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Posted On Thursday, 08.18.2011 / 4:23 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - The Research Project

Will we be back here again next year?

Brendan Shanahan stopped short of calling the Research, Development and Orientation Camp an annual event, but the value of it for the League, the clubs, players and attending media has grown in leaps and bounds from last year to this year that it'd be strange to think of not having this event next year as well.

"We're still talking about it," Shanahan said. "We've done it two years in a row and we'll take a step back to see if we do it annually. I know there would be some disappointed 17 year olds if we didn't do it next year, so we'll see."

That's just the thing about this camp, the orientation aspect for the top draft-eligible prospects has become such an important element. Testing potential rule changes and technological innovations is certainly important for the NHL, but getting to know the top prospects that could be coming into the League soon should not be undervalued.

"We are doing research and development at a time when our game has never been better, and what we've stumbled upon is a great event for the best 17 year olds in North America," Shanahan said. "It's good for us to get to know them a bit, for them to get to know the NHL a little bit and to learn a few things about what to expect in their draft year. It was a fun event."

Shanahan even came away with a favorite rule change that was tested, one he wouldn't mind seeing one day soon in the NHL.

"I think in overtime to change ends and do the second period line change, the far line change really made a difference," he said. "I think 4-on-4 and 3-on-3 were both really exciting."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Thursday, 08.18.2011 / 3:46 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Research Project

Skills Contest brings camp to end

The final event of the 2011 NHL Research, Development and Orientation was the All-Star Skills Competition, and it featured some pretty special moments.

The fastest skater contest was a near dead heat between Owen Sound's Jarrod Maidens and Sarnia's Alex Galchenyuk. Galchenyuk edged him by one-tenth of a second  in the preliminary round, and when they raced again in the final, it was Galchenyuk by a whisker again, getting around in 15.040 seconds, compared to 15.045 for Maidens.

The Breakaway Challenge allowed the players to show their creativity, and they didn't disappoint.

The first to star was Sudbury's Mathew Campagna, who on his third try got the puck to stick to his blade and raised the stick over his head with one hand. As he skated in, he slashed his stick down, but it hit the goalie right in the chest.





Sarnia's Nail Yakupov tried a Superman dive with the puck in his hand and tried sliding it over to his stick, but couldn't get the shot off. Another attempt featured Galchenyuk lobbing the puck chest-high as Yakupov skated in, but his shot attempt went wide.

The winner, though, was London's Andreas Athanasiou, who put the puck between his skates, flipped it into the air and flicked it out of the air with his backhand and into the net.




USNTDP right wing Miles Koules won the accuracy shooting contest, twice needing just five shots to break the four targets.

Athanasiou won the final event, the Elimination Shootout. Through two rounds, he and Portland defenseman Derrick Pouliot were the only skaters remaining. Pouliot's third attempt landed in Collin Olson's glove when the USNTDP netminder made a fine save. At the other end, Athanasiou beat Daniel Atlshuller for the victory.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 08.18.2011 / 2:01 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - The Research Project

Coach speak: Their favorites

After coaching three games that involved various different rule changes, Dan Bylsma and Dave Tippett were able to pick out what potential changes they liked best. Here are their favorites:

TIPPETT

No line change after going offside and the faceoff goes back into the offending team's zone

"It's a little bit the same as the icing rule, where you can't change and it goes back to the end zone. If they did that with offside also, that's an area where you can really exploit matchups. It's giving a team an advantage. Now, there are going to be some people who say just because you go offside, is it too much of an advantage? The one thing offside does is it stops the game, so you'd basically be penalized for stopping the game. Don't stop the game. Play fast, but there is going to be a consequence if you stop it with icing or offside. I know how hard it is when you ice the puck and you've got tired players on, a mismatch, it can change the outcome of games."

BYLSMA

Switch ends for overtime and start with four minutes of 4-on-4 and then go to three minutes of 3-on-3

"You'd get more games decided in the overtime. That's something I would like to see implemented in our game. All the good players are going to be on the ice more and the long change accentuates being tired. If it goes end-to-end and you get tired, I think more games will be decided in that overtime period than go to a shootout."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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Posted On Thursday, 08.18.2011 / 1:33 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Research Project

The perfect test subjects

What made it so easy for the NHL general managers in attendance to judge how potential rule changes and innovations could affect the game was the high quality of play from the top 2012 Entry Draft prospects used to try out the changes.

"I'm so impressed with the level of the play and the intensity these guys bring," said NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan.

Dave Tippett and Dan Bylsma, who coached the teams, both were struck not only by the talent of the players, but by their competiveness.

"We're standing back behind our bench and saying that when we were 17 years old, they're a long way  ahead of where we were at that age, for sure," said Bylsma. "Tip said it, these guys competed really hard. There was a lot of passion out there. At the same time they gave us a good look at a high-quality game and trying some different things."

Among the players that impressed Bylsma was goaltender Malcolm Subban.

"I think there's a skill level in a few players that's real evident," he said. "We saw three or four kids, and really I thought Subban in net played really well for his two games that he played."

Tippett was impressed by a few players, as well.

"The young Russian, (Nail) Yakupov, you can tell he's a dynamic player," he said. "You get to know the personalities … (Mathew) Dumba, the captain of the Hlinka tournament, he's got great enthusiasm, great passion for the game. It's great to see these kids. They get put in situations like this with a lot of eyes on them, and they still enjoy the moment. Those are fun times for young players."

The final session for the players featured a catered lunch and question-and-answer session with Montreal Canadiens forward Michael Cammalleri and Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog, the second pick of the 2011 Entry Draft.

"It's part research and development and it's part orientation for us to introduce them to what to expect in the NHL," said Shanahan. "After lunch they're going to have a Q&A with Mike Cammalleri and Gabriel Landeskog, talk about what it's like to be a pro player, what it's like to be a junior player in his draft year. They (the prospects) are giving us a lot and we also want to give them something back as well, an experience to prepare themselves for this big year for them."

Following lunch, there will be an all-star skills contest where the players will further be able to showcase themselves.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 08.18.2011 / 11:01 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - The Research Project

A real thinker

It happened late in the first period of Thursday morning's game here at RDO Camp. The Black team coached by Dave Tippett scored a goal on a 5-on-3 advantage, yet because of the rule change being tested, both of the offending players from Dan Bylsma's White team had to remain in the penalty box.

The 5-on-3 continued for another minute. Tippett's team didn't score another goal, but the message was sent.

A rule change that would force all penalties to be served in their entirety could have a great influence on the outcome of a game.

"Oh what a price to pay," Nashville GM David Poile told NHL.com. "I think we really would have to talk about that one long and hard."

Poile is on the fence on this potential rule change. He said he sees its merits, but he also questions if it would affect how the official calls the game.

"If it's a situation late in the game and you're shorthanded already, how will that influence a referee in calling a second penalty when he knows what the increased punishment is?" Poile said. "That's a tough one for me. I mean, I get it. It's not that i dislike it, but what would I vote for it right now? No."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Wednesday, 08.17.2011 / 7:32 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Research Project

Referee's view

While a number of the rules being tested Tuesday at the NHL Research and Development Camp were obvious, there were other things being looked at, including some technological changes. One of them was allowing the referees to communicate with each other via wireless headsets.
 
Scott Ferguson, a referee from the Ontario Hockey League, said he found pros and cons with the system.
 
"The pros are, the puck's loose around the net, I can yell at my partner 'It's loose' when it's down low," he said. "We can communicate on calls, support each other on calls, which is good. Some of the cons are it blocks your hearing on one side. There was one time where a player came out of the penalty box and I couldn't hear him coming, and he almost ran me over. When you're in the corner you want to be able to hear that. You want to be able to move and get out of the way. Sometimes it affects your focus. You're saying something, you're trying to watch a close play and (your partner) is yapping in your ear. Sometimes you can lose your focus."
 
Ferguson did say the earpiece he wore was comfortable and he had no problem hearing his partner.
 
"There are some pros, some cons," he said. "They'd have to do more work with it. You have to get used to it, that's the biggest thing."
 
Of the other changes, Ferguson liked the faceoff option used in the second session, where the linesman placed the puck in the faceoff dot, both skaters got set, and then the puck was picked up and dropped.
 
"I found today they weren't shooting (off the faceoff) as much as they usually do," Ferguson said. "They have a harder time timing the linesman, I thought. … Both set, puck was down, there was no advantage, there was no cheating, I thought that was good."
 
Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 08.17.2011 / 7:16 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - The Research Project

Removing trapezoid had little effect

Brendan Shanahan thought going into the second session at RDO Camp on Wednesday that even with no trapezoid to restrict them, goalies still wouldn't have too much time to skate into the corner in order to play the puck.

Now he feels he has a small sampling of visual evidence to prove his point.

"We took out the trapezoid rule and yet the goalies still had no time to come out and play the puck," Shanahan said Wednesday afternoon. "I think the idea of goaltenders coming out and having all day to set the puck up, tee it up are gone simply because of the lack of the defenseman's ability to hold up the forecheckers now and clutch and grab through the neutral zone. So even though we said to the goalies go play the puck, they had no time."

Shanahan was quick to point out that it was "just one test and it doesn't mean it's the end of that idea." He also admitted that there may still be opportunities in the game that goalies could have the time to head into the corners and play the puck in order to start the attack going forward, but he firmly believes their opportunities would be few and far between in today's game.

"As far as a forward coming through the neutral zone and doing a soft chip and dump, he's just coming so fast now whereas 10 years ago the guy would have been picked or someone would have jumped on his back," Shanahan said.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Wednesday, 08.17.2011 / 6:36 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Research Project

Working the rules

There's a reason Dave Tippett and Dan Bylsma were asked to participate in this year's NHL Research and Development Camp, and part of it is their adaptability. Faced with a rule change that prevented a shorthanded team from icing the puck, Bylsma opted to pull his goalie to create 6-on-4 advantage.

It backfired, however, when Tippett's team was able to score a shorthanded goal into an empty net.

"You can't ice it, but if you get any kind of possession, you're going to get a chance," said Tippett. "What happens when you're 6-on-4 is you get four guys around the net banging away, like a frantic last minute. Then it's 2-on-2 up top and you're an even-man battle up there, and then just like what happened, they had a guy fall down and we scored on an empty net."

Tippett said had he never thought to pull his goalie -- it became a moot point because his team didn't have any power plays in the second session -- but he had other plans in mind for when his team got the advantage.

"We talked about some different scenarios that we'd do, but we were on the other side, where we're trying to push them in," said Tippett. "If they did ice it, we were going to have some faceoff plays, line up quick, see if we can push them when they're tired rather than pull the goalies."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 08.17.2011 / 4:09 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - The Research Project

Reward the power play

Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini wanted to scream out, "Blow the whistle," until he realized in Session 2 here at RDO Camp a team that commits a penalty had to do more than simply gain possession of the puck in order for the whistle to blow and the ensuing power play to start.

"You recognize the onus is on the player to get the puck out before they can blow the whistle," Tambellini told NHL.com. "The play is not over. You have to work to earn the right to get the whistle. I didn't mind that."

Tambellini just described the delayed penalty rule that was tested in Session 2 and appeared to be of keen interest to many in attendance. The team that committed the penalty had to get the puck out of the zone before the referee could blow his whistle to stop play and impose the penalty on the offending player.

The rationale is that the extra time it takes for the offending team to clear their zone would essentially create a longer power play for the opponent once the opposing coach pulled his goalie.

It's hard enough to gain possession when you're down a man; now imagine how difficult it would be to clear the zone with possession.

"It also creates fatigue," Tambellini said. "Say you're playing Detroit and they've been in the zone for a minute and a half, then you take a penalty and now you have to get it out of the zone. You'll have a much greater chance for a scoring opportunity."

Tambellini said he's all for enhancing scoring opportunities through power plays, and making the offending team clear the zone with possession is one way to do it.

"I think it's great that we continue to strive to be able to show the incredible ability of these players," he said. "They're so well-disciplined and so well-coached, so fit that the dropoff level of energy to defend isn't too much. So, you need to keep finding ways to reward the players that have the skill and can make a great play. You have to reward the team that is working hard to keep the puck in the zone. Don't just let teams take lazy penalties against teams and players that maybe are more skilled, hard-working and fit.

"It takes a lot of work in the game to generate a Grade A opportunity. You want to reward the effort and the skill to do that."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Wednesday, 08.17.2011 / 4:00 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Research Project

New vantage point

Kevin Cheveldayoff is one of the many interested observers enjoying this week's NHL Research and Development camp. This isn't the only happy time for the new general manager of the Winnipeg Jets.

Seeing first-hand the excitement being generated with the NHL's return to Manitoba has been a blast.

"It is a surreal experience," he told NHL.com. "The players are going to feel that form the moment they land or drive in, however they get to town for the season. It's an infectious enthusiasm."

Even though he's a first-time NHL GM, Cheveldayoff said he's like every other manager here, just watching and seeing some of the rules changes in action.

"I think there's a lot of little, subtle things you kind of, as you're watching, you go what's going on here, and then you realize, oh, we're testing some things. There are some interesting things that by end of the camp, everyone will get a different flavor on some different things. I think the way that they're trying to tweak some of penalties with respect to having the puck for a period of time (on a delayed penalty), or not being able to ice it and stuff like that. It's good to take a look and see if these are different things that can enhance our game at some point."

What he also liked was seeing so many of his brethren watching and taking notes.

"The thing that's pretty encouraging for me is I'm looking around and seeing a lot of different GMs here that are seeing a lot of different things," Cheveldayoff said. "The League is constantly asking us what would you like to see changed, so this is a good form to implement them. At some point we'll be able to discuss them as a group. I think it's great because you'll see something with your eyes and the person sitting next to you will see something different. When we get into the group setting, we'll be able to fully discuss them."

Just as important for Cheveldayoff is getting to see some of the top prospects for the 2012 Entry Draft in action.

"The other aspect that's great here is to see all the great young kids," he said. "I went over to Europe to the (Ivan) Hlinka Tournament and it's interesting to see some of the kids after they've played on the big ice coming back to the small ice. Some kids stand out more, some kids stand out less. It's tough to fully evaluate them all during the summer. This is more of an opportunity to really hone in on the players, get a chance to see them, then let them develop over the course of the year."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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I'm hoping Bob [Murray] didn't go out and get Dany Heatley just to get someone. I'm sure he's excited and motivated.

— Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on general manager Bob Murray's decision to sign Dany Heatley