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.)

Report: Blue Jackets RFA Anderson in contact with Hockey Canada about 2018 Olympics

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The preseason is well underway and Josh Anderson is still without a contract.

Anderson, who scored 17 goals and 29 points last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is one of two remaining restricted free agents without a new deal. The other is Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings.

While there were reports this summer about Athanasiou potentially going to the KHL for this season, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported on Thursday that Anderson’s representatives have reached out to Hockey Canada’s staff about the 2018 Olympics. 

Anderson’s entry-level contract, with an AAV of just over $894,000, expired at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, here is the latest on this ongoing contract situation.

Making an impression: Sergachev has ‘NHL written all over him’

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Mikhail Sergachev has, over the summer, stated his belief he can play in the NHL this season.

He had a small taste of NHL action last season, appearing in four games for Montreal — the team that selected him ninth overall in 2016 — before getting sent back to junior and then being traded in June to Tampa Bay, as part of a blockbuster involving Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

Well, Sergachev made a statement Wednesday in his preseason debut for the Lightning.

He scored once. He also played more than 22 minutes, which led all Lightning players on the night. That included time on the power play and penalty kill. If he was looking to make a favorable impression, to show that he belongs at the NHL level when the regular season begins, this seems to be another step in that direction.

“You watch this kid skate, shoot, stickhandle, he’s got NHL written all over him,” Tampa Bay’s associate coach Rick Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times. “Now we’ve got to give him experience. How much can he handle?”

There is competition on the blue line, with eight defensemen under contract in Tampa Bay for this season. That includes Sergachev, who is still only 19 years old. After getting sent back to junior last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games with Windsor and then won the Memorial Cup that spring. That said, he’s made it a point of saying going back to junior “is not an option” for him.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Sergachev

Report: Lupul will have ‘independent medical exam’

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Joffrey Lupul issued a statement Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t seek a second medical opinion after the Maple Leafs announced he didn’t pass his training camp physical.

A day later, reports have surfaced that the 33-year-old forward will, in fact, undergo another, independent medical test.

That is according to James Mirtle of The Athletic:

Earlier this week, Lupul made accusations against the Maple Leafs on Instagram.

“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per a screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

Lupul, who didn’t pass his physical for a second year in a row, issued an apology yesterday. But those comments — which have since been deleted — seem to have grabbed the attention of the league.

Darren Dreger of TSN added to that, saying it’s the NHL pursuing a second medical opinion on this matter.

“The National Hockey League has that right to pursue the second opinion. That’s exactly what they’re engaging in right now,” Dreger reported Thursday.

“The reasoning behind it is because of the comment that Lupul made on social media. I’ll go back a year ago. The league didn’t step in a year ago but Lupul stayed quiet at that point. So they want to make sure — ‘They’ being the National Hockey League — that the medical evaluation from the Toronto Maple Leafs is 100 per cent above the board.”

Team USA won’t include NHL draft-eligible prospects at 2018 Olympics

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) General manager Jim Johannson has ruled out the possibility of the U.S. men’s hockey team having NHL draft-eligible prospects competing at the Winter Olympics in February.

Johannson tells The Associated Press he doesn’t view anyone from the 18-and-younger pool of prospects capable of cracking the projected lineup of non-NHL players, many of whom are opening this season playing in Europe.

USA Hockey’s assistant executive director says he’s also targeting a number of established college players, and would not rule out keeping a spot or two open for members of the U.S. team competing at the World Junior Championships this winter.

Johansson spoke in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, where he is attending USA Hockey’s sixth annual All-American Prospects game. The game features the top 42 U.S.-born players eligible to be selected in the NHL draft in June.