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Posted On Tuesday, 08.07.2012 / 1:56 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

Housley happy with first small-group practice

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- The first single-squad practice for Team USA here at the National Junior Evaluation Camp lasted about an hour Tuesday, and was filled with what coach Phil Housley called "teaching moments."

After trimming the initial 45-player roster to 34 early Tuesday morning, Housley and his staff had the players on the ice for about an hour and used the time to continue to install the systems and style of play he wants to see from the team that eventually will head to Russia for the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship.

"I thought it went really well," he told "We're just trying to hammer in some of our system play still. They played three games in three days, mentally they're tired. We had a meeting at 7 a.m. to make the cut-down to the number we have right now, so we didn't really want to do anything very, very physical. Just wanted to incorporate some team concepts."

It wasn't always perfect, as Housley at one point stopped the drills and screamed at the players for about 10 seconds. After that, the crispness and speed went up, which is what the coach wanted.

"We talked about that before practice, that we didn't want to be out there long, but we wanted to get something accomplished," he said. "I understand they played three games in three days and they're tired. But if we worked at the things we wanted to accomplish we were going to get off early. I needed a little more urgency. They were a little down. It wasn't very long what we did, a lot of teaching moments. I'm glad they responded the way they did."

Team USA has off the rest of Tuesday then returns to play Finland on Wednesday. Housley wouldn't comment on what his lineup for the game will look like, but it's possible John Gibson will get the start in goal. Gibson, one of three returning players from last year's U.S. WJC team, played one game at last year's tournament -- a 23-save effort in a 4-1 loss to Finland.

All four goalies survived the initial cut -- Gibson, Jon Gillies, Garret Sparks and Anthony Stolarz. And with four games coming, all four could get one full game. However, Housley wasn't ready to commit to that plan.

"I'll leave it up to [goalie coach] Joe Exter," Housley said. "We'll have a conversation about. Certainly Gibson is going to see some work, and Sparks, and we'll see what happens after that point. We have to give our guys some work and see where they're at."

Other players who made the cut were the two youngest players at the camp -- defenseman Seth Jones and forward Ryan Hartman, both of whom are expected to be first-round picks at the 2013 NHL Draft.

Jones -- who had a spot on the 2012 WJC team until a shoulder injury in the final exhibition game sidelined him -- especially has been impressive.

"I realized why he was going to be on the team last year," Housley said.

At this early stage, Housley said he wasn't ready to start pointing out individual players. He said the 34 who remain in Lake Placid all have made positive impressions.

"These guys left an impression on us, that's why they're here," he said. "They earned it. That's not to say the guys we let go ... we're going to continue to track those players, [but] I'm really focused on the guys that are here. They certainly left an impression on our coaching staff and evaluation staff, [and] we're rewarding them."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Tuesday, 08.07.2012 / 10:30 AM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

Finland looking for more power

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- With one game under its belt, the Finnish team here at the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp is feeling pretty good about itself.

Finland rallied from 3-1 and 4-3 deficits late in the game before losing to the USA Blue squad 5-4 on a goal with 35 seconds left.

"The first game we played a good game, but we had a few bad plays there and we couldn't win the game," Finland captain and 2012 Pittsburgh Penguins first-round pick Olli Maatta told "I thought we were a better team, but we didn't win the game."

One issue was a power play that went 0-for-7, failing to convert on a pair of two-man advantages. Coach Harri Rindell had his team spend extra time working on the power play at Tuesday's morning skate ahead of an afternoon game against Sweden.

"The power play, we got five-on-three two times and we didn't score," he told "Those international games, you need to score there."

Otherwise, Rindell said he's pleased with what he's seen from his team, especially in Monday's game.

"I was very happy when watching the attitude, the mental toughness, because we were back 3-1, we were back 4-3, and we came back and that's not the case very many times against North American teams," he said. "So the mental toughness the guys showed from the start of the game was very good."

No word on what the Finland lineup could look like, but one interesting defense pair could be Maatta and Rasmus Ristolainen, a top prospect for the 2013 NHL Draft. The pair was together Monday and could stay a unit against Sweden.

"We're going to see if it continues," Rindell said. "We don't know if that's the right decision, to have our two best defensemen together. Maybe during the tournament we're going to change just to see how they're working if they're not playing together. For now, they're our first [defense] pair."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Tuesday, 08.07.2012 / 8:04 AM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

USA Hockey makes first cuts

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp ended Tuesday morning for 11 prospects, among them two 2012 first-round draft picks.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Jordan Schmaltz and Phoenix Coyotes forward Henrik Samuelsson were among those released as the roster was cut from an initial group of 45 to 34.

"The first three days of camp have been impressive and we have been pleased with the players' level of competition," said Jim Johannson, USA Hockey's assistant executive director of hockey operations and the general manager of the 2013 U.S. National Junior Team. "The players being released today are still among those being evaluated for the team in the coming months. For the players retained, this week's upcoming international games in Lake Placid give us an opportunity to further assess their skills."

Also sent home were forwards Adam Reid (free agent), Alex Broadhurst (Blackhawks), Logan Nelson (Sabres) and Brian Hart (Lightning), and defensemen Brian Cooper (Ducks), Joakim Ryan (Sharks), Robbie Russo (Islanders), Connor Carrick (Capitals) and Mike Paliotta (Blackhawks).

The smaller group -- which now consists of four goalies, 11 defensemen and 19 forwards -- will practice Tuesday and play its first international game Wednesday, against Finland.

Here's a look at the trimmed-down roster:

GOALTENDERS-- John Gibson (Ducks), Jon Gillies (Flames), Garret Sparks (Maple Leafs), Anthony Stolarz (Flyers)
DEFENSEMEN-- Shayne Gostisbehere (Flyers), Matt Grzelcyk (Bruins), Garrett Haar (Capitals), Seth Jones (2013 Draft eligible), Jake McCabe (Sabres), Connor Murphy (Coyotes), Mike Reilly (Blue Jackets), Patrick Sieloff (Flames), Brady Skjei (Rangers), Jacob Trouba (Jets), Andrew Welinski (Ducks)
FORWARDS-- Cole Bardreau (free agent), Tyler Biggs (Maple Leafs), Colin Blackwell (Sharks), Reid Boucher (Devils), Travis Boyd (Capitals), Thomas Di Pauli (Capitals), Steve Fogarty (Rangers), Alex Galchenyuk (Canadiens), John Gaudreau (Flames), Ryan Hartman (2013 Draft eligible), Nicolas Kerdiles (Ducks), Sean Kuraly (Sharks), Mario Lucia (Wild), Stefan Matteau (Devils), J.T. Miller (Rangers), Stefan Noesen (Senators), Blake Pietila (Devils), Vince Trocheck (Panthers), Jimmy Vesey (Predators).

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Monday, 08.06.2012 / 9:15 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

Lucia stars, but mixed results for U.S. squads

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- For the first time since arriving in Lake Placid on Friday, the 45 campers invited by USA Hockey to this week's junior evaluation camp got to skate against competition from another country on Monday, as the USA Blue team faced Finland and USA White skated against Sweden.

In the opener, USA Blue's Mario Lucia, a 2011 second-round pick of the Minnesota Wild, capped a hat trick with the game-winning goal with 35 seconds left in a 5-4 win. Sean Kuraly had a goal and an assist, and Alex Galchenyuk, the third pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, had a goal for USA Blue. John Gibson played the first half of the game, allowing one goal on 11 shots. Jon Gillies replaced him in the second period and stopped six of nine shots.

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Posted On Monday, 08.06.2012 / 7:46 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

Camp under way

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- The USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp got into full swing Monday, with split squad exhibition games against Finland and Sweden.

We'll have reports on those games a bit later. For now, take a minute to familiarize yourself with some of the top junior talent that is using the week-long camp as the first auditions for shots at the 2013 World Junior Championship, which runs Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2013, in Ufa, Russia.

Among the 45 players U.S. coach Phil Housley is evaluating are just three players from last year's team that finished seventh in Alberta.

Sweden will have seven players from last year's team that won the gold medal, including Mika Zibanejad, who scored the championship-winning overtime goal against Russia. Finland's team is led by Alexander Barkov, a top candidate to be taken in the first round of the 2013 NHL Draft.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Thursday, 08.02.2012 / 9:21 AM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - Summer with Stanley blog

Justin Williams gets his day in the sun

8:50 a.m.: Justin Williams arrived at his offseason home in Ventnor City, N.J., with the Stanley Cup in tow.

It's the second time Williams will spend a day with the Cup, and for this year's celebration, he's got some interesting plans.

The day is starting with some time with family and friends, followed by a pontoon boat ride on the bay.

There also will be a street hockey game with some friends, some time at City Hall, and a party and autograph session at Caesar's in Atlantic City.

Justin Williams' brother-in-law and his girlfriend of six years, Dana, were sipping champagne and orange juice out of the Cup when Pat dropped to one knee, pulled out a ring and proposed. (Photo:

10:10 a.m.: Every marriage proposal is a memorable one, but when you do it with the Stanley Cup as a backdrop, well, that's a tough one to beat.

On a boat ride with family and friends, Justin Williams' brother-in-law and his girlfriend of six years, Dana, were sipping champagne and orange juice out of the Cup when Pat dropped to one knee, pulled out a ring and proposed.

Dana, of course, said yes.

"This is for life," Williams said. "We're a part of the story they're going to tell forever. I'm happy to be a part of it and I'm happy Kelly and I were able to accommodate her brother."

Pat said the plan was months in the making.

"I was thinking the Cup is going to be there, and Justin said, 'OK,' " Pat said.

"I'm just glad she said yes," Williams said.

1:05 p.m.: Playing like a mix of Jacques Plante and Jonathan Quick, Justin Williams backstopped his team to an 8-4 win in a road hockey game on a community tennis court.

Playing without a mask -- shots were kept low, of course -- Williams did his best impersonation of his Conn Smythe-winning teammate.

Williams might not have a future in net, but he impressed his teammates.

"He's got some new bruises, they match his eyes," said longtime friend Nick Bayley. "He didn't wear a mask, so we're going back to the days you didn't have to wear a mask. He just did what he had to do, which was stop the ball."

The only other injury was to Craig Williams, Justin's father, who was cut on the head by an errant stick.

"My team really gave it their all, blocking a lot of shots," Justin said. "My dad got a stick up high, but he stayed after it. My competitive juices come from both my parents, but as you saw he's a competitor."

Like the saying goes, "Because it's the Cup."

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Posted On Thursday, 07.05.2012 / 4:00 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - NHL Free Agency 2012 blog

Flyers add Fedotenko and Gervais

The Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday signed forward Ruslan Fedotenko and defenseman Bruno Gervais. Terms of the deals were not released, but is reporting Gervais' deal is for two years at $825,000 per season, while Fedotenko will make $1.75 million on a one-year deal.

Fedotenko, 33, returns to the team he started his NHL career with as an undrafted free agent in 2000-01. He had nine goals and 11 assists in 73 regular-season games with the New York Rangers last season, and two goals and five assists in 20 playoff games.

In 816 NHL games with the Flyers, Lightning, Islanders, Penguins and Rangers, the left wing has 169 goals and 184 assists. He also has a pair of Stanley Cup rings, with the 2004 Lightning and 2009 Penguins.

"I think the opportunity to add Ruslan, and his ability to play a lot of different roles on a team … he can play any wing, he can probably play center if you need," Flyers GM Paul Holmgren said. "The fact that he's won a couple times, the fact that he’s been here before, both played into the decision to move forward with him. We’ve actually tried to sign Ruslan a couple times over the last few years and we’ve always missed out. I like him, and I think he's going to bring a lot to our team in terms of leadership, and I think he's a winner. I really do."

Gervais, 27, had six goals and seven assists in 50 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning last season. A 2003 sixth-round pick of the New York Islanders, Gervais has 81 points in 381 NHL games with the Islanders and Lightning.

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Posted On Monday, 07.02.2012 / 9:20 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - NHL Free Agency 2012 blog

Jets sign Olli Jokinen

The Winnipeg Jets have found their No. 1 center in Olli Jokinen.

The Jets signed the unrestricted free agent to a two-year contract Monday night. TSN is reporting the deal will pay Jokinen a total of $9 million.

"Olli is someone that we identified when we went through the process of identifying a players that would be available at the free agency time," Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said. "We were looking to get at centerman if we could and we were very fortunate to get him. We're very excited about getting him. He's got the size, a tremendous amount of experience. He had great consistency over the years. With adding the size of [Alexei] Ponikarovsky and now Jokinen, we're a bigger and harder team to play against.

"We're very excited about the opportunity to bring in a front-line player and top-six player into the organization."
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Posted On Monday, 07.02.2012 / 8:59 AM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - NHL Free Agency 2012 blog

Radulov returns to KHL

Free-agent forward Alexander Radulov has chosen to return to the KHL, signing a four-year contract with CSKA. The announcement was made on the team's website.

Radulov had spent the previous three seasons with Salavat Yulaev in the KHL before returning to the NHL with the Nashville Predators late last season. Radulov had spent two seasons with the Predators before jumping to the KHL while still under contract with Nashville.

He had three goals and four assists in nine regular-season games to help the Predators finish fourth in the Western Conference.

In the Stanley Cup Playoffs he had six points in eight games as the Predators advanced to the Western Conference semifinals, but caused controversy when he was suspended for a game against the Phoenix Coyotes for missing curfew, and then made a healthy scratch for a second game.

After the season ended, Predators general manager David Poile publicly said Radulov, a restricted free agent, would not return to the club.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Thursday, 06.28.2012 / 1:38 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - NHL Free Agency 2012 blog

Boucher injury could open door for Peters

With Carolina Hurricanes veteran backup goalie Brian Boucher expected to miss 4-6 months with a shoulder injury, the team could feel extra urgency to re-sign Justin Peters.

The 25-year-old Peters went 2-3-2 in seven NHL games last season, spending most of the season with the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League. He went 10-13-2 with a 2.77 GAA and .907 save percentage in 28 games.

"Even prior to that injury to Boucher, with the way Peters played last year -- he got to play more games in Charlotte, which is why we signed Boucher, and with the way he played when he came up here -- he has always been in the mix of conversation of being one of our two goalies this coming year," Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford told the team's website.

Rutherford said no decision on the goaltending would come before July 1.

"Obviously this thing with Brian's injury gives Justin a better chance, but the fact that we're this close to July 1, we're probably going to wait a few days into [the free agency period] to make a decision," he said.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Quote of the Day

I've got a lot of experience and there's a lot of young guys. It's even making me excited a little more. It's kind of a new life. At my age, I feel like I know a lot of things what to do, but I just cannot do it anymore. It's a lot easier to tell them what to do because they've still got the legs and hands to do it. I just know things, but I cannot do them anymore.

— Jaromir Jagr after making his Panthers debut in a win against the Sabres on Saturday