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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 12:16 PM

By Andrew Gordon -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Andrew Gordon Player Blog

End of trip means start of something great

Rarely during a vacation is the end of the trip the most exciting part. I have never been on a trip in my life where I looked forward to the end more than the actual trip itself. But that seems to be the case here in Helsinki. Nothing against the beautiful country or the friendly people I have met while I was here, but the end of the trip means the start of a new season.

These next two days are what I came for. These are the days I have been thinking about since free agency rolled around on July 1 -- the start of a new season, a new beginning, a fresh start.
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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 11:34 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to 2012 NHL Draft

NHL Director of Euro Scouting Goran Stubb offers overseas insight

There's no question the closer we get to the 2012 Entry Draft, the hot topic not only will be Russian forwards Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk of the Ontario Hockey League's Sarnia Sting and Mikhail Grigorenko of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Quebec Remparts, but that incredibly talented crop of defensive prospects starring in the Western Hockey League.

However, there's also a fine group of prospects starring overseas who also might capture the fancy of NHL scouts and general managers.

Recently, NHL.com caught up with NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb to find who he thought were the most talented players outside North America. For starters, Stubb didn't hide the fact that Sweden will present a hockey haven for most scouts this season, with Finland coming in second.

"At present, there are some prospects from Russia, but no superstars," Stubb told NHL.com. "The Czechs, Slovaks, Swiss and Germans don't have anyone in the top 10 (among European skaters overseas) … right now."

Here are Stubb's top five European standouts eligible for the 2012 draft:

1. Filip Forsberg, F, Leksand (Sweden) - The 6-foot-1, 180-pound left wing (no relation to former NHL All-Star Peter Forsberg) was spectacular for his country at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in August, totaling 4 goals and 10 points in six games for the silver medal-winning Swedes. His ability with the puck has been compared to fellow Swede Daniel Alfredsson of the Ottawa Senators.

Swedish standout Filip Forsberg
"I think my offensive game is my biggest strength," Forsberg told reporters in July. "I like to shoot the puck, but I think I can play a complete game in terms of scoring, playmaking and defensive play."

Said Stubb: "He's a talented, speedy, two-way forward who can score the big goals. He also has a good selection of shots."

2. Sebastian Collberg, F, Frolunda (Sweden) - With decent size (5-11, 180) and sniper-like mentality off the right wing, Collberg is a player who might be off the radar at this point, but he won't stay there long. Collberg had 21 goals and 44 points in 35 games with Frolunda HC in 2010-11. In addition to a great wrist shot, scouts love the fact he isn't afraid to initiate contact in the corners.

"He has a great first step … is so quick," Stubb said. "He rushes down the wing and shoots a lot; he's got soft hands and a quick shot. He's a player with great offensive instincts."

3. Pontus Aberg, F, Djurgarden (Sweden) - The 5-11, 187-pound left wing, who missed being eligible for the 2011 draft by eight days, offers a right-handed shot. He produced 13 goals and 30 points in 41 games with Djurgarden's junior club in the J20 SuperElit league last season and already has 4 goals and 6 points in nine games playing in the Elitserien this season. Aberg's contract with Djurgarden runs through the 2013-14 season.

"He's played great to open up the fall season," Stubb said. "He's a speedy, hard-working winger with a nose for the net … a sniper with a very good overall skill level."

4. Teuvo Teravainen, F, Jokerit (Finland) - The left-handed Teravainen is being touted as Finland's top performer. NHL Network analyst and prospect guru Craig Button labeled Teravainen as a potential sleeper for the 2012 draft. The 5-11, 187-pound right wing had 16 goals and 35 points through 11 games for his Jokerit U-16 club in 2009-10. Last season, he had 5 goals and 17 points in 11 games for Finland's Under-17 Team. He has compared his style of play to Patrick Kane and Pavel Datsyuk.

"Talk about a dynamic skater ... Teravainen is a guy who can make things happen so quickly," Button said. "He's really smart and able to draw defenders to him and make really good plays. Right now he's a little slight, but when you watch him on the ice, he's a real dynamic player. Right now, for me, he's a guy who is a first-round pick. By springtime, he could be mentioned among the top guys."

Stubb agreed: "He speedy, quick and talented … an offensive-minded winger who, with quick, surprising moves creates scoring chances for linemates and himself around the net. He's a bit inconsistent from game to game and will need to improve in that area."

5. Henrik Samuelsson, F, MoDo (Sweden) - If the name sounds familiar it should -- Samuelsson is the son of former NHL defenseman Ulf Samuelsson, who spent 16 seasons in the NHL. Henrik left the U.S. National Team Development Program when his father was hired as MoDo's coach and has 2 assists and eight penalty minutes in eight games so far this season.

His older brother, defenseman Philip Samuelsson, was selected in the second round (No. 61) by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2009 draft.

Henrik, a 6-foot-2, 193-pound right wing was born in Scottsdale, Ariz., and had 28 points and 98 penalty minutes for the U.S. National Team Development Program's under-17 squad last season.

"He's got good size, works hard and plays with grit," Stubb said.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 9:40 AM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Rangers World Tour

Rangers ready to go ... karting

STOCKHOLM -- After a second straight healthy practice at Ericsson Globe Arena, several Rangers players were planning an afternoon go-karting trip.

Odds are coach John Tortorella wasn't among them.

The Rangers are a loose bunch these days, but they're also a focused bunch. I'm not sure if I've been around a team that was more excited to get the preseason finished.

Four games on international ice in five nights in four different countries will get you soured on the preseason. The Rangers are pumped to play for two points Friday.

"I'm not sure if it's nerves; it's anticipation," Tortorella said. "Camp is long. It's long for the players, it's long for the coaches. I'm anxious to see us play. If you don't have any type of anxiousness or nervousness before a game, any game, you're not ready. So, yeah, I'm geared up right now."

Henrik Lundqvist said he can feel himself getting "more tense and focused on what we have to do."

"The season starts tomorrow and I can tell inside of me that mentally I'm getting ready and physically I'm getting ready," he added. "It's exciting."

Rupp misses practice: Left wing Mike Rupp was held out of practice Thursday as a precaution due to a sore knee, Tortorella said. The coach called it a maintenance day for Rupp, and said he will be in the lineup Friday against the Kings (1 p.m. ET, Versus, TSN).

Quotable: "I've got to say, we're really happy with the team we have right now," defenseman Dan Girardi said. "We have four solid lines, obviously one of the best goalies in the League and a pretty young, strong 'D' corps back there. Even without Marc (Staal), I think we're one of the top-10 teams in the League. I don't want to go too high or too low here, but I think we've got a pretty solid team here."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 8:27 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Ducks fly to Scandinavia

Ducks ready to finally get back to playing

HELSINKI -- The Anaheim Ducks know they're going to have a lot of people in the audience cheering for them here at Hartwall Areena, and the Buffalo Sabres know this is going to be like a road game when the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere games start Friday (1 p.m. ET, TSN2).

The Sabres technically will be the home team, but expect a couple of Anaheim's players to receive the loudest cheers.

"I don't know why we're not -- we should be the home team," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said with a laugh. "We have more Finns than they do. It doesn't make sense that we're not the home team. Maybe we should write a letter."

In more serious business, it is time for just that for the Ducks. They have been in Helsinki for five days, and have been feted by fans from Helsinki and Anaheim alike.

Now it is time for the NHL regular season to start, and Friday's game counts just as much as one in Los Angeles or San Jose will in November or March.

"It is a little different because we're here in Finland playing the Buffalo Sabres," Carlyle said. "We've been here close to a week and we've enjoyed the country. They've opened up their arms and done everything possible to make it comfortable for us. It is an exciting time for Finnish players playing in their homeland and it is an exciting time for all of our players to finally get to play games. You can play all the exhibition games you want and have all the practices you want, but nothing compares to playing in an NHL game and that starts tomorrow night for us.

"We're putting it on the line -- these are points for the season. Points in October are much easier to get than they are in March. You look at the playoff races -- take last year for instance -- we had 99 points and we only made the playoffs by three. It is competitive. It is also like you're looking at getting 100 points to qualify for the playoffs and that is tough."

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Posted On Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 8:16 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - The Sabres take Germany

Day of celebration for Sabres

HELSINKI -- The Buffalo Sabres finished practice Thursday morning at Hartwall Areena with a bit of Finnish.

Coach Lindy Ruff called the team together at center ice, and the team sang "Happy Birthday" (in English) to Tyler Ennis, who turns 22 years old today. After that, they broke into small groups for post-practice stuff, but then Ruff was alerted it also was Ville Leino's birthday.

So the coach called everyone back together for another round of "Happy Birthday" -- only this time assistant coach Teppo Numminen led the club in the Finnish version of the tune in honor of Leino's 28th birthday.

"We didn't realize it was Ville's birthday, too," Ruff said. "We sang that one in Finnish, and I don't know how that one turned out. I sort of hummed along. Teppo could have had us singing anything. I didn't really know -- it could have been a setup."

Coming together was a popular topic after practice Thursday. This is the first European trip for the Sabres since the NHL starting doing it annually a few years ago, and Ruff and the players talked about the positives they have observed from making the trek.

The Sabres have a few key new players to incorporate to the team, Leino and defenseman Christian Ehrhoff among them, and they have had a chance to be like ambassadors for their new teammates when the club has spent time in their respective home countries.

"I thought the visit we had to the hospital (Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany) was a bit of an eye opener for some of us," Ruff said. "Getting to have the team meals, all the different functions together, we'll have another team meal tonight -- all of that brings the team to closer."

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.05.2011 / 9:00 PM

NHL.com - Roster Call

Roster Call for October 5, 2011

The following NHL teams have announced the following roster moves today.

  Calgary Flames

Re-assigned to AHL: Jordan Hendry.
Placed on injured reserve: Mikael Backlund, Brendan Morrison, Raitis Ivanans.

  Carolina Hurricanes

Re-assigned to AHL: Riley Nash.

  Colorado Avalanche

Re-assigned to AHL: Stefan Elliott.
Placed on injured reserve: Kyle Cumiskey, Mark Olver, Brandon Yip.

  Columbus Blue Jackets

Re-assigned to AHL: Alexandre Giroux.

  Dallas Stars

Placed on injured reserve: Adam Pardy.

  Los Angeles Kings

Re-assigned to AHL: Slava Voynov.
Placed on injured reserve: Jake Muzzin.
Placed on non-roster list: Colin Fraser.

  Minnesota Wild

Re-assigned to AHL: Matt Hackett.

  Montreal Canadiens

Re-assigned to AHL: Aaron Palushaj, Michael Blunden, Andreas Engqvist.
Claimed off waivers: Blair Betts.

  New York Islanders

Re-assigned to AHL: Trevor Frischmon, Dylan Reese.
Returned to juniors: Kirill Kabanov.

  New York Rangers

Re-assigned to AHL: Sean Avery.
Recalled from AHL: Tim Erixon.
Placed on injured reserve: Marc Staal.
Cleared waivers: Brendan Bell, Stu Bickel.

  San Jose Sharks

Re-assigned to AHL: Cam MacIntyre, Mike Moore.

  Philadelphia Flyers

Re-assigned to AHL: Oskars Bartulis.
Placed on injured reserve: Ian Laperriere, Andrew Rowe, Brandon Manning.

  Winnipeg Jets

Signed to AHL contract: David Aebischer.
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Posted On Wednesday, 10.05.2011 / 3:46 PM

By Brian Hunter -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 2011 NHL Face-Off Blog

NHL Face-Off, top matchups highlight opening night

There may only be three games on Thursday's schedule, but opening night in the NHL offers up enough excitement and thrills to rival any 12-game Saturday night.

Welcome to NHL.com's 2011 Face-Off blog, where you'll want to check back not just over the next 24 hours, but all weekend long as our writers and correspondents from around the League bring you up to date on everything that's happening as the season begins everywhere from Vancouver to Boston to the Compuware NHL Premiere games taking place over in Sweden, Finland and Germany.

First, a quick overview of what fans can look forward to Thursday:

Even before the first puck drops, hockey enthusiasts will be rocking as the 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off comes to Winnipeg. As a prelude to the Jets playing their first regular-season game at the MTS Centre against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday, the event features international rock legends Bachman & Turner ("Takin' Care of Business," anyone?) along with platinum-selling rockers Three Days Grace and Winnipeg's own Inward Eye all scheduled to perform.

The fun gets under way at "The Forks" in Winnipeg at 3 p.m. Central Time, with refreshments, prizes and plenty of family-friendly activities, and continues until 9 p.m. Jets captain Andrew Ladd will appear along with teammates Zach Bogosian, Tanner Glass, Ron Hainsey, Jim Slater and Mark Stuart. Those not in the area or otherwise unable to make it will still be able to catch highlights on the NHL Network, Versus and CBC.

Then there's the game action.

The Boston Bruins raise their Stanley Cup banner prior to their game against the Philadelphia Flyers, part of a Versus doubleheader beginning at 7 p.m. Eastern Time. These clubs have plenty of recent history dating back to when they met in the 2010 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic at Fenway Park. Several months later, the Flyers became only the third team in NHL history to come back from a 3-0 deficit in a playoff series, as they beat the Bruins en route to making the Stanley Cup Final. Boston paid Philadelphia back in another second-round matchup last spring, sweeping through on the way to ending a 39-year championship drought.

Meanwhile, over on the CBC at 7 p.m., one of the top rivalries in hockey adds another chapter as Original Six foes Montreal and Toronto face off from the Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs are determined to end a lengthy playoff drought, while the Canadiens are focused on knocking off the Bruins as Northeast Division champions and ending a championship drought that now approaches two decades in length.

The night won't be finished until the defending Presidents' Trophy winners, the Vancouver Canucks, play host to the Pittsburgh Penguins at 10 p.m. ET. It isn't likely the Canucks will be tuning in hours earlier to watch the Bruins' banner-raising -- after a devastating Game 7 loss on home ice in June saw favored Vancouver come up empty in its bid to win the first Cup in franchise history, this season is all about redemption and the path back to the playoffs begins in earnest Thursday. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby travelled with the team but isn't yet ready to play, but Evgeni Malkin had a dynamite preseason and hopes for good health and plenty of points this season.

We'll have much more here in the days to come, so get prepared to eat, drink and breathe hockey as the 2011-12 season gets under way.
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Posted On Wednesday, 10.05.2011 / 2:14 PM

By Ryan Murray -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Ryan Murray draft blog

Draft prospect Murray excited for upcoming season

Ryan Murray is a defenseman for the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League. The 6-foot, 182-pound native of Saskatchewan was named Everett's Rookie of the Year in 2009-10 after producing 22 assists and 27 points in 62 games. He became the youngest captain in franchise history during the 2010-11 season while leading the team with a plus-18 rating and all defensemen on the club with 46 points. He was one of two 2012 draft eligible players invited to Canada's National Junior Team development camp for participation in the World Junior Championship and he also participated in the 2011 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp fueled by G Series in August. Murray has offered to maintain a monthly blog for NHL.com that will chronicle his season leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Hello everyone and thanks for taking the time to read my initial entry draft blog for NHL.com.

I am definitely really excited about the draft this year, but it's still a long way away and I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. I just want to take everything a day at a time until then, and hopefully when that day comes, good things will happen. It's always there in the back of my mind though, that's for sure. There's a little more added pressure this year, but I try not to let anything get to my head or affect my mindset. When I do think about it, I use it as motivation and don't let it make me feel nervous or anxious.

Before I get into my goals for the season, let me tell you a little about myself.

My dad got me started when I was 2-years-old. I was too young to remember it, but I know I started skating on those kids' skates with two blades for stability. So basically I've been playing for as long as I can remember. Growing up in White City, Saskatchewan, I played baseball, football and even a little bit of soccer when I was younger. I also played volleyball for a year.

We used to play a lot of guitar hero -- that was definitely a big hit when we were growing up. Our family never really took many vacations, so we usually just hung around town and found ways to have fun.

A lot of people ask me how I felt to be named captain in Everett last year. I was actually named captain after Landon Ferraro was injured halfway through the year. It was a little hard at first not having him around the team while he was injured because he was such a good leader for the boys.

I tried to make it pretty normal. I didn't try to change who I am and just tried to be the same person. Being captain is a huge honor and a big responsibility. This year I'm just trying to lead the team the best that I can by working hard every day, giving 100 percent all the time and leading by example.

I thought the RDO Camp in August was really interesting with all the rule changes and such. It was great to get out there with some of the top players in the draft class all playing together. It was also good to see what the NHL is thinking about with possible rule changes and it was fun to test them out.

I missed the cut for earning a roster spot for Team Canada at last year's World Junior Championship in Buffalo (N.Y.) so it's definitely very important to me to make the World Junior team this year. Every hockey player in the country wants to play there, and to have the opportunity to make that team is really special. I'm going to give it everything I have to go out there and earn a spot by playing hard every single game and doing extra work after practice.

Our goal in Everett this year is for our team to make the playoffs and hopefully do some damage once we're there. We've got a young team with a lot of rookies, and we need to focus on coming together as a group so we can go as far as possible once the playoffs come around.

Well, that's it for now. I'll be blogging once a month, so check back in November.
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Posted On Wednesday, 10.05.2011 / 1:17 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - The Sabres take Germany

Sabres prepared to be true road team

HELSINKI -- When the Anaheim Ducks scored goals against Jokerit in Tuesday's preseason game at Hartwall Areena, fans of the local club cheered.

Sure, they rooted for their team when the game was close, and there was an audible sigh when Ryan Getzlaf scored in overtime, but early in the game, when Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne where setting up Corey Perry for goals, the game might as well have been in Honda Center. If that was the atmosphere when the Ducks were facing Jokerit, it is fair to say the Buffalo Sabres are going to be facing a partisan crowd Friday in the 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere (1 p.m. ET, TSN2).

"Yeah, that part is going to be interesting," Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff said. "I have so much respect for Teemu. There's not many players who could do what he's done and play at the level he is playing at right now at that age. He'll always be known as a tremendous goal scorer. … If I were a fan in Finland, I'd be here cheering for him, too. I think that part is tremendous."

The Sabres arrived in Helsinki Wednesday afternoon after a long travel day from Germany, but like the Ducks did Sunday, they went straight from the airport to the rink for practice. Buffalo defeated Adler Mannheim Tuesday in its final preseason game, and now the focus has shifted to Friday's opener.

While the Ducks have been here all week and the players have had the chance to see the city and explore the culture, the Sabres only will be here for a little more than 48 hours before the puck drops Friday.

"I think in terms of travel and playing, we're all used to that," Buffalo forward Nathan Gerbe said. "We always play, travel, play, travel. ... I think we just try to take the same way. We want to gear up. The preseason is over and training camp is over. Now it is the real thing."

Friday's game may feel a little like a trip to TD Garden or Bell Centre for the Sabres, though they'll likely have a bit of a home-ice advantage Saturday in Berlin against the Los Angeles Kings (2 p.m. ET, TSN2).

"That's pretty cool," Gerbe said when told the Helsinki fans were cheering Ducks' goals. "It was a lot of fun playing in Germany (on Tuesday). It was a great crowd, great atmosphere and they gave a warm welcome to our German players (Christian Ehrhoff, Jochen Hecht). We know it is going to be pretty rowdy here, so we just have to take it as it is and get ready to play."
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Posted On Wednesday, 10.05.2011 / 12:38 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Kings of Europe

Parse makes final cut for Kings

The Los Angeles Kings cut their roster to 23 players Thursday during an off-day for the team here in Stockholm.

Defenseman Slava Voynov was optioned to Manchester of the American Hockey League, while Jake Muzzin was placed on injured reserve. Colin Fraser, meanwhile, will start the season as an injured non-roster player.

Scott Parse
Those moves got the Kings down to 23 roster players, plus Jeff Zatkoff, the third goalie. Zatkoff does not count against the roster while in Europe; he'll be optioned to Manchester when the team returns to North America on Sunday.

The final roster cut-down deadline is Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET.

Wednesday's announcement also means forward Scott Parse has made the club despite struggling through much of camp.

Parse, who admitted to his struggles in the preseason, had a stronger game Tuesday in a 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere Challenge game against the Hamburg Freezers at O2 Arena in Hamburg, Germany, which likely assured his spot on the team.

After the game, Kings coach Terry Murray admitted he wasn't pleased where Parse was at, but believed there still was room for improvement as the forward tries to put major hip surgery behind him. Certainly, Parse's track record helped him stick with the club.

Murray said he put Parse on the team's top line Tuesday in an attempt to get Parse going. He liked the results, to a degree, and suggested Parse could open the season as a first-line forward -- especially with forward Dustin Penner questionable for Friday's 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere season-opener against the New York Rangers at the Globe (1 p.m. ET, Versus, TSN).

"First of all, he's coming through a lot from last year; he missed all but five games during the season, then he ended up with a couple games in the playoffs because of the hip surgery," Murray said after his team earned a 5-3 victory against Hamburg. "That's a major rehab process that he has gone through. He made a huge commitment in the offseason to work out and get himself ready for camp. I think he's still just trying to find his way.

"The one thing that he brings is that first, second step, where he can create separation and score some goals, and I'm not seeing that quickness right now. It's a little methodical, and so he has a ways to go, but on the positive side of it, I like his attitude. He did work very hard. He's trying to get it all together. Parse is a player who can score. I will keep him there and give him the opportunity to get things on track."
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Quote of the Day

It's pretty crazy, but believe me when I say we didn't draft these players with the mindset we had to because they had good hockey-playing dads. It just turned out that way. But we're certainly glad they're a part of our organization.

— Arizona Coyotes director of amateur scouting Tim Bernhardt regarding the coincidence that six of the organization's top prospects are sons of former NHL players