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Posted On Thursday, 06.26.2014 / 5:56 PM

By Thatcher Demko -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Thatcher Demko blog

Demko hopes to be picked early

PHILADELPHIA -- Hello hockey fans!

I'm writing to you from the prospects media availability at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia on Thursday, less than 24 hours from the start of the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center.

I won't lie. Being drafted in the first round would be really cool not only for myself and my family, but my teammates at Boston College. I don't think goalies are taken high in the draft because it's risky with guys not being able to work out, but it would be really cool to go in the first round.

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Posted On Thursday, 06.26.2014 / 5:32 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Virtanen's first priority: Get healthy

PHILADELPHIA -- The focus for most of the top prospects who took part in a media availability session at the National Constitutional Center on Thursday was what they could do to make the NHL next season. For Calgary Hitmen left wing Jake Virtanen, the goal is a bit different: He's focused on getting healthy enough to return to the lineup as soon as possible.

Virtanen had surgery on his left shoulder in May to repair a torn labrum. The initial diagnosis was a recovery time of four to six months, and he told NHL.com he's targeting a mid-October return.

Virtanen, No. 6 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the draft, played through the shoulder injury for the second half of the season and had 45 goals and 71 points in 71 Western Hockey League games, as well as six points in seven games for Canada at the 2014 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.

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Posted On Thursday, 06.26.2014 / 5:13 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Draisaitl briefly shifts focus from hockey to soccer

PHILADELPHIA -- While his attention has been focused on the final things he has to do to get ready for the start of the 2014 NHL Draft on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS), Prince Albert Raiders center Leon Draisaitl had his focus tuned to another sport.

The native of Cologne, Germany, tried to watch as much as he could of the World Cup match Thursday between Germany and the United States. Germany won 1-0 but both teams advanced to the round of 16.

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Posted On Thursday, 06.26.2014 / 5:03 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Top Euros eye NHL next season or will play at home

PHILADELPHIA -- It appears it will be the NHL or Europe next season for NHL Central Scouting's top two European skaters for the 2014 NHL Draft.

Kasperi Kapanen of KalPa in Finland and William Nylander of Sodertalje in Sweden's second division both said they would like to play in the NHL in 2014-15. If not, they would rather play against more developed opponents in their home countries rather than play junior hockey in the Canadian Hockey League.

Nylander, Central Scouting's No. 2-ranked European player, played with three teams this season, including Rogle in Sweden's second division, where his teammate was his father, former NHL player Michael Nylander. He also played for Modo in the Swedish Hockey League, but had his most success with second-division team Sodertalje, totaling 11 goals and eight assists in 17 games. He is eligible for the 2014 CHL Import Draft next month, but said junior hockey isn't a consideration.

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Posted On Thursday, 06.26.2014 / 2:12 PM

By Samuel Bennett -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Samuel Bennett draft blog

Bennett: Lead-up to draft in Philly has been a blast

Samuel Bennett, a center with the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League, was ninth in the OHL with 91 points in 57 games and was named the top 2014 NHL Draft prospect in the Canadian Hockey League. He led his team in points, goals (36), assists (55), plus/minus rating (plus-34) and power-play goals (10). He also had a league-best 25-game scoring streak in which he totaled 17 goals and 46 points. Bennett, No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 Draft, has offered to maintain a blog leading up to this year's draft.

PHILADELPHIA -- Hello from Philadelphia, where we're getting ready for the draft.

It's been a fun few days in the city. Yesterday we did a pretty cool tour of the city. The best parts were visiting the art museum and the Rocky statue, and batting practice at the Phillies game.

Seeing the Rocky statue was pretty cool, and we ran up the steps a little bit like Rocky did. I enjoyed that.

Definitely batting practice was my favorite, though. I had some memories from back in my baseball glory days, when I was 7 or 8 years old. It was fun to get out there in the big field and swing the bat again.

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.25.2014 / 6:36 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - NHL Live blog

Stars great Modano talks Hall call on NHL Live

Former Minnesota North Stars and Dallas Stars legend Mike Modano joined NHL Live to discuss his recent induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

A seven-time all-star and the highest-scoring American-born player in NHL history (561 goals, 1,374 points), Modano led the Stars to the Stanley Cup in 1999 and leads all American players with 146 playoff points. He played all but 40 of his 1,499 games, the most by a U.S.-born forward, with the Minnesota/Dallas franchise.

"I still can't believe the call," Modano said. "I was just driving around doing some errands, trying to keep busy, trying not to think about it, and then about a quarter to two Dallas time, I see a 416 (area code) coming across my phone. I couldn't say what I really wanted to say and how much it meant to you. I just had to pull over and kind of collect my thoughts. It's certainly amazing."

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.25.2014 / 6:13 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - NHL Live blog

Hartnell on trade to Blue Jackets, leaving Philadelphia

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Scott Hartnell was a guest of NHL Live days after being acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for forward R.J. Umberger and a fourth-round draft pick in 2015.

Hartnell had 20 goals and 52 points in 78 games in 2013-14, his seventh in Philadelphia. He scored at least 20 goals in five of those seven seasons, including a career-high 37 in 2011-12, and waived his no-trade clause to go to Columbus.

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.25.2014 / 5:37 PM

By Aaron Ekblad -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Aaron Ekblad draft blog

Ekblad: Having some fun before the draft

PHILADELPHIA -- Greetings from Philadelphia!

I got into town Tuesday night. Driving up from the airport I saw the stadiums and that was pretty cool, how they're all in the same vicinity here. We got settled in at the hotel and then went to Fogo de Chao, a Brazilian steakhouse, with my parents, my brother and his girlfriend, and my aunt and uncle. That was it for the night.

We woke up Wednesday and after breakfast took a pretty cool tour around Philadelphia. We saw the Rocky statue and ran up the stairs. That was fun but I didn't expect to have to do any running -- well, jogging. I've never seen any of the Rocky movies so it was all new to me. I'll probably go watch them now so I can get some history behind what I did today.

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.25.2014 / 4:44 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2014 NHL Draft blog

Hitting at Phillies park a thrill for six prospects

PHILADELPHIA -- The Miami Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies were out for early stretching on the field at Citizens Bank Park while a few of the top prospects for the 2014 NHL Draft were taking some swings off a batting tee.

None of the baseball players need to be worried about losing their jobs.

Though none of the six prospects came close to clearing the outfield fence, they certainly had a good time.

"It was fun," Kingston Frontenacs center Samuel Bennett told NHL.com. "I was a little disappointed we couldn't hit off a pitcher, but it was cool to hit on the field. You don't really realize how far away the wall is. It feels a whole lot farther than it looks."

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Posted On Wednesday, 06.25.2014 / 3:02 PM

By Seamus Malone -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Seamus Malone draft blog

Malone excited for draft, working hard in offseason

Forward Seamus Malone completed his second season with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League in 2013-14. The 5-foot-9, 165-pound left-handed shot, who was born in Naperville, Ill., is No. 180 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft. He led the team with 46 points (23 goals, 23 assists) and four shorthanded goals in 55 regular-season games. He also had 12 power-play points and five game-winners. Committed to the University of Wisconsin in 2015-16, Malone has offered to maintain a blog leading up to the 2014 draft at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

Hello again!

It's nice to be thinking hockey this week during the heat of summer. This week is certainly an exciting one for junior hockey players across the country. The NHL Draft is this weekend in Philadelphia and many fantastic players will have the honor of being drafted into the best hockey League in the world.

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Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres