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Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Thursday, 04.24.2014 / 3:15 PM

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

Barrie's Ekblad named OHL Defenseman of the Year

Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad, No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft, on Thursday was named Defenseman of the Year in the Ontario Hockey League.

Many NHL scouts project the 6-foot-3, 216-pound right-handed shot to be the first defenseman taken in the first round of the draft at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on June 27.

Ekblad, who finished with career highs in goals (23) power-play goals (16), assists (30), points (53) and penalty minutes (91) in his third OHL season, earned first-place finishes for best shot, hardest shot, best offensive defenseman and best defensive defenseman in the Eastern Conference of the OHL this season. The captain of the Colts was also voted second in the category of best penalty killer.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 11:22 AM

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

Bettman praises Philadelphia as 2014 NHL Draft host

PHILADELPHIA -- Though it remains to be seen who will hear his name announced as the No. 1 choice at the 2014 NHL Draft in June, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is sure of one thing.

The city of Philadelphia will prove to be an outstanding host over the two-day event on June 27-28 at Wells Fargo Center.

Commissioner Bettman spoke about the upcoming draft during a media availability session prior to Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round series at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday.

"Philadelphia, from the outset, has always been a terrific hockey town," Bettman said. "When you look at the grassroots level, there were 14,000 or more kids who were playing in 50 rinks throughout greater Philadelphia. You look at Snider Hockey, which Ed Snider has created; you look at everything the Flyers have done in the community. When you look at the entry of youngsters, our new players, the future of the League coming into the draft, what better place than Philadelphia?"

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 04.22.2014 / 1:34 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers-Flyers series blog

Carcillo could make Rangers playoff debut in Game 3

PHILADELPHIA -- Though New York Rangers right wing Martin St. Louis was grateful to receive the news of his nomination for the Lady Byng Trophy, his focus was clearly on the Philadelphia Flyers and Game 3 of their Eastern Conference First Round series at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; CNBC, TSN2, MSG, CSN-PH).

"It's always an honor to be nominated for any award, but I think my focus is on something bigger and better right now," St. Louis said. "I think our effort and desperation need to be higher [on Tuesday]. We know that so we'll bring it."

The best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series is tied 1-1.

Though Rangers coach Alain Vigneault wouldn't reveal his lineup for Game 3, there is a chance former Flyer Daniel Carcillo could make his debut in the series.

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POSTED ON Monday, 04.21.2014 / 2:34 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Rangers-Flyers series blog

Rangers focus on what's brought them road success

NEW YORK -- Players from the New York Rangers are expecting an emotional atmosphere for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET (CNBC, TSN2, MSG, CSN-PH).

The best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series is tied 1-1.

The Rangers will enter the game having lost three straight in the City of Brotherly Love, but are confident after closing out the 2013-14 regular season with a 25-14-2 record on the road. The team conducted an optional practice on Monday that included four defensemen, seven forwards and goalie Cam Talbot, prior to leaving for Philadelphia.

"It's an energetic arena to play in for sure, and they feed off of that, so you want to play a simple game," Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "You can't be afraid to take an icing, take a whistle here or there to keep the game on your side and keep up the pace. If you get the momentum you have to try to hang onto it, you have to be disciplined too. Their fans will be feeding off their physicality, and you can't buy into it or get caught up in it. That's something we've done all season so far."

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POSTED ON Monday, 04.21.2014 / 9:36 AM

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

Whalers' Nedeljkovic named OHL's top goaltender

Plymouth Whalers goalie Alex Nedeljkovic of Parma, Ohio, has become the first player in team history to win the Ontario Hockey League's Goaltender of the Year award.

Nedeljkovic, No. 4 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top North American goalies eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft, faced the second most shots (2,207) in the OHL and finished with a 26-27-7 record, 2.88 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in 61 games.

"To receive this award is an incredible honor," Nedeljkovic said. "There were many other goaltenders in the league this year that also had great seasons. Credit must be given to all of my teammates that helped me to achieve this award. Game in and game out they would do their best to help make my job easier, and I would try my best to do the same for them. This award recognizes what a goalie has accomplished throughout the season, but it is also a symbol of what the entire team did over the course of the season to be as good as they possibly could defensively."

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.16.2014 / 5:04 PM

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

Canada names roster for U-18 World Championship

Forwards Jake Virtanen and Brendan Perlini and defenseman Haydn Fleury, all projected to be selected in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft, highlight the roster of players that will represent Canada at the 2014 IIHF Men's Under-18 World Championship beginning Thursday in Finland.

Virtanen of the Calgary Hitmen, Perlini of the Niagara IceDogs and Fleury of the Red Deer Rebels were all ranked among the top 10 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the North American skaters eligible for the 2014 draft. Defenseman Roland McKeown, No. 27 on Central Scouting's final ranking, is the only returning player from last year's gold medal-winning performance. Canada is the defending U-18 World Championship gold medal winner.

The Canadian roster includes three goalies, seven defensemen and 13 forwards. There are 12 players representing the Western Hockey League, six from the Ontario Hockey League and five from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The roster includes 18 players eligible for the 2014 draft and five more eligible for the 2015 draft.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 04.16.2014 / 12:12 PM

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

Kingston's Bennett turns focus to NHL Draft

Kingston Frontenacs center Samuel Bennett watched with great interest the Florida Panthers win the NHL Draft Lottery Tuesday evening in Toronto.

Bennett is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft.

"It was really exciting," Bennett told NHL.com. "It's really interesting but there still are a lot of questions, so whatever happens in June will happen, but I'm really excited."

Bennett acknowledged that as the teams were revealed one by one by NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, he couldn't help but envision where he might land on June 27 when the first round of the draft is held at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

"It's all up in the air, no one knows who will go where and it's hard to figure out, but I'll admit I was trying to guess and see where I might go," Bennett said.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 04.15.2014 / 2:26 PM

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

Fabbri powers Guelph into Western final in OHL

The Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League have advanced to the Western Conference final for the first time in eight seasons.

The Storm will play host to the Erie Otters in Game 1 of the best-of-7 series beginning Thursday. Not surprisingly, center Robert Fabbri, No. 21 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft, has played a huge role for the Storm this season.

Fabbri was named the OHL Player of the Week for the playoff week ending April 13 after posting four goals, seven points and a plus-5 rating in three victories. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Fabbri helped lead the Storm to a five-game series win against the London Knights in the OHL's Western Conference semifinal with three multi-point performances last week.

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POSTED ON Friday, 04.11.2014 / 6:51 PM

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

Brodeur in goal for Devils, possibly for last time

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur will make possibly his final start for the team against the New York Islanders at Prudential Center on Friday.

Devils coach Peter DeBoer wouldn't commit to a starter for Sunday against the Boston Bruins in the regular-season finale at Prudential Center, leaving open the question of whether this will be Brodeur's last game for the Devils. Brodeur can become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

"Marty will start [Friday] like we have done all year and we'll talk about Sunday on Sunday," DeBoer said. "We'll talk about [the end of the season] at the end of the season. Those are all hypothetical questions. I'm not prematurely going to talk about the end of anyone's career right now. I'm worried about winning a game."

Brodeur, who turns 42 on May 6, has been noncommittal about his future when asked about a possible return to the Devils in 2014-15.

"I don't expect [the Devils] to come running after me," Brodeur said earlier this week. "We'll see. Again, that's a situation I have to be OK with regardless of it it's here or somewhere else. But I have to talk to a lot of people in the offseason and make my own decision. Regardless of if I stay or leave, the Devils are in unbelievable hands with [Cory Schneider]."

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POSTED ON Monday, 04.07.2014 / 1:12 PM

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

Devils still without injured forwards; Schneider starts

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider is expected to make his fourth straight start Monday against the Calgary Flames at Prudential Center.

Schneider (16-14-11), who made 24 saves in a 2-1 win against the Washington Capitals on Friday and 26 saves in a 3-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, has allowed two or fewer goals in five straight starts (3-0-2). He has a 1.22 goals-against average and .948 save percentage over that stretch, and ranks third in the NHL with a 2.02 GAA.

The Devils extended their point streak to a season-high seven games (4-0-3, 11 points) to keep alive their hope of qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They trail the Columbus Blue Jackets by three points for the second of two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference.

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I didn't think it would actually work, but it ended up working, so I'm thanking my lucky stars tonight.

— Columbus forward Nick Foligno on scoring the overtime goal after telling the Blue Jackets in the locker room that he would win the game