By Tomi Rantanen
Injury problems in Buffalo, new kids on the block in Winnipeg
The NHL season got underway yesterday and already there’ve been some serious setbacks all over the league: Sidney Crosby’s concussion problems, Martin Bergeron’s lower body injury and Jonathan Huberdeau’s leg have caused some concern for their respective teams. However, the biggest hit was probably reserved for Buffalo Sabres: Jack Eichel, Kyle Okposo and Ryan O’Reilly are all set to miss the opener and probably much more.
The Sabres are hosting Montreal Canadiens, who start the season without World Cup winning goaltender Carey Price, out with illness. In Accuscore simulations Canadiens steal the depleted Sabres thunder by 59.2% probability, with Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec the most likely scorers.
Things would look much better for the home team with the injured trio in the lineup. According to simulations with Jack Eichel, Ryan O’Reilly and Kyle Okposo all playing, Buffalo would be 50.1% favorites to secure a home win.
Two teams in progress of one sort of rebuild or another take on each other in Winnipeg. The Jets lineup is likely to feature the likes of Nikolaj Ehlers (#9 overall, 2014), Josh Morrissey (#13 overall, 2013), Kyle Connor (#17 overall, 2015) and last but not least Patrik Laine (#2 overall, 2016). While Ehlers has a couple of NHL games under his belt last season, the other prospects’ impact is yet unknown.
If the Jets are heavy on young guns, so are the Hurricanes. Elias Lindholm (#5 overall, 2013), Teuvo Teräväinen (#18 overall, 2012) and Noah Hanifin (#5 overall, 2015) have already had their trial by fire, but recent 2nd round draft pick Sebastian Aho is likely to feature for the first time.
It’s impossible to correctly predict the rookies’ production before a single game, but it is safe to say those kids will have a great impact on these teams future endeavors.
According to Accuscore simulations, using the current lineups, the Jets are slight favorites to win at home with 53.7% probability. After the game we’ll have a better whiff on how the new kids will impact their respective teams – if at all.