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Posted On Sunday, 09.11.2011 / 10:56 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Prospecting the future

McColgan looks to impress Rangers' brass

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- New York Rangers prospect Shane McColgan is out to prove his critics wrong.

McColgan had a memorable 2009-10 campaign with the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League, notching 25 goals and 69 points in 71 games on the way to finishing runner-up to Red Deer's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (24 goals, 65 points, 67 games) as WHL Rookie of the Year. It was then that scouts started to take notice of the scrappy 5-foot-8, 165-pound wing.

But McColgan got off to a rough start to the 2010-11 campaign, missing three games to have his tonsils removed and struggled with consistency throughout the course of the season. Still, he did produce 25 goals and 69 points in 71 games. It wasn't until the WHL playoffs, when he produced 8 goals and 19 points in 10 games, that he really returned to form.

"I had a rough start to the season with my surgery and went through a lot of adversity … on top of that, we started the season 4-10 so that didn't help," McColgan told "It was a hard time for everyone. But the main thing is I really stepped it up in playoffs when it counted, but I have to be more consistent throughout the regular season and that's what I'll focus on this year."

It begins this week at the Traverse City prospects tournament where McColgan, New York's fifth-round choice last June, and 21 other Ranger hopefuls are strutting their stuff with the hope of making a good impression.

"I'm just going to go out and show them my stuff and show them why they drafted me," McColgan said. "Obviously I dropped a little bit in the draft, but I couldn't ask for a better situation right now."

McColgan, who opened the tournament on a line with center Matt Rust and Carl Hagelin, will rejoin his teammates in Kelowna for the 2011-12 campaign. Kelowna coach Ryan Huska knew the Rangers were very interested in McColgan's services.

"They were very high on Shane, but the fact they lost a pick in the second round maybe played a part in where he was drafted," Huska told "Shane is a guy who, as he continues to grow and develop and become a more mature young man, is going to be a very dynamic player. I don't think he's going to be about the offense at the end of the day. I think he's got the ability to play a smart, all-around game and that's something he'll continue to develop. We'll be looking to him to be more of a guy who will be a leader in making sure our team is playing the right way because he's not 16- or 17-years-old anymore. He's 18 and becoming one of our older players and I'm looking forward to him stepping into one of those roles."

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Posted On Saturday, 09.10.2011 / 11:29 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Prospecting the future

Columbus rallies for victory over Detroit in Traverse City

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- After spotting the Detroit Red Wings a two-goal lead in the first period, the Columbus Blue Jackets stormed back for four unanswered goals on the way to a 7-3 victory on Saturday in the Traverse City prospects tournament at Center ICE Arena.

Tomas Kubalik had two goals and one assist in the victory. Brendan Smith and Ryan Sproul connected in the first to give Detroit a 2-0 edge before Kubalik struck at 16:37 to pare the margin to one.

David Savard then converted a feed from Ryan Johanson 1:01 into the second to tie the game before Johansen and Dalton Prout scored to give the Blue Jackets a 4-2 edge. Joakim Andersson then scored an unassisted goal at 7:49 to pull Detroit within 4-3 before Kubalik struck for a power-play goal less than a minute later.

Adam Payerl and Oliver Gabriel also hit for Columbus, which received a 27-save performance by Allen York between the pipes. Petr Mrazek made 19 saves for Detroit.

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Posted On Saturday, 09.10.2011 / 11:18 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Prospecting the future

Special teams lead Rangers over Blues in Traverse City

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Carl Hagelin scored a power-play goal and Ryan Bourque connected shorthanded in a span of 1:10 midway through the second period to help lead the New York Rangers to a 5-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues at Center ICE Arena on Saturday in the Traverse City prospects tournament.

Rangers starting goalie Jason Missiaen turned aside 18 of 20 shots to earn the victory between the pipes.

Tim Erixon (1 goal, 1 assist) scored a power-play goal and Randy McNaught connected at even-strength when the Rangers opened a 2-0 edge. The Blues tied the contest on goals by Phillip McRae and Anthony Nigro (shorthanded).

Jonathan Audy-Marchessault also scored a power-play goal for the Rangers, who finished 3-for-11 with the man advantage. Blues goalie Jake Allen took the loss with 31 saves. St. Louis was whistled for 13 penalties totaling 29 minutes.

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Posted On Saturday, 09.10.2011 / 9:50 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Prospecting the future

Stars roll past Hurricanes, 8-2

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- The Dallas Stars erupted for four goals in the first period en route to an 8-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes in the opener of the Traverse City prospects tournament on Saturday at Center ICE Arena.

Matt Fraser scored two of his three goals in the opening 20 minutes, as did Matt Tassone and Stephen Schultz. Scott Glennie and Brett Ritchie each notched three assists for the Stars in the contest.

Matej Stransky, Jamie Oleksiak and Fraser scored in the second for Dallas and Carolina's Tyler Carroll ended the shutout bid 9:16 into the second, when the Stars opened a 7-1 advantage. Matt Carter closed out the scoring for the victors in the third and Victor Rask struck for the Hurricanes at 15:43.

Tyler Beskorowany stopped 16 shots to earn the victory in goal for Dallas while Matt Mahalek, who was pulled after two periods, turned aside 19 of 26 shots for Carolina.

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Posted On Saturday, 09.10.2011 / 9:40 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Prospecting the future

Sabres defeat Wild in opener of Traverse City tourney

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- The Buffalo Sabres had a memorable opener in their Traverse City Prospects tournament debut here at Center ICE Arena on Saturday following a 6-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild.

After spotting the defending Traverse City Tournament champion Wild a 2-0 lead on power-play goals by Zack Phillips and Chay Genoway, Luke Adam and Nick Crawford connected in a span of 3:34 late in the first period to pull the Sabres even.

The teams exchanged goals in the second with Riley Boychuk giving Buffalo a 3-2 lead before Minnesota's Mike Kramer evened the contest with just six seconds left.

The Sabres then broke the game open in the third on goals by Jonathan Parker, Daniel Catenacci and Phil Varone. Sabres starting goalie Nathan Lieuwen turned aside 18 shots to earn the victory. Minnesota's Darcy Kuemper took the loss, stopping 18 of 23 shots.

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Posted On Friday, 09.09.2011 / 5:45 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Prospecting the future

Traverse City Prospects Tournament schedule

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- One of the premier prospect tournaments is set to begin on Saturday here at Center ICE Arena.

Dallas Stars goalie Jack Campbell returns to Traverse City
The Traverse City tournament runs Sept. 10 through Sept. 14 and includes top prospects from the Dallas Stars, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers, and St. Louis Blues. Practice sessions and tournament games will be held at David's Rink and Huntington Rink.

For a tournament preview, click here. NHL Network will be televising portions of the tournament.

Columbus, Detroit, Buffalo and defending champion Minnesota will compete in the Howe Division. The Gretzky Division will feature prospects from the Hurricanes, Blues, Stars and Rangers.

Columbus Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen and Dallas Stars defenseman Jamie Oleksiak will be maintaining daily blogs for throughout the tournament.

Traverse City Tournament schedule:

Saturday, September 10

3:30 PM Minnesota vs. Buffalo (Davids)
4:00 PM Dallas vs. Carolina (Huntington)
7:00 PM NY Rangers vs. St. Louis (Davids)
7:30 PM Detroit vs Columbus (Huntington)

Sunday, September 11
2:30 PM Columbus vs. Buffalo (Davids)
3:00 PM St. Louis vs Carolina (Huntington)
6:00 PM NY Rangers vs. Dallas (Davids)
6:30 PM Detroit vs. Minnesota (Huntington)

Tuesday, September 13
3:00 PM Dallas vs. St. Louis (Davids)
3:30 PM NY Rangers vs. Carolina (Huntington)
6:30 PM Columbus vs. Minnesota (Davids)
7:00 PM Detroit vs. Buffalo (Huntington)

Wednesday, September 14
3:00 PM 7th Place Game 4th Howe vs. 4th Gretzky (Davids)
3:30 PM 5th Place Game 3rd Howe vs. 3rd Gretzky (Huntington)
6:30 PM 3rd Place Game 2nd Howe vs. 2nd Gretzky (Davids)
7:00 PM Championship Game 1st Howe vs. 1st Gretzky (Huntington)

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Posted On Thursday, 09.08.2011 / 5:01 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2011 Player Media Tour

Hall refrains from offering advice for newest No. 1 pick

NEWARK, N.J. -- Edmonton Oilers second-year forward Taylor Hall was excited to be a part of NHL Media Day at the Prudential Center on Thursday.

He was put through his on-ice responsibilities for the television cameras and provided promotional commentary for NBC and several other media outlets. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound left wing, who connected for 22 goals and 42 points in his rookie season, said he feels a lot more confident heading into the 2011-12 campaign.

"This is not a League where you can kind of ease yourself into it," Hall said. "It's very tough, and players are faster, stronger and bigger. But after a while, you start to lean on your teammates because they are a lot better than some of the teammates you've played with before (in junior). It was a learning curve -- but after a while I got used to it and felt very comfortable."

So what did he learn in his inaugural season?

"You learn how to prepare for games," he said. "The biggest thing I got used to was the speed of the game. It was hard at first, but after a while you get used to it and learn how other defenses play and systems. Once you get used to that, it was a lot easier."

While Hall is excited that the organization drafted center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with the first pick of the 2011 Entry Draft, he wasn't about to offer advice to the future star and possible linemate.

"I don't know if I have a whole lot of advice for a player after my first year in the NHL, but he does seem like a poised young man and does seem like someone ready to jump into that situation," he said. "I'm pretty positive that if he shows he's ready to play at the NHL level during training camp and in exhibition games that he's going to stick. I'm hoping he could do that for our team, but overall it's really exciting that he'll one day be a part of our group."

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Posted On Friday, 06.24.2011 / 11:30 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 2011 Entry Draft blog

USA Hockey ADM clinic huge hit with youngsters

As part of this year's NHL Entry Draft extravaganza in St. Paul, Minn., USA Hockey offered many of the area's children a chance to participate in an American Development Model clinic with a few NHL players and seven of the top draft-eligible prospects at St. Thomas Ice Arena on Thursday.

Top prospects Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of Red Deer, Gabriel Landeskog of Kitchener, Jonathan Huberdeau of Saint John, Dougie Hamilton of Niagara, Adam Larsson of Skelleftea, Sean Couturier of Drummondville and Seth Ambroz of Omaha offered their assistance to about 50 children aged 6-8.

Several representatives from the Minnesota Wild, including players Cal Clutterbuck and Brad Staubitz, and Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke were also on hand.

With USA Hockey's Red, White and Blue initiative, coaches can promote creativity among players, increase player involvement and create a positive environment to learn and play.
Brian Burke, Toronto Maple Leafs GM

"The ADM is going to revolutionize how we develop hockey players in America," Burke told "I think people feel this system is geared toward developing players for us and that's not the case. The elite athletes will find their way to us and we'll find them. We want the program to develop hockey players for life. We want people to become proficient at the game, have fun at the game and play it for life.

"Those are the people who'll put their sons and daughters in hockey, watch it on TV," Burke continued. "We're trying to make the sport bigger and better."

The ADM includes shrinking the ice surface during practices during which players split up and rotate throughout six different stations to hone a specific set of skills -- forward/backward transition, partner pass with movement, acceleration puck toss, tight space and agility skate. It enables everyone to be involved and the more participating there is, the more likely those children will develop a passion for the game. Focusing on smaller areas allow kids more time with the puck and less time worrying about the technical aspects of the game such as positioning, staying in lanes or skating offsides.

Mike Snee, the executive director at Minnesota Hockey, undoubtedly takes great pride in the type of players the state has produced via the ADM model.

"Minnesota prides itself as being the state of hockey; we have more kids playing hockey than any other kids in the country," Snee told "We've had a lot of success with some of our higher end players being drafted in all rounds. It's inspiring for our young players to see neighbors and kids that went through the same association as them of being drafted in the NHL."

There were 18 Minnesotans, including first-round picks Derek Forbort of Duluth, Nick Bjugstad of Blaine and Brock Nelson of Warroad, who were selected in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. There are 18 Minnesota natives rated by NHL Central Scouting for this year's draft.

"We think USA Hockey based a little bit, or a lot, of the ADM off what Minnesota has been doing for a long time," Snee said. "A number of our 160 associations have been implementing some sort of ADM program into their development models. The motion of having many kids on the ice at once and keeping them moving and having a multiple station practice that is not only fun, but better for development, has kind of been a part of Minnesota hockey and part of our community-based associations for quite a while. To see it being promoted nationwide as the official development model in the county is pretty special."

The top-rated Minnesotan at this year's draft is Ambroz, who just completed his third season with the Lancers in the United States Hockey League. According to NHL Central Scouting, Ambroz is rated No. 31 among North American skaters.

"Doing this ADM clinic is a lot of fun; anytime you get to help out kids, it's special," he said.

Landeskog and Larsson, who both trained in Sweden during the early stages of their career, saw many similarities between the ADM model and the instruction back home.

"I think there's a lot of skill development in Sweden, and they work on that a lot with the ADM clinic," Landeskog said. "Obviously, skating is a big part of the game and you need to be good at that. I think what USA Hockey is doing, is great. They mix in a lot of fun games and some fun drills so it makes it a lot easier to play.

"The (ADM) is a great program and it has a very bright future if they keep going like this; having the kids involved and NHL players and prospects out there helping out. It's nice to see the smiles on the kids' faces."

Said Larsson: "It was pretty much the same like we did back in Sweden, the same stuff on ice and off ice. It's good to start practicing at a young age; it's what you need to do to be a better hockey player."

Burke also had one final message to those parents of children wanting to give the sport a shot.

"They should have as much fun as their kids have and a lot of them don't," he told "Parents have to intercede if you see a crazy parent yelling at his kid, yelling at the referee. You have a duty to intervene and say 'OK enough, that's not how we do it here.'

"I coached my son, Patrick, in hockey and we had great experiences with the parents. We talked about it the first day of practice. I'd kick the kids out of practice and have the parents sit down and I'd tell them this is how we're going to it - no one is ever going to yell at their son, no one is ever going to yell at an official. We're going to have fun and we did it."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Friday, 06.10.2011 / 12:04 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Grimaldi keeps the faith

Following what he hopes will be a long and prosperous NHL career, Rocco Grimaldi of the U.S. National Team Development Program has every intention of giving back.

"I've always wanted to be a pastor since I was about 10-years-old," admitted the 18-year-old Grimaldi. "I have a real good sense of the Bible and can see things and stuff that most other people don't see."

Grimaldi routinely speaks in front of 10-18 people in his youth ministry group.

"I read (the Bible) every day and study it," he said. "A lot of people come to me for advice so I already got a jump-start to being a pastor. I think I'm a pretty good speaker and I'll hopefully become more comfortable with it in front of thousands instead of just tens and hundreds."

Interestingly, Grimaldi has two favorite "life verses" taken from the Bible that are actually customized on his Nike ID shoes -- one on each shoe. Not surprisingly, each passage deals with overcoming adversity and, in Grimaldi's case, his 5-foot-6, 163-pound frame that many thought would hinder his ability to reach the NHL.

The first is from Samuel 16:7: "But the Lord said to Samuel, do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

The second is taken from Corinthians 1:27: "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty."

"Foolish things of the world would be things that the world looks down upon; my size for example," Grimaldi said.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 11:53 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Combing the NHL Combine

Tampa scout Al Murray talks Draft, Brett Connolly

After serving for three years with Hockey Canada as the head scout of men's national teams, Al Murray will enter his first NHL Entry Draft with the Tampa Bay Lightning as the director of amateur scouting later this month.

"You always want to help try and make a statement for the organization and we've got great direction from the top," Murray told "Steve (Yzerman) has given us really good direction into the type of team he wants to put together and the attributes he wants us to look for in the player.

"We had a whole season to try and find those types of players and we have a group of them we'd like to get. We just hope everybody else in the League cooperates and leaves them there for us."

The Lighting own the No. 27 pick in the opening round of the 2011 Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., on June 24.

Murray was asked how well he felt last year's first-round draft choice, Brett Connolly, had improved and if he could be in the Lightning lineup next season.
Brett Connolly, Tampa Bay Lightning

"Steve's philosophy throughout the organization is to never rush anyone, but not to hold anyone back," Murray said. "Brett's made a big commitment this year. He's from Prince George, B.C., but he's in Toronto and has been here for a couple of weeks training with a personal trainer.

"He'll stay here for the summer; he's made a significant commitment to put himself in every position to try and make the team and to try and do as well as he can, so with added strength and confidence, we're anxious to see what he looks like in the fall training camp, but there will be no urgency to push Brett into a roster spot."

Murray confirmed that Connolly's hip issues, which limited him for much of the 2009-10 campaign, are ancient history.

"That really wasn't an issue all through last season," Murray said.

In his third season with the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League, Connolly produced 46 goals and 73 points in 59 games.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Quote of the Day

It's always a little bit weird, but it moves on. They've got a good team, and they played well tonight. I think that's just part of it.

— Peter Laviolette on facing his former team (Flyers) for the first time since his departure