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Fantasy reaction from All-Star Weekend | Strength of schedule
Defenseman Jaccob Slavin on the chance to play on the first power play in the absence of injured All-Star Dougie Hamilton
"Obviously I wish I didn't have the opportunity; I wish Dougie wasn't hurt. I wish he was still playing with us. He's a big piece to our team. To get the opportunity to fill some of those minutes he played, it's a great opportunity. I'm definitely excited for it and looking forward to the challenge of it. It should be fun but it does come at a big expense."
Slavin on the return of veteran wing Justin Williams and his strong start to the season
"We'll have to see how that works, but he did a great job in that game against [the] Winnipeg [Jets] there [on Jan. 21] and scored two huge goals for us. He's gonna fit right in with this team. Everyone knows the kind of player he is and the kind of person he is. The character and the attitude he brings to the game is definitely something we need right now at this point in the season.
It seems like if you take that much time off, you're gonna have to get the rust off a little bit coming back in and just getting back to one speed, especially this last half of the season when it starts to ramp up. He looks good and like he's in good shape, skating well. In the mind, the game's there for him and so that makes it easier for him because he has such a great mind for the game."
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
Defenseman Seth Jones on the value of goalies Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins moving forward and how Merzlikins is making a case for this to be a timeshare once Korpisalo returns.
"Yeah, [Merzlikins] is. I don't think it's gonna be a competition, but I think whoever's hot, he'll play, in my opinion. Obviously that's not up to me to decide; my job is just to go out and play my game. But we're confident in whichever goalie is in the net. Both goalies make big saves for us and have grown a tremendous amount this year."
Center Tyler Seguin on the emergence of rookie wing Denis Gurianov as a second-half sleeper in a top-six role
"[He's been a] first half [sleeper] too. He's got that confidence. He's got that swag now. He's gonna be a heck of a hockey player. We saw it from last year a little bit and this year's training camp. How fast he is, including Roope Hintz, just our young speed -- they're dangerous players and when they keep getting experience and confidence, they're gonna be a heck of a hockey player. [Gurianov] is one of those players where he can obviously have a role in the bottom six, but when you give him an opportunity in the top six, you just put the puck wide and he goes and does his thing."
DETROIT RED WINGS
Wing Tyler Bertuzzi on the emergence of Robby Fabbri after he was acquired from the St. Louis Blues
"I played with [Fabbri] in Guelph [of the Ontario Hockey League] and knew when we traded for him that we were gonna get a really good hockey player that worked hard. He's shown that he can be a really good NHL hockey player, and that trade was awesome for us. I think he'll keep growing -- he's still young -- and as our team develops and gets older, he's gonna be a big key for us.
Bertuzzi on defenseman Filip Hronek's sleeper upside for the rest of the season in a first power-play role
"[Hronek] is for sure one of the best young defensemen in the League right now. He's shown it this year so far and he's only gonna get better, he's gonna get stronger and faster and more experience. He's so young right now and, with what he's doing, I can only imagine when he gets a little bit older."
Wing Jonathan Huberdeau on Noel Acciari's breakout season and his rank among the NHL leaders in goals per 60 minutes
"Obviously he's stepped up playing on the second line. He's scoring a lot of goals -- we kind of mess around with him that he doesn't have a lot of assists, but it's funny. He works so hard and blocks so many shots. Defensively he's such an asset for our team, and for him to get rewarded offensively it's just a plus and great for the team. I'm really happy for him.
Defenseman Shea Weber on the addition of fellow veteran Ilya Kovalchuk and how the wing's impact goes beyond the scoresheet
"[Kovalchuk] has been a great addition. Obviously statistically he's doing well; he's putting up numbers. But he's been a great guy in the locker room. I played against him and knew what he was like on the ice but didn't know what he was like off the ice. Nothing but good things to say about him."
NEW YORK RANGERS
Left wing Chris Kreider on the goalie trio of Henrik Lundqvist, Alexandar Georgiev and rookie Igor Shesterkin
"[Lundqvist] is a future Hall of Famer. The two young guys are obviously incredible in their own right. I'm a forward, so it's not something I'm really thinking about. But it doesn't matter who we have between the pipes right now, they're playing really well for us and it's on the team to help them out and give them more wins here."
Goalie Tristan Jarry on valuable rookie defenseman John Marino:
"He's played exceptional this year. For him to step up right out of college has been huge for us. he's been a great shutdown D-man and has put up a lot of points for us. He's somebody I think we rely on and that I trust in front of me."
SAN JOSE SHARKS
Center Tomas Hertl on goalie Aaron Dell's consistency as the No. 1 goalie
"It's a tough season for us, but Aaron is amazing. He wins some games for us and at least if we don't win the game, he keeps it close. He's been really good for us. I'm really happy for him. I wish for us players to help both our goalies because I think for even for [Jones] and [Dell] we kind of let [the opponent] score a couple easy goals. I think we should be better for them. When the team is better, the goalies always look better too. I wish we can do that for our goalies and help them out."
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Goalie Frederik Andersen on the injury to defenseman Morgan Rielly and upside of rookie Rasmus Sandin for the rest of the season
"Well of course [Sandin] has looked great in the first couple of games. He's a great talent, but Jake [Muzzin, who returned Monday] and Morgan are a big part of our team and very experienced defensemen, so obviously it's gonna hurt a bit [to be without Rielly]. But it's going to open up some chances for guys to get bigger roles. Sandin gets a shot at playing up a little bit more and develop as well as a player. I think that's not something we can dwell on or be down about. We just gotta continue and work and the guys who are healthy can carry the team [until Rielly returns]."
Goalie Jacob Markstrom on defenseman Quinn Hughes's impressive rookie season
"His confidence [is most impressive]. He doesn't get stressed out. You see him off the ice. He's so calm and his confidence is huge with the puck. Tight situations against star players, nothing changes for him. He's just playing his game and having fun doing it."
Hughes on veteran defenseman Alexander Edler's hidden value and impact on the Canucks roster
"Edler's awesome. He's been a great leader for us. He's played 14 years and has got the most points and goals for a defenseman in Canucks history, so he's done a lot. I feel like you have to watch him a lot to appreciate him for how good he is and I've done that. He's so smart and really good defensively. [Tyler] Myers has been a great addition, and [Christopher] Tanev as a 'D' partner has been tremendous."
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
Wing Max Pacioretty on playing with center Paul Stastny and the flexibility he gives their lineup
"I always want to play with him and everyone always wants to play with him, but that's the selfish side of me. The reason he switches lines is because he's so versatile. If someone goes down or needs to get going, they seem to always put Stastny in that spot because he's so easy to play with and takes care of things in his own end -- he's responsible. And then when you go on the offensive side of things, he has that poise to make the play. He's a very unselfish player. I'm playing with him right now but oftentimes when things get changed, it's not on him it's because he's so versatile. You can plug him into different situations, get minutes on the penalty kill and the power play. Guys like that are very valuable to an organization and that's why we're so thankful that we have him."
Pacioretty on Chandler Stephenson's surprising season after being acquired from the Washington Capitals
"[Stephenson] has definitely been a really pleasant surprise. Didn't know as much about him; I definitely knew who he was and that he's a good player but he didn't have the opportunity -- was stuck behind some players with a different organization. He's a versatile player just like Stastny but brings a little bit of a different element; he relies on his speed a lot, which is definitely valuable for our organization because we want to play a fast game. He gets all the credit for the success he's had; it's not easy to come to a new team and get plugged into a new system but he handled it the right way. It's nice to see him get rewarded for his hard work."
Goalie Connor Hellebuyck on defenseman Neal Pionk's breakout season after being acquired from New York Rangers in the offseason
"You can see the confidence in [Pionk's] game, his compete every single night and how hard he's battling on loose pucks and the reads of the game too. You can even see him getting better and better. It takes a little bit of hard times to learn, but he's a guy that I feel like is figuring it out with success."
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