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Weekly Primer

Panarin returning to Columbus with Rangers highlights week in NHL

Subban playing first game in Nashville for Devils, McDavid against Eichel among can't-miss events

by Jon Lane @JonLaneNHL / Staff Writer

Artemi Panarin will play for the New York Rangers at the Columbus Blue Jackets for the first time, and Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel are set to go head-to-head when the Edmonton Oilers face the Buffalo Sabres. But there are more stories to watch this week. Here are the top five along with fantasy can't-miss players.

1. Panarin returns to Columbus with Rangers

Artemi Panarin will play for the New York Rangers against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, FS-O, MSG 2, NHL.TV) for the first time since agreeing to a seven-year, $81.5 million contract July 1.

The forward led the Blue Jackets with an NHL career-high 87 points (28 goals, 59 assists) in 79 games last season, and had 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 10 Stanley Cup Playoff games. During two seasons in Columbus, he had 169 points (55 goals, 114 assists) in 160 games.

Panarin leads the Rangers (13-9-3) in goals (12), assists (21) and points (33). His 12-game point streak from Oct. 24 to Nov. 20 (19 points; seven goals, 12 assists) is an NHL career high. He also was the first Rangers skater with an 11-game run since Rick Nash in 2014-15.

The Blue Jackets are 11-11-4 after losing Panarin, Matt Duchene, Sergei Bobrovsky and Ryan Dzingel to free agency in the offseason.

Video: NYR@MTL: Chytil tees up Panarin's pass for goal

2. Subban back in Nashville with Devils

P.K. Subban will play for the New Jersey Devils against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; ESPN+, FS-TN, MSG+, NHL.TV) for the first time since he was traded June 22.

Subban, voted the 2013 Norris Trophy winner as the best defenseman in the NHL, had 130 points (35 goals, 95 assists) in 211 games for the Predators and helped them advance to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, when they lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.

Subban has five points (two goals, three assists) for the Devils (9-12-4). Nashville is 12-10-4.

Also on Saturday, Bobrovsky could face the Blue Jackets in Columbus with the Florida Panthers (13-8-5) for the first time (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, FS-F, FS-O, NHL.TV). The two-time Vezina Trophy winner (2013, '17), voted the best goalie in the NHL, is 9-6-4 with a 3.48 goals-against average, .884 save percentage and one shutout after agreeing to a seven-year contract July 1.

3. Kessel back in Pittsburgh with Coyotes

Phil Kessel is set to play for the Arizona Coyotes against the Penguins at PPG Paints Arena on Friday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, ATTSN-PT, FS-A, FS-A PLUS, NHL.TV) for the first time since the forward was traded from Pittsburgh for forward Alex Galchenyuk and defenseman prospect Pierre-Olivier Joseph on June 30.

Kessel's 303 points (110 goals, 193 assists) in four seasons in Pittsburgh were second behind Sidney Crosby's 363. He had a Penguins-high 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in 24 games during the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs to help them win the Cup, and 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) in 25 postseason games to help Pittsburgh repeat as champions in 2017.

Kessel has 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) for the Coyotes (15-9-4), who are second in the Pacific Division, three points behind the Edmonton Oilers. His 361 goals and 837 points since 2006-07 are second to Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane (370 goals, 971 points) among United States-born players.

Video: NSH@ARI: Kessel fires home second power-play goal

4. McDavid, Eichel go head-to-head for first time this season

McDavid and Jack Eichel, the first two picks of the 2015 NHL Draft, go head-to-head for the first time this season when the Oilers play the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Sunday (8 p.m. ET; ESPN+, SN, MSG-B, NHL.TV).

The Oilers center has four points (two goals, two assists) in five games against Eichel and the Sabres, and leads the NHL with 51 points (19 goals, 32 assists), one ahead of Draisaitl.

Eichel leads Buffalo with 35 points (16 goals, 19 assists). He has seven points (three goals, four assists) in five games against McDavid and Edmonton.

Video: VAN@EDM: McDavid whips shot to the back of the net

5. Sabres celebrate 50th anniversary on Founders' Night

The Sabres will continue to celebrate their Golden Season by commemorating the 50th anniversary of the day they were awarded an NHL franchise on Founders' Night before their game against the Devils at KeyBank Center on Monday (7 p.m. ET; SN, MSG-B, MSG+, NHL.TV). The Sabres and Vancouver Canucks were awarded franchises by the NHL on Dec. 2, 1969, when the League expanded to 14 teams. Buffalo played at Memorial Auditorium from 1970-96 before moving to the building now known as KeyBank Center.

Fantasy can't-miss picks

Rasmus Ristolainen -- The Sabres defenseman is taking on an expanded offensive role after the injury to Rasmus Dahlin (concussion; out indefinitely). Ristolainen has points in consecutive games, is playing on the first power-play unit again with elite center Jack Eichel and has four games this week. -- Pete Jensen

Jack Eichel -- The Sabres center has 18 points (nine goals, nine assists) and 46 shots on goal in his past 11 games. He's a strong fantasy pick this week with four games against the Devils, Calgary Flames, Oilers and Canucks. -- Rob Reese

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