As far as post-hip resurfacing surgery season debuts go, Patrick Kane looked fit enough in Detroit on Thursday. Skating 16:33 on a line with former Chicago teammate Alex DeBrincat, he moved well and fired three shots on net, including a near-goal that just caught the post.
"I felt fine", Kane said after the 6-5 OT loss to the Sharks. "It's just a matter of getting my timing back and understanding the team structure. It would have been great to bury that one in the third, though."
Still, a solid first outing, all considered. Which merits mentioning since Kane remains available in 30% of ESPN.com leagues as of Friday morning. Barring a health setback, that won't be the case for the dynamic winger for long. The Red Wings host the Senators on Saturday.
Otherwise, every team plays at least once over the weekend, when we're treated to a three-game slate Friday, 12 contests on Saturday, and a lively Sunday card featuring eight matchups. Fantasy managers might pay extra attention to the Devils' tour through Alberta, where we could see a good numbers of goals from both sides in Calgary Saturday and then Edmonton on Sunday.
Elsewhere, Florida - including No. 1 Sergei Bobrovsky - faces a friendly enough schedule, hosting the Penguins before travelling to Columbus on Sunday. Ensure your favorite skaters from Nashville and St. Louis are active, as the Predators touch down in Toronto and Montreal over the weekend, while the Blues visit Columbus and Chicago, respectively Friday and Saturday. It's worth noting the Blue Jackets are playing their second in as many nights when welcoming St. Louis, after getting pumped 7-3 by the Islanders on the road Thursday.
Stuart Skinner, G, Edmonton Oilers: It's hard to argue against a .943 SV% and 1.58 GAA through five-straight wins. Especially when the rest of Skinner's teammates look much more organized and comfortable out front. We also know Edmonton's No. 1 is going to play plenty - every game? - between now and December 22nd, the second half of their next back to back.
Quinton Byfield, F, Los Angeles Kings: Did you see his first (of two goals) against the Canadiens in Thursday's 4-0 win? The 21-year-old essentially muscled the puck past Montreal's defense and goalie Sam Montembeault in an impressive feat of strength and power. It was beautiful. To borrow from NHL writer/host Dennis Bernstein, No. 55 looks stronger every game. The top-line winger also has four goals and an assist in three recent contests. The Kings swing though New York this weekend to face the Islanders Saturday and Rangers on Sunday.
Evgeny Kuznetsov, F, Washington Capitals The slumping veteran forward said all of the right things after being forced out of the lineup as a healthy scratch on Monday. "I trust what [coach Spencer Carbery] is doing and he's trying to help me find my game and get better and help the team, because I know that I've got to be better in every area. ... I feel like I want to kill someone since yesterday, in a good way." He then logged nearly 21 minutes and scored a goal in Thursday's 5-4 SO loss to the Stars. This feels like a turning point for Kuznetsov. If so, give him a fantasy thought in deeper leagues.
Joseph Woll, G, Toronto Maple Leafs: Requiring the help of two teammates just to get off the ice, the Leafs netminder appeared in great pain after suffering an injury, untouched, while making a save in Thursday's eventual 4-3 win in Ottawa. The whole sequence looked nothing short of awful. Even before further testing, coach Sheldon Keefe suggested the 25-year-old goalie would be out some time. Look for Ilya Samsonov, once recovered from the flu, to shoulder a good deal of the load going forward, with Martin Jones serving as backup.
Jonathan Huberdeau, F, Calgary Flames: The one shot through three games is a bother. As is the total of three assists through eight contests. On busier nights, with other options on offer, I'm not playing Huberdeau unless the fantasy matchup feels extra sweet.
Thomas Chabot, D, Ottawa Senators: You wouldn't blame the Ottawa defender one bit for wanting a 2023-24 do-over altogether, the way this season has unfolded to date. Two games back after sitting out since late October with a hand injury, Chabot is sidelined once more. This time with a lower-body injury. And, once again, we're talking weeks.
Devon Levi, G, Buffalo Sabres: Yanked up from the AHL this week, Levi looked pretty darn sharp in Thursday's 3-1 win in Boston, earning the game's first-star honors. Go on and stream the rookie against the visiting Canadiens on Saturday.
Evan Rodrigues, F, Florida Panthers: Boasting a talent for scoring in bunches, Rodriguez will look to dent the scoresheet in his fourth-straight game against the visiting Penguins on Friday. Skating on a top line with Aleksander Barkov and Sam Reinhart, the winger definitely merits a fantasy play during Friday's extra-light slate.