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Posted On Monday, 03.31.2014 / 1:06 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Devils' Larsson recalled following injuries on defense

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils defenseman Adam Larsson will be in the lineup for the first time in four months Monday when they play host to the Florida Panthers at Prudential Center (7:30 p.m. ET, RDS2, NBCSN).

Larsson, who was recalled from the Devils' American Hockey League affiliate in Albany on Sunday, was second among defensemen in scoring for Albany with 19 points (three goals, 16 assists) in 32 games. He will replace Jon Merrill in the lineup. Merrill is out with facial injuries sustained on Saturday during the third period of a shootout loss to the New York Islanders.

Larsson last played with New Jersey on Nov. 23, a 2-1 loss against the San Jose Sharks. He would sustain a lower-body injury against the Sharks, preventing him from returning to the lineup for an extended period. In 20 games with the Devils this season, he has three points, a minus-4 rating and eight penalty minutes.

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Posted On Friday, 03.28.2014 / 3:12 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Scouts' challenges: rough winter, unpredictable draft

TORONTO -- As if the life of a scout isn't unforgiving enough, the tireless job of viewing the hundreds of prospects eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft in June was made more difficult this season with the brutal weather that hovered over most of North America like a dark shadow.

It's something NHL Central Scouting director Dan Marr acknowledged when asked for his final assessment of the meetings at the NHL offices here this week to determine the final rankings of the top North American skaters and goalies eligible for this year's draft.

"This has proven to be an exceptionally difficult winter," Marr told NHL.com. "All travel was affected. Storms left scouts stranded and unable to get to viewings or games. We have a job where we have to try and maintain our coverage, but it was a struggle and guys had to go the extra mile to make sure they got to the games and saw the players.

"So when our final list is determined and we dot the I's and cross the T's, it's going to be a job well done because when you think about it, the winter that hit all of North America never seemed to subside. It's a credit to our staff."

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Posted On Friday, 03.28.2014 / 11:24 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

2015 shaping up as battle between McDavid, Eichel

TORONTO -- It's never too early to begin to compare, contrast and ultimately predict who the better pick will be when the 2015 NHL Draft takes place at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.

In a draft that looks to be loaded with offensive and defensive talent across the board, there are two headliners starring at center for their respective teams in Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters in the Ontario Hockey League and Jack Eichel of the United States Under-18 National Team Development Program in the United States Hockey League.

NHL.com asked nine scouts in attendance at NHL Central Scouting's final meetings this week for their personal choice between the two. The impromptu poll had McDavid earning a slim 5-4 victory.Both players possess two qualities that are tough to teach: work ethic and big-game ability. They each represented their country at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship in Sweden; McDavid for Canada and Eichel for the United States.

"You're talking about two wonderful players who are going to be a big part of the NHL in the future," USA Hockey director of hockey operations Jim Johannson told NHL.com.

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Posted On Thursday, 03.27.2014 / 2:42 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Central Scouting breaks down league lists

TORONTO -- It's Thursday afternoon and NHL Central Scouting is in the difficult stage of ranking the top North American skaters and goalies for the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

The process will continue at League headquarters in Toronto until the top 210 North American skaters and 30 goalies are finalized.

Lists were made for players in the top three Canadian junior leagues -- the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League and the Western Hockey League -- as well as regional lists for USA East, USA West and Canadian junior/midget leagues.

The six area lists and top goalies, all completed Thursday afternoon, were discussed in detail over the past two days. NHL.com was given permission to provide a rough draft of the top players in each area in alphabetical order. The lists aren't necessarily final at this stage as changes could be made before the final rankings list is released in April.

Without giving away the order, this is the closest thing you'll get to a top 10 from each area at this point.

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Posted On Thursday, 03.27.2014 / 10:58 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Marr: 120 players invited to NHL Scouting Combine

Once NHL Central Scouting finalizes the rankings for the top 2014 NHL Draft-eligible North American prospects, the scouting staff will begin making preparations for the NHL Scouting Combine, which will be held May 25-31 in Toronto.

NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr confirmed for NHL.com that 120 players, including North American and international skaters and goalies, have been invited to the Combine this year. The 2013 Combine had the top 101 players from North America and Europe.

All NHL teams will have the opportunity for 1-on-1 interviews with the invited prospects between May 26 and May 30. The medical examinations of each player will take place May 30 and fitness testing will be May 31.

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Posted On Thursday, 03.27.2014 / 9:08 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Wheat Kings' Hawryluk hospitalized after collapse

Brandon Wheat Kings center Jayce Hawryluk, No. 42 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft, is alert and talking after collapsing in the dressing room after a 5-4 victory against the Regina Pats in Game 3 of the Western Hockey League playoffs on Wednesday in Brandon.

Hawryluk was taken by ambulance to Brandon Regional Health Centre.

Wheat Kings general manager and coach Kelly McCrimmon released the following statement after the game:

"Jayce was taken to hospital after [Wednesday's] game. While concerned, the club believes it is not serious. Until we have more information we cannot pinpoint the cause. Jayce is resting comfortably."


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Posted On Wednesday, 03.26.2014 / 4:28 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Day 1 recap: How Central Scouting has evolved

TORONTO -- The opening day of NHL Central Scouting's meeting to determine the final rankings of the top draft-eligible North American skaters proved to be entertaining as well as enlightening.

Entertaining in the fact the top players eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia in June were discussed and debated for eight hours. Enlightening in the way Central Scouting has taken a proactive approach in making projections at a time when the game has certainly evolved since the bureau was established prior to 1975-76 as a courtesy to NHL teams.

"Our whole business is projection so you have to project where the game will be a little bit down the road," Central Scouting's David Gregory said. "We have to look at those trends. We have to know that the game is evolving this way because we're telling you who will play there in the next three-to-five years; it's one of the hardest but best things about our job.

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.26.2014 / 12:55 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Familiar top prospects dominate OHL discussion

12 p.m. ET -- The Ontario Hockey League was the next league on the itinerary for discussion at NHL Central Scouting's final meeting of the top draft-eligible players in North America.

The top five OHL players listed at the midterm -- Samuel Bennett of Kingston, Aaron Ekblad of Barrie, Michael Dal Colle of Oshawa, Nicholas Ritchie of Peterborough and Brendan Perlini of Niagara -- continued to gain high praise.

On Bennett: "He's done nothing to change my mind. I think he's done a great job all season."

On Ritchie: "This guy is big (6-2.25, 231), but can still play at top speed and play well at top speed. He can up his game when he has to."

On Dal Colle: "He's had that consistency you need. He would project to be even better once he gets that strength; this kid continues to grow. He's got a good stick and his hockey sense is solid."

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.26.2014 / 11:24 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Eastern U.S. defensemen receive CSS spotlight

11 a.m. ET -- The scouts started discussion on the Eastern part of the United States and there were plenty of players up for discussion.

Several defensemen, including Gavin Bayreuther of St. Lawrence in the ECAC, Miles Gendron of Rivers Academy in Massachusetts, Scott Savage of Boston College and John-Claude Brassard of Noble & Greenough School in Massachusetts were players open for talks.

Bayreuther (6-0.5, 195) had nine goals and 36 points in 38 games for St. Lawrence. Gendron (6-1.5, 181) had six goals and 19 points for Rivers Academy. In 29 games for the Boston College Eagles, Scott Savage (6-1, 171) had four goals and 16 points. Brassard, who will attend Union College in New York in 2015-16, also had a productive season with 11 goals and 43 points in 27 games for Noble & Greenough.

Steven Merl (6-3, 186) of Belle Tire U18 (T1AAA) produced six goals and 23 points in 36 games as a right-handed center. He'll play in the United States Hockey League next season.

The scouts took a 15-minute coffee break and are now beginning to discuss players from the Ontario Hockey League. At the midterm release in January, Samuel Bennett of the Kingston Frontenacs in the OHL was No. 1 among North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft.

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.26.2014 / 11:10 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Early focus on top 'Q' talents at CSS meetings

10 a.m. ET -- Chris Bordeleau, who does much of the scouting in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, began Day 1 with discussion on the top players within the league. At the midterm, forward Ivan Barbashev of Moncton was the top player from the QMJHL and left wing Nikolaj Ehlers was the second highest.

Left wing Vladimir Tkachev (5-foot-9, 141 pounds) of Moncton was discussed in detail, including his compete level, the type of player he is and can become. Tkachev had 10 goals, 20 points in 20 games after joining the Wildcats from Omsk in the Kontinental Hockey League in the middle of the season.

Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb had Tkachev ranked No. 14 on the midterm list of the top international skaters when he played overseas. Center Alexandre Goulet of Charlottetown, left wing Julien Pelletier of Cape Breton, center Cameron Darcy of Cape Breton and center Jan Mandat of Victoriaville were also discussed in length.

What was interesting, in addition to hearing the commentary on the players, was how scouts were figuring out how to rank players based on how the game has changed in recent seasons. The speed and quickness with which the game is now played might change some opinions.

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Quote of the Day

The old saying in hockey is 'weather the storm.' I put the notion in their heads that we don't want to weather the storm, we want to push just as hard and matched their work ethic. I thought our guys exceeded that in the first period.

— Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins after their loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday
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