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Features

Sabres prospect McCabe blossoming in Rochester

Friday, 03.06.2015 / 1:04 PM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

When Chadd Cassidy first met Jake McCabe, the defenseman was 16 years old.

Holding down the blue line for the U.S. National Development Team, McCabe instantly stuck out as a physical player, ready and willing not only to defend the puck, but to go one step further and create offense for his fellow teammates.

As his coach that first season, Cassidy helped start molding the tools McCabe would eventually use to make his way to the highest level of hockey.

Now together again with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League, McCabe's development continues to thrive under Cassidy's watch.

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Hot fantasy topics: Underrated players by position

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Having Alex Ovechkin (Washington Capitals), Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins) or Carey Price (Montreal Canadiens) on your roster will always help in your pursuit of a fantasy hockey championship. But having unlikely players emerge as fantasy superstars during the season is what will likely make or break your roster.

Being able to draft a guy in the seventh round or later that ends up providing first- or second-round value is what I'm referring to. Finding a diamond in the rough. And often times they aren't your household names, so despite their hidden success they still go un-talked about or aren't given the credit they deserve. But make no mistake, these are the players that prove to be the difference makers in fantasy leagues.

Here are five players that have turned out to be elite fantasy commodities this season that way too many people have never heard of or don't know enough about (one for each position).

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Senators goalie Hammond making hometown proud

Friday, 03.06.2015 / 10:40 AM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Goaltender Andrew Hammond has fans cheering as he leads the Ottawa Senators into an unlikely Stanley Cup Playoff race, but back in his hometown that same 6-0-1 run to start his NHL career has been especially emotional for his former goalie coach.

"It's brought me to tears just because I know how close he was to quitting," said Sean Murray, who has worked with Hammond for 17 years as an owner and coach of Pro-Formance Goalie School and Development Center in Vancouver and its suburbs. "Now seeing him have this success and just knowing how good of a kid he is, it's gotten me twice."

Maybe that's because Hammond came close to quitting on two separate occasions.

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Super 16: Jagr continues to cement place in history

Friday, 03.06.2015 / 3:00 AM / Super 16: NHL Power Rankings

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

Jaromir Jagr is the third best forward in hockey history.

Repeat that statement in parts of Canada or Michigan or Connecticut (or Western Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., for that matter) and expect a pretty negative response. As Jagr, who was traded to the Florida Panthers before the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline, continues to amass goals and points and play at a high level despite being 43 years old, his place in hockey history is starting to come more into focus.

Jagr is by no means the third most iconic forward. He's certainly not the third most popular. Critics of the statement above will immediately turn to words like leadership and toughness to try and prove it wrong.

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Panthers' Ekblad turning heads with rookie season

Friday, 03.06.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Florida Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell can remember the day he concluded that rookie Aaron Ekblad was going to be something very special.

It occurred last October during the Panthers' trip to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., for three days of training and team bonding prior to the season.

"He wouldn't remember it, but I remember it," Campbell said. "We were at practice and I gave him a pass where it didn't give him a lot of time and he just made a pass through one of our guys' skates to one of our forwards. I just kind of nodded my head thinking, 'All right, that's a play I feel like I like to make out there.'

"I've played in the League a while now and I feel like I can make those plays, but to see an 18-year-old have confidence and do that, I'm like, 'OK, yeah, this guy is the real deal.'"

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Forsberg's continued success paces Calder race

Friday, 03.06.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

With three-quarters of the 2014-15 season complete, NHL.com looks at some of the biggest storylines and award contenders.

Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg could never have predicted this type of success on and off the ice in his first full NHL season.

In addition to leading the Predators and NHL rookies in scoring, Forsberg played in the NHL All-Star Game and won a new Honda Accord as the last pick for Team Toews in the 2015 All-Star Fantasy Draft.

He has proven to be a versatile performer for Predators coach Peter Laviolette, who for most of the season played the 20-year-old Swede on the top line.

"I'm sure he's more confident now playing first-line minutes and the first power-play," Laviolette said. "I think when you have success and knowing where our team is in the standings, he's having a strong year and that builds confidence in him. He might not have had that same confidence when the season started, but watching him in development camp, rookie camp and training camp, he was always a consistent player, a top player."

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Coyotes' Smith to honor Alice Cooper with new mask

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 8:42 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

The Arizona Coyotes will go retro on Thursday against the Vancouver Canucks, donning throwback jerseys on a night they will honor former forward Jeremy Roenick.

Another figure from the Coyotes hockey scene will also be honored, just a bit more subtly. Goalie Mike Smith will wear a special mask for the game with rock icon Alice Cooper painted on its back plate.

"The coolest thing about the helmet is the back plate," Smith said in a video on the Coyotes website. "It's a tribute to Alice Cooper, who's been a lifer as a Coyote fan and a big supporter of the team."

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Leopold's daughter on letter requesting trade to Wild

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 2:00 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

Jordyn Leopold figured why not?

She missed her father, NHL defenseman Jordan Leopold, and wanted him to come home, so back in January she wrote a letter to the Minnesota Wild with the hope of getting Jordan back to the State of Hockey because her father was lonely in Ohio without Jordyn, her mother and her three siblings.

"I thought it might work to get him home," Jordyn, 11, told the Wild website. "I didn't think the letter [had a huge impact] but it could've."

"The Letter" has gone viral since it surfaced on March 2 shortly after Jordan was traded to the Minnesota Wild at the NHL Trade Deadline. The Wild acquired Leopold from the Blue Jackets for defenseman Justin Falk and a fifth-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.

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Top performer: Howard's effort carries Red Wings

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 12:20 PM / Top Performer

NHL.com

Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard showed why he's among the NHL's best Wednesday against the New York Rangers.

Back at Joe Louis Arena from a six-game, 10-day road trip, the Red Wings were outshot 40-31 but managed a 2-1 win against the Rangers thanks to Howard. After allowing a power-play goal to Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi in the first period Howard made 29 saves the rest of the way, including a few that bailed out the Red Wings.

"I thought [Howard] was good," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told the Detroit News. "I thought we looked like we'd been on a long road trip and got back, and we were wearing snow shoes. Turned the puck over a lot."

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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Capitals' Holtby finds rhythm

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 12:15 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

Every Thursday during the season, NHL.com's Evan Sporer will provide you with in-depth analysis of goaltenders. From updated weekly top 30 rankings to trending players and more, Sporer will be your go-to guy for advice on fantasy goalies all season long.

Of goalies currently ranked in Yahoo's top 21 overall fantasy players (of which there are four, and would likely be five if not for the long-term injury to Henrik Lundqvist), only one began the season with a pre-ranking outside of the top 50.

It's not Carey Price, who is leading the Vezina Trophy race and is arguably the NHL and fantasy MVP this season. It's not Pekka Rinne, whose return to health has also signaled a return to form. And it's not Marc-Andre Fleury, whose eight shutouts currently pace all goaltenders in the League.

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Quote of the Day

It is really special. I had a lot of friends and family here tonight, and for my first [NHL] game in here it was great. I played here as an elementary-school player in the city championships and this was my first time back. It was a lot of fun.

— Toronto native Brandon Pirri after scoring 2 goals for Panthers in win at Maple Leafs on Thursday
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