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Fantasy buzz: Panarin just fine without Kane

Forward has three points in Blue Jackets debut playing on top line, first power-play unit

by James Harding / NHL.com Fantasy Correspondent

All season long, NHL.com's fantasy hockey staff will have you covered with daily lineup news, production trends and injury notes from around the League. We will identify how these developments affect fantasy owners in year-long (Yahoo) and daily (DraftKings) formats.

 

[RELATED: Fantasy picks: Point, Hedman in line for big night]

 

5 p.m.
Raanta starts for Coyotes, Vasilevskiy could go back-to-back for Lightning

After missing the Arizona Coyotes opening game on Thursday with an injury, coach Rick Tocchet said goalie Antti Raanta ($7,800 in DraftKings) will make his Coyotes debut on Saturday against the Vegas Golden Knights. Raanta will get his shot as a starter this season after he was traded from the New York Rangers on June 23.

In two seasons in New York as Henrik Lundqvist's backup Raanta played in 55 games (44 starts), with a 27-14-4 record. Among goalies who have played in a minimum of 55 games in that span, Raanta is tied for sixth with a .921 save percentage and is seventh with a 2.25 goals-against average. He'll face the Golden Knights Saturday at home, who are completing a back-to-back set after they defeated the Dallas Stars 2-1 on Friday.

After his solid season-opening win over the Florida Panthers on Friday, Andrei Vasilevskiy could start for the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday in Florida. If Vasilevskiy doesn't start, it will be backup Peter Budaj ($7,600) making his first start of the season.

 

Devils rookies impress in debuts

Will Butcher, the New Jersey Devils highly-touted free-agent signing, made his debut for the on Saturday and did not disappoint. The rookie defenseman slotted onto the Devils second pairing and ran the point on the second power-play unit. Butcher dominated the Colorado Avalanche, the team that originally selected him (No. 123, 2013 NHL Draft), with three assists in the first two periods. 

All three of his assists came on the power play and he became the first player in Devils franchise history to have three points in his NHL debut. Butcher is only owned in 5 percent of Yahoo leagues, a number that likely will rise. He should be added in almost all formats, especially in deep leagues and keeper leagues going forward.

Jesper Bratt was another Devils rookie who impressed. The 19-year old wing scored his first career NHL goal and had a shorthanded assist on John Moore's third period goal. He played 12:45 of ice time including 3:23 on the power play. 

Nico Hischier, the first pick in the 2017 NHL Draft didn't score in his debut but was very sharp, setting up good chances for his linemates to go along with six shots on goal. He played 15:44 of ice time and tied for the team lead with 4:25 of power play time.

 

2 p.m.
Penguins, Predators shuffle lines ahead of Stanley Cup Final rematch

Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan decided to keep his shuffled lines ahead of their Stanley Cup Final rematch against the Nashvile Predators (7 p.m. ET; NHL-N, ATTSN-PT, FS-TN, NHL.TV). Sullivan broke up his first line of Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel and Conor Sheary during a 10-1 loss against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday, dropping Sheary down to the third line and moving forward Bryan Rust (3 percent owned in Yahoo) up to Crosby's wing.

Rust ($4,400 in DraftKings), who had two assists in the Penguins opening night loss against the St. Louis Blues, has played with Crosby in the past. He will be a great value pick Saturday playing top-line minutes and will continue to see time on the Penguins second power-play unit.

The Predators will make a change to their top-six forward rotation as well with Kevin Fiala out with an upper-body injury. He'll be replaced by Pontus Aberg. Aberg ($3,100) is expected to slot into Fiala's spot on the Predators second line with Calle Jarnkrok and Scott Hartnell.

Predators coach Peter Laviolette also said backup goaltender Juuse Saros would start over Pekka Rinne. Saros ($7,000) was solid as the Predators backup last season. In three appearances against the Penguins last season (regular season and playoffs combined) he allowed four goals on 52 shots faced.

 

Darling strong option in Hurricanes debut, Granlund out for Wild

Carolina Hurricanes coach Bill Peters anticipates that Scott Darling (73 percent owned) will get start over Cam Ward against the Minnesota Wild (7 p.m. ET; FS-CR, FS-N, NHL.TV). Ward has started 12 consecutive season openers for the Hurricanes. 

Darling ($7,100) was acquired by Carolina from the Blackhawks on April 28 and signed a four-year contract. He spent the past three seasons as Corey Crawford's backup and in that span was 39-17-9 with a 2.37 goals against average and a .923 save percentage. 

Darling's fantasy case could be helped even more after Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said that forward Mikael Granlund won't play because of a lower-body injury. Granlund was the leading scorer for the Wild with a career-high 69 points last season but is considered day to day.

 

Karlsson ruled out for Senators against Red Wings

There had been speculation that Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, recovering from offseason foot surgery, could make his season debut against the Detroit Red Wings (7 p.m. ET; SN1, FS-D, NHL.TV), but he ruled himself out.

Expect Dion Phaneuf and Cody Ceci to continue to man the Senators top defensive pairing and Phaneuf to run the point on the Senators first power-play unit.

 

10 a.m.
No Kane, no problem for Panarin in Blue Jackets debut

One of the biggest fantasy questions heading into this season was what kind of production could be expected from Artemi Panarin (31.3 Yahoo average draft position) now that he's playing without Patrick Kane after being traded by the Chicago Blackhawks on June 23. If the Columbus Blue Jackets' 5-0 win against the New York Islanders was any indication, fantasy owners don't have much to worry about. 

Panarin delivered in his Blue Jackets debut playing on the first line with Alexander Wennberg and Cam Atkinson, as well as on the first power-play unit. Panarin had three assists on goals by Atkinson, Ryan Murray and a power-play goal by Zach Werenski.

The Blue Jackets play at the Blackhawks on Saturday (8:30 p.m. ET; WGN, FS-O, NHL.TV), meaning Panarin ($6,300 in DraftKings) should be extra motivated with an early-season chance against his former team.

Video: NYI@CBJ: Atkinson nets give-and-go with Panarin

 

Fantasy sleepers emerge from Lightning

The Tampa Bay Lightning started their season strong with a 5-3 win against the Florida Panthers on Friday. The offense rolled out a series of line changes that should have fantasy owners scouring the waiver wire. 

Forwards Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are staples of the Lightning's top line, but new linemate Vladislav Namestnikov (C/LW, 10 percent owned in Yahoo) also made his presence felt. Namestnikov ($4,900 in DraftKings) skated with Stamkos and Kucherov at even strength, and that trio, along with forward Alex Killorn and defenseman Victor Hedman, made up the first power-play unit. Namestnikov scored a power-play goal and had three shots on goal. 

Brayden Point (C/RW, 25 percent owned) and Ondrej Palat also had a big night together, with Point ($4,200) scoring a goal and two assists and Palat scoring two goals. The two were joined by rookie Yanni Gourde on the second line, and they were together on the second power-play unit with Tyler Johnson and rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev.

Video: FLA@TBL: Point beats Luongo with sneaky wrist shot

 

Bishop fine after leaving Stars opener

Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop left their season opener against the Vegas Golden Knights early in the third period after taking a puck to the mask. He was replaced by Kari Lehtonen, who allowed two goals in the 2-1 loss. 

Bishop, who was traded to the Stars from the Los Angeles Kings on May 9 and signed a six-year, $29.5 contract on May 12, was sharp in his Dallas debut before the injury scare. He stopped all 19 shots he faced, playing 43:58. Bishop returned to the bench later in the third period, but was held out as because of the NHL Concussion Protocol. 

After the game, Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said Bishop is fine. Bishop ($7,400 in DraftKings) was a preseason top-10 fantasy goalie in NHL.com's rankings and was drafted on average with the 59th pick in Yahoo. The Stars are one of six teams Saturday playing the second game of a back-to-back set, so Bishop could be in line to start against the St. Louis Blues (8 p.m. ET; FS-MW, FS-SW, NHL.TV)) if he's healthy enough to play.

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