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Avalanche look to use speed to return to playoffs

Thursday, 09.24.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent continues its preview of the 2015-16 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams.

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche head into the 2015-16 season, their 20th since moving from Quebec, determined to return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Patrick Roy's third season as coach.

The Avalanche added size and grit, and they'll have more depth through offseason trades, free agent signings and the return of several key contributors from injuries.

"We're very excited about this year; I like the changes we made," Roy said. "It's a big change, no doubt about it. Not only did we add size, but I also feel that we're faster. When I say fast, I want us to play and think fast."

Hertl rebound, Torres' health among Sharks' X-factors

Thursday, 09.24.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Eric Gilmore - Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- The San Jose Sharks had made the Stanley Cup Playoffs for 10 straight seasons before finishing fifth in the Pacific Division and 12th in the Western Conference with 89 points in 2014-15.

Coach Todd McLellan and the Sharks parted ways on April 20, and Peter DeBoer was hired as McLellan's replacement on May 27.

Here are three X-factors that could help determine whether the Sharks return to the playoffs this season:

Sharks aim to return to playoffs under DeBoer

Thursday, 09.24.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Eric Gilmore - Correspondent continues its preview of the 2015-16 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams.

SAN JOSE -- For the first time since 2008, the San Jose Sharks opened training camp with a new coach. Center Joe Thornton said he liked what he heard from Peter DeBoer, who replaced Todd McLellan, the winningest coach in Sharks history.

"I think he has a powerful voice," Thornton said of DeBoer. "He comes in and tells us right away [that] this is how we're going to play. But it's going to be nice. Nothing against Todd, but maybe it was time to get a new voice in here. We're all excited to have Pete behind the bench now."

The Sharks had a busy offseason after missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since the 2002-03 season. Not only did they replace their coach, they traded for goaltender Martin Jones and signed two quality free agents, right wing Joel Ward and defenseman Paul Martin. The Sharks' biggest offseason addition last year was forward John Scott.

Yogi Berra provided inspiration for Devils title teams

Wednesday, 09.23.2015 / 1:47 PM / NHL Insider

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

The impact Yogi Berra had on the sport of baseball, and specifically the New York Yankees, is well-known. The impact he had on the New Jersey Devils is not as well-known, but is just as compelling in its own way.

Lawrence Peter Berra, 90, died Tuesday night. He was the catcher and the heart and soul of the dynastic Yankees, winning 10 World Series titles during a career that put him in baseball's Hall of Fame.

He was also a major supporter of the Devils upon their arrival in New Jersey, a relationship that began through his friendship with Dr. John McMullen, the Devils' former owner, and continued for more than 30 years.

In fact, some past Devils believe Berra played no small part in helping the team become mentally strong enough to win the Stanley Cup three times from 1995 to 2003.

Oilers' Hall, Sabres' Kane lead injury bounce-backs

Wednesday, 09.23.2015 / 3:00 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Sean McCullen - Staff Writer

Losing your top scorer during a playoff push in late February or early March can leave you on the outside looking in come the fantasy postseason.

Injuries play a major role in fantasy hockey each season. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to prepare for them; they are completely out of your hands.

What you can control is who you draft and who you add off the waiver wire, and that includes players coming off an injury-shortened, subpar season. Knowing whether a player returning from injury is worthy of an early, middle-round or late draft pick could go a long way in determining whether you make the playoffs and win your league.

Those fantasy owners who were scared off by Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne’s injury woes in 2013-14 almost certainly regret not drafting him last year after he won 41 games and had a stellar 2.18 goals-against average and .923 save percentage to finish second in 2014-15 Vezina Trophy voting.

Saad settled with Blue Jackets after blur of summer

Wednesday, 09.23.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Tim Wharnsby - Correspondent

TORONTO -- A productive and momentous spring transformed rather swiftly into a summer of change for Brandon Saad.

One minute he was carrying the puck for the Chicago Blackhawks into the Tampa Bay Lightning zone to start a play that would be the final goal of the Stanley Cup Final, and two weeks later he had a change of address.

Saad, 22, knew between the Blackhawks' salary cap situation and the fact he was about to become a restricted free agent that there was a good chance he would be moved. But the trade to the Columbus Blue Jackets happened so fast.

"It definitely was a different process for me, especially since it was the first time I went through something like this," Saad said. "You win a Stanley Cup and you're high on emotions and then a couple weeks later you find yourself on a different team. So it was emotional, but I'm also excited about a new start."

Scouts to get measure of draft prospects at AAPG

Wednesday, 09.23.2015 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

BUFFALO -- The 2015 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game, which will be played Thursday (7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US) at First Niagara Center, will serve as an opportunity for 42 of the top United States-born 2016 NHL Draft-eligible players to showcase their ability in front of NHL scouts.

"NHL scouts focus on players' assets and potential rather than the passport, but certainly this type of event is valuable as it pits the best identified American prospects in one game competing against each other," said Dan Marr, Director of NHL Central Scouting. "This is a marquee event for USA Hockey to showcase the American talent available for the NHL Draft."

The game will consist of three 20-minute periods and, if necessary, a five-minute overtime. If a winner still hasn't been determined, the game will be decided by a shootout.

Murray, Savard among X-factors for Blue Jackets

Wednesday, 09.23.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Craig Merz - Correspondent

COLUMBUS – Entering the 2014-15 season, the Columbus Blue Jackets thought they would reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs in consecutive years for the first time in their history.

But injury after injury derailed all hope, and despite having the sixth-best record (36-20-3) in the NHL from Dec. 1 to the end of the season, Columbus missed the playoffs.

Here are three X-factors that will impact the Blue Jackets' postseason chances this season:

After strong finish, expectations high for Blue Jackets

Wednesday, 09.23.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Craig Merz - Correspondent continues its preview of the 2015-16 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams.

COLUMBUS -- There are high expectations for the Columbus Blue Jackets after a strong finish to the 2014-15 season.

But even with a 12-0-1 finish, the Blue Jackets' 42-35-5 record left them nine points shy of qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Eastern Conference.

"You can't just pick up where you left off," defenseman Kevin Connauton said. "But that run at the end of last year shows our potential."

Schenn's spot, Mason repeat among Flyers' X-factors

Wednesday, 09.23.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

The biggest question surrounding the Philadelphia Flyers this season is how their new coach, Dave Hakstol, will handle the adjustment from NCAA hockey to the NHL.

Hakstol is the first coach to jump from the college ranks to the NHL without having played or coached in the League since the Calgary Flames hired Bob Johnson in 1982. Flyers general manager Ron Hextall is confident Hakstol will be a success.

"I think Dave is a really good leader," Hextall said. "I think that's the biggest thing that our group is going to notice, his leadership skills. They're off the charts. From what I knew prior, watching him coach and watching him operate, the way he carries himself, his work ethic, he's very calm under pressure. He's got a lot of really good attributes. When I look at it, Dave was like a player in the draft. You're looking at a guy with potential. So when I looked at Dave it was no different than looking at a player we drafted in this past draft. You see his potential and you get excited."

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