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2014 NHL Draft
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Features

The Front Line: Final forward ranks and a look ahead

Tuesday, 04.08.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

We are nearly at the finish line, and yet again it's been an incredible fantasy hockey season. Although NHL teams still are fighting to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs or battling for position, we fantasy owners are at the end of the road. Standard head-to-head leagues are now complete and though some rotisserie leagues might come down to the final game, most of those are likely locked up as well.

Hopefully our NHL.com fantasy hockey staff has helped you earn some bragging rights this season. Sadly, my advice to you comes to a close today. Now it's time to reflect and start looking ahead.

From Sidney Crosby staying healthy all season long to Steven Stamkos, John Tavares and Evgeni Malkin missing lengthy periods of time, we've seen plenty of surprises from the forward position. Patrick Sharp currently is the No. 3 forward in Yahoo leagues; who saw that coming? Jamie Benn, Joe Pavelski and Tyler Seguin are all top 10 overall players in Yahoo leagues, while both Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin are outside the top 100. Jaromir Jagr found the fountain of youth and has been a top-40 forward pretty much all season long, while 18-year-old Nathan MacKinnon has had one of the most prolific rookie seasons in recent memory.

It has been a season that overflowed with storylines, excitement and heroics, and while many things may change between now and the first fantasy hockey draft for the 2014-15 season, below is where I believe the forward position stands at this very moment.

A LOOK AT THE TOP

Who gets the honor of holding down the No. 1 ranking throughout the offseason? How about who's second and third? Let's have a look ...

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Stanley Cup Playoffs clinching scenarios: April 8

Tuesday, 04.08.2014 / 10:45 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

NHL.com

The Philadelphia Flyers and Minnesota Wild can secure a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Tuesday. Here are the scenarios:

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

The Flyers would clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they defeat the Florida Panthers in any fashion.

MINNESOTA WILD

The Wild would clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they get at least one point against the Boston Bruins OR if Phoenix Coyotes lose to the Columbus Blue Jackets in any fashion or defeat the Blue Jackets in a shootout OR if the Dallas Stars lose to the Nashville Predators in any fashion.

In the Eastern Conference, the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins, Montreal Canadiens, Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers have already qualified for the playoffs. The St. Louis Blues, Anaheim Ducks, Colorado Avalanche, San Jose Sharks, Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings have locked down a spot in the postseason from the Western Conference.

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BC's Demko heavy favorite as top draft-eligible goalie

Tuesday, 04.08.2014 / 9:00 AM / 2014 NHL Draft - Philadelphia - June 27-28, 2014

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

When it comes to ranking the top goalies eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft, the overwhelming majority consider Boston College freshman Thatcher Demko in a class by himself.

As expected, Demko remained No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final rankings of the top draft-eligible North American goalies, which was released Tuesday.

"He was so far ahead of the under-aged players last year that if he was draft-eligible in 2013 he would have probably been drafted high; that's how far ahead he was then and is now," NHL Central Scouting's Al Jensen, who specializes in viewing goaltenders, told NHL.com.

At 6-foot-4, 192 pounds, Jensen likens Demko to fellow American-born goalie and Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson.

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Bennett retains top spot on final Central Scouting list

Tuesday, 04.08.2014 / 9:00 AM / 2014 NHL Draft - Philadelphia - June 27-28, 2014

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

CSS 2014 FINAL RANKINGS

In a year when projecting the best player eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft might be as stern a challenge as it's ever been, Kingston Frontenacs center Samuel Bennett was the desired choice from start to finish in the minds of the gurus at NHL Central Scouting.

Bennett, considered the top player by Central Scouting in its midterm ranking in January, again is No. 1 on the final list of the top draft-eligible skaters in North America. Central Scouting on Tuesday released its final rankings of the top North American and European skaters and goalies.

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Kapanen, Nylander headline European rankings

Tuesday, 04.08.2014 / 9:00 AM / 2014 NHL Draft - Philadelphia - June 27-28, 2014

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Among European players eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft, there are several prospects capable of making an impact in the League sooner rather than later. Those top prospects will be on display at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on June 27-28.

"There have been stronger draft years for Europeans and this year is average compared to those," NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb told NHL.com. "But I do think 4-6 players could be drafted in the first round."

Stubb has identified two players in a class of their own among the international ranks: right wing Kasperi Kapanen of Kalpa in Finland and center/right wing William Nylander of Modo in Sweden.

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Playoff Countdown: Six goalies in playoff spotlight

Tuesday, 04.08.2014 / 8:58 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

The conclusion to 2013-14 NHL regular season is fast approaching. After game play Monday, the League is down to 52 games remaining on the schedule, with 10 to be played Tuesday. Yet, much remains to be decided in the frantic run to the finish line, including playoff qualification, playoff positioning and numerous individual accomplishments and milestones. To celebrate the six-day countdown to the end of the season April 13 and the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 16, NHL.com will provide a piece of playoff-related content each day.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs can be an emotional pressure cooker for every player, but no position feels the white-hot heat of the spotlight more than the goaltender. Every mistake is amplified and announced by a flashing red light. Reputations that took all season to build can be shattered in two weeks, or forged forever during two months.

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Daily Primer April 8: Huge night in playoff race

Tuesday, 04.08.2014 / 3:00 AM / Drive to the Playoffs

NHL.com

A dozen teams that are realistically battling for a spot and/or position in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs will be in action on a busy Tuesday night.

The Detroit Red Wings (37-27-14), who currently hold the top wild-spot in the Eastern Conference, get things started when they visit the Buffalo Sabres at First Niagara Center. Detroit is one point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The New York Rangers clinched a playoff berth when the New Jersey Devils lost to the Calgary Flames on Monday, but they're still trying to secure second place in the Metropolitan Division. New York, which is two points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers, hosts the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden. Philadelphia, which has a game in hand, will visit the Florida Panthers.

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Five Questions: Devils' Jagr has drive to keep playing

Tuesday, 04.08.2014 / 3:00 AM / Five Questions With…

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NHL.com's weekly Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game today and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest edition features New Jersey Devils right wing Jaromir Jagr:

Jaromir Jagr isn't just set on playing next season in the NHL; the 42-year-old right wing for the New Jersey Devils wants to play until he's 50 years old, even if it means finishing his career in his native Czech Republic.

"I don't know where I'm going to play, but I want to still play until I can't walk anymore," Jagr said. "To me, age is nothing. I don't get old. I don't know why. You've gotta ask God, man."

Jagr has shown enough this season to warrant him coming back to the NHL next season, which would be his 21st here and 24th professionally (he played in Russia from 2008-11). He leads the Devils with a team-high 64 points and hasn't missed a game this season. He even played in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

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Top pick MacKinnon of Avalanche deserves Calder

Tuesday, 04.08.2014 / 1:30 AM / Trophy Tracker

Jon Lane - NHL.com Staff Writer

With the 2013-14 regular season rapidly coming to a close, NHL.com looks at some of its biggest storylines and award contenders.

During a close race for the Calder Trophy, Colorado Avalanche rookie Nathan MacKinnon often found himself mentioned in the same breath as Wayne Gretzky, even breaking a record held by "The Great One" for 34 years along the way.

Combine that with MacKinnon's standing at or near the top of most major scoring categories and his role in Colorado's stunning turnaround from Western Conference basement dwellers to legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, and the Avalanche forward is NHL.com's pick as the League's top rookie.

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Rangers ride new system, road success into playoffs

Monday, 04.07.2014 / 9:56 PM / Drive to the Playoffs

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

The New York Rangers are back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They clinched their eighth playoff berth in nine seasons when the New Jersey Devils lost 1-0 to the Calgary Flames on Monday night.

The play of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist keyed New York's road to the postseason, but the similarities to past Rangers teams generally end there. The 2013-14 Rangers were propelled by some relatively fresh faces that excelled once they adjusted to the new plan installed by incoming coach Alain Vigneault.

It's an impressive turnaround considering the difficult transition New York had to make at the start of the season. There was a new coach, a new system, a number of players entering their first full season with the team and even a newly-renovated Madison Square Garden. That transition was magnified by a season-opening nine-game road trip on which New York went 3-6-0.

Six months after that challenging trip, the Rangers sit second in the Metropolitan Division. They are two points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers, who hold a game in hand and could face New York in the Eastern Conference First Round.

Here are five reasons the Rangers are headed back to the playoffs.

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Quote of the Day

I kept refreshing the page on the NHL website after the second round and I was shocked he lasted that long. I'm sure the Coyotes were pretty happy to get him. He's such a good player and he plays big in big games.

— Arizona forward Henrik Samuelsson on prospect Edgars Kulda being drafted by the Coyotes