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Posted On Monday, 09.15.2014 / 4:54 PM

By Staff -  / - NHL Rookie Camps blog

Panthers' Ekblad positive he can play in NHL now

Aaron Ekblad had a summer, but it wasn't much of an offseason for him. The first pick of the 2014 NHL Draft had a development camp with the Florida Panthers, a Hockey Canada national junior evaluation camp, and he's currently with other Panthers prospects at a rookie tournament hosted by the Nashville Predators.

However, Ekblad told the Panthers website the end goal is what he's focused on, and that's playing in the NHL this season.

"I have my own expectations of myself," Ekblad said. "I have goals that I set for myself that I keep to myself. I hold myself accountable for those goals. My expectations are high. I have high standards for myself. It's going to help me put myself in a good position this year."

Posted On Monday, 09.15.2014 / 4:46 PM

By Staff -  / - NHL Rookie Camps blog

Red Wings' Pulkkinen feeling more comfortable

Detroit Red Wings forward Teemu Pulkkinen learned a lot last season, including how unprepared he was for his first NHL training camp experience.

"I wasn't ready," Pulkkinen told the Red Wings website. "I was in good shape but … it's a different game in Europe than it is here. I wasn't ready for the American game. There's more rink, the speed is higher. But now I think I'm going to be ready."

Pulkkinen figured it out fast and had 31 goals and 59 points with Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League, and also got into three late-season games in Detroit. Pulkkinen also is No. 60 on's Top 60 prospect rankings for this season.

Posted On Monday, 09.15.2014 / 3:31 PM

By Staff -  / - NHL Rookie Camps blog

Stars' Honka turning heads in Traverse City

Derek Laxdal saw enough of Julius Honka when they were in the Western Hockey League last season, Laxdal as coach of the Edmonton Oil Kings and Honka a slick, offensive-minded defenseman with the Swift Current Broncos.

Now they're on the same side as Laxdal, the coach of the Texas Stars of the American Hockey League and Dallas Stars coach at the Traverse City Prospect Tournament, gets to enjoy having Honka on his team.

Dallas chose Honka with the 14th pick of the 2014 NHL Draft.

Posted On Monday, 09.15.2014 / 12:56 PM

By Staff -  / - NHL Rookie Camps blog

Coyotes' Lessio hoping for extended NHL stay

Arizona Coyotes forward Lucas Lessio made the team's opening night roster last season, but his stay in the NHL lasted three games.

The second-round pick (No. 56) in the 2011 NHL Draft is working toward a longer stay this season. He spent the rest of the season in the American Hockey League, where he had 29 goals and 54 points in 69 games.

Posted On Monday, 09.15.2014 / 12:51 PM

By Staff -  / - NHL Rookie Camps blog

Capitals' Vrana will get chance in preseason games

The Washington Capitals likely will have Jakub Vrana, their 2014 first-round pick (No. 13), spend at least one more season with his team in the Swedish Elite League, where he will play with and against more physically mature competition.

First, though, they'll see how he looks against those kind of players on NHL-size ice. That starts Tuesday when the Capitals rookies face a team of Philadelphia Flyers rookies. Vrana also likely see action in preseason games, which start for Washington on Sept. 21.

"We'll see how I look," Vrana told "When I play those games I'll see what I need to improve on. I don't really know because I haven't tried. I will see when I'm with those guys on the ice and I play a game."

Posted On Monday, 09.15.2014 / 10:30 AM

By Staff -  / - NHL Rookie Camps blog

Predators' Forsberg hoping to meet high expectations

Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg has been surrounded by high expectations since he was a 2011 first-round draft pick. Now the Predators are hoping he can live up to those levels.

What might help him is having spent all of last season in North America, the first time the Swedish forward has done that.

"[Last] year helped me a lot and getting more comfortable here," Forsberg told correspondent Josh Cooper. "Hopefully I can show how much that year meant to me."

Posted On Monday, 09.15.2014 / 9:58 AM

By Staff -  / - NHL Rookie Camps blog

Flames' Gaudreau hoping to make big impression

Johnny Gaudreau never will be mistaken for Zdeno Chara. But with his skill and work ethic, he believes he can be a contributor for the Calgary Flames this season.

"It's just keeping working hard; as hard as you can," Gaudreau told correspondent Aaron Vickers. "I talked to both [coach Bob Hartley and general manager Brad Treliving] in the summer time, making sure that everything I'm doing, three or four extra reps either in the weight room or on the ice, you have to make sure you're one of the better players out there for main camp."

Gaudreau is No. 26 on the Top 60 prospect rankings.

Posted On Saturday, 09.13.2014 / 8:12 PM

By Staff -  / - NHL Rookie Camps blog

Blue Jackets' Milano out with facial fractures

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Sonny Milano is out of the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Mich., and could miss the start of the 2014-15 season because of facial fractures, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reported.

Milano, the No. 16 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, was checked into the boards during a game Friday night. Don Harkins, director of U.S. Scouting for the Plymouth Whalers (the team Milano is expected to play for in 2014-15), told Portzline that Milano has a fractured orbital bone and fractured cheek.

Posted On Saturday, 09.13.2014 / 3:00 AM

By Staff -  / - NHL Rookie Camps blog

Oilers' Nurse has special bond with sister

Edmonton Oilers prospect Darnell Nurse comes from a family with a rich, athletic background. His father played in the CFL, his uncle in the NFL, and his mother and sisters played college basketball. It's his younger sister, Kia, however, that he has bonded with the most.

Kia Nurse is a star basketball player who is a freshman at the University of Connecticut and also a part of Canada's national women's basketball team.

Posted On Friday, 09.12.2014 / 8:26 PM

By Staff -  / - NHL Rookie Camps blog

Potvin impressed with Panthers rookie Ekblad

Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Denis Potvin, now a color analyst for the Florida Panthers, got his first look at Aaron Ekblad on Friday and the review was positive.

Ekblad, the defenseman who was selected No. 1 by the Panthers at the 2014 NHL Draft, is expected to play in the League this season as an 18-year-old. He had 23 goals and 30 assists in 58 games for the Barrie Colts in the Ontario Hockey League last season.

"The first thing I saw was great hands," Potvin told The Sun Sentinel. "When they were battling he protected the puck well and passed the puck well, which is important. He got a puck on the boards and made a saucer pass all the way to the blue line, which is nice.

"But the most important aspect of his development is how closely he gets to his coach, who will have the ultimate decision; that's where you're going to grow.''

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Quote of the Day

He is, in my opinion, one of the best defensemen in the NHL and continuing to grow. I think his game, from an offensive standpoint, he continues to drive our offense... I think there's still tremendous upside for Oliver.

— Coyotes GM Don Maloney on defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson