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2015 NHL Draft
(Page 111 of 163)

Panthers rookie Ekblad deserving of Calder Trophy

Monday, 04.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

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

What appeared to be a one-horse race early in the season turned into anything but down the stretch in the battle for the Calder Memorial Trophy as NHL rookie of the year.

In the end, it was hard to ignore the accomplishments of Aaron Ekblad, the youngest defenseman in the League. The native of Windsor, Ontario, had a one of the best rookie season by an 18-year-old defenseman in NHL history, beginning his career four months after being chosen No. 1 in the 2014 NHL Draft by the Florida Panthers.

Nashville Predators center Filip Forsberg was the early favorite. The 20-year-old looked to be the perfect fit for new coach Peter Laviolette, who stressed offense and puck possession. He was ultimately overtaken in the rookie scoring race by Calgary Flames left wing Johnny Gaudreau, 21, who defied the odds at 5-foot-9, 150 pounds.

Draft Lottery to be conducted Saturday, April 18

Winning Team to be Revealed in Televised Announcement on CBC, TVA Sports and NBC

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 12:00 PM / 2015 NHL Draft

TORONTO -- The 2015 NHL Draft Lottery, a weighted system implemented and utilized to determine the order of selection in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft for the 14 Clubs not qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs (or the Clubs that have acquired the first-round drafting positions of those non-playoff teams), will take place on Saturday, April 18 at 8 p.m., ET.

The results of the Draft Lottery will be revealed live on CBC and TVA Sports in Canada and NBC in the U.S. immediately preceding the start of Game 2 of the Penguins-Rangers First Round series.

In August 2014, the NHL announced changes to the Draft Lottery format. The changes included adjusting the odds of winning the first overall selection. The 10 highest-finishing non-Playoff qualifying teams will receive higher (better) Draft Lottery odds than they received previously with the four lowest-finishing teams receiving lower (worse) odds.

Vrbata providing balance, punch to Canucks offense

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 11:30 AM / Canucks vs Flames - 2015 SCP First Round

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

VANCOUVER – Vancouver Canucks forward Chris Higgins called linemate Radim Vrbata an assassin after a two-goal game late in the regular season, but he is no longer a silent assassin.

With Vrbata's 31 goals leading the Canucks, it's hard to ignore the significance of his role in their return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after missing the postseason last year. Forget unsung hero, Vrbata is the Canucks MVP in many eyes, and Higgins has noticed other teams are paying special attention to the soft-spoken sniper too.

"You look at the stat sheet and see Vrbata has 31 goals and you are going to put some good players out against him," Higgins said. "You get a little more attention playing with him for sure."

That could a good thing for the Canucks now that Vrbata is no longer playing on their top line with Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin. After a strong start to his first season in Vancouver playing to the right of Sedin twins, Vrbata is having late-season success with Higgins and Nick Bonino on the Canucks' second line.

Tarasenko, Schwartz key cogs in Blues offense

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 11:00 AM / Blues vs Wild - 2015 SCP First Round

Louie Korac - Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- Their first conversations were brief, first on the floor of Staples Center in Los Angeles at the 2010 NHL Draft, and then again at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo.

A handshake was exchanged after Russia defeated Canada in the gold-medal game, with Vladimir Tarasenko telling Jaden Schwartz at the time, "See you in St. Louis."

It was the beginning of what has turned into satisfying starts to promising careers for Schwartz, 22, and Tarasenko, 23, each first-round picks by the St. Louis Blues.

"It goes by fast," Schwartz said. "It's hard to believe it's been that long. You go to college for two years, then you're with the Blues; it all just happens fast.

"When I first came in I didn't know where I'd fit in. Obviously we had a really good team when I came in and I wasn't playing as much. I had to work my way up and earn it. That's what a lot of guys have to do. Once you start playing more you realize you can play at this level. You want to contribute and be a big part of the team."

Why the Canucks will win the Stanley Cup

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 10:43 AM / Canucks vs Flames - 2015 SCP First Round

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

The Vancouver Canucks are poised and ready to make a run for the ages in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Making it certain that the first Canadian team in 21 seasons wins the Stanley Cup will be those twin-engines up front in Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin, who have each topped 70 points this season.

There's the emergence of Bo Horvat, and the dependability of forwards Nick Bonino, Chris Higgins, Alexandre Burrows and Jannik Hansen.

The Canucks played meaningful games down the stretch and got it done with goaltender Eddie Lack filling in for an injured Ryan Miller.

"We were never in this position before," Henrik Sedin said. "There were a few years where we made the playoffs a few weeks before the season was over, and last year we were done a few weeks before the playoffs so it's exciting because every night every game meant something."

Question for each team in Stanley Cup Playoffs

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 3:42 AM / 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

The field is set for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but none of the 16 teams that made it are without flaws, or at least some question marks.

Here is one pertinent question for each team that if answered properly will go a long way toward that team having a legitimate chance to win the Stanley Cup:

Why the Capitals will win the Stanley Cup

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / Capitals vs Islanders - 2015 SCP First Round

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

The two teams with the most points in the Eastern Conference are the two worst puck-possession teams among the eight still playing. The four best puck-possession teams have a combination of concerns, ranging from questionable goaltending to injuries to slumping underlying numbers.

The Washington Capitals have none of those concerns. They possess one of the best goaltenders in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Braden Holtby, and they have better puck-possession numbers than the Montreal Canadiens and New York Rangers.

In a conference full of flawed teams, the Capitals lack glaring weaknesses. Because of this, they are best equipped to survive and win the Stanley Cup for the first time.

After several years as one of the top contenders for the Cup, the Capitals went through multiple coaches before Barry Trotz arrived. Trotz brought with him goaltending guru Mitch Korn, who has helped Holtby harness his considerable talent. Holtby has become a star this season and is one of the biggest reasons the Capitals could be primed to finally break through.

Why the Canadiens will win the Stanley Cup

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / Canadiens vs Senators - 2015 SCP First Round

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

In spite of a goaltender's importance, they are rarely included in the conversation when trying to determine the best player in the NHL.

Elite point-producers have such a significant impact on their teams and are generally the only category of player considered in that debate.

But that discourse has changed this season, and Carey Price is the reason.

Blues face tough test from Wild, Dubnyk

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / Blues vs Wild - 2015 SCP First Round

The St. Louis Blues are doing it the other way around this time, but winning in the Western Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs won't be any easier as a result.

The Blues finished the regular season winning five of their final six games to climb into first place in the Central Division. It was a near 180 from last season, when they lost their last six games and fell out of first place and into a first-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The reward for winning isn't much better than the price for losing was last season because the Minnesota Wild have been the best team in the NHL since Jan. 15.

The Wild are the first wild card from the Western Conference after going 28-9-3 since goalie Devan Dubnyk made his Minnesota debut on that date. Minnesota was eight points out of a playoff spot when Dubnyk debuted; they finished with a five-point cushion.

The Wild, who had 100 points for the second time in their history, were first in points among Western Conference teams with 59 from Jan. 15 through the end of the season.

Despite high expectations and strong regular seasons, the Blues have not advanced past the first round in each of the past two seasons and haven't gone past the second round since coach Ken Hitchcock was hired early in the 2011-12 season.

St. Louis' past two series losses followed the same script: The Blues won the first two games and then lost the next four to teams (Los Angeles Kings in 2013 and Blackhawks in 2014) that eventually lost in the Western Conference Final.

Why the Penguins will win the Stanley Cup

Sunday, 04.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / Rangers vs Penguins - 2015 SCP First Round

Evan Sporer - Staff Writer

Though the Pittsburgh Penguins didn't make it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the fashion most expected, the pieces are in place to make a deep run for their second championship since 2009.

Centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin give the Penguins arguably the two best players on the planet. Game-changing talents, Crosby and Malkin force coaches to decide which one to use their top defensemen against. When they're healthy (Malkin recently returned from a lower-body injury), Crosby and Malkin pace the offense. Malkin is a former Conn Smythe Trophy winner and has 111 points in 96 Stanley Cup Playoff games. If he's at or near 100 percent, things are completely different for Pittsburgh.

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Quote of the Day

I think when you build a team, you look at pairs, and I think the pair of [Voracek and Giroux] is very good, certainly one of the top pairs in the League.

— Flyers GM Ron Hextall on Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek after giving Voracek a multiyear extension Thursday