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Merkley getting ahead by watching, listening to others

Thursday, 02.26.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015 NHL Draft

Aaron Vickers - Correspondent

Nicholas Merkley is months away from hearing his name called at the 2015 NHL Draft. But he's already seen what it will take to be a National Hockey League player.

Spending his summers training alongside Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers and Mike Green of the Washington Capitals, the 17-year-old has a good understanding about what it's going to take for him to get to the next level.

"It's pretty cool seeing them in the gym every day," Merkley said. "Obviously you're star-struck but you're trying to focus on your workout and things like that. It's good to see how hard they work on the gym and on the ice.


Kings acquire defenseman Sekera from Hurricanes

Wednesday, 02.25.2015 / 11:50 PM / 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

The Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday acquired defenseman Andrej Sekera from the Carolina Hurricanes in a trade for a first-round draft pick and a prospect.

Sekera, 28, has 19 points in 57 games this season and was second on the Hurricanes in average ice time at 22:46. Last season he set career highs with 11 goals and 44 points.

The Kings are playing without two defensemen, injured Alec Martinez (concussion symptoms) and suspended Slava Voynov.

"I think it's the one area of the team that we felt was the one area that could be targeted in terms of an upgrade," Los Angeles general manager Dean Lombardi said, according to LA Kings Insider. "… I think the thing about [Sekera], No. 1, he's a competitive guy. We have no issues as far as him fitting in here with this group. No question he’s going to be hungry. I think whenever you look at your back end, it's a mix-type thing, and I think [there are] things he can bring to us. … He's very mobile, and even though he's not big (6 feet, 201 pounds), he certainly competes. He's a smart player."


Hockey pioneer James reveals rough journey in book

Wednesday, 02.25.2015 / 9:07 PM / NHL Insider

Jon Lane - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- One night during Val James' rookie season with the Buffalo Sabres in 1982, he was faced with a test of character.

The opening pages of James' new book, "Black Ice: The Val James Story," explains how following a game against the Boston Bruins, the Sabres bus was blocked by angry fans who threw a beer bottle into the windshield and demanded James, then 25 years old, show his face.

James, who is black, headed to the front of the bus with the intent of confronting the mob before he was ordered back to his seat by coach Scotty Bowman.

"That would have been a stupid move on my part," James said here Wednesday. "I have to thank Mr. Bowman for seeing through all my anger and rage. I wasn't really mad. I was more ashamed and upset that my own countrymen would do that to me after I made it to the pinnacle of hockey. I was very disappointed. I don't blame the whole city of Boston, just a certain few.

"In a situation like that, it takes a lot of discipline."


Jets acquire forward Tlusty, place Wheeler on IR

Wednesday, 02.25.2015 / 6:56 PM / 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Jets' bid to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007 received another boost Wednesday.

The Jets acquired 26-year-old left wing Jiri Tlusty from the Carolina Hurricanes for a third-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and a conditional 2015 sixth-round pick. That pick would become a fifth-round choice in 2015 if the Jets reach the playoffs this season.

Tlusty has 13 goals and 10 assists in 52 games this season. Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said he expects he'll be available when the Jets host the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.

It's the second trade in two weeks for Cheveldayoff. He acquired defenseman Tyler Myers and right wing Drew Stafford, a 2015 first-round pick, and two prospects from the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 11 for left wing Evander Kane and defenseman Zach Bogosian.

Winnipeg holds the first wild card in the Western Conference and has a four-point lead on the second wild card, the Minnesota Wild. Winnipeg is trying to fend off Minnesota, the Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks, each one point behind the Wild. The Jets are within four points of the Chicago Blackhawks for third place in the Central Division. Eight of the Jets' final 20 games are against division opponents, and they have five games remaining against Pacific Division teams.

"The [dressing] room has been sending me the message," Cheveldayoff said Wednesday. "[The trade] is a message to the room that we're all-in here. We're going to keep working [until the NHL Trade Deadline on March 2 at 3 p.m. ET]."


Penguins acquire Winnik from Maple Leafs for Sill

Wednesday, 02.25.2015 / 6:51 PM / 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

Adam Vingan - Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- The Pittsburgh Penguins acquired forward Daniel Winnik from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday in a trade for forward Zach Sill, a fourth-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft and second-round pick in the 2016 draft.

"He's a guy that will fit in our top nine," Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said of Winnik. "He gives us more balance and more depth up front, something we were looking for. He's had a very good year, one of the best in his career, and he’s a top penalty-killer in this League."

Pittsburgh plays the Washington Capitals at Verizon Center on Wednesday.

Winnik, 29, had seven goals, 25 points and a plus-15 rating in 58 games with the Maple Leafs. He averaged 3:27 of shorthanded ice time per game with Toronto, which led the Maple Leafs.

"Wherever they want me to play, I'll play," Winnik told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "If they want right wing, left wing, center, I can play all three positions."


Fantasy top 60 'D': Perfect timing for Flyers' Timonen

Wednesday, 02.25.2015 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - Correspondent

It has been a tough season for the Philadelphia Flyers.

They have experienced a multitude of ups and downs, and one of the biggest downs hit them in August when defenseman Kimmo Timonen was diagnosed with blood clots in his leg and lungs.

Losing Timonen hurt, but it did provide an opportunity for Michael Del Zotto, who was signed the day Timonen's diagnosis became public. Del Zotto took a while to get going but he's become one of the Flyers' best defensemen. And now he could get a chance to skate with the player he was brought in to replace.

Too soon to judge unique Canadiens, Ducks trade

Wednesday, 02.25.2015 / 11:18 AM / 2015 NHL Trade Deadline

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

It's hard not to rush to judgment.

When two teams make a trade, a winner and a loser must be determined before the players involved have even arrived with their new teams.

By the time they actually take the ice, opinions have been cast and the groundwork for prejudice has been laid. The trade always will be viewed through the lens of that original analysis, no matter how much circumstances change.

Except trades like the one the Montreal Canadiens and Anaheim Ducks completed Monday are so rare in the NHL today that judgment on it must be reserved, even though that rarity also is the reason why it is so tempting to attempt to determine a winner immediately.


Inside the matchup: Penguins vs. Capitals

Wednesday, 02.25.2015 / 10:30 AM / Tale of the Tape

John Kreiser - Managing Editor

The Pittsburgh Penguins will try to avoid a season sweep at the hands of the Washington Capitals when they face off in this week's Wednesday Night Rivalry game (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN1, TVA Sports).

They are separated by one point in the tight Metropolitan Division race, but the Capitals have dominated the Penguins so far this season, winning all three games and outscoring Pittsburgh 10-1. That includes Washington's 3-1 victory in Pittsburgh eight days ago.

The game features two of the NHL's top stars, each of whom has enjoyed success against the other's team during his career. Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby has 17 goals and 50 points in 32 career games against Washington; Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals has 26 goals and 45 points in 38 career games against the Penguins.


Gaudreau homecoming king on Flames road trip

Wednesday, 02.25.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- The "Johnny Hockey" show has come east for what is essentially an extended roots tour for the Calgary Flames rookie.

Typically a homecoming for an NHL player is a quick visit, one night and two days, two nights if he's lucky, just enough time to see some friends, catch up with his family and go on his way.

Calgary forward Johnny Gaudreau gets 11 days and nights.

"I've been waiting for it all season," Gaudreau said Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, where the Flames lost 1-0 to the New York Rangers in the first of a seven-game road trip.


Five things to watch when Capitals host Penguins

Wednesday, 02.25.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

Six points separate the top four spots in the Metropolitan Division. Two of them are occupied by teams involved in this week's edition of Wednesday Night Rivalry.

The Washington Capitals, who have won seven of their past 10 games, will host the Pittsburgh Penguins at Verizon Center (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TVA, SN1). The Penguins (34-17-9) currently reside in third place in the Metropolitan, one point ahead of Washington (33-18-10).

Pittsburgh has managed to stay in the division race despite a 7-11-4 record against division opponents; Washington is 13-5-4.

"They're a really good team," Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. "They are solid defensively. You have to find a way to overcome that and score goals and get big wins. We haven't done a good enough job in our division."

The Capitals had won four in a row before a 3-2 loss at the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Washington hasn't gone consecutive games without a point in over a month.

"I think there's a little bit of a rivalry starting to develop again between the Penguins and the Caps," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "Both teams will be amped up. It should be a good game."

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Quote of the Day

I loved being in the jerseys again and they worked some magic for us. It was weird in warm-ups, seeing No. 22 in that jersey and thinking he’s [Mike Gartner], and No. 8 reminds you of Danny Briere … every number had me thinking back to the guys who wore them and smiling.

— Coyotes captain Shane Doan on wearing Kachina-style throwback jerseys in a 3-2 victory against the Canucks on Thursday