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League Leaders in scoring – Week 1 Edition

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It’s ludicrously early in the NHL regular season, but why not take a look at some of the statistical leaders after one week of action? I’ll also ponder which players might be likely to continue their success and which ones are probably just enjoying a brief moment in the sun.

In this post, I’ll glance at the most common stat categories: points, goals, points for defenseman and so on. Expect a post on goalies and some of the off-the-beaten path stats in a bit, too.

Top 5 Points leaders

1 (tied). Alex Ovechkin – 7 points (4 Games Played); Brad Richards – 7 pts (3 GP)

3 (tied). Steve Stamkos – 6 pts (3 GP); Marian Hossa 6 pts (4 GP); Todd Bertuzzi 6 pts (4 GP)

Comments: The least surprising name is Ovechkin’s. Stamkos, Hossa and Richards aren’t exactly earth-shattering, but seeing Todd Bertuzzi’s name on there is both shocking and unsettling. I’m not exactly the world’s biggest supporter of Bertuzzi, yet it does seem like he found himself a good fit in Detroit. I don’t expect him to be a top point generator for the whole season, though.

Six players are tied for the league lead with four goals scored: Ovechkin, Stamkos, Clarke MacArthur (!), Derek Roy, Steve Sullivan and Brenden Morrow.

Comments: Again, Ovechkin and Stamkos aren’t shockers. Morrow, Sullivan and Roy will probably slow down considerably but might be in for good seasons, although Morrow and Sullivan will need some luck, health-wise. The biggest surprise is obviously Toronto Maple Leafs forward MacArthur, a player who the Atlanta Thrashers allowed to walk rather than pay him an arbitration award. He shouldn’t be a contender in the Maurice Ricahrd Trophy sweepstakes, but if he scores 20 goals or more, he’ll be a fantastic addition by Leafs GM Brian Burke.

Top 5 scorers among defensemen

1 (tied). John Carlson 5 pts (4 GP); John-Michael Liles 5 pts (3 GP)

3 (tied). Alex Goligoski 4 pts (4 GP); Paul Martin 4 pts (4 GP); Jordan Leopold 4 pts (4 GP)

Comments: None of these players were high-end fantasy hockey defensemen, but they all have talent (with Leopold probably ranking as the most surprising to appear on this scoring list). Interestingly enough, Leopold is a former Penguins defensemen while Goligoski and Martin currently patrol the Pittsburgh blue line. Carlson might be the least experienced of the five, but he might also be the most likely to rank high among scoring defensemen at the end of this season considering the fact that he plays for the Washington Capitals.

Five players lead the league in plus/minus with a +5: Loui Eriksson, Stephane Robidas, Brian Rafalski, Hossa and Richards.

Comments: Rafalski cheats his way onto this list (only two games played thanks to injuries and missed that 4-1 shellacking against the Stars), while the list is dominated by Dallas Stars; Niklas Grossman, James Neal and Brenden Morrow are just behind Robidas, Eriksson and Richards with +4 ratings.

Matthews to sit out preseason tilt versus Sabres, as Maple Leafs give him ‘a little break’

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Auston Matthews poses for a portrait after being selected first overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in round one during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)
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The Toronto Maple Leafs play the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. But No. 1 overall pick Auston Matthews won’t be in the lineup, according to multiple reports.

“Sooner or later, he’s going to get in, but not tonight,” said assistant coach Jim Hiller, as per the Toronto Sun.

“The lineups are day by day. They (World Cup players such as Matthews, Milan Michalek, Leo Komarov and James van Riemsdyk) went through a solid three weeks. It’s a little break, a little down time. There are tons of games coming. They’ll get a lot of ice time. They’ll get in shortly.”

(The report also notes that Matthews is not dealing with a health issue, which is obviously good news for the Leafs.)

On a night when the No. 2 overall selection Patrik Laine is slated to make his preseason debut for the Winnipeg Jets, fans wishing to see Matthews don a Maple Leafs jersey in his anticipated debut will have to wait.

Matthews played for Team North America at the World Cup held in Toronto. He had two goals and three points in three round robin games, but the young North American team was unable to advance to the semifinal round.

The Maple Leafs play the Montreal Canadiens at home on Sunday.

McLellan: Maroon’s lower-body injury not considered serious

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It appears Patrick Maroon‘s injury from Wednesday’s preseason game against the Vancouver Canucks looked worse than it is.

The Edmonton Oilers forward was in obvious pain immediately after he went hard into the boards from an awkward hit delivered by James Sheppard just past the midway point of the third period. Maroon needed help to the bench and was unable to put much, if any, pressure on his left leg.

He left the game and didn’t return.

Good news, however, from the Oilers: Head coach Todd McLellan told reporters on Friday that the injury — lower body — is not serious, as per the team’s Twitter account.

According to Mark Spector of Sportsnet, the 28-year-old Maroon is expected to be ready for Edmonton’s season opener against the rival Calgary Flames on Oct. 12.

The Oilers acquired Maroon at last season’s trade deadline, a move that certainly added size and an element of grit to their group of forwards.

In 16 games with Edmonton, he scored eight goals and 14 points. In 56 games with Anaheim that same season, he registered only 13 points before the trade.

Patrik Laine to make highly anticipated preseason debut for Jets

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 24:  Patrik Laine gives an interview after being selected second by the Winnepeg Jets during round one of the 2016 NHL Draft on June 24, 2016 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images)
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Anticipation has been building since the Winnipeg Jets officially took Patrik Laine with the second overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft.

On Friday, Laine, the highly coveted Finnish forward, will make his preseason debut for the Jets when they play the Edmonton Oilers in Winnipeg, as the home fans get the chance to take in the occasion.

The Jets have done a nice job of amassing good young forwards in their organization. Laine, who has the gifts to be a prolific scorer in the NHL, is at the top of that prospect list.

Winnipeg’s roster tonight also includes forward prospects Kyle Connor, Nic Petan and Brandon Tanev, not to mention more NHL experienced forwards like Alex Burmistrov, Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele.

Laine enters this season with high expectations placed on him from fans and media, after coming to the NHL following a standout career in Finland as a teenager. He’s aware of the expectations, but toned down the hype with the usual statements of just playing his game.

“Just be brave on the ice and show everybody I will earn my spot on the team,” he told reporters.

Laine has already seen game action this month. Not with the Jets, but with Finland’s entry at the World Cup of Hockey.

Following offseason knee surgery, Laine wasn’t happy with his performance in Finland’s first pre-tournament game. In three tournament games, Laine failed to register a point, despite a team-best 10 shots on goal, as Finland was quickly eliminated in the round robin.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Patrik Laine

Murray: Ristolainen’s good-faith gesture unlikely to sway talks with Sabres

BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 22: Rasmus Ristolainen #55 of the Buffalo Sabres makes a pass during the game against the Detroit Red Wings on January 22, 2016 at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Brenner/Getty Images)
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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray tells The Associated Press he doesn’t believe defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen‘s decision to join the team for practice without a contract will have any effect on thawing negotiations.

With a big laugh, Murray on Friday said the only way Ristolainen could speed up contract talks is if “he got all lovey-dovey” and elected to take the Sabres’ latest offer.

Ristolainen is a restricted free agent whose rights were retained by the Sabres in June. After representing Finland in the World Cup of Hockey, Ristolainen reported to the Sabres on Thursday in what was regarded as a sign of good faith.

Though he’s not allowed to play because he’s not under contract, Ristolainen is practicing with the team and also taking part in meetings. Ristolainen is not making himself available to reporters.

Murray says he didn’t see anything wrong with allowing Ristolainen to practice, saying he’d rather the player be in Buffalo than working out elsewhere.

Murray says the two sides are still negotiating.

In three seasons, Buffalo’s 2013 first-round draft pick has established himself as the Sabres’ top defenseman. Last year, Ristolainen led the team in averaging more than 25 minutes of ice time per game, and led Buffalo defensemen with 41 points (nine goals, 32 assists).