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2012 NHL Draft

2012 NHL Draft preview: Atlantic Division

Thursday, 06.21.2012 / 9:00 AM / 2012 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Atlantic Division reigned supreme in the Eastern Conference during the 2011-12 season. It not only had four teams qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but three advanced to the conference semifinals, two to the conference finals, and one played for the Stanley Cup.

All five teams have a nice stable of prospects either playing with the big club or patiently awaiting their chance to move up at some point. The 2012 NHL Draft looks to be deep with defensemen, centers and goalies, so this is a great opportunity to fortify the depth chart.

Each team has one selection in the first round, which begins June 22 at 7 p.m. ET at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

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Thornton, Marleau lasting legacy from 1997 draft

Thursday, 06.21.2012 / 9:00 AM / 2012 NHL Draft

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

Note: NHL.com will take a look back at the NHL drafts from five, 10 and 15 years ago this week leading up to the 2012 NHL Draft in Pittsburgh. How would a redux of those drafts look today?

Fifteen years later, the Class of 1997 remains a star-crossed group.

The top talents from the 1997 NHL Draft are known more for postseason disappointments than success. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau have shared plenty of playoff misery together in San Jose and are among the top current players in the NHL never to have lifted the Stanley Cup.

Also on that list is the one elite goaltender from this draft, Vancouver (for now) netminder Roberto Luongo. The one among the four players from the Class of 1997 with Hockey Hall of Fame potential who has lifted the Cup is Marian Hossa, whose career was defined by playoff struggles and near-misses before finally winning with Chicago in 2010.

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NHL teams find gems in undrafted players

Wednesday, 06.20.2012 / 7:31 PM / 2012 NHL Draft

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

There will be 211 players chosen at the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh this weekend. That doesn't mean there aren't some gems that will slip through the cracks.

Just as being drafted is no guarantee that a player will make it to the NHL, not being selected doesn't mean that a player won't make it.

Hall of Famers Ed Belfour, Joe Mullen, Peter Stastny and Dino Ciccarelli were never drafted. Neither was goaltender Antti Niemi, who led the Chicago Blackhawks to the 2010 Stanley Cup -- or his current San Jose teammate, All-Star defenseman Dan Boyle. Martin St. Louis of Tampa Bay, winner of the Hart and Art Ross Trophies in 2004 and the Lady Byng in 2010 and '11, never heard his name called on draft day. Neither did Niklas Backstrom, Rene Bourque, Alexandre Burrows, Curtis Glencross or dozens of other players who wore NHL sweaters this season.

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Prospects enjoy skate with kids before draft

Wednesday, 06.20.2012 / 6:08 PM / 2012 NHL Draft

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

CASTLE SHANNON, Pa. -- As a minor hockey player growing up in the Detroit area, U.S. National Team Development Program defenseman Jacob Trouba remembers going with his hockey association to watch Detroit Red Wings practices -- and once getting Brendan Shanahan's autograph.

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"Sometimes they'd come out in the lobby and talk to you, that was about it," Trouba told NHL.com. "I got Shanahan's autograph -- that was it."

The Wings never came to his place. But on Wednesday, Trouba and four other top prospects for the 2012 NHL Draft spent part of their day at the Ice Castle to skate with kids ages 5-10 at a Pittsburgh Penguins hockey camp.

Trouba was joined by Sarnia teammates Nail Yakupov and Alex Galchenyuk, Everett's Ryan Murray and Quebec's Mikhail Grigorenko for the event. It was hard to tell who had more fun -- the 18-year-old future NHL stars or the youngsters dreaming about getting there some day.

"For me, it was a great time to skate with the kids," Yakupov said. "One was crazy, he slashed me every time. But I had fun, so it was OK."

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Stanstead's Jankowski grew into draft-ready player

Wednesday, 06.20.2012 / 4:13 PM / 2012 NHL Draft

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

"In all my years here, he's one of the most coachable kids I've had. His first year here, if I'd asked him to put his head through a concrete wall, he'd have done it. He's a kid that any coach would love to have." -- Stanstead coach James Rioux

By the time a player reaches the stage where he has a legitimate shot of being a first-round pick in the NHL Draft, many hockey fans are already familiar with his name.

That's not necessarily the case for Mark Jankowski -- but he's determined his relative obscurity doesn't last very long.

Jankowski spent the past two seasons playing forward for Stanstead College, a prep school in Quebec's Eastern Townships that has produced a number of NCAA Division 1 players over the past several years, but never someone who was this prominent on the NHL radar.

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Moncton blueliner Melindy used to covering distance

Wednesday, 06.20.2012 / 10:49 AM / 2012 NHL Draft

Davis Harper - NHL.com Staff Writer

"It's a whole package with this kid. He's got good size -- he's 6-foot-2 -- he's a good skater, a very decent puck-handler, he's got some offensive ability, and his hockey sense is good."
-- QMJHL scout Chris Bordeleau

Distance has never been much of a problem for James Melindy.

The Moncton (QMJHL) defenseman covers a lot of it on the ice, and he's covered a whole lot more of it over his young hockey life.

Raised in the remote Newfoundland and Labrador outpost of Goulds, a hamlet near St. Johns on the southeastern coast of Newfoundland, Melindy played his minor hockey around the island. Eventually, as he grew into his rangy, 6-foot-2 frame, his dreams of playing professionally drew him away from the island to the hockey-rich Canadian interior.

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2012 NHL Draft Preview: Central Division

Wednesday, 06.20.2012 / 9:00 AM / 2012 NHL Draft

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

An early-season coaching change sparked the St. Louis Blues to their first postseason appearance since 2009, as Ken Hitchcock's club won a division that saw four of its five teams earn at least 100 points.

Indeed, it was a surprising achievement for the Blues, who have drafted well in recent years and appear to have several good years ahead. Led by general manager Doug Armstrong and Director of Amateur Scouting Bill Armstrong, the Blues have collected a tremendous amount of young talent.

With Nicklas Lidstrom announcing his retirement, things could change drastically in the Central -- a division Detroit has owned for much of the last two decades. Not only did St. Louis shock the hockey world in 2011-12, but Nashville and Chicago also continued to win their fair share of games. The Predators ousted the Red Wings in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, while the Blues defeated San Jose before being eliminated by the Stanley Cup-bound Los Angeles Kings.

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Nash, Keith highlight 2002 draft class

Wednesday, 06.20.2012 / 9:00 AM / 2012 NHL Draft

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

Note: NHL.com will take a look back at the NHL drafts from five, 10 and 15 years ago this week leading up to the 2012 NHL Draft in Pittsburgh. How would a redux of those drafts look today?

The 2002 NHL Draft produced a Conn Smythe Trophy winner (Cam Ward in 2006), and another who was probably the unofficial runner-up (Duncan Keith in 2010). It also produced at player at each position -- Alexander Semin at forward, Jay Bouwmeester on defense and Kari Lehtonen in goal -- that are the subject of widely divisive opinions.

Some of the guys who started strong have faded and could be nearing the end of their careers, while others took longer to reach the NHL and the next few years could be their best. Given where the other top picks rank on this list, Rick Nash was certainly the right choice at No. 1 by Columbus, though his days with the Blue Jackets are reportedly drawing to a close.

This draft is a good snapshot of how much better scouting of European players has gotten. There were several European-based first-round choices that failed to make much of an impact in the NHL, while the Detroit Red Wings -- notorious for their strong work in Europe -- snagged a trio of guys in later rounds who can still be key players in the next 10 years.
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Return 'home' earned Richard positive attention

Tuesday, 06.19.2012 / 7:50 PM / 2012 NHL Draft

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Most players who shift from playing in Europe to North America need time to make the adjustment. For Guelph Storm center Tanner Richard, the move was akin to coming home after a long trip.

The 6-foot, 182-pound center was born in Markham, Ont., but moved to Switzerland with his family at an early age and learned to play hockey in the Rapperswil organization. After being passed over in the 2011 NHL Draft, he returned to play in the Ontario Hockey League in 2011-12.

"I don't know what you want to call it," Richard told NHL.com. "I grew up here, I grew up there. The only difference is I never played hockey here, so I guess that does make me a European."

Richard and his family relocated to Switzerland when his father, Mike Richard, made playing in the country his full-time career. After playing seven games in two seasons with the Washington Capitals in 1987-88 and 1989-90, he spent most of the last 20 years playing professionally in Switzerland, mostly with Rapperswil.

Tanner Richard grew up following in his father's footsteps, and made his debut in the top Swiss league with Rapperswil last season, going scoreless in four games. He also excelled against players his own age; he had 43 points in 28 games for Rapperswil's under-20 team as well as four goals in six games for Switzerland at the 2011 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.

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Sissons could be next in line of Kelowna alums

Tuesday, 06.19.2012 / 12:45 PM / 2012 NHL Draft

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The list of players who spent time in the Western Hockey League with the Kelowna Rockets before finally reaching the NHL is pretty impressive.

Among the standouts are Duncan Keith, Shea Weber, Tyler Myers, Luke Schenn and Jamie Benn. Each player actually has his own mural on the wall across from the locker rooms within Kelowna's home rink, Prospera Place.

"I think it's really neat when we have training camp and all the young guys are here and they see those guys [on the walls on ice level]," Kelowna owner/GM Bruce Hamilton told NHL.com. "And when the visiting teams come in, they walk by them and see who's played here too. And those guys that are on the wall, they come by and take a look."

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2012 NHL Draft