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Posted On Thursday, 06.26.2014 / 5:32 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Virtanen's first priority: Get healthy

PHILADELPHIA -- The focus for most of the top prospects who took part in a media availability session at the National Constitutional Center on Thursday was what they could do to make the NHL next season. For Calgary Hitmen left wing Jake Virtanen, the goal is a bit different: He's focused on getting healthy enough to return to the lineup as soon as possible.

Virtanen had surgery on his left shoulder in May to repair a torn labrum. The initial diagnosis was a recovery time of four to six months, and he told NHL.com he's targeting a mid-October return.

Virtanen, No. 6 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the draft, played through the shoulder injury for the second half of the season and had 45 goals and 71 points in 71 Western Hockey League games, as well as six points in seven games for Canada at the 2014 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.


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Posted On Thursday, 06.26.2014 / 5:13 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Draisaitl briefly shifts focus from hockey to soccer

PHILADELPHIA -- While his attention has been focused on the final things he has to do to get ready for the start of the 2014 NHL Draft on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS), Prince Albert Raiders center Leon Draisaitl had his focus tuned to another sport.

The native of Cologne, Germany, tried to watch as much as he could of the World Cup match Thursday between Germany and the United States. Germany won 1-0 but both teams advanced to the round of 16.


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Posted On Thursday, 06.26.2014 / 5:03 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Top Euros eye NHL next season or will play at home

PHILADELPHIA -- It appears it will be the NHL or Europe next season for NHL Central Scouting's top two European skaters for the 2014 NHL Draft.

Kasperi Kapanen of KalPa in Finland and William Nylander of Sodertalje in Sweden's second division both said they would like to play in the NHL in 2014-15. If not, they would rather play against more developed opponents in their home countries rather than play junior hockey in the Canadian Hockey League.

Nylander, Central Scouting's No. 2-ranked European player, played with three teams this season, including Rogle in Sweden's second division, where his teammate was his father, former NHL player Michael Nylander. He also played for Modo in the Swedish Hockey League, but had his most success with second-division team Sodertalje, totaling 11 goals and eight assists in 17 games. He is eligible for the 2014 CHL Import Draft next month, but said junior hockey isn't a consideration.

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.25.2014 / 4:44 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Hitting at Phillies park a thrill for six prospects

PHILADELPHIA -- The Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies were out for early stretching on the field at Citizens Bank Park while a few of the top prospects for the 2014 NHL Draft were taking some swings off a batting tee.

None of the baseball players need to be worried about losing their jobs.

Though none of the six prospects came close to clearing the outfield fence, they certainly had a good time.

"It was fun," Kingston Frontenacs center Samuel Bennett told NHL.com. "I was a little disappointed we couldn't hit off a pitcher, but it was cool to hit on the field. You don't really realize how far away the wall is. It feels a whole lot farther than it looks."

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.25.2014 / 2:14 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Betsy Ross House offers history lesson for prospects

PHILADELPHIA -- The top prospects for the 2014 NHL Draft made a stop at the Betsy Ross House in the historic section of the city.

They posed for pictures with Betsy Ross and Benjamin Franklin and toured the colonial-era home.

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.25.2014 / 1:26 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Prospects take bite out of Philly, cheesesteak style

PHILADELPHIA -- The top 2014 NHL Draft prospects continued their tour of Philadelphia with a stop for some pictures at Love Park, and then it was off to local culinary landmark Geno's for cheesesteaks.

All six prospects got steaks, some "wiz wit" -- local slang for with cheese wiz -- while others went "wit out." All, however, gave two thumbs up to their meal.

"Let all the people in Philadelphia know that I love cheesesteaks," Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad said.

The players also got an inside look at Geno's, and Kootenay Ice center Sam Reinhart worked the grill and helped prepare a few sandwiches.

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.25.2014 / 11:56 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

'Rocky' trip as top prospects trolley through Philly

PHILADELPHIA -- The top prospects for the 2014 NHL Draft got their first taste of Philadelphia on Wednesday, taking a trolley tour of the city.

The first stop for Kingston Frontenacs center Samuel Bennett, Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad, Kootenay Ice center Sam Reinhart, Prince Albert Raiders center Leon Draisaitl and Oshawa Generals left wing Michael Dal Colle was the famed steps in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum.

Bennett was one of the few players to have seen the Rocky movies and squad images of the famous scene in "Rocky II" when Rocky runs up the steps.

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Posted On Monday, 06.09.2014 / 6:24 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Draisaitl thrilled to be recognized by Messier

NEW YORK -- Leon Draisaitl is a known commodity among NHL scouts and general managers after his outstanding season with the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League.

But when members of the Hockey Hall of Fame recognize you, well, that's pretty special.

Draisaitl and the other top prospects for the 2014 NHL Draft were leaving a TSN set after taping a segment when they crossed paths with Mark Messier, who was to be next on the set. Messier introduced himself to the star-struck prospects; when Draisaitl said his name, Messier had an immediate reaction.

"Are you related to Peter Draisaitl?" Messier asked Leon.

Peter Draisaitl, Leon's father, played professional hockey for 18 seasons in Germany, including four seasons with the Cologne Sharks. During that time Messier would skate in Cologne in the offseason and became friendly with Peter.


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Posted On Monday, 06.09.2014 / 4:49 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Canada invites McDonald, Moran to goalie camp

Two of the top three North American goaltending prospects were among the 10 players invited by Hockey Canada to the Program of Excellence goaltending camp, to be held June 11-14 at the Markin MacPhail Centre in Calgary.

The camp is the first step in Canada picking its team for the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship, which will be played in Toronto and Montreal.

Among those invited are Mason McDonald of the Charlottetown Islanders of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Brent Moran of the Niagara IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League.

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Posted On Thursday, 06.05.2014 / 9:20 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Demko among invitees to U.S. goalie evaluation camp

Thatcher Demko, NHL Central Scouting's top-rated North American goaltender for the 2014 NHL Draft, was one of seven goalies invited to the United States National Junior Goaltender Evaluation Camp.

The camp will be held June 9-11 in Ann Arbor, Mich., and is the first step in evaluating the team the United States will field for the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Demko was the third goaltender on the U.S. team that finished fifth after losing to Russia in the quarterfinals at the 2013 WJC. He did not dress for any games.

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