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Posted On Friday, 04.12.2013 / 6:27 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Michalek returns for Senators against Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean confirmed Friday prior to pregame warmups that left wing Milan Michalek will return to the lineup to face the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center.

MacLean said Michalek will be reunited with top-line center Kyle Turris and right wing Daniel Alfredsson to open the game. The 28-year-old has missed the past 24 games with a knee injury. He has two goals and 10 points in 15 matches in 2012-13.

"We're hoping he can bring speed, leadership and his ability to score," MacLean said during his pregame media scrum. "He's been a very consistent player throughout his career, and he's the type of player you can put on the ice in any situation; power play, penalty-kill or 4-on-4. He's a very valuable part of our team, and we look forward to having him back in the lineup."

Posted On Friday, 04.12.2013 / 11:55 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

No Kovalchuk as Devils face Senators

NEWARK, N.J. -- In a season when the New Jersey Devils haven't fared well after allowing the first goal of the game, their inexplicable start in a loss to the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, with a Stanley Cup Playoff berth on the line, left coach Peter DeBoer speechless.

The Devils will look to make amends Friday at Prudential Center against the Ottawa Senators, marking the fifth straight meeting against a Northeast Division opponent. Entering the game 1-5-6 against the Northeast this season, the Devils will be looking to snap an eight-game winless streak (0-4-4) against a team that just snapped its own five-game skid with a 3-1 win at the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.

The Devils will have defenseman Adam Larsson back in the lineup after he sat out Wednesday with a sore right foot. However, the team will be without defensemen Bryce Salvador (wrist) and Anton Volchenkov (suspended), as well as right wing Ilya Kovalchuk (shoulder).

Posted On Wednesday, 04.10.2013 / 11:55 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Kovalchuk improving, doubtful on return this week

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils right wing Ilya Kovalchuk will miss his eighth straight game Wednesday when his team faces the Boston Bruins (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2), he did admit to feeling better during his second practice with the team in as many days.

Kovalchuk, however, hasn't put a timetable on his return to the lineup.

"I don't know [when I'll be back]," Kovalchuk said. "That's what we'll decide with doctors and coaches, but I don't think I'll be back [Friday against the Ottawa Senators]."

Kovalchuk said he felt a lot better at practice Wednesday and was able to shoot a little more.

"We definitely took more shots and there were some battles in the end, so it felt good," he said. "It's definitely a step in the right direction.

"I haven't been able to unload the big one-timers, but I just tried to shoot harder [Wednesday]. When skating and doing sprints, it didn't bother me at all and that's a positive thing."

Posted On Wednesday, 04.10.2013 / 11:34 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Salvador back for Devils' battle with Bruins

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils captain Bryce Salvador was back on the ice Wednesday for his club's morning skate in preparation for a game Wednesday night against the Boston Bruins at Prudential Center (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2).

Salvador sat out practice Tuesday in an attempt to rest for a team that has beaten the Devils six straight times (0-4-2) over the past two seasons, including a 1-0 Bruins win in Boston on April 4.

Posted On Sunday, 04.07.2013 / 9:02 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Prospecting with Central Scouting

Scouts remember EJ McGuire

TORONTO -- It's a bittersweet day here at the NHL office on the third day of meetings for NHL Central Scouting.

The group is into the fourth round of projections on its master list of the top draft eligible North American skaters, but are doing so with heavy hearts.

That's because two years ago to the day, a dedicated friend, father and the former director of NHL Central Scouting, EJ McGuire, died from an incurable, rare form of cancer, Leiomyoscarcoma.

McGuire waged a brave five-month battle with the disease before passing in the early morning of April 7, 2011. Every scout in the board room no doubt will reminisce about their friend at some point, or recall a moment in time when he made a profound impact on their lives in some fashion.

Posted On Saturday, 04.06.2013 / 9:47 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Prospecting with Central Scouting

Kingston could be team to watch next season

TORONTO -- Is there any question the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League had the team to watch if you were a fan of blue-chip prospects eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft?
In addition to possessing forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin, No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of the top draft-eligible North American skaters, Halifax goalie Zachary Fucale was rated No. 1 at his position.
Now, inquiring minds would like to know if the 2014 draft will offer a similar scenario, with one team cornering the market on top-tier draft prospects. NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards said he believes there might just be such a team.
"In 2013-14, Kingston in the Ontario Hockey League could be this year's Halifax," Edwards told

Posted On Saturday, 04.06.2013 / 3:04 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Prospecting with Central Scouting

NHL Scouting Combine slated in May

Once NHL Central Scouting finalizes the rankings for the top draft-eligible North American prospects, the scouting staff will continue to make preparations for the NHL Scouting Combine in Toronto from May 27 through June 1.

While there is no confirmation to the number of North American and European invites at the Combine just yet, the 2012 Combine had the top 104 players from North American and Europe. Head goalie scout Al Jensen has traditionally had the top eight goalies attend.

The fitness testing portion of the Combine will be held May 31 and June 1 at the Toronto International Centre.

Posted On Saturday, 04.06.2013 / 11:00 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Prospecting with Central Scouting

Day 2 at NHL Central Scouting final meetings

11:35 a.m. -- So tough to update when you are completely entrenched in the dialogue taking place. Computer voting and hand votes are taking place with regularity right now as the scouts attempt to nail down the top six players in the final ranking. During those votes, a few scouts will make one last effort to push the player in their area.

High drama at its best!

While I cannot reveal the results of those votes, I can provide you with a peak into some of the round-table commentary:

Posted On Saturday, 04.06.2013 / 9:00 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Prospecting with Central Scouting

Central Scouting league lists revealed

TORONTO -- It's early Saturday morning and the men of NHL Central Scouting have returned to the board room at the League office in Toronto to continue ranking the top prospects for the 2013 NHL Draft.
The scouts will begin the process of ranking all the players after careful discussion and healthy debate Friday that established the six league lists in North America.
As promised, here are the top 10 skaters Central Scouting ranked in each league. In order to maintain some level of confidentiality, the players are listed in alphabetical order rather than numeric.
Posted On Friday, 04.05.2013 / 4:41 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Prospecting with Central Scouting

NHL Central Scouting final meetings- Day 1

3:30 pm -- The most robust debate of opening day of the Central Scouting final meetings was the discussion of the prospects in the Ontario Hockey League. The scouts had high praise for several players listed high on the midterm ranking, including Sean Monahan, Darnell Nurse, Bo Horvat, Kerby Rychel, Chris Bigras, Ryan Hartman and Nikita Zadorov.

The scouts have been going at it pretty good today. It's amazing how much each scout can remember on each player, even during their cross-over viewings.

Some comments:

On Monahan: "Never quits; gave it 110 percent and played as well as he could on a bad Ottawa team. Eric Staal-like."

On Nurse: "What a season he had. Can play strong at both ends and plays with a great edge. Is also a great guy off the ice."

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