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Posted On Tuesday, 01.15.2013 / 12:25 PM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Top Prospects Blog

Goalies could steal Top Prospects spotlight

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- In addition to there being plenty of high-caliber forwards and defensemen on the rosters for the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, Sportsnet), the four goaltenders set for battle might have a say in the outcome.

The four goalies were ranked among the top six on NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings of North American goaltenders -- No. 1 Zachary Fucale of the Halifax Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, No. 3 Tristan Jarry of the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League, No. 5 Spencer Martin of the Mississauga Steelheads of the Ontario Hockey League and No. 6 Philippe Desrosiers of the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL.

Eric Comrie of the Tri-City Americans (WHL), No. 2 on the list, originally was invited to participate in the game, is unable to participate due to an undisclosed injury. He was replaced Monday by Desrosiers.

NHL Central Scouting's Al Jensen, who specializes in goalie prospects, gave an analysis of each player. Fucale and Jarry will split duty for Team Cherry, while Martin and Desrosiers will share the net for Team Orr.

Fucale, who is 28-4-2 with a 2.50 goals-against average and .896 save percentage, will have the hometown faithful in his corner with the game being played at his home rink, the Metro Centre in Halifax. Fucale probably is the only goaltender of all the 2013 draft-eligible prospects at his position to have the best chance at being chosen in the first round. Earlier this season, he became the fastest 17-year-old goaltender to reach 50 career wins in the QMJHL, and his 28 wins this season ranks first among all Canadian Hockey League goaltenders.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.15.2013 / 11:23 AM

By Matt Sitkoff - Contributor / - NHL Live blog

NHL Live previews Central, Atlantic on Tuesday


It is Central and Atlantic Division day on Cisco NHL Live from 5-7 p.m. ET on the NHL Network with Bill Pidto and EJ Hradek. EJ will break down and give his predictions for the two divisions that each had four teams post over 100 points last season.

Every day this week the NHL Network will be at a different training camp. Tuesday’s stop is in Detroit to see how the Red Wings are dealing with the post-Lidstrom era. We’ll talk with coach Mike Babcock and new top Swedish defenseman Niklas Kronwall, and hear from Henrik Zetterberg.

The Central Division preview continues with guests Joel Quenneville, the Blackhawks coach, and Predators top-flight goalie Pekka Rinne. St. Louis Blues analyst Darren Pang will keep us up to date on the defending Central champions.


Last season the Atlantic Division fielded both representatives in the Eastern Conference Finals. Rangers and Devils analysts Joe Micheletti and Ken Daneyko will preview what to expect from these finalists. NHL Network analyst Barry Melrose will stop by and give his predictions for the Atlantic.

Don’t forget to submit your #AskEJ questions through Twitter via @NHLNetwork or @EJHradek_NHL and keep an eye on this Senior Reporter’s dance moves in his EJ5: Hradek’s Top 5 Thoughts of the Day.

Make sure to tune in to Cisco NHL Live on NHL Network from 5-7 p.m. ET with Bill Pidto and EJ Hradek.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.15.2013 / 10:00 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Top Prospects Blog

Central Scouting's Dan Marr discusses midterm ranks

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- Dan Marr, the director of NHL Central Scouting, believes the top spot in 2013 NHL Draft is a four-player race.

While that may be the case, there are also two clear frontrunners -- defenseman Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks and center Nathan MacKinnon of the Halifax Mooseheads.

In the release of its midterm rankings Tuesday, Central Scouting pegged Jones the top-rated skater in North America, followed by MacKinnon.

"Jonathan Drouin and Aleksander Barkov are going to make a case for themselves," Marr told "Ultimately, the teams selecting will pick their players, but I can tell you that No. 1 and No. 2 are fluid. It wasn't an easy decision, and there's nothing negative to say about either [Jones or MacKinnon].

"They are both very good in their own right, and they play different positions. That will influence some people since they are the best players at their position. To say one is the best overall was tough."

So why did Jones finally earn the nod?

Posted On Tuesday, 01.15.2013 / 9:10 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer / - Top Prospects Blog

Captains prefer action over words

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- Better scratch any thought of a rousing pregame speech from captains Nathan MacKinnon of Team Cherry or Seth Jones of Team Orr prior to faceoff at the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at Metro Centre on Wednesday.

Both highly-coveted prospects -- MacKinnon of the Halifax Mooseheads and Jones of the Portland Winterhawks -- would prefer to do their talking on the ice.

MacKinnon and Jones, selected captains of their respective teams last month, were relatively low key when asked if they had any "One for the Gipper" speeches prepared for their teammates prior to skating out for pregame warmups.

"I'm not a big pregame speech kind of guy," MacKinnon said with a grin. "I don't think that's going to happen. Maybe another guy will step up and do that, but I'm sure everyone will be ready to go as it is."

Posted On Monday, 01.14.2013 / 9:54 PM - Top Prospects Blog

Dauphin to replace Shinkaruk at Top Prospects Game

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- The flu bug will keep forward Hunter Shinkaruk of the Medicine Hat Tigers in the Western Hockey League from participating in the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Wednesday at the Metro Centre.

Shinkaruk becomes the fourth player in five days unable to participate at the Top Prospects Game due to injury or illness.

The 5-foot-10.25, 181-pound Shinkaruk, who would have served as an alternate captain for Team Orr, will be replaced by center Laurent Dauphin of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Dauphin, who was notified of his participation Monday afternoon, is third on the Sagueneens with 41 points, including 19 goals, and is plus-3 in 39 games this season. He's also been effective on faceoffs, winning 51 percent of 520 draws.

Shinkaruk, the captain of the Tigers, is tied for the team lead with 49 points (22 goals) in 35 games. In 2011-12, Shinkaruk finished fifth in scoring in the WHL with 49 goals in 66 games. His 91 points ranked second on Medicine Hat and 12th overall in the league.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mikemorrealeNHL

Posted On Monday, 01.14.2013 / 8:22 PM - 2012-13 Training Camp blog

Kopitar tests ailing knee at Kings' camp

Anze Kopitar reported no problems after skating with a brace on his sprained right knee at the Los Angeles Kings' training complex Monday.

"I didn't go all-out right off the hop," Kopitar said. "Just curious to explore the turns and stuff, and I didn't have any problems. I thought it would be a little worse than it was. ... I'm very optimistic. It's in my nature."

The Kings' No. 1 center is unlikely to play Saturday when Los Angeles opens defense of the first Stanley Cup in franchise history against Chicago. But the Kings are hoping he won't miss much more than that. Coach Darryl Sutter was encouraged by Kopitar's post-practice return to the ice just nine days after he was injured in a collision while playing for Mora IK in the Swedish Elite League.

Kopitar has led the Kings in scoring in each of the past five seasons. He had 51 assists and 76 points last season, then tied teammate Dustin Brown for the scoring lead during the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 20 points.

Posted On Monday, 01.14.2013 / 6:54 PM - 2012-13 Training Camp blog

Kings' Mitchell had setback from knee surgery

Veteran defenseman Willie Mitchell has missed the first two days of training camp for the Los Angeles Kings because he had a setback after a previously unreported knee surgery, reported Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter mentioned the surgery to reporters, and general manager Dean Lombardi told Dillman it was to fix a cartilage issue and there was no ligament damage. Mitchell was a key figure in the Kings' remarkable run to a Stanley Cup title last season, especially logging heavy minutes for a stout penalty-killing unit.

Posted On Monday, 01.14.2013 / 4:34 PM

By Staff -  / - 2012-13 Training Camp blog

Canadiens, Panthers swap minor-league defensemen

The Montreal Canadiens acquired defenseman Jason DeSantis from the Florida Panthers on Monday in exchange for defenseman Brendan Nash.

The 26-year old DeSantis played 32 games with the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs and San Antonio Rampage this season. He registered three goals, 11 points and 22 penalty minutes. The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder has recorded 16 goals, 81 points and 106 penalty minutes in 183 regular season games in the AHL.

A native of Oxford, Michigan, the USNTDP Under-18 product played four seasons, from 2004 to 2008, with the Ohio State Buckeyes totaling 16 goals and 60 points in 144 games.

Nash joined the Canadiens as a free agent on March 30, 2010. He played two games with the Canadiens in the NHL in 2010-11.

Posted On Monday, 01.14.2013 / 4:18 PM

By Staff -  / - 2012-13 Training Camp blog

Flyers' Briere 'healing' from fractured wrist

Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren told reporters Monday that forward Danny Briere has a hairline fracture in his left wrist and is "iffy" for the first two games of the season.

Holmgren said Briere had an MRI on Monday and is "healing." Briere had 34 points (10 goals) in 21 games for Berlin in the Deutsche Eishockey League during the lockout.

Briere could be a candidate to replace Jaromir Jagr on Philadelphia's top line this season, or he could help anchor the second unit. He had 16 goals and 49 points last season for the Flyers before adding 13 points in 11 playoff contests.

Posted On Monday, 01.14.2013 / 3:54 PM

By Staff -  / - 2012-13 Training Camp blog

Report: Sabres prospect Girgensons out a week

Buffalo Sabres prospect Zemgus Girgensons is expected to miss at least a week after absorbing a heavy hit in a game for Rochester in the American Hockey League this past weekend, according to a report by the Democrat and Chronicle and cited in the Buffalo News' Sabres Edge blog.

Girgensons, taken in the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft (No. 14), was checked by Syracuse forward Richard Panik in what appeared to be a late, blind-side hit, according to the reports. TJ Brennan, who was since called up to participate in the Sabres' training camp, then stepped in to fight Panik.

"I didn't like the hit," Brennan said in the Sabres Edge blog. "It was something you do where you stick up for your teammate."

Girgensons has three goals and nine points in 31 games for Rochester this season. He was taken two picks after Mikhail Grigorenko, who is taking part in Buffalo's training camp.

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I first met him when I was 19 years old and he coached me for 13 consecutive years. I don't know how many athletes who have had that pleasure. Al Arbour was a man that left us not only feeling like champions, but left us with a lot of great memories that we can carry on through life.

— Islanders Hall of Fame defenseman Denis Potvin on former coach Al Arbour, who passed away Friday at the age of 82