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Posted On Thursday, 10.23.2014 / 2:09 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Sarnia's Zacha, Korostelev impress in the OHL

The Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League have a pretty formidable top line, with Czech Republic native Pavel Zacha centering right wing Nikita Korostelev and left wing Jordan Kyrou.

    Pavel Zacha (Courtesy: Czech Ice Hockey Association)

NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards, who evaluates players in the OHL, has liked what he's seen from the three. He particularly was impressed with Zacha, who is in his first OHL season after spending last season with Liberec in the top professional league in the Czech Republic as a 16-year-old. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound left-shot center had four goals and eight points in 38 games in the Czech Republic last season and was selected by the Sting with the No. 1 pick in the 2014 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft. He's considered a potential top-five pick at the 2015 NHL Draft.

"He's got a high-end skill set and is an excellent competitor," Edwards said of Zacha, who has four goals and six assists in 10 games this season. "He plays an excellent two-way game and broke up a couple of rushes in a recent game I saw him play against the Peterborough Petes. He's physical and solid on his skates and separates guys from the puck. He sees the ice well and can move the puck through traffic."

In addition to Zacha, here are three other players to watch in the OHL:

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.22.2014 / 3:34 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Prospects hoping to impress at First Niagara Center

Erie Otters center Connor McDavid isn't the only high-end prospect eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft preparing to showcase his skills for the many fans and scouts in attendance at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y. on Wednesday.

While McDavid is unquestionably the main attraction in the Ontario Hockey League regular season matchup at the Sabres home rink at 7 p.m. ET, there are other players hoping to have an impact on the outcome.

Erie forward Dylan Strome, the brother of New York Islanders forward Ryan Strome, was given an A rating on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary players to watch list for October. Strome (6-foot-3, 187 pounds) is second in league scoring behind McDavid with 23 points (seven goals, 16 assists).

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.21.2014 / 5:38 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Rangers at Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils defenseman Adam Larsson will make his season debut Tuesday against the rival New York Rangers at Prudential Center.

Devils coach Peter DeBoer confirmed the decision to give Larsson his first opportunity of the season prior to puck drop. Larsson will replace Eric Gelinas in the lineup.

"I think it really was a tough decision not to play him coming out of training camp," DeBoer said. "But we had some great camps by a lot of young defensemen and then we got off to the start winning three in a row so it's tough to make lineup changes. But some things have changed and he's going to get an opportunity [Tuesday], and he's got to make the most of it."

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.21.2014 / 1:12 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

McDavid to lead Erie Otters at First Niagara Center

The pressure associated with performing well in a draft season hasn't gotten the best of Erie Otters center Connor McDavid.

McDavid leads the Ontario Hockey League with 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) in nine games. He has a point in all nine games, and eight straight multipoint games. He has 61 goals, 190 points and a plus-39 rating in 128 games in three OHL seasons.

The 17-year-old Erie captain will lead the Otters against the Niagara IceDogs on Wednesday in a special regular-season game at First Niagara Center in Buffalo at 7 p.m. ET. The game will give fans in the area a glimpse of McDavid, who is expected to be a top-two pick at the 2015 NHL Draft.

"I've been to a couple Sabres games," McDavid said in August during the announcement of the game in Buffalo. "I was here last year and it's a pretty nice spot. The fans are crazy here; they're great. I'm really excited to play here with my team."

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Posted On Monday, 10.20.2014 / 9:23 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Eichel and McDavid continue race for No. 1

BU center Jack Eichel (Photo: Noah Buchanan/BU Athletics)

Boston University center Jack Eichel doesn't have the look of a typical starry-eyed freshman.

He's basically been in his element since the day he walked on campus. It shows in the way he carries himself not only on the ice for Boston University coach David Quinn, but during a typical press conference when the questions come fast and furious.

Ditto for Erie Otters center Connor McDavid, who in three seasons in the Ontario Hockey League has really generated quite a fervor and excitement in northwestern Pennsylvania.

It's what makes both players so special and why fans and NHL scouts are so looking forward to seeing them lead their respective teams during this season. McDavid and Eichel are expected to be the top two choices at the 2015 NHL Draft in Sunrise, Fla. Who goes first is the million dollar question.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.18.2014 / 6:55 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

Brunner to make season debut for Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils forward Damien Brunner will make his season debut on Saturday against the San Jose Sharks at Prudential Center.

Brunner, who had 11 goals and 25 points in 60 games in 2013-14, his first season with the Devils, will replace Marty Havlat, who is day-to-day with facial lacerations he sustained in a 6-2 loss against the Washington Capitals on Thursday.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.18.2014 / 1:22 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Sharks at Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- San Jose Sharks right wing Tomas Hertl will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with a few of his teenage hockey idols when the Sharks play the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Saturday.

The game marks the home opener for the Devils, who began the season with four straight on the road. The Sharks are in the midst of a five-game road trip along the East Coast; they will travel to Madison Square Garden to play the New York Rangers on Sunday before closing out the trip at TD Garden against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday.

Hertl, who happens to be the only player on the Sharks active roster born in the Czech Republic, will be playing against a Devils team that could have as many as four Czech natives in the lineup: Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias, Marty Havlat and Marek Zidlicky. Havlat, who played a big role helping Hertl become acquainted to the NHL lifestyle as a member of the Sharks in 2013-14, is currently day-to-day with facial lacerations and his availability won't be determined until prior to puck drop.

Hertl said he has a huge poster of Jagr above his bed in his home in Praha.

"My home is all Jagr," Hertl said with a wide grin. "I like him because he's so strong and a strong skater. I strive to play the same style because I'm the same big [butt]. He's amazing and it's great to see how he plays at 42 years old. I still like the way he plays."

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Posted On Thursday, 10.16.2014 / 10:22 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Youngstown prospect Connor reaches milestone

Youngstown Phantoms forward Kyle Connor, an A-rated prospect on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary players to watch list, scored the 50th goal of his United States Hockey League career Oct. 11 to help lead his team to a 3-2 shootout victory against the Bloomington Thunder.

Connor, who played in the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game on Sept. 25 at First Niagara Center in Buffalo, has two goals and six points during a five-game point-scoring streak to open the season for Youngstown (3-2-0). The 6-foot-1, 182-pound left-handed shot has 50 goals and 121 points in 123 games in three seasons with the Phantoms.

"He's got a nice stride and quickness and he's good in tight spaces with the puck," Central Scouting's Greg Rajanen said. "I saw him against the [U.S. National Team Development Program Under-18 team] and he really elevated his game. He wants the puck, and when he gets it he makes things happen."

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Posted On Thursday, 10.16.2014 / 9:06 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Otters' McDavid loses game, extends point streak

Top NHL prospects Julius Bergman and Max Domi of the London Knights put to an end the six-game season-opening winning streak by the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League and 2015 NHL Draft top prospect Connor McDavid 4-3 in a shootout Wednesday at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario.

McDavid, an A-rated skater on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary players to watch list, had two assists to extend his point-scoring streak to seven games. The 6-foot, 195-pound center has seven goals and 13 assists this season.

Erie forward Dylan Strome, also an A-rated skater on Central Scouting's preliminary list, scored in regulation and also had the Otters' only goal in the shootout. Strome, who plays on a line with McDavid, also is has a point in all seven games; his 19 points are second to McDavid's 20.

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.14.2014 / 1:02 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Islanders at Rangers

NEW YORK -- New York Rangers left wing Ryan Malone will make his season debut against the rival New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.

In an effort to energize a lineup that has been outscored 11-5 in two straight losses, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault confirmed the decision after the morning skate Tuesday.

"He hasn't played a game yet so he'll be in the lineup and we'll use him on the power play and see what happens," Vigneault said. 

Malone, 34, was signed by the Rangers as a free agent Sept. 11. He has 19 goals and 28 points in 44 career games against the Islanders.

"I'll just keep it simple and make good reads, throw the body around a little bit and do whatever it takes to win," Malone said. "Every time I go over the boards I want to create some chances, help the team in a positive way."

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Quote of the Day

There's no discouragement in that room. There's no issues there at all to be honest with you. It's more about, 'Hey, it's opportunities for players.' And if we become that bad of a team because of one player, it's not a real good sign for our hockey club. So this is part of sports. It's part of hockey.

— Bruins coach Claude Julien on the loss of Zdeno Chara to injury
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