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Posted On Wednesday, 02.02.2011 / 4:38 PM

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

Landeskog hopes to return to lineup Friday

Kitchener Rangers captain Gabriel Landeskog, the No. 1-rated North American skater according to NHL Central Scouting's mid-term report on Jan. 10, is cautiously optimistic he'll return to the lineup on Friday in an Ontario Hockey League matchup against the Plymouth Whalers.

"I really look forward to playing in front of the home crowd again," Landeskog told NHL.com. "Just that feeling to step out onto the ice is something that I really look forward to right now. So I'm going to have a good practice tomorrow and continue to do my rehab and hopefully I'll feel good to go on Friday."

A high ankle sprain forced Landeskog to miss all but one game for Team Sweden in the World Junior Championship and required him to relinquish his roster spot in the Top Prospects Game -- to Shane Prince of the Ottawa 67's. Landeskog has 25 goals, 45 points and a plus-24 rating in 32 OHL games. Despite not playing since Dec. 18, he still leads his team in goals and is third in points.

"The ankle is getting better, the rehab is progressing pretty well right now," he said. "I've been doing exercises to strengthen up the muscles and also doing things to get the balance and the power into it as well."

Central Scouting rated Landeskog the No. 1 skater in the Ontario Hockey League in its preliminary rankings release in November. Landeskog is the second European-born and -trained player to captain an OHL team -- New York Islanders prospect Tomas Marcinko, a native of Slovakia, captained the Barrie Colts in 2007-08.

Landeskog admitted being surprised with the No. 1 ranking last month.

"I was pretty surprised, to be honest," he said. "I wasn't expecting it at all but, to me, it was just something that showed me that I was doing good things on the ice. I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing. At the same time, it's just a list and you want on be on the top of the rankings at the end of June and not in January, so you have to just stay on track and keep doing what your doing."
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.02.2011 / 11:48 AM

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

Morning Musings: February 2

Here's a look at some of the chatter around the NHL as we countdown to the 2011 NHL Trade Deadline. We'll try to do this most mornings between now and the deadline.

BOSTON BRUINS

The Bruins boast one of the deepest sets of centers in the NHL -- or at least they did before Marc Savard was hurt again. Savard is dealing with another concussion, and Stephen Harris of the Boston Herald writes that Savard missing the rest of the season cannot be ruled out. He missed the beginning of this season after returning in the 2010 playoffs from a concussion.

"We’ll meet with him and see where he’s at,” general manager Peter Chiarelli told the Herald. “I know he’s still  suffering from post-concussion symptoms headaches, irritability and it’s been over a week now. So we’ll get him reassessed, re-evaluated. As far as shutting him down for the rest of the year, that’s a possibility. We have to  see where he’s at."

Boston is atop the Northeast Division and a legitimate contender for the Stanley Cup with Vezina Trophy favorite Tim Thomas in net and plenty of depth at forward even without Savard. If Savard is deemed out for the season, the Bruins go beyond the salary cap to add another player with Savard on LTIR.

Given the amount of talent up front, the Bruins could still turn their attention to the defense corps. One possible addition up front could come from within -- 2007 first-round pick Zach Hamill has 28 points in 44 games for the Providence Bruins.

"The last 5-6 weeks the reports have been very positive, and I saw it for myself,” Chiarelli said to the Herald of Hamill. “I think he’s turned a corner and he’s playing with confidence. So you may see him at some point."

CAROLINA HURRICANES

The Hurricanes have played their way back into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference and currently sit one point behind Atlanta for eighth place. The franchise also has built some momentum in the community with a successful All-Star weekend creating plenty of good vibes.

But will the Hurricanes be able to be buyers in the coming weeks? Luck DeCock, columnist for the Raleigh News & Observer, pondered that very question.

"After putting on a great show to convince the world of the Triangle's hockey credentials, financial reality set back in for the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday," DeCock wrote. "This may be a good hockey market, but it's still a small one, and the budget is as tight as ever."

DeCock says the Hurricanes current projected payroll of $47 million is about $3 million more than owner Peter Karmanos, Jr. wanted to spend this season.

It should be noted Carolina already added to the payroll this season when the Hurricanes trade for Ian White from Calgary. Given how tight the race is, one addition could be the difference in making the playoffs.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

The Lightning have already made a key acquisition during the season, grabbing goaltender Dwayne Roloson from the New York Islanders. His addition has created a logjam at the position, though, and there could be a move to be made in the near future.

Roloson has posted four shutouts since joining the team and is the clear No. 1 guy. Mike Smith is back from injury, so he and Dan Ellis are vying for the No. 2 spot. The options appear to be a trade, or sending one of the two veterans netminders to the minors.

"I'm talking to teams every day, exploring options to see who has an interest or a need," GM Steve Yzerman said to Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Times. "At some point goalies need to play. I don't want to keep guys around who aren't playing so at some point we're probably going to have to make a decision on what we want to do."

The guy who is No. 4 on the organizational depth chart, prospect Cedrick Desjardins, is out with a shoulder injury so the Lightning don't have to worry about taking away playing time from their top young guy at the position if Ellis or Smith is sent to Norfolk of the AHL. Teams looking for goaltending insurance could inquire about Smith or Ellis, but both have had their share of struggles this season.

UPDATE: Tampa Bay has placed Smith on waivers. Looks like he is going to be the odd man out. Smith is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. He is due a little more than $792,000 for the rest of this season if a team puts in a claim, according to capgeek.com.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

The Canucks are atop the Western Conference and could be the most complete team in the NHL. They are also pretty tight against the salary cap and aren't likely to have much wiggle room this month, depending on the health of some of their injured defensemen.

Like the Bruins, they could call upon a top prospect to provide some help down the stretch. Cody Hodgson, the 10th overall pick in the 2008 Entry Draft, made his NHL debut for the Canucks last night.

"Obviously, it has been a long time waiting for this," Hodgson said to Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun. "I just  have to make the most of it with the chances I get. I'm happy to be here and happy to get going."

Hodgson has been slowed by injuries, including a back problem that was misdiagnosed and a broken toe, but he was a star at the 2009 world junior championships and considered one of the best prospects in the world before the injuries. He has 10 goals and 16 points in 28 games for Manitoba this season.
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.02.2011 / 9:43 AM

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

Mayfield happy to see USHL recognized by NHL Central Scouting

Hello, everyone. January has been a very exciting month.
 
My team, the Youngstown Phantoms, is getting back on track to make the playoffs after a tough slump in December (one win). We went 4-2-3 in January, getting 11 out of a possible 18 points.  This is a huge improvement for the team after coming off two pretty long slumps. Our coaching staff has done a great job maintaining a positive attitude each day. I feel like our practices are always productive and everybody loves coming to the rink. I am really happy with the way the staff has handled our slumps.   

Five of our nine January games went into overtime, and all but two were decided by one goal. They were exciting games, and I think the Youngstown fans are starting to take notice. We had our largest crowd of the season last Friday. Eleven of our next thirteen games are at home, so I'm hoping our fans come out and give us a boost. I'm really excited about the home stretch we have this second half of the season!

Our biggest rival this year has been Muskegon. We've played them six times this year and each game has been close and physically tough. I love the competitive attitude our two teams have when we play each other. January brought two other big wins against two teams battling us for a playoff spot. We beat U-18 USNTDP in a shootout and beat Waterloo in overtime. These two games really gave us a boost of confidence and assurance that we can be a playoff team. I'm happy that we're out of the slump and know that if we keep playing this way, great things will happen for us.

On a more personal note, NHL Central Scouting's mid-term rankings came out in the middle of the month. I was excited to be ranked No. 15 among North American skaters. There are so many great players on the list. To be recognized with them as a draft prospect is a real honor. I was even more happy to see there were 49 USHL players (24 forwards, 17 defenseman, and 8 goalies) listed in the rankings, including three other players from Youngstown -- defenseman Chris Bradley, forward J.T. Stenglein, and goalie Matt O'Connor. This is huge for the league and our team, and it really shows that the USHL is a great league for development. I am glad to be ranked, but also know that these rankings don't mean anything if I don't continue to perform on the ice, work hard, and improve.  You don't play in the NHL based on the rankings or the draft. You still have to earn it, and I need to keep this in mind.  Every day I need to be getting better and working harder.

I'm excited for the upcoming month. I know the Phantoms can take advantage of having so many home games in February and can really make a push to move up in the standings. I'm hoping to finish the season strong and help put my team in the best position possible to go far in playoffs.

Thank you for taking your time to read this! My next blog will be the first Wednesday of March.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.01.2011 / 6:16 PM

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

Adam Larsson might return this weekend from injury

Reports out of Sweden are that defenseman Adam Larsson, the No. 1-ranked player on NHL Central Scouting's mid-term list of the top draft-eligible European players, could return to the lineup as early as this weekend.

A groin injury, which has apparently hampered Larsson all season, has kept the 6-foot-3, 200-pound blue liner sidelined since the completion of the World Junior Championship in Buffalo, N.Y., on Jan. 5.

Larsson, who did play in the semifinals and bronze-medal game at the WJC, supposedly pushed it a little too much and is now on the mend. It probably didn't help that he was on the receiving end of a booming check by Team Canada and Columbus Blue Jackets draftee Ryan Johanson in the tournament semifinal. Larsson was hit so hard, his feet came off the ice as he went back-first into his own goalpost.

Larsson is in the midst of his second season playing for Skelleftea in the Swedish Elite League. He's projected to be a top five pick in the 2011 Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minn., on June 24.

Larsson represented Sweden at the 2010 and 2011 World Junior Championship, finishing as the team's highest scoring defender at the tournament this past season with 1 goal and 4 points. He's currently playing for Skellefea AIK in Elitserien, where he's produced 7 assists, 8 points and 37 penalty minutes in 28 games.

Two of Larsson's teammates on this year's Swedish National Junior Team praised their impressive young defenseman when asked for comparisons to current Tampa Bay Lightning defender Victor Hedman.

"I think Adam is better than Hedman in his draft year, but that's my opinion," said Larsson's WJC defensive partner and Sweden's alternate captain, Fredrik Styrman."He's more stick handling and can move the puck quick. That's the big thing, and he can hit too. He's a strong guy and he's big. I think he has a great future (in North America)."

Goalie Robin Lehner, who was drafted in the second round by the Ottawa Senators in 2009, feels very confident with Larsson patrolling his end.

"Hedman was big, of course, and strong and Adam is smaller but he makes up for that with smartness," Lehner told NHL.com. "He's really smart with the puck and tough. He won't back down from anything and even fought a 30-year-old in Swedish league. He just has this glow in his eyes … you know he's going to be a great player."

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Posted On Tuesday, 02.01.2011 / 5:09 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Road to Trade Deadline Day

Pens' GM prepping for potential

Ray Shero told NHL.com on Tuesday that he'll meet with his pro scouts in Pittsburgh this week to go over information that could prove useful before the trade deadline later this month. Shero said talks amongst all the general managers traditionally pick up steam coming out of the All-Star break, so he's getting himself prepared for some moving and shaking.

"I can only speak for myself and I've talked to a few (GMs)," Shero said. "I haven't talked to all the teams, but I have kept in touch with a few guys. With our team I have a pretty good idea of what we want to do so I'm not contacting every team. You do that a week or two before the deadline to make sure you're covering everything off, doing your due diligence, but it hasn't been that active now. As you get through the All-Star break it tends to pick up and we'll see that over the next few weeks of course."

Shero has been one of the more active deadline dealers in years past. He got Marian Hossa, Pascal Dupuis and Hal Gill in 2008 and picked up Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz in 2009. The Penguins made it to the Stanley Cup Final in both seasons. He traded for Alexei Ponikarovsky and Jordan Leopold last season, but the Penguins were knocked out in the second round.

This deadline could be an interesting one for Shero because he's not 100 percent certain what area might need to be addressed.

Pittsburgh entered Tuesday sixth in the NHL in goals scored per game (3.02) and second in the League in goals allowed per game (2.24) despite playing only one complete game (the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic) with star centers Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal at full speed.

Crosby will miss his 10th straight game Tuesday with a concussion and Malkin will miss his fourth in a row with a sinus infection. Staal sat out the first 39 games of the season with foot and hand injuries.

The injuries have given guys like Mark Letestu, Chris Conner and Dustin Jeffrey opportunities in the top-six and on the power play that they otherwise would not have been afforded. The Penguins' depth has been tested, which is good for Shero because that's given him an opportunity to see what kind of role players he's got heading into the trade deadline.

Shero hasn't been afraid to go after the big splash (Hossa), but he's also found out that the smaller moves (Gill, Guerin) or throw-in players (Dupuis in the Hossa deal) have the ability to change the look of the team enough.

History suggests Shero will do something before Feb. 28, but he'll probably have a better idea of what that is after he meets with his scouts this week.

"We're built down the middle with our goaltending, defense and center iceman and we've played only two games with our three centers, so once we get them all back and healthy I think we'll have a pretty good hockey team," Shero said. "Having said that we're looking to improve, but it's the salary cap era and that might limit your player pool."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.01.2011 / 12:43 PM

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

As Deadline Day approaches: Atlantic Division

Where does each team stand as the trade deadline approaches? Let's take a look around the League, one division at a time, and try to decipher which direction the teams might be leaning as the 3 p.m. deadline on Feb. 28 approaches. First up is the Atlantic Division, which features three of the top teams in the Eastern Conference and two of the bottom feeders.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (33-12-5, 71 points)

If the Flyers are confident in rookie Sergei Bobrovsky and one of last postseason's heroes, Brian Boucher, in net than Philadelphia doesn't really have any needs to address (and the record reflects that). There's enough cap room to do something if an injury occurs, but doing so would likely push some bonus money for James van Riemsdyk and Bobrovsky onto next year's cap. Verdict: STANDING PAT

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (31-15-4, 66 points)

GM Ray Shero has been very willing to wheel and deal as the deadline approaches during his tenure. The problem this season is a lack of cap space. Capgeek.com lists the Penguins as the team with the least amount of flexibility in the League, which means Shero is going to have to move some money out if he wants to make a move. Given the depth on defense (and lack of it up on the wing), expect Alex Goligoski's name to be in some trade rumors this month. Verdict: BUYERS


N.Y. RANGERS (29-20-3, 61 points)

The Rangers are probably going to want to see what the lineup looks like with some of the injured guys back before making any decisions, but the addition of Wojtek Wolski and a healthy Vinny Prospal is a boost up front. Count the Rangers as one of several teams who could be in the market for a veteran defenseman. Verdict: BUYERS

N.Y. ISLANDERS (15-27-7, 37 points)

Obviously the Islanders are still trying to build around John Tavares and Kyle Okposo, and Matt Moulson's three-year contract extension puts to rest any rumors that he might be one of the pending UFA forwards available this month. It could be a pretty quiet deadline for the Islanders, although Zenon Konopka could be a sneaky-good addition for someone as a fourth-line center who wins a lot of faceoffs and is willing to drop the gloves. Verdict: SELLERS

NEW JERSEY DEVILS (16-30-3, 35 points)

The Devils started to ascend from their disastrous start to the season with some strong play before the All-Star break. Now the question will be: Does GM Lou Lamiorello see this surge as a reason to keep the team intact, or was the first few months reason enough to make some changes? It might be tough to move some guys because of their contracts if Lamiorello wants to blow it up, but pending UFA Jason Arnott could be a hot commodity. Verdict: SELLERS
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.01.2011 / 12:25 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Road to St. Paul 2011 Entry Draft Blog

Don't miss these Draft profiles

With all the attention paid the last couple weeks to the 2011 All-Star Game, just want to make sure all the Entry Draft profiles we've been writing here don't get lost, because there's been some pretty neat stuff going up.

In case you missed Tomas Jurco's unbelievable puck wizardry at the Top Prospects Game skills competition, Jurco emptied his bag of tricks for NHL.com's cameras. Also, Mike Morreale caught up with Tomas and got him to explain how he developed his amazing skills.

Ryan Murphy of the Kitchener Rangers is on pace to score at a level no OHL defenseman has reached in 15 years. But he asks that you please don't label him an offensive defenseman. He's working to do much more with his game.

And let's not forget the masked men. In this case, U.S. National Team goaltender John Gibson, who is looking to follow in the footsteps of another USNTDP goalie, Jack Campbell. Gibson has the size and skill that made Campbell a desirable prospect.

There's a lot more at NHL.com's Entry Draft website, and we're always adding more, so click back often.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.01.2011 / 10:20 AM

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

It's Trade Deadline Month!

Welcome to the 2011 Trade Deadline blog at nhl.com! We are 27 days away from one of every hockey fan's favorite days on the calendar -- Trade Deadline Day.

Last season Trade Deadline Day brought plenty of volume but little in the way of star power changing teams, though Anaheim's addition of Lubomir Visnovsky has proven to be a great one for this season -- he's currently second among NHL defensemen in points.

The big blockbuster of 2010 happened nearly a month before the deadline when the New Jersey Devils added Ilya Kovalchuk from the Altanta Thrashers. Will there be star players on the move this month? Atlanta has traded the best player two of the past three years (Marian Hossa in 2008), but the Thrashers are now contending for a playoff spot in the East and aren't likely to be dealing away top players anytime soon.

During the next four weeks we will be tracking the latest in trade news and rumors, and posting some stories, analysis and interviews on this blog. First up is going to be a quick rundown of each of the 30 teams, broken up by division, and where each might stand as trade deadline day approaches. Check back during the next couple days to see posts on each division.

Whether your favorite team is buying, selling or not quite sure which way to go yet, it is sure to be an exciting month of anticipation and most importantly, trades! We'll try to keep you updated on all the bartering going on around the League.
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Posted On Sunday, 01.30.2011 / 10:22 PM

By Andrew Montag -  NHL.com Fan Blogger /NHL.com - Road Trip to Raleigh

See ya later Raleigh!

I'm am writing to you from gate C20 at Raleigh-Durham Airport, and Team Lidstrom has taken the first rendition of the new All-Star format in a thriller, 11-10. Team Staal jumped out to a 4-0 lead, and the RBC Center was rocking. Cam Ward looked like Patrick Roy out there, and he was riding the energy of the crowd early on. However, Team Lidstrom surged back, knotting the score at four. The roof nearly blew off the RBC Center when Eric Staal scored on a breakaway--his first of two goals on the night. 

Patrick Sharp of Team Staal was awarded the game's MVP with a goal and two assists, but the important award, the first annual "Bridgestone MVP Award Presented by Montag" goes to Danny Briere of Team Lidstrom.  Briere had two very timely goals, along with a dazzling deke on Lunqvist in the third period to cap off the victory for Team Lidstrom. Next, I'm going to give the head-heart-hustle award to Jeff Skinner. He was all over the place! Although he couldn't find the twine, he played this game like it was the Stanley Cup Final.

Thank you to all who followed my blogs throughout the weekend, I was honored to provide you all with an inside look at the events that transpired. We should be in for a great conclusion to the season.

Over and out!

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Posted On Sunday, 01.30.2011 / 6:52 PM

By Shawn P. Roarke -  NHL.com Senior Managing Editor /NHL.com - All-Star Game live blog

Team Lidstrom wins

Wow. What a finish!

Team Staal pulled its goalie with a little more than a minute to go in the game and Team Lidstrom made it pay almost immediately as Loui Eriksson scored in the open net to make it 11-9. It was Eriksson's fourth point of the night.

But Team Staal refused to go quietly into the Raleigh night. Team Staal captain Eric Staal scored with 33 seconds left to make it 11-10. It was Staal's second goal of the game.

The Staals pressed for the equealizer for the final 33 seconds, but Tim Thomas was up to the challenge and earned his third career All-Star victory in as many appearances.

What a game and what a perfect ending to a perfect weekend here in Raleigh.

Thanks for following the game in this blog and stay on NHL.com for what will be a bounty of stories and reaction from our All-Star collection of writers.






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Quote of the Day

Right now I'm just happy to be back and get through this season and make sure I do my job. I've never had an issue with having to prove myself again and I'll try to do it again. We'll see where it takes me.

— Defenseman Torey Krug on signing with the Boston Bruins
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