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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 9:56 AM

By Jacob Trouba -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Jacob Trouba draft blog

Trouba talks Four Nations triumph

Jacob Trouba is a defenseman for the U.S. Under-18 National Team Development Program of the United States Hockey League. The 6-foot-2, 194-pound native of Rochester, Mich., recently helped the U.S. Under-18 Team earn the Four Nations tournament title in Switzerland. He was also ranked the No. 1 skater within the United States Hockey League by NHL Central Scouting on its preliminary release of draft eligible players. Trouba, who participated in the 2011 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp fueled by G Series in August, has offered to maintain a monthly blog for NHL.com that will chronicle his season leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

What’s up hockey world? I’m only a month into the season and there have already been some ups and downs.

This young season has been eventful to say the least. We are 10-6-1 at this point and 2-5 against NCAA teams. In my mind, one of the greatest advantages of playing at the US NTDP is playing older competition. We are always up against a challenge. In my first year we played USHL teams as a group of 16 year olds. We were playing guys up to 20 years old. It was hard to go into a corner with a guy that has 4 years of maturity on you. Now in my second year we feel that we can play with every USHL team, so we put NCAA teams on our schedule. That is playing against a 25 year old grown man. We know we need to bring our best game against every D-1 team. If we don’t we will get embarrassed every time. The problem our team has found out early this year is the D-3 teams are just as hungry to beat us. There is no room for a preparation let down or we will come out slow and be down 3 goals before we know it. We learned that early this year in a 6-4 loss to Adrian College.
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 2:51 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Recapping Regina


REGINA, Sask. -- The opening day of the 'Life of a Scout' is history and it's time to bid a fond farewell to the capital city of Saskatchewan.

The game on Wednesday at the Brandt Centre was tremendous as the Western Hockey League stars scored a 5-2 victory over Team Russia in Game 5 of the Subway Super Series. If Team WHL can manage a victory in the sixth and final game of the Series on Thursday in Moose Jaw, then then Canadians will reclaim the title they lost last year.

     Colton Sissons, Kelowna Rockets
Of the 2012 draft eligible prospects, center Colton Sissons of the Kelowna Rockets had one assist. Matt Dumba of the Red Deer Rebels finished a minus-2 but proved to be a physical force with several big hits. For the most part, Dumba was paired with Saskatoon Blades Duncan Siemens.

Sissons actually assisted on the team's final goal.

NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards thought Sissons played exceptionally well in the final period. Team WHL actually scored twice in the third to put the finishing touches on the triumph, which now has the CHL stars holding a 3-2 series lead.

"Sissons did a nice job on the assist; he waited for the off-partner, protecting the puck and using his size," Edwards said. "In the corners, he protected the puck well and was the type of player who was pretty effective all night."

Team WHL coach Don Hay liked what he saw in both Dumba and Sissons.

"I thought they both played well," Hay said. "Matt had a big hit in the first and that led to some energy for us. We were down 1-0 at the time and we kind of took off after that. So any time you have a physical play from your D-man, it's really important.

"As for Sissons, he played the wing and played center, killed penalties and did a lot of good things."

While Edwards would be the first to tell you he isn't a goalie expert, he was impressed with Russian starter Andrey Makarov, who has posted a 13-5-0 record with a 2.44 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in 18 appearances this season with the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League. Makarov made 37 saves, included 17 of 18 stops in the second, on Wednesday.

So the gang is set to leave Regina on Thursday afternoon and, according to Edwards, the drive to Moose Jaw should take about 45 minutes. En route to the Mosaic Place, which has replaced the old 'crushed can' in Moose Jaw, we hope to make a stop at The Tunnels of Moose Jaw where it is alleged former gangster Al Capone spent most of his life.

"Overall, I feel it was a pretty successful night," Edwards said. "We saw a well-played hockey game and those draft eligible guys (Dumba, Sissons and Makarov) really did a nice job."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 2:01 AM

By Eric Lipschutz -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Hawks big four stars in win

Pick a star … any star.  If you are a fantasy owner of one of the Blackhawks' big guns, chances are you had a big fantasy night.

Marian Hossa led the way by assisting on three of Chicago's five goals in its victory against Vancouver. Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp all scored for the Hawks. Kane and Toews -- both of whom fantasy guru Matt Cubeta tabbed in the top 10 of his most recent Center Stage rankings -- also added assists for good measure. Kane's goal, which was assisted by Hossa, came on the man advantage serving as an extra bonus to leagues that reward power-play points.

It looks like good times are ahead for the Blackhawks, who own the League's best record. And, after easily dispensing the talented Canucks on Wednesday night, the Hawks appear to be firing on all cylinders. If you are fortunate enough to own any of the Blackhawks' big four, sit back and enjoy the ride. 
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Posted On Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 12:41 AM

NHL.com - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

ANA @ LA -- 5:25 of the third period

NHL Hockey Operations used two different replay angles to confirm the on-ice officials' ruling that Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf batted the puck into the net with his glove and did not contact the puck with his stick before it crossed the goal line. No Goal.

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 11:27 PM

By Sergei J. Feldman -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Myers responds after recent benching

Will the real Tyler Myers please stand up?

Since a phenomenal rookie campaign in 2009-10, in which the gargantuan Buffalo Sabres defenseman collected 11 goals, 37 assists and 48 points in 82 games, Myers has seen a steady decline in production, leaving many fantasy owners wondering what to make of the potentially-potent blueliner.

Through 17 games this season, the 21-year-old has just two goals and six points to go along with a minus-3 rating and just 26 shots on goal.

Fantasy and reality crossed paths recently, as the Sabres opted to make Myers a healthy scratch Nov. 14. But in his return to the ice Wednesday night against Martin Brodeur and the New Jersey Devils, the 6-foot-8. 227-pounder had a huge game.

Myers tickled the twine twice, including a power play tally, and threw four shots on net. For 60 minutes, he was a factor and it appears he's ready to prove that his recent skid is behind him.

For fantasy owners, patience will be a virtue. The Sabres currently rank in the middle of the pack in goals allowed per game but are in the Top-10 in goals per game. That leaves Myers susceptible to a low plus-minus rating, but also means that Myers is in a system that welcomes defenseman jumping into the play, which means his production opportunities are there.

Give Myers time and/or use him as a complimentary piece on your roster, but don't give up on an obvious talent at a time when he's showing signs of potential big gains.

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 10:54 PM

By Eric Lipschutz -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Kovalchuk returns with a bang

After missing five-games with a groin injury, Ilya Kovalchuk returned to the Devils lineup Wednesday night looking no worse for wear. Kovalchuk scored a highlight reel first period goal in New Jersey's 5-3 win over Buffalo. 

Prior to getting hurt, Kovalchuk was not producing his usual high level of scoring. Heading into Wednesday’s contest, Kovalchuk had recorded just two goals in 11 games while posting a mediocre minus-4. There are no glaring reasons that would point to Kovalchuk getting off to a slow start. If anything, Kovalchuk may just be adjusting to playing for his third coach in two seasons with the Devils. 

Kovalchuk owners should enjoy having their star forward back in the lineup and don’t need to worry about him getting back to his typical high standards sooner than later.

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 10:02 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Second period report card from Brandt Centre


REGINA, Sask. -- Through two periods here at the Brandt Centre, Team WHL is holding a 3-2 lead in Game 5 against Team Russia in the Subway Super Series.
 
Kelowna's Colton Sissons was a lot more active with the puck in that period, according to Central Scouting's Chris Edwards.
 
"He handled the puck a lot more … came out of the corner and took it to the net and, on the power-play, he handled the puck pretty well," Edwards said. "He went to the net and put up a good screen. In the first period he was a physical threat and in that second, we saw more of his puck handling ability."
 
Edwards has also been impressed with Russian goalie Andrey Makarov, who is in his first season with the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League. It'll be interesting to see where Makarov sits when Central Scouting releases its preliminary list of the top players from each league on Thursday.
 
"Makarov has played well; he has a good glove and was at the top the crease, challenging," Edwards said. "He was sucking up point shots and not allowing rebounds."
 
His opinion of Red Deer's Mathew Dumba hasn't changed.

"I really like what I see in Dumba," Edwards admitted.
 
Hmm … that Dumba-Duncan Siemens pairing could be one to watch in December when Hockey Canada makes its final decisions on the roster for the upcoming 2012 World Junior Championship.
 

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 9:50 PM

By Eric Lipschutz -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Staal’s position change impacts Sutter

Eric Staal saw his modest two-game point streak come to an end in Carolina's 4-0 loss to Montreal on Wednesday. As reported earlier by NHL.com's Arpon Basu, this was the third game Carolina coach Paul Maurice shifted Staal from his traditional spot at center to left wing.  Maurice made the move with the hope it would help jolt his star player out of a season long-funk.
         
Eric Staal
Center - CAR
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 8
SOG: 75 | +/-: -18
At this point, Staal owners are sure to be open to any move that could spark the perennial All-Star back to his prior form.  Staal has suffered through a miserable start, scoring just four goals while posting a League worst minus-18. Should Maurice decide to stick with the Staal experiment at left wing, he would be in line for increased position eligibility, giving fantasy owners if nothing else additional roster flexibility.

Staal's shift to left wing opened up a vacancy at center on Carolina's top line, which Maurice has filled with the talented Brandon Sutter. Basu points out that to this point, Sutter has been more of a defensive specialist during his brief NHL career. However, Maurice sees offensive potential in his young center and says he is committed to giving Sutter expanded minutes to show his capability to play top-line minutes. 

In three games, Sutter has not produced any points while centering a line between Staal and Chad LaRose. However, the line has produced a handful of scoring opportunities in its brief time together and Staal has shown signs of life while playing with Sutter. Wednesday's loss in Montreal was clearly a step backward, but if Sutter and Staal can build some chemistry together, Sutter could become a fantasy waiver-wire gem.

Sutter is currently owned in just 4 percent of Yahoo leagues. Though we would caution running out and grabbing him just yet with the way Carolina has struggled, he is clearly a player to monitor.  If Maurice is committed to keeping Sutter and Staal together, the pair has the potential to click at put up points. In that reasonable scenario, Sutter's production and value would increase dramatically -- making him an attractive option in deeper leagues.
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 9:22 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Taking notes and checking them twice


REGINA, Sask. -- So, NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards witnessed a pretty entertaining first period here at the Brandt Centre in which the Western Hockey League stars built a 2-1 lead against Team Russia in Game 5 of the Subway Super Series.
 
On Russia's opening goal, Red Deer's Matt Dumba went to one knee before the Russian player wired a shot into the top far corner.
 
"He was trying to block the shot and trying to get out of the way of the goalie at the same time; I blame the goalie more, but it was one heck of a shot," Edwards said. "From what I've seen here in the first, Dumba's a really smart guy and heady. On his second shift of the game, he gave the puck away, but that's going to happen to a guy playing a lot of minutes. He had a great hit later in the period as well."
 
He was also impressed with Dumba's big hit midway through the period where he separated the player from the puck to the delight of the fans.
 
"I'd like to see him do it a little more," Edwards said. "I'm surprised a guy like that can hit like that. He also won puck battles and was engaging guys. He looks solid on his skates and really sure on his skates and he moved it up ice quickly. I've liked everything I've seen so far."
 
Edwards was also impressed with the overall size and strength of the other 2012 top prospect participating in the contest -- Kelowna's Colton Sissons. He didn't get much puck time, but was whistled for an elbowing penalty that Edwards didn't consider a big deal.
 
"He was pretty good on the forecheck and solid when he decided to throw the body," Edwards said. "You know, you have to be careful out there with the way the game is called now. You have to protect the head a little bit. He didn't handle the puck too much that period, so I didn't get to assess that. Coming out of that period, I'd say Sissons is a hard-working and aggressive kind of guy."
 
During the period, Edwards also had an opportunity to chat with his teenage niece, Sara (Blair) of Toronto. Anytime is a good time when a scout has an opportunity to speak to a family member while on the road.
 
"She's a big hockey fan and I wanted to tell her to check out the blogs on NHL.com," Edwards said with a grin.


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Posted On Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 8:34 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Life as a Scout

Preparations prior to puck drop


REGINA, Sask. -- In the hour leading up to the contest between Team WHL and the Russians at Brandt Centre, NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards sat down beside scouts from the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars and began reflecting on the upcoming contest and the players.
 
Calgary amateur scout Blair Reid even discussed one player not in action for Russia on Wednesday but earning plenty of accolades in the Ontario Hockey League of late -- Sarnia's Nail Yakupov.
 
"He showed up on the game sheet when he played against the OHL stars in Ottawa and me and Blair were just talking about his overall game, how he really showed off his puck-handling ability," Edwards said. "He can get open."
 
Edwards set the lineups for the game and was glad that Russian goalie Andrey Makarov would be in action as it enables him to catch a viewing of another 2012 draft eligible prospect in addition to Western Hockey League blue chippers Matt Dumba of Red Deer and Colton Sissons of Kelowna.
 
Edwards also informed me that representatives from all 30 NHL teams were present for the game, including Al Murray of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tony McDonald of the Carolina Hurricanes. McDonald, of course, struck gold at the 2010 Draft with the selection of Jeff Skinner in the first round.
 
"You could see some GMs in the crowd as well at some point as Steve Yzerman was in Ottawa; probably to see Yakupov," Edwards admitted.
 
Edwards just watched closely when the players took their pregame warmups. "You just watch how the players skate and, sometimes, you can pick up other things, but you won't really know until the actual game begins," he said.


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Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres