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Posted On Thursday, 06.02.2011 / 12:59 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

Blues' clues

The St. Louis Blues are one of four teams that don't have a first-round pick at the 2011 Entry Draft -- the 11th pick belongs to Colorado from the Erik Johnson-Chris Stewart trade -- but Blues GM Doug Armstrong believes he might have the ammunition to change that.

The Blues have three second-round picks and a pair of third-round selections, and Armstrong said that could be enough to entice a team to part with one of its top-round picks.

"With the possibility of the way our picks are clumped together there's the potential to move up into the first round, we believe," Armstrong told NHL.com. "We approach it pretty well the same way. You still have to do your homework; you never know what's going to transpire at the draft table. We're approaching it the same way as if we had a first pick. My experience shows me where you think you can move to in the first round with the assets we have and we'll focus in that area."

Armstrong said his targets could be the Avalanche, Senators, Oilers and Maple Leafs -- all of which with multiple first-round picks.

"The teams that have multiple first-round picks might want to consider moving back and gaining extra second-round picks," said Armstrong. "It all really depends on how those teams have their lists."

While he said getting into the first round is a hope, it's not an imperative, because the player available at 23 or 24 could be just as good as the player available 43 or 44.

"There's really good depth in this draft," Armstrong said. "Our scouting staff has a belief where certain players will go. There's a range that if we can move up to we'd like to get into (but) history has shown that players that go in the early 30s have the same success as players that go in the early 20s. You just have to do your homework, know your players and understand what you're looking for in an NHL player."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 06.02.2011 / 8:19 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

Saint John salutes their boys

It began with unexpected anticipation. It ended up being a memory that would last a lifetime.

An estimated 10,000 fans of the Saint John Sea Dogs flooded King's Square, the Market Square boardwalk and lined King and Charlotte streets in downtown Saint John Tuesday afternoon to pay tribute to their boys for bringing home the President's Cup and the Memorial Cup.

Local reports had police blocking off parts of 10 streets for the parade that, according to Sgt. Rick Caswell of the Saint John Police Force, was the largest gathering of people on the city streets since 2001 when a parade was held for the Calder Cup-winning Saint John Flames.
Sea Dogs Steven Anthony, Mike Thomas enjoy Parade

"It was unbelievable," forward Ryan Tesink told NHL.com. "We felt like Gods. We had about six vehicles, including a fire truck, and three or four of us each were on one. We're not the biggest city and in the middle of the day on a Tuesday … I was impressed. I grew up (in Saint John) my whole life."

Tesink, the fourth-line forward who struck for 35 points in 59 regular-season games for the Sea Dogs, was also the focus of one of the more noticeable signs amidst the sea of blue and white colors.

"One sign out there read, "Tesink for Mayor", said the 5-foot-11, 157 pound Tesink. "I thought that was funny and the boys loved that one. I was so proud to be a St. Johner during that parade. I couldn't believe the support. We had about 500 fans come to the final (in Mississauga) and everyone flew or some drove and spent a lot of money to watch us win that (Memorial Cup). That means the world to me."

Three men dressed in blue spandex suits, perhaps descendants of the green men milling around at Vancouver Canucks hockey games, ran along the parade route prior to the players making their presence.

"It was incredible," defenseman Nathan Beaulieu said. "It was good to get back to all of the fans for all their support all year and it was nice to just bring the Cup home. I was on the top of a fire truck looking over the whole city, so that was pretty cool. You see people and then see more people and you just feel like the parade went on forever. It's a moment I'll never forget."

"I didn't really know what to expect because sometimes some of those things can be a little bit boring," Zack Phillips said. "But that was anything but boring. It was a beautiful day and we're all in shorts and T-shirts and sunglasses, on top of fire trucks, honking horns and sitting on convertibles or in the backs of SUV's just having an unbelievable time. The support they showed was amazing … we were taking videos of the crowd and ourselves. It was fantastic."

Jonathan Huberdeau, who was named the tournament's MVP after collecting 3 goals and 6 points in 4 games, was overwhelmed.

The 18-year-old from St-Jerome, Quebec, ranked No. 3 by NHL Central Scouting among North American skaters, had a goal and one assist in the 3-1 Championship Final victory over the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors on May 29.

"It was nice to see all the fans in Saint John," Huberdeau said. " It was nice to share the Cup. The people were waving at you and congratulating you and that they care about you. Our fans deserved that and to share it with them was nice."

Six players, including Huberdeau, Beaulieu, Phillips, Tesink, Tomas Jurco and Scott Oke, arrived in Toronto for the NHL Scouting Combine on Wednesday. Each had several interviews scheduled Wednesday and Thursday.

Phillips (upper body injury) said he wouldn't be participating in the bench press portion of the fitness testing on Friday, but admitted there's a good chance he and his teammates will be taking part in the bike tests. Unlike most other players participating at the Combine, the Sea Dogs and Majors went the distance this season -- finishing up on the last possible day (May 29) before the start of the Combine (on May 30).

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Wednesday, 06.01.2011 / 5:49 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

Another Subban nears Draft day

While scouts and fans are focused on the 2011 Entry Draft, there's a familiar name getting ready for the 2012 Draft.

Malcolm Subban, younger brother of Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, on Wednesday visited the Westin Bristol Place, home of this week's NHL Scouting Combine, to get a feel for an event he'll almost certainly be invited to next season.

Subban spent his first Ontario Hockey League season with the Belleville Bulls in 2010-11. In 32 games, he went 10-17-2 with a 3.16 goals-against average and .900 save percentage. He also earned an invitation to Hockey Canada's summer goaltending camp, which could see him earn the chance to audition for a spot on Canada's 2012 World Junior Championship team.

Before that, though, there was a little shopping trip around the mini-Reebok store set up in a hotel ballroom. Subban tried out gear and checked out some of the stuff pros like Roberto Luongo, Marc-Andre Fleury and Ryan Miller use. He even pulled on a Miller Buffalo Sabres jersey.

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.01.2011 / 1:37 PM

By Marty Turco -  NHL Network /NHL.com - Turco Talk

The Night Before

Veteran NHL goalie Marty Turco is lending his expert opinion to NHL.com in the form of his own blog. Turco Talk will be updated daily with Marty's thoughts on the Stanley Cup Final between the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins. Marty can also be seen daily on the NHL Network giving analysis on NHL On the Fly at the Stanley Cup Final.

Today, Marty talks about what goes on the night before a new series begins.

What is that like? Speaking as a goalie, if I'm at home I'd probably go have dinner with my family and then go to the hotel at night to make sure I got uninterrupted sleep. I'd catch a movie, watch the iPad now, and try to do the same thing and get to bed at the same hour. For Tim (Thomas), and maybe even for Roberto (Luongo) if the Canucks are in a hotel, they'll have the players' lounge at the team hotel where you can go hang out with the guys if you want to or you can just hang in your room. 

It really depends on how your body is feeling. You might need some extra maintenance with the trainers or just some exercises or stretching routines you might do before bed time. But, you're going to get in there and lay down and put your head on the pillow, and that puck drop, that crowd, especially having played so many games here at Rogers Arena, you can just envision that crowd. You can anticipate that National Anthem and how electric that crowd is going to be with U2 strumming as you're skating around the ice. 

Those thoughts come into your head when you lay down to go to bed, but you know you're going to be better off the more you think about it and prepare for it. So, the more it comes down to it the more you can turn the brain off. The night time and the morning after the skate is used to visualize and then you can just shut it off and get down to what you do best, and that's reacting and watching, figuring out what is going on on the ice so you can just play your game.

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.01.2011 / 8:06 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

Mayfield reflects on tragedy in home state Missouri

In addition to thinking about what the NHL Scouting Combine has in store for him this week, Youngstown Phantoms defenseman Scott Mayfield has also been pondering issues much closer to home these days.

The St. Louis native, rated No. 24 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters, resides just three hours East of Joplin, Mo., where the tragic EF-5 tornado resulted in the death of at least 125 persons, over 750 injuries, and major damage to countless homes and businesses.

"I didn't have any family or friends affected by the tornado but it was just horrible … I was watching all day on television," Mayfield told NHL.com. "The strange thing is, a lot of tornadoes have come through Missouri this year. A guy right down the street from us had shingles ripped off his roof that are still in my yard from a tornado that hit weeks ago, but the one that hit Joplin was a lot more serious."

Mayfield has been hard at work over the last month preparing his body for the rigors of the Combine, which is slated May 30 through June 4 in Toronto. He arrived in Toronto on Tuesday evening, all smiles, in obvious anticipation of the big week ahead.

The trip to the Combine is not Mayfield's first trip to an NHL event held in Toronto. At the start of the season, he took part in the NHL's Research, Development and Orientation Camp.

"The VO2 max (bike test) is probably the most important one so that's something I've been training for," he said. "It's kind of different training when you know the exercise you're training for. It's fun at the same time doing the different exercises. We're at the bike a lot during the season, but we never do a Wingate or VO2 max, so I'm having fun doing it with my trainer."

Mayfield explained his training regimen in his monthly blog for NHL.com. Read it here!

"While you want to make sure you're ready the best you can be, I'm not looking at not trying to get stronger while doing 100 pushups for the sake of the Combine," Mayfield said. "I'm actually still trying to get stronger and put on weight so I think I'm ready and excited for it."

Mayfield dressed in 52 games and tallied 7 goals and 16 points in his second season with the Phantoms. He connected for 3 goals and 8 points on the power-play. A skilled, intelligent defender with good size (6-3 1/2, 197 pounds), Mayfield was named MVP for Team USA at the 2010 World Jr. A Challenge after the team claimed its third straight gold medal in November.

He'll likely attend the University of Denver next fall, where he hopes to earn a role along the blueline. He admitted he might look to major or concentrate on hotel and restaurant management.

"I found that school pretty interesting and pretty cool," Mayfield said. "It's something I could use as a backup to professional hockey."

In addition to Mayfield, Denver's coaching staff might also be high on another incoming recruit on defense in Joey Laleggia of the Penticton Vees in the British Columbia Hockey League. Laleggia, who had 20 goals and 82 points in 58 games this season, has racked up 147 points in 114 career games in three seasons with the Vees.

"I know (Denver), of course, is waiting to see how everything turns out," Mayfield said. "I know there's another recruit who's highly offensive in Joey Laleggia. I don't think they're looking at me too hard as an offensive-type defender … just kind of an all-around game like I've been the last two years. I'm not all a stay-at-home type of player, I play offensive as well. But I play defense too."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.01.2011 / 1:13 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

Devils continuing to write their book

New Jersey Devils scouting director David Conte was asked if his goal for next month's draft is to find a player that could skate into the NHL next season.

"No," he told NHL.com. "It's a goal to find a guy who can play 20 seasons."

It's interesting Conte picked that number. The Devils have the fourth pick at the 2011 Entry Draft, the first time they've earned a spot so high since 1989. They had the fifth pick that year and selected forward Bill Guerin, who nearly played 20 seasons -- he retired in December 2010 after 18 NHL seasons.

(The Devils drafted third in 1991, but acquired that pick in a trade.)

Conte, going into his 18th year leading the Devils' drafts, said picking this early in the draft really doesn't change much about how he does his job.

"it's certainly easier in the sense that you don't have as many players to consider," he said. "It's also more important because the quality of the player, at least at this stage in time, seemingly is better, higher upside, and more critical to the team because you need to improve. How we go about it? No, I don't think we need to make too many adaptations to what we've done in the past."

Conte said he and his staff is considering a group of 8-12 players for the fourth pick, but isn't prepared to start narrowing that list yet. He's using this week's NHL Scouting Combine to continue compiling information, and said when he leaves Toronto, he likely won't have crossed any names off his list.

"We have the interviews, the testing -- the book's not complete, so what's the point of trying to figure it out?" he said. "I talk to people … why do you open your Christmas presents before Christmas? There's no need."

While it's possible New Jersey's first pick could be in the opening-day lineup, Devils fans shouldn't expect the Christmas present they see in June to be available to play with in October.

"In an ideal world you'd like to give them more seasoning," said Conte, who then added the choice wasn't really his to make.

"Players will pick the team. We won't."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.31.2011 / 10:02 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

Rocco Grimaldi: A 'huge' threat for Team USA

After having just completed his fourth of 12 team interviews in his initial day at the NHL Scouting Combine, Rocco Grimaldi had a satisfied look on his face.

Despite being listed as the smallest player invited to the Combine at 5-foot-6, 163 pounds, Grimaldi has certainly earned the reputation as a big-game performer. Why else would all 30 NHL teams request an interview with the leading scorer for the U.S. National Team Development Program in 2010-11.

"It's great to always be the underdog and have people doubt you," Grimaldi told NHL.com. "But I think I could also be a role model for kids my size, not even in hockey, but in general. I could be a really good example for them on how I go about my business, not caring about what people say, and how I live my life. I'm always thinking about the next generation under me and trying to help them out as well."

Grimaldi was asked if those scouts from the Tampa Bay Lightning referred to Martin St. Louis at some point during their discussion.

"They said one of their best players is St. Louis, he's the leader of that group and we don't care about size," Grimaldi said. "Our best player is the smallest guy on the ice and we love small guys and that was a cool thing to hear. That motivates me because playing in the NHL has always been my dream. So whatever it takes to achieve it ..."

Grimaldi is certainly on that path after striking for a team-leading 34 goals, 62 points, 13 power-play goals, and five game-winners in 50 games for the USNTDP this season.

"He's definitely a character kid and great guy," USNTDP goalie John Gibson said. "He's small, but probably has the biggest heart on the team."

"He was a dynamic guy, an outstanding skater, quick and around the puck all the time," Central Scouting's Chris Edwards told NHL.com. "He wasn't scared to get involved in battles and go to the net."

Grimaldi played a big part of the gold medal-winning Team USA in the 2010 Under-18 World Championship in Belarus, tying for the team lead with 10 points in seven games. He'd connect for 2 goals, 8 points and a plus-5 rating in another gold-medal winning effort at the 2011 U-18 World Championship in Germany.

"The game has changed since the lockout; it's more of a high-end skilled game and smaller guys are making names for themselves in the League with St. Louis and Nathan Gerbe," Grimaldi said. "That's great to see those guys having an impact. It's really good for me, being a small guy, and seeing how others are able to make an impact right away.

Grimaldi, committed to the University of North Dakota, atones for his small frame with exceptional speed and shiftiness.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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Posted On Tuesday, 05.31.2011 / 10:00 PM

By Marty Turco -  NHL Network /NHL.com - Turco Talk

The Crush of Media Day

Veteran NHL goalie Marty Turco is lending his expert opinion to NHL.com in the form of his own blog. Turco Talk will be updated daily with Marty's thoughts on the Stanley Cup Final between the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins. Marty can also be seen daily on the NHL Network giving analysis on NHL On the Fly at the Stanley Cup Final.

Today, Marty talks about how players approach media day.

I've never been in the position as the starting guy in the Stanley Cup Final, but I've been here as a black ace and I have gone to the Western Conference Finals as the starting guy -- and everything has changed to today.

I mean, it's 2011 and the media outlets that are involved, the media sources -- the digital world that we live in -- there is more pressure on what you're going to say and what you're thinking and how you articulate it. It may become more of a burden just because you know information gets out there so quickly and you know how rapidly things can escalate.

But, teams now also have the ability to have media training. Coaches and captains talk about things in the locker room before media day. They go over what should be said and what shouldn't be said. That takes a little bit of the pressure off you.

Still, you're always going to want to toe the company line so to speak, but there is more thought that goes into that day. It's kind of like a gameday because you have to prepare for media day. Whether you're not used to the attention or you're a guy who just doesn't like the attention, you have to prepare for it in order not to feel ambushed, or more or less, unprepared.

Media day can be a nerve-wracking day, but usually it goes by quicker than most expect. You get the odd, quirky question, the one that you just roll your eyes at and the one you have fun with, but as long as your attitude is in the right place and the preparation is there you can make the most of the media and the questions.

You just have to realize that this is the time of the year for those odd quirky questions. You see it the most at the Super Bowl, but hockey is getting elevated. You're going to get those questions and you're going to get the network that isn't just hockey or sports. You're going to get stuff that is off color a little bit, but that's fun. I've always said the best part of our game is our players, the personalities, the makeup of them, where they came from and how they've grown to be professional athletes and mature people. To have fun with it and make light of it on an off day by fielding those questions, not the generic ones we get every night, I know as a player and as a fan of the game you look forward to that. You look forward to getting into the soul of the players. These days are useful for that.
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Posted On Tuesday, 05.31.2011 / 9:55 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

What's the Flyers' plan?

The Philadelphia Flyers won't make their first selection at the 2011 Entry Draft until late in the third round, but that hasn't stopped GM Paul Holmgren from taking the time to interview some of the top prospects here in Toronto at the NHL Scouting Combine.

"We've been spending time talking to guys that are going to go high in the first round because you never know," Holmgren told NHL.com. "We're here, all these players are here, might as well get to know them a little bit. You never know. Even if you don't draft a guy or move up, you never know what might come down the road, in a trade, maybe it's two or three years from now. Any time you get a chance to interact with these young players it's good."

Holmgren referenced the 2002 Entry Draft as an example of the unpredictability of the draft. That year, he was the club's assistant GM when the team didn't have a first-round pick but did have a pair of second-round choices. On draft day, they sent those choices along with forward Ruslan Fedotenko to the Tampa Bay Lightning for the fourth pick of the draft and selected Joni Pitkanen.

"You have to approach it like anything can happen," said Holmgren. "That's the way we've always done it. You never really do know what might happen. We went into the draft in 2002 and we ended up with the fourth pick. You have to know the players. Scouts have their jobs to do. They continue to do them, look at all the players and prepare for any scenario that might come up."

Holmgren said he didn't know how possible it would be for him to move up. He traded first- and third-round picks to Toronto in the Kris Versteeg deal, and their second-round pick was sent to Phoenix in 2009 as part of the Daniel Carcillo trade.

"You never know what might happen," said Holmgren. "It varies. Certain teams are in different spots. I just think you need to be open-minded about these things. Are first-round picks coveted? I would say sometimes yes, sometimes no."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Monday, 05.30.2011 / 6:38 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Stanley Cup Final: Canucks vs. Bruins

Recchi won't rely on past experiences

One would think Mark Recchi's two-plus decades of NHL experience will come in handy when the puck drops on the 2011 Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night at Rogers Arena.

But the Boston Bruins' veteran forward strongly disagrees.

"You know what? It doesn't," the 43-year-old told reporters on Monday, two days before his team opens a best-of-seven series against the Vancouver Canucks. "At this point, it really doesn't matter. We've learned a lot through the course of the season with this group of guys. There's been some guys that have been through a lot. Same as Vancouver -- they've got some guys that have been through a lot. Some hardships, some good things, and it's just a matter of going out and playing and enjoying it. I mean, this is fun. It's exciting times for everybody."

It's been five years since Recchi was last in position to win a Stanley Cup, when he helped the Carolina Hurricanes win that franchise's lone championship in 2006. Considering there's a strong possibility this season will be his last in the NHL, the Bruins are hoping the Kamloops, British Columbia native can leave the game with one more piece of jewelry.

"It would be nice for a couple of reasons," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "Obviously his commitment especially to our team since he's been with us and the will to really go above and beyond his role as a player and really have taken some young players under his wing and has been bringing them home for meals, or whether he's talked to them about certain situations and certain times of the year. Some young guys go through slumps, and as a coach you can talk to those guys and try and do the best you can, encourage them and help them correct what needs to be corrected.

"But when you got a guy like Mark Recchi in the dressing room that will go up to this player and put his arm around him and say, 'Listen, I've been through this' and so on and so forth, these are the things that are part of the game. And coaches are as good as the people that surround them, and a lot of time you think it's just about assistant coaches or other people. It's also about their players, and when their players get it, they can certainly be a big asset to us because we come in the dressing room, we give them the message that we need to give them, but it has to be reinforced by players. And Mark [Recchi] has always been the one who, one of many in that dressing room that's done that. He's been a really valuable asset to our hockey club and he's got a lot of things to back it up with."

Certainly, it will take an all-hands-on-deck approach for the Bruins to win this series that pits them against the Presidents' Trophy winners. Vancouver racked up 54 victories and 117 points during the regular season and disposed of the No. 2 San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Finals in just five games.

"We only played them once this year, so we haven't gone over really a lot of team stuff," Recchi said. "But, I mean obviously they're a Presidents' Trophy winner, they're a great hockey team, deep and well coached, and we'll look at things we have to do. I mean obviously, any key to your team's success is how you play personally. I think we focus on what we do ourselves. Our coaching staff will give us obviously their tendencies, and their coaching staff will give them our tendencies. It's who’s going to want it more and who's going to play to their abilities the best and their game plan the best."
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