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Features

Two Russian prospects adjust to North American life

Thursday, 08.28.2014 / 4:47 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

When Russia won its second IIHF World Championship in three years last May, the gold-medal squad featured some of the NHL's biggest names, including Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Bobrovsky.

But for the two youngest players on that roster, Evgeny Kuznetsov of the Washington Capitals and Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Worlds were the final victory before their careers, and effectively their lives, changed.

Two of the world's top hockey prospects, representing the future of Russian hockey, are now entering their first full seasons in North America, a crucial step in their respective careers.

"It's a totally different culture. It's obviously a big adjustment," Kuznetsov said. "The language barrier is the biggest thing."

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Wild starting job in goal wide open, coach says

Thursday, 08.28.2014 / 4:25 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

The Minnesota Wild will enter training camp next month with three goaltenders, Josh Harding, Niklas Backstrom and Darcy Kuemper, competing for the starting job. Wild coach Mike Yeo said each will have a chance to win the No. 1 job.

"I have to say we're kind of open right now, to be honest with you," Yeo told Michael Russo of the Star Tribune on Wednesday during an appearance at the Minnesota State Fair. "We're going to have some scrimmages … but we're going to have to pretty quickly determine who we want to give a greater workload to after that. That's going to be a good challenge."

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Senators' Lehner welcomes competing with Anderson

Thursday, 08.28.2014 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Ottawa Senators goaltender Robin Lehner said Wednesday he's ready to continue competing with veteran Craig Anderson for the No. 1 job after each player signed a three-year contract in the past month.

"There are always two goalies and somebody pushing from down below (in the American Hockey League)," Lehner said, according to the Ottawa Citizen. "It's just how it works. I don't think there should be a big deal about it."

Lehner, who was a restricted free agent, agreed to his $6.6 million contract on July 31. Anderson agreed to a $12.6 million extension that takes him through the 2017-18 season on Aug. 25.

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Kings lineup likely will look similar to Cup team

Thursday, 08.28.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

For the second time in three seasons the Los Angeles Kings will be the defending Stanley Cup champion and will start the campaign with nearly an identical roster to the title-winning one.

The Kings are loaded down the middle, could be even better on the wings with a full season of Marian Gaborik, Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, and will have one of the best tandems in net with Jonathan Quick and Martin Jones.

Obviously it is championship or bust for the Kings. The best regular season they've had in the past three seasons was the one after the first title, but injuries in the Stanley Cup Playoffs stunted any chance of a repeat.

This could be the best team of the four, but will the same thing that helped them against the Chicago Blackhawks (revenge for the previous playoff defeat) be their undoing should the two superpowers meet again? The Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks also will have some say about who gets out of the Pacific Division as well.

Here is the projected 2014-15 lineup for the Kings:

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Kings need bounce-back season from Richards

Thursday, 08.28.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

When the Los Angeles Kings traded for Mike Richards in June 2011, it was a given that they had landed a cornerstone center for years to come. Richards was regarded as one of the finest 200-foot young forwards in the NHL.

The team did not envision Richards devolving into a fourth-line grinder who finished last season playing between Kyle Clifford and Trevor Lewis. The former captain of the Philadelphia Flyers had his lowest offensive output since his rookie season in 2006-07 with 11 goals and 30 assists. Yet general manager Dean Lombardi refused to use a buyout on Richards, who has six seasons remaining on the 12-year, $69 million contract he signed with Philadelphia in 2007.

Instead, Lombardi said it's crucial for Richards to rebound.

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Brown, Quick among Kings' five questions

Thursday, 08.28.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

There aren't many hard questions facing the Los Angeles Kings following their second Stanley Cup in three seasons, but the Kings still make it interesting.

They again muddled through another regular season, then turned it on thanks to the addition of Marian Gaborik and the emergence of the dynamic duo of Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson.

But there's always room for improvement in the eyes of the organization, and here's a closer look at five questions that will need to be answered if the Kings hope to keep their mini-dynasty going for the 2014-15 season:

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Kings' summer goal was maintaining winning culture

Thursday, 08.28.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout August.

Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi faces a different set of challenges in the offseason than most of his peers. While other managers focus on improving their team through free agency, Lombardi is charged with keeping his lineup intact within the NHL salary cap.

His biggest move came 12 days after the Kings won their second Stanley Cup when he signed left wing Marian Gaborik to a seven-year contract worth $34.125 million, which guarantees the 32-year-old Gaborik can remain with the Kings through 2020-21. More important, his salary-cap charge is $4.875 million, according to CapGeek.com.

"His cap number is certainly reasonable for a player his caliber," Lombardi said. "It's just a player you decide is going to fit in. You felt good that he was going to make the commitment to train the right way, as so many of these guys can do to extend their careers and perform at a high level. Look at Teemu Selanne's career at the same age. You look at what he accomplished from 32 on to the end; it's pretty remarkable. Marian is clearly one of those players that figured out it's not about the fame and money. It's about, 'I like this winning stuff.'"

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Kings' top 10 prospects feature Pearson, Zykov

Thursday, 08.28.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Being a prospect for the Los Angeles Kings is a double-edged sword. On the one side is the opportunity to be part of a championship team; the Kings have won the Stanley Cup two of the past three seasons.

The other side, though, is a lack of playing time and limited opportunities for promotion. That means a patient approach has to be taken by the younger players.

"We're not in a rush to get these kids in the lineup right now," Kings vice president of hockey operations and director of player personnel Michael Futa said. "They can hone their skills at the American Hockey League and with our development team and be ready to make an impact when they're called upon."

Here's a look at the Kings' top 10 prospects, according to NHL.com:

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Flyers sign defenseman Manning to one-year contract

Wednesday, 08.27.2014 / 2:33 PM / NHL Free Agency 2014

NHL.com

Restricted free-agent defenseman Brandon Manning signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Manning, 24, had eight goals, 31 points, a minus-24 rating and a team-high 231 penalty minutes in 73 games last season with the Adirondack Phantoms, the Flyers' American Hockey League affiliate.

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Bouma signs one-year contract with Flames

Wednesday, 08.27.2014 / 11:57 AM / NHL Free Agency 2014

NHL.com

Center Lance Bouma, a restricted free agent, signed a one-year contract with the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, the team announced. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Bouma, 24, spent the full season in the NHL for the first time in 2013-14 after seeing some NHL action the previous two seasons. He had five goals and 15 points in 78 games last season, his 181 hits led the Flames, and his 87 blocked shots were the most among Calgary forwards.

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Quote of the Day

Your team is going to want to recapture the feeling. What they're going to have to figure out is they're going to have to rewrite the story. Because you're going to rewrite the story doesn't mean you want a different end. It's just that you're going to have to learn that there's different challenges to get there, and if you're going to try and tap the same feeling, it ain't going to happen.

— Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi on maintaining their success from last season