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Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 8:58 PM

By Seth Jones -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Seth Jones Draft blog

Jones ready to relax, prepare for testing

Seth Jones is a defenseman for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder has solid athletic bloodlines -- his father, Popeye Jones, played 11 seasons in the NBA. The top-ranked player in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters eligible for the 2013 NHL Draft, Jones was named the best professional prospect in the WHL, and helped the United States win the gold medal at the 2013 World Junior Championship. Jones has offered to maintain a monthly blog for NHL.com that will chronicle his season leading up to the 2013 NHL Draft.

Hello again from Toronto. Things have been going real well up here. I had about 10 more meetings today. It's pretty exciting. I had Tampa Bay today and I got the chance to meet Steve Yzerman, which is pretty cool.

I also met with Colorado today. I'm not sure who was in the room. I guess Patrick Roy came in today but I didn't get to meet him. Colorado really didn't treat me any different. I talked to a lot of other guys that went in with them and they pretty much asked the same questions -- if I think I'm NHL-ready, what can I bring to the team next year -- that sort of thing.

After the meetings I had an event to announce I signed an endorsement deal with CCM-Reebok. They've been great to me. I finally got it finalized tonight. It feels good to be in a family with a lot of great players -- Carey Price, Sidney Crosby, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. So it's pretty cool to do that. They have a lot of young guys with Jonathan Huberdeau and Alex Galchenyuk, also. Definitely feels like a big family. The gear is awesome. I switched last summer and I've loved it ever since. I don't see myself going to another brand.

We announced the deal with Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin. They're both great players. I've had the chance to play with them and against them a couple times. It's pretty cool sharing some of the same experiences as your friends.


Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 8:16 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Combing the 2013 NHL Combine

Jones, MacKinnon, Drouin might skip fitness test

TORONTO -- It's possible the long grind of the junior hockey season, including the Memorial Cup tournament that ended four days ago, will keep top 2013 NHL Draft prospects Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks and Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin of the Halifax Mooseheads from participating in the fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine.

The trio is 1, 2, 3 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for this year's draft.

The agent for Jones and MacKinnon, Pat Brisson, told NHL.com his clients will undergo medical exams Friday as scheduled, but a decision on whether they would participate in the 13 individual tests designed to evaluate strength and fitness would be made afterward.

"In my opinion, you need about a week or two to get ready for some of those tests, and we have to respect what they've gone through here lately," Brisson said. "They're in game shape, but you have to treat them like Ferraris in a sense that now these athletes have to prepare for these things. Not that they can't do it, but we'll undergo the medical exam and take it from there."

Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 8:00 PM

By Nathan MacKinnon -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Nathan MacKinnon Draft blog

MacKinnon enjoying time at Scouting Combine

Nathan Mackinnon is in his second season with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this year. The 6-foot, 182-pound forward has 32 goals, 75 points and a plus-40 rating in 44 regular-season games for the Mooseheads in 2012-13. In 17 playoff games, MacKinnon finished with 11 goals and 33 points to help lead his team to the QMJHL championship. He was then awarded with the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as Memorial Cup MVP after finishing with tournament highs of seven goals and 13 points in four games as Halifax won its first Cup crown. MacKinnon, who served as captain for Team Cherry at the 2013 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game and represented Canada at the 2013 World Junior Championship in Russia, has offered to provide NHL.com with a monthly blog leading up to the 2013 NHL Draft in Newark, N.J.

Hi everyone!

First of all, I want to say it was an honor to be named Memorial Cup most valuable player. It was a very special feeling. I know there have been some very special players who have won that over the years and I'm just so proud to be a part of those names. It's really cool.

It was a long couple of days, but a lot of fun at the same time. We had a parade in Halifax on Tuesday and that was something else. We flew in to Toronto on Wednesday morning, so it was an awesome experience and I'm really happy to be here [at the Combine] … it's been a lot of fun.

One of the most common questions asked in the interviews was what I felt was the biggest thing I needed to do to remain at the next level. I thought about each answer and gave an honest response. Everybody asked some similar stuff, but with a different approach, and I thought it went really well.


Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 6:43 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Kings series blog

Kings mum on Stoll's return to lineup

ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter would not give an update on the status of concussed center Jarret Stoll when asked for one at the team's media availability Friday.

"Nope," is all Sutter said.

But Stoll's chances of playing in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Saturday (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS, TSN) have to at least be getting better, considering he practiced in his regular spot on the third line between Dwight King and Trevor Lewis.

Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 3:48 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Cooke unconcerned about reception from Boston fans

PITTSBURGH -- It's been almost 39 months since Matt Cooke's brutal hit left Marc Savard with concussion symptoms that have yet to fully dissipate.

Cooke had a short answer when asked if the incident -- and resulting ire he's gotten from the Boston Bruins and their fans -- crossed his mind at all when it became apparent Cooke's Pittsburgh Penguins were going to play Boston in the Eastern Conference Final.

"No."

For Cooke, it's the second consecutive Stanley Cup Playoffs series against a team -- and fan base -- that has expressed public indignation toward him. The forward's skate severed the Achilles tendon of Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson in February, and the teams faced each other in the conference semifinals.

Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 3:19 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins need Rask to continue being their hot hand

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The Boston Bruins have had the luxury of a hot hand in net through two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Keeping goaltender Tuukka Rask ready to go with so much time off before the start of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday can be a bit of a challenge. But the Finnish phenom is adjusting to the week's rest so far.

"It's more, it's kind of weird, because [sometimes] you finish up a series and you think you're going to have three days off and you don't. You're still emotional and ready to play," Rask said after Bruins practice at Ristuccia Arena on Thursday. "But then you get three days off, four days off, you kind of just feel like it's training camp, we're just practicing here. But it obviously isn't.

"I think it's just a mental challenge to know how to relax, but still keep yourself focused and knowing the series will start soon and you have to be ready to go. It's definitely been a different week."

Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 3:04 PM

By Chris Adamski -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Jokinen mindful of Bruins' proficiency on faceoffs

PITTSBURGH -- Jussi Jokinen took a moment early Thursday afternoon to accuse many of the Boston Bruins of cheating.

That's OK. He admires them for it -- and takes pride in himself for being able to cheat too.

Boston leads the Stanley Cup Playoffs in faceoff percentage, having won 57.5 percent of its draws heading into the Eastern Conference Final, which begins 8 p.m. Saturday at Consol Energy Center against the Pittsburgh Penguins (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).

Jokinen is Pittsburgh's best faceoff man at 63.9 percent in the postseason. He has appeared in six of the Penguins' 11 playoff games; of players who have taken at least 92 faceoffs this postseason, the Bruins have the top three players in the NHL.

Patrice Bergeron is winning 63.5 percent of his faceoffs, Chris Kelly 63.4 percent and Rich Peverley 63.0.

Talking with a smile and in a tone that was nothing but respect, Jokinen offered why those three are so successful.

"Lots of times, whoever's best on the faceoffs is whoever finds a way to cheat," Jokinen said. "Who cheats the most so they don't get thrown out.

"It's such a fine line finding out how much you can cheat -- some linesmen let you cheat a little more than others, and Bergeron is one of those guys who does that stuff pretty good and the linesmen let him do that stuff."

Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 2:57 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Combing the 2013 NHL Combine

NHL-caliber shot makes Pulock one to watch

TORONTO -- Simply put, defenseman Ryan Pulock of the Brandon Wheat Kings is a warrior.

Despite missing considerable time in 2012-13 with a fractured orbital bone then a broken wrist, he impressed the scouts enough to earn the No. 12 ranking on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top 2013 NHL Draft-eligible North American skaters.

"He does everything well," Central Scouting's Peter Sullivan told NHL.com. "He's got the hardest shot I've seen in years. He's so smart. The thing that's even more impressive is I've seen him take seven or eight super hits -- body checks and hip checks -- laying guys into the boards. He's got all the tools to be a top pick."

Sullivan went as far as to say Pulock has an NHL-caliber shot right now.

"He's got one of the hardest shots not only in the Western Hockey League, but would have one of the hardest in the NHL," Sullivan said. "Don't laugh … it's that good."

Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 1:54 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the 2013 NHL Combine

Current lack of first-round pick doesn't daunt Wild

TORONTO -- Even though the Minnesota Wild doesn't have a first-round pick, general manager Chuck Fletcher said he isn't approaching the NHL Scouting Combine this week or the build-up to the 2013 NHL Draft any differently.

The Wild sent their first-round pick to the Buffalo Sabres as part of the Jason Pominville trade. Minnesota's first selection will be in at No. 46 in the second round.

"You're always preparing because you never know what can happen between now and the draft," Fletcher told NHL.com. "Whether you make trades and maybe acquire an extra pick. Maybe you can package some picks and move up in the draft. We haven't focused on the top end of the draft as much, because realistically we're not going to pay to the price to get into that level. We're interviewing a lot of guys, as many as normal, and it's also a draft, too, with the depth of this draft, I think there's going to be a lot of variation on everyone's list between 15 and 40. And we expect at 46 to be looking at a player we have significantly higher than that on our list."

Posted On Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 1:02 PM

By Matt Kalman -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Bruins series blog

Bruins work on some basics during light practice

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- After two days off and two hard days on the ice, the Boston Bruins went through a lighter practice Thursday at Ristuccia Arena.

It’s been a challenge for the coaching staff to fill in all these days since the Bruins beat the New York Rangers last Saturday until the Eastern Conference Final starts this Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Practice on Thursday was part of dialing things down before the intensity picks up again Saturday.

"That's what we did today. We just did a couple drills and then we just wanted to work our power play today and penalty kill. So basically the bulk of the practice was 20 minutes," Bruins coach Claude Julien said.

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