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Posted On Monday, 09.15.2014 / 4:54 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 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."

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Posted On Monday, 09.15.2014 / 4:46 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 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 NHL.com's Top 60 prospect rankings for this season.

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Posted On Monday, 09.15.2014 / 3:31 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 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.

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Posted On Monday, 09.15.2014 / 3:07 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL Rookie Camps blog

Kevin Hayes excited to be back on the ice

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- New York Rangers center Kevin Hayes is just happy to be back on the ice and playing hockey.

Hayes was a primary topic of discussion over the summer after signing an entry-level contract with the Rangers on Aug. 20. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound forward became an unrestricted free agent when he and the Chicago Blackhawks, who selected him in the first round of the 2010 NHL Draft (No. 24), could not agree to a contract.

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Posted On Monday, 09.15.2014 / 12:56 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 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.

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Posted On Monday, 09.15.2014 / 12:51 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 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 CSNWashington.com. "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."

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Posted On Monday, 09.15.2014 / 10:30 AM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 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 NHL.com correspondent Josh Cooper. "Hopefully I can show how much that year meant to me."

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Posted On Monday, 09.15.2014 / 9:58 AM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 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 NHL.com 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 NHL.com Top 60 prospect rankings.

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Posted On Sunday, 09.14.2014 / 1:26 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL Rookie Camps blog

Future on display for Blues in Traverse City

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- The immediate and not-so-distant future is on display for the St. Louis Blues at the Traverse City Prospect Tournament this week at Centre Ice Arena.

Forwards Ty Rattie (second round, No. 32, 2011), Robby Fabbri (first round, No. 21, 2014) and Ivan Barbashev (second round, No. 33, 2014), and defenseman Thomas Vannelli (second round, No. 47, 2013), head that impressive list.

Rattie, who scored 31 goals and 48 points as a rookie with the Chicago Wolves in the American Hockey League last season, would seem to have the best shot at earning an immediate roster spot out of training camp.

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Posted On Sunday, 09.14.2014 / 10:23 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - NHL Rookie Camps blog

Reinhart focused on earning his spot with Sabres

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Buffalo Sabres prospect Sam Reinhart knows nothing will be handed to him, including a roster spot on a team that so desperately needs star power down the middle.

Whether or not Reinhart, selected No. 2 by the Sabres at the 2014 NHL Draft, is able to fill that void sooner than later remains to be seen. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound center is receiving his first chance to make an impression this week at the Traverse City Prospect tournament.

Though Reinhart has a minus-3 rating and is without a point in two losses, he has two shots and has played a smart game.

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Quote of the Day

I downplayed the first one because I thought it's just a hockey game. We just want to win the game; it's against our rival and we want the two points. I downplayed it, but now having gone through the first one I look back and say, 'Geez, that was really cool.' I think as I've grown a bit older I've got a lot more appreciation for what we're allowed to do every day.

— Capitals forward Brooks Laich on the 2015 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic, the second one of his career after 2011 in Pittsburgh