning Links - Oct. 25

10/25/2013

Examining the fallout from the offseason moves that brought Bobby Ryan east and saw Daniel Alfredsson reject his NHL club of 17 years for a red and white jersey south of the border, ESPN Insider Craig Custance takes an early look at how the Ottawa Senators, Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings are faring to start the 2013-14 campaign. Other Insider content showcases Neil Greenberg crunching the numbers in trying to figure out whether Sidney Crosby can top the 150-point mark this season. Pittsburgh Penguins devotees, and hockey fans in general, should enjoy Greenberg’s conclusions.

The Nashville Predators will have to make do without their No. 1 netminder for most, if not all, of November. Pekka Rinne is out a minimum of four weeks with what’s described as a bacterial infection in his hip. It’s a huge loss for a defensive-styled team that relies heavily on quality goaltending. But before you start visualizing Ilya Bryzgalov or any other experienced free-agent goalie in a Predators jersey, bear in mind GM David Poile initially intends to throw the reigns to the club’s own young prospects, Carter Hutton and Magnus Hellberg. Poile told ESPN’s Scott Burnside as much Thursday afternoon. And while the sample size is small (three games), Hutton has looked solid in his rookie campaign.

Thursday was unkind to more than one prominent NHL netminder. Both Cam Ward of the Carolina Hurricanes and Josh Harding of the Minnesota Wild succumbed to injuries in the same game. While Ward is expected to be sidelined three to four weeks with a lower-body injury, the extent of Harding’s injury is still unknown. Look for Mike Murphy to back up Justin Peters in Carolina, and Niklas Backstrom to shoulder the load for Minnesota if Harding is hurt at all seriously.

The Wild did get receive a positive bulletin Thursday in hearing that defenseman Jonas Brodin would not require surgery to fix his broken cheekbone. Pegged to skate in the next couple of days, Brodin – fully-caged up, of course – could rejoin practice as early as next week. Which suggests a return to game action might not be far off.

After serving a 10-game suspension to start the regular season, winger David Clarkson will make his debut for the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Columbus Blue Jackets Friday. Assuming Joffrey Lupul sits out – listed day-to-day with a bruised foot – Clarkson is likely to skate on a line with center Dave Bolland and fellow winger Mason Raymond. If not, the 29-year-old ex-Devil would join the Leafs’ other second line alongside Nazem Kadri and Jay McClement.

In other Leafs’ news, the club officially informed defenseman Morgan Rielly that he would not be sent back to the Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL) after his nine-game tryout. On the downside, the 19-year-old can probably forget about suiting up for Team Canada at the 2014 world junior tournament in Sweden.

Unsurprisingly to anyone who saw John Scott’s vicious hit to the head, winger Loui Eriksson is out indefinitely with a concussion. With Eriksson out, Jordan Caron rejoins the Bruins’ lineup and Brad Marchand reclaims his spot on the second scoring line with Reilly Smith and Patrice Bergeron.

The San Jose Sharks may have Dan Boyle back as early as next week. Recuperating from a suspected concussion, the veteran defenseman is skating again and hopes to compete during the Sharks’ current road trip (Montreal, Ottawa, Los Angeles). That aspiration may be a titch optimistic, but at least Boyle is feeling better.

The St. Louis Blues are looking to shake things up, as far as their corps of forwards is concerned. While the Blues’ top line of Alexander Steen, David Backes and T.J. Oshie is to be left alone, the other three will sport different looks for Friday’s contest with the Vancouver Canucks. The most intriguing perhaps is the projected trio of Magnus Paajarvi, veteran center Derek Roy and Vladimir Tarasenko.

Look for a Kris Letang (knee) to re-join the Penguins’ lineup for Friday’s tilt with the New York Islanders. With Letang good-to-go and 19-year-old Olli Maatta secure in his full-time position with the club, defenseman Robert Bortuzzo is the likeliest candidate to sit out. And a presumably healthy Letang means fantasy owners should lower their expectations of Matt Niskanen and Paul Martin, moving forward.