NHL Morning Links - Nov. 1

Forward Steve Downie is a member of the Philadelphia Flyers once more. Traded from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for forward Maxime Talbot, Downie wasn’t all that surprised at being moved, in light of his expiring contract. Expected to draw into the Flyers’ lineup Friday versus the Washington Capitals, Downie may skate on the top line with Vincent Lecavalier and Claude Giroux, replacing Michael Raffl. There’s also a chance the 26-year-old winger, who’s adept at playing on both sides, could slide in on a line with center Sean Couturier.

Talbot was apparently more shocked than Downie at hearing news of the deal. Avalanche coach Patrick Roy reveals Philadelphia "wanted Steve Downie back, and we felt it was the price to pay to get Talbot”. The 29-year-old forward is roundly admired as a top-notch penalty-killer and proven playoff performer. Talbot is pegged to slide in on the wing– on the Avs’ third line, maybe – to start.

As for Thursday’s Insider content, Craig Custance assembles an “All-Underrated” NHL starting six; the cream of the under-appreciated crop, if you will. And Corey Pronman ranks top prospects in the AHL.

In other NHL news, it turns out a banged-up shoulder is what’s keeping Alex Ovechkin out of Friday’s contest with the Flyers. Ovechkin reportedly hurt his right shoulder during Monday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks. But the Capitals don’t seem to be all that concerned about the severity of the injury. Head coach Adam Oates even suggests Ovechkin is a “maybe” for Saturday’s tilt with the Florida Panthers. Winger Eric Fehr is fixed to fill in for Ovie on the top line and on the No. 1 power play unit in the meanwhile.

Forward Manny Malhotra is getting another shot at playing in the NHL. The Carolina Hurricanes have signed the popular centerman to a one-year, two-way contract worth $600,000 at the big-league level. So far, no apparent concerns about the 33-year-old’s eyesight. Anticipate Malhotra’s debut – including plenty of action in the faceoff circle – Friday against the Lightning.

Goalie Devan Dubnyk (ankle) intends to return to the Edmonton Oilers’ lineup Saturday. If all goes to plan, either Jason LaBarbera or Richard Bachman is headed for the AHL. While Bachman has been much better for the Oilers, LaBarbera would have to pass through waivers before being sent down. So the Edmonton club may take the less-risky route and demote the superior netminder. Who ever said the NHL was fair?

Goaltender Tim Thomas (lower-body injury) is getting another weekend off for the Panthers. Coach Kevin Dineen implies the veteran isn’t healthy enough yet. Look for Jacob Markstrom and Scott Clemmensen to split starts in back-to-back games Friday and Saturday.

After missing Wednesday’s contest with an upper-body injury, Johan Franzen is due back in the lineup for the Detroit Red Wings Friday. Franzen is pegged to center a line with Daniel Cleary and Daniel Alfredsson against the Calgary Flames. But the more significant news out of Detroit is that center Darren Helm is finally expected to make his season debut Saturday, versus the Oilers. Dealing with a chronic back injury, and more recently, a groin issue, Helm has only played one game for the Red Wings in the last year and a half.

Forward Charlie Coyle will indeed make his return for the Minnesota Wild Friday. The 21-year-old is slated to skate on the Wild’s top line with Zach Parise, while Mikko Koivu drops down to center the second forward unit. Coyle is also expected to compete on the squad’s top power-play unit with Parise, Koivu, Jason Pominville and defenseman Ryan Suter.

One down, four or five to go. Now that Alexei Emelin is locked in with a four-year, $16.4 million deal, the Montreal Canadiens can focus on how to handle their other prominent pending free-agent defensemen: Andrei Markov, P.K. Subban (RFA), Francis Bouillon, Raphael Diaz and Douglas Murray. This could take some time.

On the ice, the Habs expect to have Max Pacioretty (hamstring) back sometime over the weekend. No word yet whether Pacioretty will return Friday (vs. Wild) or Saturday (vs. Avalanche).

Big on-ice shakeup is underway in Ottawa. If the head coach of the Ottawa Senators sticks with current plans, only the regular line of Kyle Turris, Clarke MacArthur and Bobby Ryan will remain intact for Friday’s tilt with the New York Islanders. One of Paul MacLean’s new trios in practice featured Jason Spezza skating with Chris Neil and Cory Conacher. Defensive pairings were put through MacLean’s blender as well. While the Senators sit 4-6-2, changes such as these don’t come as any great surprise.

Look for goalie Cory Schneider (groin) to play sometime this weekend for the New Jersey Devils. Schneider is feeling much better – “100 percent”, according to the netminder himself – and the squad is probably not all that keen on starting Martin Brodeur in back-to-back games. Barring a setback, our guess is Schneider suits up Sunday against the Wild.

Could Marian Gaborik’s tenure with the Columbus Blue Jackets be nearing an end? GM Jarmo Kekalainen apparently wants “more” from the dynamic winger before offering an extension. And there have been no talks to date. Gaborik is in his last season of a five-year, $37.5-million deal.