Justin Schultz

Button: Schultz is the No. 1 affiliated prospect in hockey

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We’re almost into the season where we start scouting out the 2013 draft class, but what about the players who have been drafted already and are waiting for their shot to make the NHL? TSN’s top scout and former Flames GM Craig Button has a Top-30 list just for them.

At the top of Button’s list is Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz. The former Ducks draft pick and current Oklahoma City Barons star was signed over the summer and currently leads the AHL in points. Button, of course, speaks very highly of the former University of Wisconsin product.

“Justin possesses all of the necessary elements to be a catalyst for what looks to be exciting times ahead for the Edmonton faithful. His combination of excellent skating, passing, thinking, anticipation and the desire to make a difference when it matters most, gives the Oilers a look of a player they have not had since the days of Paul Coffey.”

Schultz has a future Oilers teammate with him in the top five of Button’s rankings in Nail Yakupov. Meanwhile, the top five is rounded out with Caps prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov at No. 2, Blues prospect Vladimir Tarasenko at No. 3, and Leafs 2012 first-rounder Morgan Rielly fourth.

You can check out the full Top 30 here.

Tough start: Lehner knocked out of Sabres debut, won’t return

Matt Puempel, Alex Chiasson, Robin Lehner
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Chances are Robin Lehner won’t look back fondly on his first game as a Sabre.

Midway through Buffalo’s season-opener against Ottawa, Lehner — facing his old team for the first time since getting traded this summer — suffered a lower-body injury, and was forced from the contest.

During the second intermission, the Sabres ruled out Lehner for the night.

It was a difficult turn of events for 24-year-old, who admitted he was keen to go up against the Sens. He had a bit of a chip on his shoulder about his time in the Canadian capital; Lehner felt he never got a full opportunity to run with the No. 1 gig, and probably wasn’t thrilled GM Bryan Murray opted to keep Craig Anderson and Andrew Hammond instead of him.

As for tonight’s injury, details are scarce. All that’s known is the ailment was serious enough for Lehner to leave and not return, forcing backup Chad Johnson into duty.

Prior to getting hurt, Lehner had stopped 11 of 12 shots faced.


‘Canes lose Wisniewski (lower body) 47 seconds into debut

Phil Kessel, James Wisniewski
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James Wisniewski‘s time as a Carolina Hurricane is off to a troubling start.

Wisniewski, acquired by the ‘Canes at this year’s draft, exited Thursday’s season-opener against Nashville early in the first period with a lower-body injury.

Shortly thereafter, the team ruled out his return.

Wisniewski, 31, was expected to play a fairly significant role on Carolina’s defense this year.

It’s unclear what the injury is or how severe it might be, but initial reports don’t sound good; Wisniewski appeared to be in significant pain and had to be helped off the ice.