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Posted On Thursday, 09.15.2011 / 10:48 PM

By Ryan Pinder -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Prospecting the future

Players of note from Penticton

After eight games in five days, the Young Stars Tournament has come to a conclusion in Penticton, B.C. The Canucks, Flames, Jets, Oilers and Sharks prospects have returned home to resume their training camps, but the scouts and coaches will continue to buzz over the performances of the prospects for quite some time. Here are some of the names that were catalysts of conversation in Penticton. Not a list of the best players, but rather a list of those who impressed as compared to their expectations.

FLAMES

Maxwell Reinhart, C -- Offensively involved and responsible at both ends of the rink, Reinhart showed he's got a bright future as a pro.

Patrick Holland, RW -- A 2010 seventh-round pick, Holland has been productive and responsible.

Sven Baertschi, LW -- Electric is the word Flames coaches have been using to describe the slick Swiss forward who starred last season with Portland of the Western Hockey League. He was especially dangerous with time and space, and on the power play.

OILERS

Tyler Bunz, G -- The netminder is determined to get off to a great start this season and earn a spot on Team Canada at the 2012 World Junior Championship. He had an impressive shutout of the Jets during the tournament.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C -- The first pick of the 2011 Entry Draft has produced points, but also has gotten involved physically -- an encouraging sign for Oilers fans hoping he can make the jump to the NHL this season.

Anton Lander, C -- The Swedish-born center led the Oilers with 3 goals in the tournament. He's yet another skilled forward in the Oilers' cupboard.

SHARKS

Thomas Heemskerk, G -- Heemskerk stood on his head in the Sharks' first game of the tournament, and didn't cool much after that. It was an impressive week of puck stopping.

Brodie Reid, RW -- Reid has scored everywhere he has played and didn't let San Jose down in Penticton, where he had played a season of hockey with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL. It was a sweet homecoming for the 22-year-old forward.

Benjamin Thomson, LW -- Hits? Check. Fight? Check. Goal? Check. He's been a physical player for the Sharks this week.

CANUCKS

Karel St. Laurent, G -- A 20-year-old QMJHL cast-off this time last season, St. Laurent was solid in net in all three appearances he made.

Nathan Longpre, C -- He posted sparkling numbers with Robert Morris University last season (42 points in 33 games), and nearly single-handedly sparked a comeback with 2 goals and an assist against Calgary.

Nicklas Jensen, LW -- Another 2011 first-round pick who didn't disappoint; Jensen showed skill, strength and offensive prowess.

JETS

Jason Gregoire, LW -- North Dakota alum and Winnipeg native has designs of making the big team this fall. He's not huge (6-foot-1, 196 pounds) but seemed comfortable in traffic. Created lots of opportunities in each game played. Nice hands.

Mark Scheifele, C --
The seventh pick of the 2011 Entry Draft looks legit. He's big (6-2, 184), skilled and has some eye-popping moves around the net. He scored with regularity during the tournament.

Edward Pasquale, G -- In 90 minutes of ice time, he didn't allow a goal. Not too shabby for a player who turns 21 in November and already has a season of professional hockey experience.
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Posted On Thursday, 09.15.2011 / 6:57 PM

By Ryan Pinder -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Prospecting the future

Jets shut out Canucks

Edward Pasquale and Christopher Carrozzi split time in the Winnipeg Jets' net today, combining to backstop a 2-0 shutout of Vancouver Canucks prospects, the Jets' second shutout in three games here in Penticton, B.C., for the Young Stars Tournament.

The Jets' tandem was especially good this week, as Winnipeg allowed only two goals in three games, by far the fewest goals allowed among the five teams at the event. Pasquale finished the tournament without allowing a goal in 90 minutes of ice time.

Mark Scheifele and Jason Gregoire continued to supply the Jets with offense as they did in their tournament-opening win against San Jose. Scheifele, the Jets' 2011 first-round selection, scored in the third period on a shot that beat Karel St. Laurent under the arm, and he showed a lethal touch around the net. Gregoire, born and raised in Winnipeg, set up the game's other goal, by Shayne Wiebe, to add to his assist total.

Wiebe, Gregoire and Scheifele operated as the Jets' top line today, and were the only line for either side that could muster much in the way of offensive chances. The tournament finale also happened to be the only fight-free match of the eight-game event.

The Jets and Oilers each finished the tournament with 2-1 records, as did the host Canucks, while the Flames and Sharks each went 1-2.

Canucks forward Bill Sweatt sustained a minor injury in Monday's game against Calgary and didn't play today. He will be ready, however, when the Canucks open training camp.
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Posted On Thursday, 09.15.2011 / 4:23 PM

By Ryan Pinder -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Prospecting the future

Positive review for Young Stars event

Canucks VP of hockey operations and assistant GM Laurence Gilman had nothing but positive things to say about the 2011 Young Stars tournament.

"This is a first-class facility in an unbelievable hockey setting." Gilman said Thursday. "From a production standpoint you couldn't have asked for a better event. From our perspective any time you can get your top prospects into game situations against their peers you have far better ability to evaluate their skill set in a real time setting. It's also an excellent vehicle for us to analyze our prospect pool against some teams that we compete with on a regular basis."

When asked about the prospects of a third annual Young Stars in 2012, Gilman noted that there are quite a few parties involved in making the event happen, but that all feedback has been positive.

"We partner in this event with the other teams that are here; we've talked to a couple of them about the event, and they seem very willing to come back and do this again.

"Once our camps finish, and our season gets started we'll convene the teams and talk about doing it again, and sit down with the people from Penticton and see if they're interested in doing it again. From our perspective it's a great event and I don't see any reason why we wouldn't want to continue come back here."

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Posted On Thursday, 09.15.2011 / 10:15 AM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Prospecting the future

Predators' prospects among best at Florida tourney

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla -- The 2011 Florida Rookie Tournament gave prospects for three teams -- Nashville, Florida and Tampa Bay -- a chance to impress their organizations before NHL training camps commence this weekend.

Here's a look at six players who stood out the most during the tournament:

1. Craig Smith, F, Nashville Predators -- Appearing in two games with the Predators, Smith dominated the offensive zone in each contest. Smith collected four goals and an assist against the Tampa Bay Lightning rookies on Monday night. To prove that performance was not a fluke, he followed up the next game on Tuesday against the Panthers by adding an additional two goals. No one else in the tournament came close to his offensive production.

2. Eric Gudbranson, D, Florida Panthers
-- The Panthers played in three tournament games, but Gudbranson only played in two, sitting out the finale against the Lightning. No matter, his two appearances were enough to demonstrate how dominating Gudbranson can be. He's 6-foot-4 and hits big, too. He was never out of position and his passes were precise, resulting in two assists.

3. Ryan Ellis, D, Nashville Predators -- A smooth skating offensive defenseman, Ellis controlled the puck seemingly at will, made several end-to-end rushes, and ran the power play with confidence. Although he finished the tournament with only one assist in the two games Nashville played, he always made his presence known.
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Posted On Thursday, 09.15.2011 / 5:42 AM

By Ryan Pinder -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Prospecting the future

Canucks and Jets to close out Young Stars Tourney

Three teams are gone, two are set hop chartered flights from the Okanagan tomorrow after the final game of the Young Stars tournament in Penticton, which begins Thursday at 11:00 a.m. PST.

The final game should be an intriguing one as the Winnipeg Jets and Vancouver Canucks do battle at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

The Canucks have reeled off two straight wins since getting blown out in the opener, while the Jets have had a 'feast or famine' week – shutting out the Sharks before being blanked by the Oilers.

The game is the eighth of the event and fourth featuring the Canucks, while the Jets, who arrived a day later than the other four teams have played just twice in Penticton. The Oilers, Flames and Sharks all concluded play on Wednesday.
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Posted On Thursday, 09.15.2011 / 1:25 AM

By Ryan Pinder -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Prospecting the future

Baertsci stars in Flames victory

Let the buzz about Sven Baertschi begin. The No. 13 pick of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft capped an impressive Young Stars tournament with a dynamic two-goal game in the Flames 4-3 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.

The 18-year-old Swiss sensation scored the game's first goal on the power play, then tipped in a point shot in the third period, while stationed at the side of the Oilers net, to put the Flames up by two.

The Flames also got goals from Dustin Sylvester, who hails from nearby Kelowna, and Lance Bouma, who played 16 games with the Flames last season and aims to crack the Calgary roster this season.

The Oilers got goals from 20-year-old center Tyler Pitlick, Finish forward Anton Lander – who led the team in scoring during the tournament – and Martin Maracin, a 6-foot-5 Slovakian defender.

Joni Ortio made his third straight start, and turned in his second strong effort, stopping 20 of 23 shots. Adam Brown took the loss – allowing 4 goals on 29 shots.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was not in the line-up for the first-time at the Young Stars, but did finish the event with an assist in each contest in which he played.

The Flames win was their first of the tournament; conversely the loss was the Oilers first.

The 2011 Young Stars tournament will wrap-up Thursday at 11:00 a.m. PST when the host Canucks face off agianst the Winnipeg Jets.
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Posted On Wednesday, 09.14.2011 / 11:34 PM

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

Sabres win championship in Traverse City debut

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- The Buffalo Sabres certainly made their initial appearance in the Traverse City Prospects Tournament one to remember.

In the process, they also got the best of their New York neighbor, as Marcus Foligno scored a pair of goals to lead the Sabres to a 5-2 victory over the New York Rangers in the championship match on Wednesday at Center ICE Arena.

The Sabres become the fifth different team to win the prospect tournament in the last five years.

"When you make improvements and have new additions to the organization with rookies and bunch of guys who haven't made the NHL yet, and go into a tournament and pull a championship, it's exciting for the organization and exciting what's to come in the future for the Sabres," Foligno told NHL.com.

Indeed, the Sabres outscored the opposition, 9-1, in the third period of their three victories in the five-day tournament en route to winning the trophy. In their only loss of the tournament, a 5-2 setback to Detroit on Tuesday, the Sabres were outscored, 3-0, in the final period.

"The third period was a focus of ours (against New York)," Sabres' prospects coach Ron Rolston said. "On Tuesday, that was a change and we wanted to get back to that (Wednesday). We just want to make sure that our guys were playing the right way and paying attention to details. We were able to make three strong finishes on those last three goals."

Corey Tropp's goal 1:28 into the third snapped a 2-2 tie before Daniel Catenacci connected at 15:00 to give Buffalo (3-1-0) a 4-2 cushion. Foligno then tacked on his second of the game when he drove home a shot off a breakaway after taking a pass from Zack Kassian at 17:47 to close out the scoring.

"It's weird … this whole tournament, we were a third period team," Foligno said. "Besides the Detroit loss, I think we all knew we had a little bit more in the tank (in the third) and we had 20 minutes left in this tournament to leave it on the ice. There was a lot of positive energy between intermissions and Rolston got us to work."

Foligno, who finished the tournament with 3 goals and 2 assists, was happy to chip in on the score sheet.

"It's always fun to score and help out with the points, but at the same time you want to do your job and do your role," he said. "I'm glad I had those opportunities to put the puck in the net."

Luke Adam had a goal and one assist and goalie Nathan Lieuwen made 21 saves in the triumph. The Rangers (2-1-1) received goals by J.T. Miller and Ryan Bourque.

"Our boys were resilient," Rolston said. "They worked really hard and as the tournament progressed, they knew what we had to do to be effective and have success. You felt it on the bench; we had a lot of energy and guys had good communication in terms of how we needed to play, so that was good to see."

Buffalo's top line of Luke Adam centering Foligno and Kassian proved to be quite a handful throughout the tournament. In Buffalo's loss to the Red Wings, Adam was a healthy scratch.

"Luke Adam is a great player and pretty good with the puck, and he has a great shot," Foligno said. "Kassian has a big body down low. We create space for each other and are all big guys and when we're in the offensive zone, it's tough for the opponents to kind of keep up with our pace."

Kassian agreed.

"I think we're three big bodies that like to play down low and that really favored us and we were moving it really good to find openings," Kassian said. "Luke has that great shot, so if he's in the slot you just give him the puck … it's going to be a goal more so than not."

Many of the Sabres' prospects are now looking forward to the start of training camp on Friday, including Kassian, Adam, Foligno and defensemen Mark Pysyk and Brayden McNabb.

"My goal is to play as many exhibition games as I can and do as well as I can," Foligno said. "I want to continue this strong effort I had in Traverse right through main camp. It'll be fun with all the guys and to get to play with pros."

Kassian feels Traverse City has certainly given the players one leg up entering main camp.

"Everyone in there is in game shape, ready for main camp," he said. "For me, personally, I hope to get in some exhibition games and play well."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Wednesday, 09.14.2011 / 10:25 PM

By Ryan Pinder -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Prospecting the future

Canucks overcome three deficits, edge Sharks

PENTICTON, British Columbia -- Despite trailing three times, the Vancouver Canucks settled down in third period and beat the San Jose Sharks 5-3 in Wednesday’s first game at the Young Stars tournament.

Ben Thomson of the Sharks opened the scoring early in the first, but Steven Janes leveled the game for the Canucks midway through the frame.

Sharks center Nathan Moon busy in the scored period as he netted a pair of goals and took a penalty. The first Moon tally was a one-time finish to a lovely passing play, while the second goal was a sharp-angle shot that Vancouver goaltender David Honzik misplayed.

Down 3-2, the Canucks responded to Moon’s second goal by netting three unanswered goals, and were helped by much more solid puck stopping from goaltender David Honzik in the second half of the match.

Northeastern alumni Brodie Reid, who was signed this spring after his freshman season, continued his strong showing at the tournament by creating offensive chances with regularity. Ditto for Kellen Tochkin, who recorded two assists and has played with energy in Penticton all week.

Alex Freisen and Michael Sgarbossa had a spirited fight as time expired over an exchange at the Vancouver goal mouth.

The Sharks finished the tournament with a record of (1-2-0). The Canucks (2-1-0) play tomorrow morning in the tournament finale.
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Posted On Wednesday, 09.14.2011 / 9:35 PM

By Ryan Pinder -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Prospecting the future

City of Penticton, teams talking about 2012

PENTICTON, British Columbia -- Year two of the Young Stars tournament in Penticton has been drawing positive reviews from the city’s organizing committee, fans, media members, and the five NHL clubs in attendance.

The five-day event in the Okanagan has gone off without a hitch, and while attendance has dropped from last year’s inaugural edition, numbers aren’t at a level that will scare off the member parties from working toward a third annual event at the state of the art South Okanagan Events Centre in Penticton.

The popular vacation destination located between Okanagan and Skaha Lake seem to be the perfect fit for the event. Penticton’s September weather, the accessibility and functionality of the venue, and relative proximity to the four Western Canadian entrants have made the event and the city a great fit.

City Councillor Andrew Jakubeit spoke to the revenue the event brings to the local economy, and the notoriety the city receives as positive of the event. Jakubeit was quick to point out the large swarms of fans from Edmonton and Vancouver (among the smaller herds Jets and Flames faithful) that have traveled to the city to take in the hockey and the regional tourist attractions.

Jakubeit is hopeful the host Canucks and the city can have a framework for a potential 2012 event in place prior to the chaos of the NHL home-stretch and postseason, to allow for a head start on marketing and ticket sales.
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Posted On Wednesday, 09.14.2011 / 4:53 PM

By Lonnie Herman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Prospecting the future

Panthers close 2011 rookie tournament with win

The Florida Panthers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 today in the finale of the 2011 Florida Rookie Tournament.
 
The game was closer than the score showed, however, as both teams wrapped the tournament with a spirited, back-and-forth battle.
 
The Panthers got goals from forwards Jonathan Hazen and John McFarland, along with a power-play score from defenseman Adam Comrie. Late in the game, with Lightning goaltender Jaroslav Janus on the bench in favor of an extra skater, Panthers forward Josh Birkholz was awarded the final goal after Tampa Bay defenseman Mark Barberio pulled him down from behind on a breakaway.
 
Brian Foster, who is signed to an AHL contract, was in the net for Florida. He stopped 32 of 33 shots as Tampa Bay outshot the Panthers 33-29. Foster's only misstep came in the final period, as Lightning forward Tyler Johnson stole the puck in front of the Florida net and scored unassisted.
 
Pat Nagle started in the net for Tampa Bay and stopped 12 of the 14 shots he faced. He gave way to Janus at the halfway point of the second period, and he was successful on 14 of the 15 shots that came his way.
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