Today's starting goalies – October 8

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Whether you’re interested for fantasy hockey reasons or just want to know which goalie your team is playing in a given day, we thought it might be helpful to share our best guesses (based on various previews from newspapers and Web sites plus our own instincts) on who might start each day.

12:00 PM ET game

Minnesota “at” Carolina

Likely Minnesota starter: Niklas Backstrom – While it’s a bit surprising that both goalies will play back-to-back games in Finland, it appears that will be the case today. (Source: Michael Russo.)

Likely Carolina starter: Cam Ward – Again, it’s a little unexpected (at least in my eyes) that both workhorse goalies will start again today, but I haven’t stumbled across anything that would indicate otherwise. I’ll keep an eye out for any late developments but it appears that this will be the case.

3:00 PM ET game

San Jose “at” Columbus

Likely San Jose starter: Antti Niemi – While he might share starts with his fellow Finn addition Antero Niittymaki, my guess is Niemi will get first dibs on the starting roll. It’s wise to “hand cuff” the two goalies by drafting/acquiring them both, if you can, though. (The Sharks Twitter feed confirmed Niemi will start this afternoon.)

Likely Columbus starter: Steve Mason – For better or worse, the Blue Jackets are putting all their eggs in the “Mason will snap out of it” basket. My money’s on “worse” but I hope I’m wrong. (The Columbus Post-Dispatch confirms the fact that Steve Mason will start for CBJ.)

7:00 PM ET games

Dallas at New Jersey

Likely Dallas starter – Kari Lehtonen – Lehtonen should receive the vast majority of the team’s starts … until his inevitable string of injuries, of course. I hate to be so sardonic toward a goalie whose skills are intriguing, but he’s basically the Marian Gaborik of goalies. (Source: Mark Stepneski of ESPN Dallas.)

Likely New Jersey starter – Martin Brodeur – No one logs minutes (nay, hours) quite like Devils work horse goalie Brodeur. The excitement over adding average backup Johan Hedberg was kind of amusing; expect Brodeur to flirt with 70 games played like usual as long as he stays healthy this season. (Source: Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice.)

7:30 PM ET games

Washington at Atlanta

Likely Washington starter – Michal Neuvirth –  While we recently reported that Semyon Varlamov is on the verge of returning from the IR, Neuvirth might take every start until his tandem partner returns. Could he make enough of an impression to move from “1b” to “1a”? (Source: Washington Post.)

Likely Atlanta starter – Ondrej Pavelec – This is probably the closest thing to an “upset” so far, as I thought the Thrashers intended to add Chris Mason as a transitional starter while Pavelec gained seasoning. It might be a neck-and-neck race, but apparently Pavelec will get the first shot. (Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Pavelec would start.)

Anaheim at Detroit

Likely Anaheim starter – Jonas Hiller – After years of tight goalie battles (Hiller vs. J.S. Giguere, Giguere vs. Ilya Bryzgalov), this time around the Ducks have an obvious No. 1 and a weak No. 2. Hiller won’t be on easy street though, as that Anaheim defense is going to keep him very, very busy this season. (Source: OC Register.)

Likely Detroit starter – Jimmy Howard – The Red Wings have two reasonably capable goalies in Howard and Cup winner Chris Osgood, both of whom are in contract years. Howard played well last season so the job is his to lose, but he doesn’t have a ton of breathing room. (Source: Ansar Khan.)

Buffalo at Ottawa

Likely Buffalo starter – Ryan Miller – Miller is a no-brainer starter almost every night, unless you’re a member of Patrick Lalime’s family. (Source: Buffalo News.)

Likely Ottawa starter – Pascal Leclaire – I wonder if the Senators are going with “ceiling” over “actual results” here. Brian Elliott is the Jeff Garcia or Trent Dilfer of goalies; he won’t do anything sexy and won’t win many games by himself, but he’s awfully steady. Leclaire has been a flat-out mess the last two seasons, vacillating between being injured and being abysmal, but he’s been given a chance to earn his big contract this season. (Source: Senators Extra.)

Oilers’ Yakimov going back to KHL — this time, on loan

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 14:  Bogdan Yakimov #39 of the Edmonton Oilers looks on prior to the start of the game against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on October 14, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
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Bogdan Yakimov is on his way back to Russia.

On Wednesday, the Oilers announced they’ve loaned Yakimov to KHL club Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik, the same team he joined after leaving AHL Bakersfield last season.

The 83rd overall pick in 2013, Yakimov has appeared in one game for the Oilers since getting drafted. He’s spent almost all of his time in North America in the AHL, and didn’t impress the club last year when he bolted the farm team to return to his native land.

“He made a career decision to return to Russia and I’m not sure how he played or how many games he played,” Oilers head coach Todd McLellan said at the time, per the Edmonton Sun (McLellan was then informed Yakimov was away for 11 games).

“Well, that’s 11 games he didn’t spend with us. During his time away, there were a number of players recalled. I would have preferred to see him in an Oilers uniform and he was real close. Now he has to reset his Oiler clock and get playing again.”

All told, Yakimov played in 36 games with the Condors last season, scoring five goals and 15 points.

At 6-foot-5 and 232 pounds, Yakimov has impressive size and is still only 21 years old, so he’s got some value. But it remains to be seen whether he wants to try and push for an NHL career, or opt to stay in the KHL.

 

Max is back: Lapierre to attend Rangers camp on PTO

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 01: Maxim Lapierre #40 talks with Craig Adams #27 of the Pittsburgh Penguins before a face-off during the game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Consol Energy Center on April 1, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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After a year abroad, Maxim Lapierre is getting a shot to rejoin the NHL.

Per TVA, Lapierre has agreed to join the Rangers in training camp on a professional tryout. The news comes after he split last season between Swiss League outfit Lugano and Swedish League side Modo, with midseason rumblings there were NHL teams interested in bringing him back.

In New York, Lapierre will be reunited with Alain Vigneault, his former head coach in Vancouver. Vigneault has brought in a few former Canucks during his time with the Rangers, including Tanner Glass, Nicklas Jensen and Michael Grabner.

Lapierre, 31, last played in the NHL during the ’14-15 campaign, splitting time between Pittsburgh and St. Louis. A known agitator, he finished the year with 11 points in 80 games, and appeared in all five games of the Pens’ opening-round playoff loss to the Rangers.

Prior to his time in Pittsburgh and St. Louis, “Yappy Lappy” played in Montreal, Anaheim and Vancouver. His best season came in 2008-09, when he scored a career-high 15 goals and 28 points, earning a handful of Selke votes.

Ready for No. 1 duties, Elliott wants to be ‘backbone’ for Flames

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 15:  Brian Elliott #1 of the St. Louis Blues tends goal during the first period against the San Jose Sharks in Game One of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 15, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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At 31, Brian Elliott will be one of most experienced guys on the Calgary roster next season.

But he’s also ready to embark on something unique.

Elliott will have the chance to be a clear-cut, unquestioned, No. 1 starting netminder for the first time in his career when the Flames open play in October — an opportunity he’s ready to embrace.

“As a goalie you want to be wanted. You want to have that opportunity,” Elliott said on Wednesday during his introduction to the Calgary media. “I’m going to do my best to be the backbone of the team and try to be a leader and just do whatever I can to be the rock for the guys on the back end and let the guys do the rest of the work.”

There’s little doubt about Elliott’s role in Calgary for next season. He was stellar in ’15-16, posting a .930 save percentage and 2.07 GAA, helping the Blues advance to the Western Conference Final. And the Flames further anointed Elliott as the No. 1 by signing career backup Chad Johnson to fill the No. 2 role.

So, next year is sorted.

But what about after that?

Elliott is a UFA after this season, and so is Johnson. Flames GM Brad Treliving did say at the draft that Elliott’s contractual status and cap hit played a role in the acquisition, adding that discussions about a new deal could be in the works.

“As part of this deal, Doug [Armstrong, Blues GM] allowed me to talk to [Elliot’s] representative, so there may be the opportunity to look at an extension,” Treliving said at the time. “We’ll look at that. There’s no need to rush, but maybe there is a need to look at something.”

It’s been long rumored that Calgary wasn’t looking for a long-term solution in goal, but rather a “transitional guy.” That’s why Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury, currently under contract for two more years, had been tied to the Flames.

Looking down the road, it’s clear Calgary is anticipating one of their draftees pans out in goal. The club took Providence standout Jon Gillies 75th overall in 2012, Mason McDonald 34th overall in ’14, and Tyler Parsons 54th overall this  year — but none of them are close to being NHL ready.

Which brings us back to Elliott.

Given how erratic things were in Calgary’s net last year both performance- and contractual-wise, one would assume Treliving would like to keep “Moose” around for more than just this season.

With ‘no expectations’ for Franzen or Vitale to play, Wings aren’t worried about cap situation

Detroit Red Wings v Edmonton Oilers
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At first glance, Detroit’s current financial situation isn’t good. Petr Mrazek’s recent two-year, $8 million extension pushed the payroll to nearly $78 million, well over the $73M ceiling for next season.

But there is a catch.

“Certainly we have no expectations that [Johan] Franzen and [Joe] Vitale are playing hockey this year,” GM Ken Holland said Wednesday, per MLive. “I talked to Vitale after we traded (for) him. He’s having on-going issues with concussion.

“He certainly not expecting to be in camp. I’m not expecting to see Johan Franzen on the ice.”

Vitale, acquired from Arizona as part of the Pavel Datsyuk deal at the draft, carries at $1.16 million cap hit. Franzen, who played in just two games last year while dealing with concussion issues of his own, carries a $3.95M hit.

Putting those two on long-term injured reserve would almost get Detroit right back into cap compliance. Holland can also exercise a similar option with Teemu Pulkkinen, who underwent shoulder surgery this offseason (and makes $812,500).

Thing is, cap compliance isn’t all Holland wants to accomplish.

Though he re-signed Danny DeKeyser to a big six-year, $30 million contract earlier this week, Holland still wants to add to his blue line. The Wings have a surplus of forwards, and Holland has said he’d “love to get a top-three defenseman” prior to the start of next season.

A top-three defenseman will undoubtedly cost a fair bit of money. Which means a fair bit of money would need to go the other way in return.

Detroit has reportedly spoken to Anaheim about acquiring Cam Fowler. Fowler, 24, would be a good fit — he’s got a very reasonable contract ($4 million annually through 2018), the type of money the Wings could bring aboard if they were to part with the likes of, say, Gustav Nyquist ($4.75 million through 2019).

The catch, of course, is that the asking price for defensemen is sky high. It cost the Oilers Taylor Hall to get Adam Larsson out of New Jersey, and there are teams like Boston — still desperately searching for a “transitional” defenseman — that have publicly stated the acquisition cost is steep.

So while Detroit might not be worried about its cap situation for next season, it has to be concerned about having what it takes to upgrade the defense.

Related: Blues GM says he might just keep Kevin Shattenkirk