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Posted On Thursday, 06.25.2015 / 6:55 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - 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'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."

Posted On Thursday, 06.25.2015 / 4:43 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - 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."

Posted On Thursday, 06.25.2015 / 4:32 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - 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."

Posted On Thursday, 06.25.2015 / 1:08 PM

By Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor / - 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."

Posted On Wednesday, 06.24.2015 / 8:01 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - 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.

Posted On Wednesday, 06.24.2015 / 7:10 PM

By Noah Hanifin -  Special to / - Noah Hanifin blog

Hanifin: Batting practice was unique experience

Noah Hanifin, No. 3 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft, completed his freshman season at Boston College in Hockey East in 2014-15. The 6-foot-3, 203-pound left-shot defenseman had five goals and 23 points in 37 games. He also represented the United States at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship. He had eight goals and 33 points in 45 games for the United States National Team Development Program under-18 team in 2013-14. The native of Norwood, Mass., has offered to maintain a blog for leading up to the 2015 NHL Draft in Sunrise, Fla. His latest entry comes from Marlins Park in Miami.

Greetings from Marlins Park.

We just got done batting practice here. It was the first time I've swung a bat since the summer going into my freshman year of high school. So the first two balls, I hit grounders. Then I hit a ground-rule double, right off the wall. I almost got one out; I think if I had pulled it a little more to the right it would have been out.

Lawson Crouse was the only one to hit a home run. He went first and he set the bar really high for us. But he's just a really big, strong guy. We kind of expected, if one guy was going to put one out it would be him.

Posted On Tuesday, 06.23.2015 / 6:44 PM

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

Crouse among prospects invited to Canada WJC camp

Eight skaters ranked in the top 30 by NHL Central Scouting in its final ranking of North American skaters for the 2015 NHL Draft were among the 40 players invited by Hockey Canada on Tuesday to attend a tryout camp in Calgary for the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.

The camp will be held in Calgary from Aug. 1-6, and feature practices and exhibition games against the Czech Republic and Russia.

Among those invited to the camp were Kingston Frontenacs left wing Lawson Crouse, who was part of the team that won the gold medal at the 2015 WJC in Canada. Playing in mostly a fourth-line role, the 6-foot-4, 215-pound forward had one goal and two assists in seven games.

Crouse had 29 goals and 51 points in 56 games for Kingston this season and is No. 5 on Central Scouting's final ranking.

Posted On Monday, 06.22.2015 / 2:32 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Melrose: Predicting NHL award winners

After another amazing season, a thrilling Stanley Cup Final and the anointing of a dynasty in the Chicago Blackhawks, it's time to honor all of the incredible performances from 2014-15. Wednesday night, the who's who of the NHL will gather in Las Vegas for the 2015 NHL Awards.

Posted On Sunday, 06.21.2015 / 11:05 PM

By Staff -  / - 2015 Summer with Stanley blog

Vermette's baby girl introduced to Stanley Cup

What a week for Chicago Blackhawks forward Antoine Vermette.

Five days after winning the Stanley Cup in Game 6 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning at United Center, Vermette and his wife Karen welcomed a baby girl, Emilia, into the world on Saturday.

On Sunday, Emilia was introduced to the Stanley Cup.

Posted On Sunday, 06.21.2015 / 2:57 PM

By Staff -  / - 2015 Summer with Stanley blog

Blackhawks take Stanley Cup to U.S. Cellular Field

The Chicago Blackhawks took the Stanley Cup to the south side of town on Sunday, to U.S. Cellular Field, home of the Chicago White Sox.

Forward Andrew Shaw held the Cup over his head and walked to the pitcher's mound with defenseman Michal Rozsival and coach Joel Quenneville, who were all in White Sox jerseys. They took a photo with White Sox players prior to the start of their game. Before going on to the field, Shaw took swings in a batting cage.

The Blackhawks won the Cup with a 2-0 victory in Game 6 at United Center against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday.

"What a thrill to win it at home and celebrate on home ice, it was a spectacular playoff run," Quenneville said on WGN during the game. "It was a tough series. You can look at all four of them but the last two were off the charts. Tampa Bay, I don't think anyone thought they were that good. Oh my, was that a tough series. Every shift was tough."

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