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Posted On Saturday, 06.27.2015 / 2:31 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Blues goalie pick Opilka thrilled to meet Brodeur

SUNRISE, Fla. -- For goaltender Luke Opilka from USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, being drafted by his favorite team, the St. Louis Blues, was a wonderful moment.

But it got even better when the fifth-round pick (No. 146), a St. Louis native, reached the Blues' draft table on the floor of BB&T Center. One of the first team officials he met was assistant general manager Martin Brodeur.

This is the first draft as an executive for Brodeur, the winningest goaltender in NHL history, who ended his 22-season career in January.

"I definitely had chills seeing him," Opilka said. "I was already shocked just being drafted to the home team and then I saw him. I was speechless almost. Couldn't get anything out."

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Posted On Saturday, 06.27.2015 / 11:55 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Sabres get two top performers at Scouting Combine

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Two of the players who performed best during the physical testing at the NHL Scouting Combine earlier this month in Buffalo were Boston University center Jack Eichel and Prince Albert Raiders defenseman Brendan Guhle.

They're now teammates with the Buffalo Sabres, who used the No. 2 pick of the 2015 NHL Draft on Friday to select Eichel. On Saturday, they selected Guhle at No. 51 in the second round.

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Posted On Saturday, 06.27.2015 / 11:14 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Sharks' Roy proud to be first pick of second round

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Sherbrooke Phoenix defenseman Jeremy Roy was flattered to be the first pick of the second round of the 2015 NHL Draft on Saturday.

Knowing the San Jose Sharks traded up to get him made it an even better feeling.

"It's definitely great," Roy said. "Having a team moving up for you, it shows they really want you. It's a great feeling."

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Posted On Friday, 06.26.2015 / 6:36 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Blues' Brodeur seeing draft from new perspective

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Martin Brodeur is at the 2015 NHL Draft, his first as an executive, 25 years after he was drafted by the New Jersey Devils.

Brodeur joined the St. Louis Blues' front office in January after retiring as a player. He spent the remainder of the season as a special assistant to general manager Doug Armstrong and started learning how an NHL front office works. Then, on May 20, he was hired as Blues assistant general manager.

Most of his work has been on the professional side, but once St. Louis' season ended, he began sitting in on amateur scouting meetings.

Brodeur said Friday that it's been an eye-opening experience for him. During his 22-season playing career, the final seven games of which he played with the Blues after 21 seasons with the Devils, he rarely took time to think about how the amateur scouting department worked.

"A lot of the things we're doing now, I had no clue how they worked," he said. "As a player I didn't pay attention; I just showed up and played hockey. There's a lot of hard work for our scouts and days like today you realize how important it is for them and its pretty cool."

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Posted On Thursday, 06.25.2015 / 8:05 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Unpredictability surrounds draft after first two picks

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- It's almost a certainty that when the 2015 NHL Draft starts Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports) that Erie Otters center Connor McDavid will be the No. 1 pick by the Edmonton Oilers and Boston University center Jack Eichel will go No. 2 to the Buffalo Sabres.

The drama will start with the No. 3 pick, held by the Arizona Coyotes, and the player selected in that spot will steer the direction of the rest of the selection process, all the way through rounds two through seven on Saturday (10 a.m. ET; NHLN, TVA Sports).

For the players involved, they're doing their best to tune out all the rumors.

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Posted On Thursday, 06.25.2015 / 6:55 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Rantanen sets goal of sticking in NHL next season

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Mikko Rantanen has spent the past two seasons excelling in Liiga, Finland's top professional League. Now he could be ready to conquer a higher level.

The 6-foot-4, 211-pound right wing with TPS is No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of European skaters for the 2015 NHL Draft and likely will be a top-10 pick when the draft starts Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports). Both of NHL.com's mock drafts have Rantanen going at No. 7 to the Philadelphia Flyers.

"I know the NHL is a tough League," Rantanen said. "The best players play in the NHL. My goal is to train this summer so hard that I will be ready to find a place in an NHL lineup. I know it's hard but I will do everything I can to be ready."

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Posted On Thursday, 06.25.2015 / 4:43 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Kingston's Crouse finds fun snack on Everglades tour

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Riding on an air boat through the Everglades can make a guy hungry. And at 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, Kingston Frontenacs left wing Lawson Crouse can put away some food.

That's how the top prospect for the 2015 NHL Draft found himself chomping on a worm during a trip to Everglades Holiday Park on Thursday.

"Eating worms isn't my specialty," he said.

But with $100 from Erie Otters center Connor McDavid on the line, Crouse chowed down.

"We saw only two alligators at that point and I wanted to spice it up a little bit," Crouse said. "I wouldn't normally do that but it was all fun."

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Posted On Thursday, 06.25.2015 / 4:32 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Clinic gives prospects chance to reflect to youth days

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifin likely will be a top-five pick at the 2015 NHL Draft, which starts Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports) at BB&T Center in Sunrise, home of the Florida Panthers.

He is No. 3 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the draft, and is the top-rated defenseman.

But during a clinic for area youth hockey players at Florida Panthers IceDen on Thursday, Hanifin admitted to being a bit jealous of the 54 kids between the ages of 8 and 15 who got to skate around with six of the top draft prospects.

"These kids are really lucky," he said. "I wish when I was a little kid I got to skate with some of the pros. Would have been a really cool experience."

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Posted On Thursday, 06.25.2015 / 1:08 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2015 NHL Draft blog

Huberdeau joins top draft prospects for clinic

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- It's been four years, but Florida Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau vividly remembers the run-up to the 2011 NHL Draft, when he was the third pick.

So when he got a call asking if he'd like to take part in a youth clinic with some of the top prospects for the 2015 draft Thursday at Florida Panthers IceDen, he didn't hesitate to grab his skates.

"I'm glad they asked me to come," Huberdeau said. "It was a pleasure to come here.

"It was an exciting moment [being drafted]. I'm glad I can be there with them too. It's exciting. I'm going back four years ago and it's like same as this."

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.24.2015 / 8:01 PM

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

Top prospects smack balls, talk smack at Marlins Park

MIAMI -- London Knights center Mitchell Marner shook his head and smiled when asked about Kingstown Frontenacs left wing Lawson Crouse, who was the only player to hit a home run during batting practice Wednesday afternoon at Marlins Park.

Marner, Crouse and four other top 2015 NHL Draft prospects got the chance to take batting practice and shag fly balls prior to the Miami Marlins' game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

"It was luck, that's what it was," Marner said of Crouse's big shot, which cleared the fence in right field, about 335 feet from home plate.

Marner was joking, of course, but kept piling on the sarcasm with the 6-foot-4, 215-pound Crouse within an earshot. After a pressure-packed season that included highs, lows and plenty of media scrutiny, Wednesday provided a chance for the players to have some fun before the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft begins Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports) at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla.

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