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Posted On Wednesday, 01.16.2013 / 12:17 PM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst / - Weekes on the Web

Weekes breaks down the Eastern Conference

Posted On Wednesday, 01.16.2013 / 12:04 PM

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

Erie's Harper helping future star

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- In addition to the excitement of playing in his draft year and having an opportunity to take part in the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, Sportsnet), Erie Otters forward Stephen Harper also is looking ahead to the 2015 NHL Draft, when good friend and linemate Connor McDavid already is the favorite to be the No. 1 pick.

McDavid, granted exceptional-player status March 21, 2012, by Hockey Canada, allowing him to be eligible for the 2012 Ontario Hockey League draft at age 15 (a year earlier than other prospects), currently leads all first-year OHL players in scoring with 45 points (19 goals, 26 assists) in 38 games. He also was the youngest player ever to compete in the 10-year history of the Subway Super Series when he suited up for Team OHL against Russia on Nov. 8 in Guelph, Ont.

In an effort to make McDavid's first season less stressful, Harper, who serves as an alternate captain for Erie in his second season, asked team management if he could room with the young prodigy this season.

"He said he thought he could mentor him," Otters general manager Sherry Bassin said. "He did that without any encouragement. He came to me of his own free will. That's the character this kid has."

Posted On Wednesday, 01.16.2013 / 11:00 AM

By Matt Sitkoff - Contributor / - NHL Live blog

Cisco NHL Live previews Northwest, Northeast today

It is Northwest and Northeast Division day on Cisco NHL Live from 5 ET on the NHL Network with Bill Pidto and EJ Hradek. EJ will breakdown and give his predictions for these divisions that both experienced major upheaval this off-season

Every day this week the NHL Network will be at a different training camp. Making the biggest headlines this offseason, Minnesota will be the next stop on Wednesday. We'll talk to the prized free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter about their adjustments playing in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. The team's architect, Chuck Fletcher, and the man in charge, Mike Yeo, will also stop by, along with Minneapolis Star Tribune reporter Michael Russo.

Posted On Wednesday, 01.16.2013 / 10:59 AM

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

Jones among five Americans in Top Prospects game

    Ryan Hartman, Plymouth Whalers, OHL

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia -- While the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game will be dominated by Canadian-born players, it's worth noting that five Americans will also be strutting their stuff on Wednesday at Metro Centre.

Leading the way is Portland Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones of Plano, Texas. He will be joined on Team Orr by Quebec Remparts forward Adam Erne of New Haven, Conn., and Kitchener Rangers forward Justin Bailey of Williamsville, N.Y.

The two U.S. representative on Team Cherry are Plymouth Whalers forward Ryan Hartman of West Dundee, Ill., and Oshawa Generals forward Cole Cassels of Columbus, Ohio. Hartman and Jones each played a big role for Team USA in a gold medal-winning performance at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship.

NHL Central Scouting's David Gregory believes it's a sign of the times to see more Americans participating at the CHL Top Prospects Game.

"First of all, more Americans are comfortable coming to the CHL to develop their career and when you get a guy like Seth Jones, who is a potential first overall pick doing it, I think that's the kind of trend you're starting to see," Gregory told "The teams pick who they want here, so it's almost on who they feel are the best prospects and who they want to see in this game. I think there's more Americans in the league so there's a chance more Americans will get here.

Posted On Wednesday, 01.16.2013 / 9:30 AM

By Matt Sitkoff - Contributor / - NHL Live blog

The EJ5: Erik Encore

5. Facing Reality ... Wings start the post-Nicklas Lidstrom era

4. Something Special ... 18 year old American-born D Seth Jones tops NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings of North American skaters. EJ thinks this guy is the real deal.

3. No Sure Thing ... In 2007, the Kings used the fourth overall pick to take WHL D Thomas Hickey. Tuesday, they lost him to the Islanders on waivers. Nearly 24, he's yet to play an NHL game. Fortunately, the Kings did use the 95th pick in the same draft to grab Miami University's Alec Martinez, who helped them win the franchise's first-ever Cup last June.

2. Optimistic Oilers ... After finishing near the bottom of the league for the past several seasons, Edmonton fans believe their team is ready to return to playoff contention. A big reason ... 22-year-old rookie defenseman Justin Schultz, who tore up the AHL during the first half of the season.

1. Erik Encore? ... Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson had a bust out year last season, putting up 78 points in 81 games. Can the 22-year-old pick up where he left off???

Posted On Tuesday, 01.15.2013 / 10:20 PM - 2012-13 Training Camp blog

Tanguay finds himself back in the middle in Calgary

Alex Tanguay was a center in junior hockey, but has spent his NHL career on the wing -- until now.

With the Calgary Flames needing help in the middle, the 33-year-old has spent the first three days of training camp playing between Curtis Glencross and Lee Stempniak. It's been an adjustment for Tanguay, who hasn’t played down the middle since his junior days with the Halifax Mooseheads.

“I’ve played the game a long time and it’s been a while since I played center,” he said after Tuesday's practice. “I used to play it in juniors, I know how to play it, but it’s going to take a little bit of time.”

Perhaps the biggest change is taking faceoffs on a regular basis -- Tanguay took just 67 draws last season and won only 25. But he told the Flames' website that there's a lot more to the move than just taking faceoffs, and it's taking some time to adjust.

“It’s trying to get used to a new pace and trying to get used to a new pace and trying to get used to a new position,” he said. “I don’t think I did too good out there yesterday, I was a little bit out of place. I feel fine physically but I feel like I’m still taking too much time to think.”

Posted On Tuesday, 01.15.2013 / 7:23 PM - 2012-13 Training Camp blog

Ducks sign Letourneau-Leblond

The Anaheim Ducks have signed left wing Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond to a one-year contract. No financial terms were disclosed.

The Ducks assigned him to their AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals, along with goaltender Victor Fasth.

The 27-year-old appeared in three games for the Calgary Flames in 2011-12, with no points, 10 penalty minutes and a plus-1 rating. He had one goal, six points and a team-leading 167 PIM in 50 games for the Flames' AHL farm team, the Abbotsford Heat.

In 40 NHL games during parts of four seasons with New Jersey and Calgary, he has three assists and 101 penalty minutes. He has 18 goals, 39 points and 1,013 PIM in 242 AHL games.

Letourneau-Leblond was selected by New Jersey in the seventh round (No 216th) in the 2004 NHL Draft.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.15.2013 / 4:32 PM

By Staff -  / - 2012-13 Training Camp blog

Wild sign Palmieri to two-way contract

The Minnesota Wild have agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with forward Nick Palmieri.

Palmieri had signed an American Hockey League deal to start the season and posted 9 goals and 19 points with 33 penalty minutes and a plus-9 rating in 36 games with Houston this season.

Acquired at the trade deadline last season from New Jersey, the 23-year-old Palmieri was scoreless in nine games with the Wild after he had four goals and seven points in 29 games with the Devils.

A third-round pick by New Jersey in the 2007 NHL Draft, Palmieri has career totals of 13 goals and 25 points in 87 games.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.15.2013 / 4:26 PM

By Staff -  / - 2012-13 Training Camp blog

Canucks lose Booth for 4-6 weeks with injury

Vancouver Canucks forward David Booth will be out 4-6 weeks, the team announced Tuesday via its official Twitter feed.

Booth suffered a groin injury Sunday during the off-ice testing phase of training camp, coach Alain Vigneault told the team's website. Booth underwent an MRI exam Monday that revealed the damage.

Posted On Tuesday, 01.15.2013 / 2:37 PM

By Sean Monahan -  Special to / - Sean Monahan Draft blog

Monahan offers thoughts from Halifax

Sean Monahan is a center for the Ottawa 67's of the Ontario Hockey League. The 6-foot-2, 186-pound forward was a second-team OHL all-star last season after scoring 33 goals in 62 games, and he added 15 points in 18 playoff games. A highly regarded prospect, Monahan has offered to maintain a monthly blog for that will chronicle his season leading up to the 2013 NHL Draft.

Hello hockey fans. It's been a while so I thought I'd check in from Halifax prior to the big Top Prospects Game on Wednesday.

I got to see what the testing was all about on Monday when Jordan Subban showed me some of the drills in the airport. I guess I mentally just tried to prepare for it. I couldn't really practice anything because I didn't have ice time, but I came in mentally prepared. I arrived in Halifax on Monday a little late because my flight was delayed, so that was tough.

I came in and got to the hotel and found out I was rooming with goalie Spencer Martin from Mississauga. We had a little trouble Monday night with our television reception eventually figured it out and watched "America's Funniest Home Videos." After that, we shut it down.

As far as the testing went on Tuesday, everything was basic. Obviously, most of the stuff comes naturally. The backwards skating was probably a little different for the forwards and I think overall it was good and I felt it went well.

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