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Posted On Thursday, 03.03.2011 / 2:57 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Killian heads list of draft eligibles from New Jersey

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association ice hockey tournament has begun so now is as good a time as any to throw out a few names that NHL's Central Scouting has deemed players to watch.

In recent years, the Garden State has produced players such as James van Riemsdyk, Kyle Palmieri, George Parros and Bobby Ryan.

Matt Killian, a defenseman roaming the blue line for three-time and defending Non-Public champion Delbarton, is the first scholastic player from the Garden State to be rated on Central Scouting's mid-term report in January.

The 6-foot-1, 191-pound defenseman, ranked No. 77 on the list, is committed to Yale in the fall of 2011. He's projected to be a third- or fourth-round draft pick in June. Killian, who plays a part of a pretty formidable defensive corps for coach Bruce Shatel at the Morristown, N.J., prep school, was actually being courted by Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, the University of New Hampshire and Providence.

"I'm a good skater, and definitely a more offensive-minded D," Killian admitted. "I also take pride in being hard to play against. I think I see the ice pretty well, and move the puck quickly to join the rush."

Killian's favorite NHL player is Duncan Keith but the skater he would compare his style of play to most would be Kings' blue liner Drew Doughty. He played 12 games with the U.S. Under-18 team this season and produced 1 assist and 6 penalty minutes.

At Yale, Killian will join Delbarton graduate Kenny Agostino (Penguins, fifth round, 2010) and Charles Orzetti, who is rated No. 120 by Central Scouting on the mid-term rankings for North America skaters. Orzetti, a 6-foot-3 1/2, 208-pound forward, gave up his senior year at Delbarton to play for the Jersey Hitmen (EJHL).

Orzetti, who would compare himself to former NHL power-forward John LeClair, offers speed, quickness and puck control in tight spaces on the ice.

There are two other players from Delbarton on Central Scouting's mid-term release for North American skaters. Center Peter McMullen (6-2, 200), who is headed to Boston College in the fall, is rated 144th and defenseman Tommy Davis (6-0 3/4, 172) is 196th.

Davis would like to be compared to Flyers defenseman Matt Carle. His strongest assets are his skating, stickhandling and "hockey sense."

McMullen has produced 21 goals and 17 assist this season for the Green Wave. He's the prototypical power-forward.

It's quite possible that Delbarton, the No. 1-ranked team in New Jersey, will meet second-ranked St. Augustine Prep in the state Non-Public school final on March 13 at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. The teams were declared co-champions following a 2-2 tie in the 53rd Gordon Cup on Feb. 26.

Follow the NJSIAA tournament here.
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Posted On Thursday, 03.03.2011 / 12:25 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Countdown to the Playoffs

No easy road for Hawks

The Chicago Blackhawks are finally looking like a solid playoff team, but while their six-game winning streak has allowed them to leap from 11th to fourth in a matter of a few weeks, they are still not even close to being out of the woods. Their 76 points is only three more than the ninth-place Ducks and 10th-place Predators. The Wild are just four points back in 11th.
The rest of the Blackhawks' schedule is statistically the most difficult in the League. Their opponents have an average winning percentage of .586 and of Chicago's 18 games remaining, only 11 are on the road. San Jose's remaining opponents also have a .586 winning percentage, but the Sharks will play 12 of their final 18 games on home ice.
Let's break it down for the Blackhawks:
Record against teams left on schedule: 12-10-3
Games vs. Western Conference playoff contenders: 8
Games vs. teams ahead of them in Conference standings: 4
Games vs. Eastern Conference playoff contenders: 6
Games vs. teams with more than 76 points: 8
Biggest challenge: Three games left against Detroit
Biggest challenge II: Two games left against Tampa Bay

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Posted On Thursday, 03.03.2011 / 10:51 AM

By Darryl Haberman -  NHL.com Director, Production /NHL.com - Countdown to the Playoffs

If the playoffs started today ...

The defending champs are a force to be reckoned with after spending most of the season outside the playoff picture. The roar is back in the Windy City as the Blackhawks are now in fourth place in the West following Wednesday night's 6-4 win vs. Calgary. A 7-1-2 stretch, including six straight victories, has Chicago in position to secure home-ice advantage in the first round -- if the playoffs started today.

In the East, the red-hot New Jersey Devils are fighting to stay alive in the playoff race. A magical 18-2-2 run has them within nine points of the eighth and final playoff spot with only 19 games remaining. Remember, it wasn't too long ago that the Devils were 27 points out and had the worst record in hockey.

For the latest on the playoff race and what potential first-round matchups would be, check out our enhanced playoff standings.

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Posted On Thursday, 03.03.2011 / 9:04 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Eden Prairie defeats Wayzata, Lucia, in section final

Top-seeded Eden Prairie won its second Section 6AA championship in three seasons on Wednesday when it scored a dramatic 4-3 double overtime decision over Wayzata High School at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis.

Senior Kyle Rau, a finalist for the Mr. Hockey Award and a University of Minnesota recruit, scored with 7:41 left in the 17-minute second OT after emerging from a pileup in front of the net and sweeping a shot into the cage. The game started several minutes after its scheduled 8 p.m. face-off and concluded approximately three hours later at 11 p.m.

Junior Mario Lucia, NHL Central Scouting's top-rated scholastic player who is ranked 30th overall among North American skaters, and senior Bryan Tabery scored in the third period to pull second-seeded Wayzata (20-6-2) into a 3-3 tie and send the game into OT.

The Rau vs. Lucia matchup was a good one. Rau (5-foot-9, 160 pounds), who committed to Minnesota in May 2010, leads Eden Prairie with 35 goals and 73 points. Lucia, the son of current Minnesota U. hockey coach, Don, is still considering his options. Boston College, Colorado College, Denver, Notre Dame, Michigan and, of course, Minnesota, have extended the 6-2, 185-pound Lucia scholarship offers. He led the Trojans with 29 goals and also dished 24 assists.

StarTribune.com blogger Roman Augustoviz was at the Section 2AA thriller and provided a nice recap of the double-overtime contest. Read it here.

Eden Prairie senior Andrew Ford made 34 saves to earn the victory. Wayzata sophomore Aaron Dingman made 29 saves.
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Posted On Wednesday, 03.02.2011 / 9:00 AM

By Scott Mayfield -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Scott Mayfield draft blog

Mayfield enters the stretch run

Scott Mayfield is a defenseman for the Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League. Committed to the University of Denver for the 2011-12 academic season, he also played a part in the 2009 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament for Team USA. Mayfield, who participated in the 2010 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 NHL Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minn.

The month of February has been exciting. We are coming down to the end of season and my team, the Youngstown Phantoms, is trying to make the playoffs. We had 11 games this month and went 6-5. We're 5-2 over our last seven games. Last weekend was probably our biggest weekend this season. We had three division games, two against the USNTDP and one against Chicago. We played some of our best hockey all year and swept the weekend, getting all six points! I feel these three wins gave the team a boost of confidence that will carry into the last month of the season.

This last month in Youngstown will be huge! All of our hard work and dedication is coming down to our last 13 games. Right now we are in a playoff spot but we'll have to play our best to keep it. A lot of things can change in a month! Two of our upcoming games are against the Waterloo Blackhawks. They are right behind us in the standings, and our last game with them was a heated battle that we won in overtime.  

The locker room has a playoff attitude that I absolutely love. Everyone is focused on our goal and knows what we need to do. I think our fans are also getting excited. Last Friday and Saturday night, we had two of our largest and most enthusiastic crowds of the season. That really helps, and my team really appreciates the support.

Earlier this month, the USHL picked its conference all-star teams. I was very happy to be selected along with my teammate, Cody Strang, for the Eastern Conference roster. The selection feels a little strange, because there isn't an actual All-Star game this year. I'm a little disappointed about that because I had some other friends that were selected and thought it would be fun to see all them and play together. On the other hand, I'm glad I don't have to miss time with my team.

It's nice to be recognized and have personal success, but all that really matters to me is what the team is doing and how we are pushing to make playoffs. I am just trying to focus all of my attention on doing everything I can to help my team be the best we possible can.

On another personal note, I want to congratulate the St. Louis AAA Blues U-18 team for winning the Tier 1 Elite Hockey League, and the Webster Groves Skatesmen for reaching the Missouri high school state semifinals. I have a lot of friends on those teams, and the coaches -- Dave Garth (head coach at Webster Groves) and Don Moorhouse (assistant coach for the Blues) -- really helped me when I played in St. Louis.   

Thank you very much for taking your time to read this. Hopefully I'll be looking forward to the playoffs in my next blog at the start of April!

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.01.2011 / 1:11 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Mario Lucia leads Wayzata into state final

Wayzata High School junior forward Mario Lucia is one win from celebrating his school's first Minnesota State Section 6AA championship in seven years.

Lucia, NHL Central Scouting's top-rated scholastic player who is ranked 30th overall among North American skaters, has been on a line with Mr. Hockey Award finalist Tony Cameranesi, and Tyler Klein, in the playoffs. The trio combined for 5 goals and 10 points in a 6-3 victory over Benilde-St. Margaret's in the Section 6AA semifinal on Feb. 26.

Lucia and Cameranesi each had a goal and two assists and Klein struck for his second hat trick of the season.

"This is probably one of those games of the year," Klein told reporters after the game. "In the section semifinal, playoff hockey, it's always great to get a hat trick no matter what game you play in. To go along with that, I got a lot of help from Tony and Mario both this game."

The second-seeded Trojans will next face Lake Conference rival and top-seeded Eden Prairie, the 2009 champion, in the Class 2A, Section 6AA championship on Wednesday at Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis. Wayzata has outscored the opposition, 19-3, in two playoff games and Eden Prairie holds a 12-1 advantage over its playoffs foes.

In two playoff games, Lucia, the son of Minnesota University head coach Don Lucia, has produced 4 goals, 6 points and 6 shots on goal.
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Posted On Monday, 02.28.2011 / 5:30 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

All the day's trade action in one live-blog extravaganza

There were 16 trades made in the NHL on Monday, none bigger than the deals that sent Dustin Penner to the Los Angeles Kings, Dennis Wideman to the Washington Capitals and Jason Arnott to the Caps in a separate deal.

If you're looking for a recap of all the day's action go here to read the six-hour live-blog that captured all the day's deals, rumors and signings.
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Posted On Monday, 02.28.2011 / 10:17 AM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Morning musings: Deadline Day

We're finally here - it is 2011 trade deadline day. For our final installment of Morning Musings, here is an update on players who could still be on the move.

BRAD RICHARDS - TSN Darren Dreger has reported Richards will only waive his no-trade clause to play for the New York Rangers. Richards is still out with a concussion and the Rangers would have to either include some salary in the deal or make another move to have enough room to add Richards -- and be willing to meet the Stars' asking price. All that sounds unlikely, but Rangers GM Glen Sather has rarely been afraid to make a big splash.

STEPHEN WEISS - Maybe the No. 2 center available and signed to a reasonable contract for two more seasons, but there have also been lots of reports that Florida GM Dale Tallon has placed a high price tag on him. Damien Cox of the Toronto Star says the Maple Leafs have incquired. Weiss has a no-movement clause.

- Kevin Allen of USA Today reports it is unlikely Bogosian gets dealt today and that Atlanta GM Rick Dudley will need to be "bowled over." Bogosian is in the final year of his rookie contract and an RFA. He's also a 20-year-old defenseman who could still become a No. 1, franchise-type guy someday. The Thrashers should expect a lot back for him, but it would make sense for rebuilding teams that don't have that type of player in the system now (see: Edmonton, N.Y. Islanders) to inquire about Bogosian - that type of talent isn't available for trade all that often.

JASON ARNOTT - Tom Gulitti reports Arnott has spoken with New Jersey GM Lou Lamoriello and told him he only wants to be traded to a team that is definitely in the playoffs -- otherwise he will stay and try to help the Devils complete a near-miraculous comeback. Arnott is a pending UFA with a $4.5 million cap hit. It seems like Arnott would be a good fit in Washington, but there could be others in the mix as well.

- Liles has one more year with a $4.2 million cap hit. He's been linked to Toronto, but Elliote Freidman of CBC reports a potential deal fell through because the Leafs wanted a draft pick tossed in as well. James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail reports that Toronto GM Brian Burke isn't willing to yield more than a third-round pick. Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports the Blue Jackets are interested in Liles, and that he would be willing to waive his limited no-trade clause to go there.

- Hainsey has two years left with a $4.5 million cap hit, and the Thrashers have Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom and probably Bogosian to anchor the team's defense corps. ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reports teams have shown interest in the 29-year-old veteran who hasn't produced at the same rate in Atlanta that he did with Columbus.

CHRIS HIGGINS - Higgins is a pending UFA who is currently injured, but he was previously expected to be out four weeks and now it might be shorter than that. Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet reports Montreal, a team Higgins scored 84 goals for in four seasons at the start of his career, could be interested in bringing him back.

ZENON KONOPKA - Dreger reports Anaheim and Vancouver are interested in the fourth-line center/face-off specialist/tough guy. He's on a one-year deal and cheap at $600,000. Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune says the Wild could also be in on Konopka.

MARTY REASONER - Another Florida forward, and another guy the Canucks could be interested in. Reasoner is in the final year of his deal and carries a $1.15 million cap hit. He has 13 goals and 27 points this season. Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province reports the Canucks are interested in Reasoner or Konpoka to center their fourth line. There could be other teams out there interested in having Reasoner play a bigger role.

Plenty of other names in the mix, but those are the latest updates. There could still be a lot of activity today, with a lot of focus on Edmonton (Ales Hemsky, Dustin Penner, Steve Staios, James Vandermeer) and Florida (Weiss, Higgins, Reasoner, Radek Dvorak and maybe Tomas Vokoun) as the number of teams willing to sell is far outnumbered by the clubs looking to add.
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Posted On Sunday, 02.27.2011 / 8:39 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Arnott willing to move to a contender

The New Jersey Devils moved within nine points of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with Sunday's 2-1 win at Florida. Now, GM Lou Lamoriello must decide whether or not to deal Jason Arnott.

The veteran center addressed the issue at the BankAtlantic Center after the victory and expressed a willingness to move if it meant playing for a team with a chance to win the Stanley Cup.

"I don't want to go to a team that is battling to make the playoffs," he told the Newark Star-Ledger. "It would make more sense for me just to stay here (with the Devils) and battle it out and try and make it here. I'll have to see who is interested."

With only 20 games remaining in the regular season, New Jersey still has a long way to go to qualify for the playoffs despite its miraculous run.

"It's pretty tough," Arnott said of the Devils' chances. "I've been three or four points out with 15-20 games left and didn't make it. You have to have a lot go your way. The way the guys are playing now, anything is possible. You just have to have other teams lose and have a little luck on your side. It's tough but not impossible.

"We're still a long ways off making the playoffs. It would be a huge gamble to stay. But I have to weigh all my options."
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Posted On Sunday, 02.27.2011 / 8:38 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Stars to keep Richards?

Have the Dallas Stars ultimately decided to keep Brad Richards?

Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times just reported on Twitter that the Stars, who entered Sunday's action in a virtual three-way tie for sixth place in the Western Conference, will indeed hang on to the 2004 Conn Smythe Trophy winner rather than deal him.

Richards, who leads the Stars with 63 points (24 goals, 39 assists), is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

The 30-year-old is undoubtedly one of the top centers in the League and has likely drawn interest from several teams over the past month. But with the Stars right in the mix for a playoff spot, you certainly can't blame them for wanting to keep Richards in the Lone Star State.
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Quote of the Day

A piece of scar tissue breaks off, pinches the nerve, and every time you move your leg it's almost like having a root canal in your stomach and groin.

— Detroit Red Wings center Stephen Weiss on his sports hernia surgery